Common Bedtime Challenges (and How to Avoid Them)

If bedtime battles have you feeling stuck, this list of common bedtime challenges may help you understand why bedtime is so difficult – and what you can do to encourage a peaceful bedtime routine in your home. 

Common bedtime challenges and how to avoid them.

Before your hand is on the doorknob, little footsteps are right behind you.

He’s not asleep like you assumed, and your ninja-style exit from the room has failed.

Sighing, you resign yourself to sleeping on his floor. Again.

While I’d love to present a 5-step process to peaceful sleep in your home, I know that families are too unique for a one-size-fits-all solution.

Instead, let’s explore the underlying challenges that bedtime brings to your family.

Bedtime Routine Challenges

Here are a few common reasons the bedtime routine isn’t all you dreamed it would be:

We’re alone. Unless you live in a multi-generational household or a community where parents share the responsibilities, chances are you’re doing this parenting thing pretty much by yourself. This means all of your kids need connection and support at the end of the day…and there’s only one (or two) of you. Read more about getting on the same page with your co-parent.

We’re busy. From a practical perspective, if you’re picking your child up from afterschool care at 5:30 and their bedtime is 7:30, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for relaxation and connection. Dinner, homework, and baths take priority. And that’s a night when you don’t have sports or activities in the evening. Here are 50 simple ways to connect with your kids.

We’re tired. Obviously, right? But the exhaustion takes many forms – physical, mental, emotional. And our kids feel the same way. Whatever reserves we had at the beginning of the day are long gone. This means it’s going to be more challenging to keep our cool, make good choices, and be creative. Learn how “checking the reserves” can help you make good parenting decisions.

We’re disconnected. Bedtime represents a separation from you. It can be an uncertain and uncomfortable time for some kids, especially those who are longing to feel connection and attention from you. Many families overcome this challenge by co-sleeping or using a family bed, but that solution isn’t for everyone. Read more about responding to separation anxiety.

We’re anxious. Many kids fear the dark or shadows, but beyond that, some worry that they won’t be able to fall asleep or will have bad dreams – and this leaves their brain on alert, rather than sleepy. We can bring anxiety too! We worry that tonight will be like all the rest, and we will never get a good night’s sleep again. Our kids need to know that we’re confident before they can feel confident. More resources for managing anxiety.

Finding a Bedtime Solution

Can you relate to one (or more) of these challenges? None of these things has an easy fix. They all require work, shuffling of priorities, and patience.

Before you give up on ever sleeping again, take a deep breath.

Start by being aware and noticing as these things pop up in your bedtime routine. If possible, name them, “I’m feeling really anxious right now.” Or, “It seems like he’s feeling disconnected from us after our busy day.” Sometimes, saying this out loud is enough to shift the energy and give you a new way of looking at the situation.

As you become more aware, look for patterns. Be curious, there is probably more going on than needing 5 glasses of water and 3 extra books.

Then, be proactive. Explore what you need to do or change to address these challenges before bedtime rolls around again.

This might mean cutting back on after-school activities, letting the dishes stay unwashed so you can help your child calm their body for sleep, or working on your own anxiety so you can stay present when your child is struggling.

Again, there may not be an easy, simple fix.

But, with time and practice, addressing the root of the problem may lead you to solutions you never thought of before.

Solutions that eliminate the need for ninja-style bedroom exits.

Need more support?

Feel like you’re doing all of this already and you’re still having bedtime challenges? Let’s talk. Online Parent Coaching is a great way to find solutions to your parenting concerns. Talk with a parenting expert from the comfort of your home (via a webcam or phone camera!). Learn more about parent coaching here.

Nicole Schwarz (couch 3)

Welcome! I'm Nicole Schwarz.

I'm a Parent Coach, Licensed Therapist and Author of It Starts with You. I help stressed, overwhelmed, confused parents find calm, confidence and connection with their kids. No one is expecting perfection here. But, if you’re willing to examine your parenting, find encouragement, or try something new, this is the place for you.

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