The importance of a bedtime routine with Jo Frost #BathBookBed

I’m sure I’ve written about this before many times, but the bedtime routine is pretty much law in our house.  We started a routine at bedtime with Ben when he was just five weeks old as a way of helping him to know that it was now night time and that he should be going to sleep.  In no time at all our little pattern of bath, boob, book, bed had him going to bed at a regular time and settling himself to sleep without a problem and *touch wood* that has pretty much been the case ever since.

Over time our routine has evolved to meet the needs of our expanding family – the timings have changed, we don’t always have a bath, there’s definitely no boob featuring in there any more but the one thing which doesn’t change is that our bedtime routine always always always features a bedtime story.

This week I went down to London to meet up with Jo Frost – Super Nanny and a select group of bloggers to talk specifically about bedtime routines.  Jo Frost is currently working as an ambassador for the Book Trust’s new Bath, Book, Bed campaign and as she explained to us on the day, she doesn’t put her name to things lightly.  Although not a mother herself, Jo has been working with children and their families for 25 years and has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share.  Her passion for helping families just shines through.  She is so down to earth and easy to talk to as she instils confidence in parents that they do know what they’re doing. She talks in practical terms about how we can all make changes to our routines which will have a positive impact on both ourselves and our children.

In itself “Bath, Book, Bed” is nothing new, as Jo explained – a bath and bedtime story has been part of family life since forever!  I know it was certainly how my bedtimes went as a child.  However, it can be so easy to let things slide, when time is short and we desperately want our kids to be in bed so we can have five minutes peace, get the house straight, have a glass of wine . . . it can be easy to rush bedtime, to not bother with the bedtime story and to just hurry everything along to get our children into bed quickly.  But this can easily turn round and bite us on the bum – I know my kids have a sixth sense when it comes to me being in a hurry and it’s like they slow down on purpose!

Jo talked about how we as adults need time to relax and switch off before bedtime – time to slow down and get ourselves ready for sleep.  Unsurprisingly so do our children.  She described how we should set the scene for our children, to remove distractions of the tv or ipad or noise from downstairs.  Give them a bath to get that last bit of play and excitement out of their system whilst teaching good hygiene routines, get ready for bed and then snuggle up with a book to really relax and calm down before getting into bed.  In addition to the extra cuddles and quality time that sharing a book can bring, the bedtime story also plays a significant role in your child’s education – you are teaching your child how to handle books, instilling a love of reading and language from an early age and teaching them empathy, about experiences which they might not otherwise be able to access – discovering places, people, things which are not common in their lives.

The power of a bedtime story should not be underestimated – it’s effects are far reaching from helping your child to settle down to sleep to giving you quality time with your little ones as well as impacting their language development and education as a whole – and I say this as a teacher as well as a parent.  Sharing books with your children is one of the most important things you can do in my opinion.


As I said at the start of the post, this is something we have been doing with our children from the very start and as our family has grown and changed our bedtime routine has developed to accommodate this.  For us bedtime is a full on family affair.  Both parents play their part in getting all three children dressed and settled and into bed – partly because getting three children ready for bed is hard work but mainly because it’s just a really lovely way to end the day together.  Even when we just had Ben, Dave and I would do his bedtime together – taking it in turns to read his story.  More often now Dave tends to read the bedtime story as I’ve seen more of the children during the day than he has and it gives them some special time together.

Something Jo Frost was keen to emphasise during our meeting was that even if you’ve never had a bedtime routine before, it’s really not too late.  Start tonight.  Within a few days you will notice a difference.  It doesn’t matter if sometimes it doesn’t work out, just go back to it and keep on going.  Whilst our bedtime routine has been in place for years and years, this doesn’t mean we aren’t flexible – sometimes if we’re on holiday or one parent is away, things might be a bit different for a few days – we don’t give up, we just go straight back to normal.  (That said, once you’ve got a routine in place, in our experience following it through on holiday can actually be a really helpful way of settling the kids down to bed in a strange place!)

During our conversation on Tuesday, another parent asked me how we managed to do a bedtime routine for all three children at the same time and did we read them all the same book?  The answer is yes!  We have a huge collection of picture books which we share at bedtime – these are kept separately on a shelf in Amy’s bedroom and are especially for bedtime.  Sometimes we let the kids choose which story we have, sometimes we choose (especially if we’ve had Peace at Last five nights in a row).  Sometimes we let Ben read the story to the girls, other times we all join in together.  In fact on Tuesday night when I got home from London, all five of us joined in with a full on performance of Room on the Broom with me reading, Dave making sound effects and Amy doing some actions whilst Ben and Chloe joined in with the words – not quite the snuggly bedtime story I’d been speaking about that morning however it worked for us.  Of course now Ben is a little older he stays up a bit later than the girls – usually he’s allowed an extra half an hour to read on his own in his room.  This just means that we don’t end up dragging our bedtime routine out for hours and hours with staggered bedtimes – we do it all together and then Ben, being more grown up, benefits from a little bonus time with his light on.  It works for us.

If you want to know more about setting an effective bedtime routine for your children you can sign up to the Book Trust “14 Days to Better Sleep” trial (which bloggers Amber and Al have already been trying out with their own children!)

Here’s to bedtime stories!

Share:

31 Comments

  1. May 24, 2016 / 7:07 am

    This has always been my routine, the only difference now is that the older two read to themselves #TriedTested

  2. May 24, 2016 / 7:21 am

    I think stories are such a vital part of bedtime, however I do end up reading four or five these days as Athena gets more and more demanding! I'll admit baths definitely don't happen every night here as its a bit of a faff with two kids and no husband to help as he often works evenings!

  3. May 24, 2016 / 7:22 am

    It's such a brilliant routine and we absolutely love Peace at last. I'm sure I read that book when I was about 6!

  4. May 24, 2016 / 7:44 am

    I do think this is a good campaign, reading to kids is so Inportant! I definitely don't think they need a bath every night though, that's just a faff haha xx

  5. May 24, 2016 / 7:50 am

    We started a bedtime routine when my daughter was four months old and we have never had any problems with bedtime. At eight years old she doesn't know any different and unless she is really overtired bedtime is a lovely end to the day, especially snuggling up with a story 🙂

    #TriedTested

  6. gina caro
    May 24, 2016 / 9:11 am

    We've had a bedtime routine since both of mine were born. I've been very strict about it and even kept it up when I was too tired to function. I definitely think it makes a huge difference in how well children go to sleep.

    • May 24, 2016 / 7:53 pm

      I completely agree. We soon notice if we mess about with bedtime too much.

  7. May 24, 2016 / 8:21 am

    This is a great campaign, we follow a bath, book, bed routine and it works really well for us. Daddy does bath time, while I have a quick tidy of their rooms. Then we dress them together and have story time all together like you. I think as Alice gets older we will do the same as you do with Ben and let her have quiet time in her room afterwards. x

    • May 24, 2016 / 7:52 pm

      It works really well for us as he knows he gets that bit of extra time for being older, which means he doesn't mind doing bedtime with the other two.

  8. May 24, 2016 / 8:21 am

    I think I was doing the same routine with my kids just as Jo Frost was being to emerge on our TVs. It makes sense in so many ways. Actually i miss the routine now with teens that never seam to want to go to bed, or get up! #TriedTested

    • May 24, 2016 / 7:51 pm

      I agree – we just did it without really thinking when Ben was little – it seemed like the natural thing to do x

  9. May 24, 2016 / 9:48 am

    I think a routine at bedtime is so important. Sounds like it was a fab event too #triedtested

  10. Janine Dolan
    May 24, 2016 / 11:04 am

    I've seen this on another bloggers blog recently. I would have loved to go to this too because I really like what Jo Frost does. I watched a lot of Super Nanny and took away a few tips. Bedtime books is important in our house, too.

  11. May 24, 2016 / 10:28 am

    Now that my kids are older they mostly read to themselves, but we make sure that we still read to them sometimes

  12. May 24, 2016 / 12:02 pm

    Hi Colette, it was nice meeting you last week for this event. I really loved meeting Jo. She was really nice and down to earth which I loved! She was really kind to listen to my story so I was very pleased. I was very impressed with your story. You seem to have mastered this bedtime routine very well. I hope I will have both my girls sleeping in the same bedroom with not disturbances any more. I will try to implement all the tips that Jo said that day. Fingers crossed it works as I would love to have my bed just for me and my hubby for now on lol Thanks so much for hosting #triedtested, 🙂 xx

    • May 24, 2016 / 7:55 pm

      Lovely to meet you too. I hope that things work out for you in the long run, what Jo was saying certainly made sense to me!
      I think we've been very lucky not to have any problems with bedtime so far! x

  13. mummydaddy mia
    May 24, 2016 / 1:44 pm

    Aww I love Jo Frost, I use many of her techniques with Mia! I completely agree that children need a good nigh-time routine. We have always done bath, book, bed with Mia and she's been a great sleeper since she was 8 weeks old! Probably more due to us being really selfish at night and wanting time on our own more than anything! 🙂

    • May 24, 2016 / 7:55 pm

      Yes we were the same!!

  14. May 24, 2016 / 1:46 pm

    We have always done bath bed and book and it works so well for us, never had any issues #triedtested

  15. Saffy Mumzilla
    May 24, 2016 / 5:19 pm

    The boy doesn't really have a routine – we were too clueless to realise the importance of unvarying routine! I can't see it working on him now at 5!

    • May 24, 2016 / 7:55 pm

      Honestly, you'd be surprised at how quickly you can create a new routine – give it a try! x

  16. May 24, 2016 / 5:26 pm

    My daughter always settled better after a bath and book and to be honest I think she still sleeps better after a bath now. She has just discovered the joy of reading in bed herself and I often have to take the book off her to go to sleep #triedtested

  17. May 24, 2016 / 7:59 pm

    Aw I love how you all do the voices together for the books. Lily loves Room on a Broom, it's one of her favourites! I'm glad you had a fab time meeting Jo, we do bath, book, bed anyway but I like the emphasis on the 'book' part of the routine 🙂 X X

  18. May 24, 2016 / 8:11 pm

    We've never had a strict routine, because I've always felt it's important that my children can settle themselves and that when it's bedtime, it's bedtime. That way, if we couldn't stick to the routine, for whatever reason, they weren't unsettled. We always had a story though, and now he reads to himself.

  19. May 24, 2016 / 9:39 pm

    We always have a bedtime story as part of our routine too and it's a great way of having that time together and calming the girls down before bed. Love the sound of you reading Room on a Broom all together with everyone participating 🙂

  20. May 26, 2016 / 6:16 am

    Bedtime routine is so important. T has had bath book and bed since he was only a couple of months old and it seems to really help. Of course, he's now 3 so we have lots of other rituals that must be performed too lol! X #triedtested

  21. May 28, 2016 / 2:05 pm

    I've heard a lot about this campaign – there's a lot we could learn from it!! #triedtested

  22. Mummy Melton
    May 29, 2016 / 5:38 pm

    It's a great campaign. We do book & bed but we don't do bath. It really is important to have a good routine #triedtested

  23. Odd Socks and Lollipops
    May 31, 2016 / 9:53 am

    Routine was so important for us, and it worked really well with Boo – we did bath book and bed from very early and she still gets all excited for her bedtime book =)

  24. Stacey G
    July 17, 2016 / 7:32 pm

    We do love a bedtime story but both boys have one separately, I might start doing the one together and then Jacob have another on his own with being a bit older x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.