our new bedtime routine

One of the reasons I love the Babywise sleep program (aside from it helping our babies learn how to sleep 8 hours through the night by 3 months and soon thereafter, 12 hours!) is that bedtime routines are simple. Our kids aren't soothed, rocked, or coddled to sleep, they just fall asleep. Now, I know a lot of parents who really treasure those times rocking their children to sleep, and to you I say, rock on Mamabear. You're doing an amazing job and it seems right for you! But for us, we love the simplicity and ease of bedtimes, that up until this week included nothing more than a kiss and turning off the light.

I say until recently, because we've added a significant element to Lily's bedtime routine. In many ways, it was long overdue, but we had our reasons for waiting. Now, every night before Lily goes to sleep, we pray with her. And it.is.wonderful. Some of you have probably been doing this since much before age 2.5, and truthfully, before I became a parent I thought I'd pray with or over my kids every night before they went to bed too - starting at birth. But for a variety of reasons it didn't happen, and we're starting it now, just with Lily.

Of course, you can't go wrong with praying with or for your kids. So there's that. And any parent who wants to do it nightly from day one, well, you're awesome. But here's a few reasons I didn't do it immediately, and why we've waited until now to make it routine:

  1. When they're 6 months or under bedtime is so sporadic, so I never thought to do a formal bedtime prayer before tucking my babies in. We all knew it was more of a nap than a night sleep!
  2. Once my babies started sleeping through the night, I was too darn exhausted to do much of anything at their bedtime. Except exhale and thank God it was, in fact, bedtime :) 
  3. Since our kids didn't have a bedtime routine (and they learned how to fall asleep without those aids) it was never organic to insert prayer time into one - one didn't exist!
  4. I was always unsure of what Lily could really understand since she was such a late talker. Since December her talking has picked up rapid speed and she's now almost, if not fully caught up to her age group, so I know her comprehension better since we can converse. This has been a REAL motivator for me in terms of talking about the gospel intentionally with her and introducing things like prayer.
  5. But the main reason was I wasn't sure I wanted our kids to have one formal time of prayer during the day, and especially that time to be when they're half asleep. I don't want my kids to think that we pray now because it's bedtime, I want them to pray whenever they want to talk to Jesus. So up until recently, we would just pray throughout the day as things came up or as I remembered to use those teaching moments.
Basically, formal prayer at bedtime was never added at a young age because we didn't have a formal routine and we were darn tired parents. And then as it became easier to be intentional we weren't sure if there was comprehension, which now we know there is (and really, I've always heard that kids soak up SO MUCH more than you'd imagine, so I should have just gone with that). And finally, we were slightly weary of legalism and systematic Christianity and weren't sure how to incorporate disciplines like prayer in a flexible grace-based way. We're feeling it out as we go, but this bedtime prayer has really been a wonderful joy for me as a Mom and Lily seems to like it too.

What we're doing right now is sitting on the floor beside her bed and saying, "OK, lets talk to Jesus before bed!" and Lily always excitedly agrees and then shuts her eyes suuuuuper tightly (I never even told her to do this but I guess I shut my eyes when I pray so she doesn't think I'm talking to her, so she picked up on it - see.... sponges.... it's true!) and we pray. 

Right now, I pray and she repeats after me. I'm modeling it for her now, and I always pray in a similar style, but never the same thing night after night. I want her to know that she can be simple before God and say whatever is on her heart, and that it's not a formula or an act - it's whatever is on her heart, because her Father in heaven cares about it! I also want to teach her and she's 2.5 years old, so obviously that means praying very simple, basic, honest, true things. I try to mix up the requests and the praise too, I wonder if she picks up on that?

Example from tonight:

Mom: Jesus protect Daddy on the plane tonight
Lily: Jee-sus Daddy on da plane night

Mom: and please let our friend get good results today and be healthy
Lily: please our friend today... be healthy

Mom: and thank you for apple sauce for dessert tonight
Lily: tank-you apple sauce! ya! dessert tonight!

Mom: and thank you for monkey and Oli and our whole family.
Lily: tank-you monkey, Oli, all fam-ee!

Mom: Most of all thank you for loving us Jesus.
Lily: Most all, tank-you loving me Jee-sus

She then she shouts AMEN! and finally opens her eyes. It is such a joy to do this every night. And such a privilege to have children to shepherd in this way.

Other things we do as a family to share our faith with our kids is reading the Jesus Storybook Bible, singing worship songs with the kids (Seeds Family Worship is excellent and their youtube music videos are great), and of course talking about our faith often.

I'd love to hear what you do to share your faith with your kids!
Or what your parents did with you, or you've seen other families do.
Do you have more scheduled formal things like prayer and devotionals at set times?
Or are you more on the fly as we have been, teaching them when opportunities come?
I'm always looking for resources and ideas so please share!


  1. I have always prayed with Pen since day 1, but not in a routine. I TRY to pray before every meal with her, but because I wasn't raised in a Christian home praying before meals is STILL a struggle. We do it almost always before din when Dan is home, but I forget often..and will use my forgetfulness to teach our kids about God's grace!

    I also just pray when I feel compelled to. If an urgent situation comes up. If she's taking forever to calm down to sleep. We don't do it on a routine, although that was not intentional, it's just how I pray (not on a routine, but when I feel compelled throughout the day).

    I don't think there's a right or wrong way to pray though! :)

    1. Just to be clear, I also don't think there is just one way to pray! There are loads of great ways to go about teaching the gospel to our littles- this is just what we're up to right now :-)

  2. We pray with our 3 year old before bed too. It is a routine we have done for about a year and he loves it!

  3. Precious!
    We have prayed before bed since my daughter was tiny and had a consistent bedtime and routine. She's just over two now. I love your simple prayer- I need to mix my prayers up a bit so that they aren't so much the same every night. I love the simple way you told her to just talk to Jesus! We also love the Jesus Storybook Bible and I like to put on praise and worship in the mornings and when we're in the car. Evie has surprised me on more than one occasion by singing along to some of my favorite worship songs. It's such a joy!

  4. bono1.3.13

    I love this Embot!

  5. Can you briefly explain how Babywise teaches children to sleep on their own? Is it mainly through crying it out or some other methods?

    1. Hi Marta, sure I'd love to.

      I highly recommend the book - it's inexpensive and short so it would be easy to get your hands on and read quickly. Just check amazon for many used and new copies.

      Babywise uses a combination of techniques, though it is regularly assumed to be mainly a crying-it-out method. It's NOT mainly CIO though there is some of that.

      The main principles are get your baby on a schedule where they wake, eat, play, then sleep (so feeding isn't used to soothe them to sleep), and to insure they are napping for between 1.5-2 hours at a time. Most babies NEED this much sleep but wake after 45 minutes because they can't synch their sleep cycles. Here's where a bit of crying-it-out happens. Babywise is mostly concerned with your baby eating and sleeping enough (though critics say that babies need to just lead the way - I'd argue that babies don't know what they most need and havent learned whats best for them yet).

      So you're teaching them to sleep for long naps (2 hours), several times a day, to fall asleep without the aid of rocking or feeding, and to stay asleep through periods of crying-it-out when they're learning to synch the 45 minute sleep cycles.

      Many of my friends have done babywise and no friends who actually did the method FULLY (not picking and choosing what they wanted to follow) have had trouble with babies not sleeping or not thriving. In fact, ALL of my babywise friends had babies sleep 8-12 hours a night by 4 months, and many as early as 2 months. It's soooooo fool proof, if done right.

      Check it out!

    2. Thanks for the info Emily!
      My little guy is 5.5 months now and he has been on the E.A.S.Y schedule (based on The Baby Whisperer book)since about 8 weeks. The schedule is very similar. We also do the eat, play, sleep and it has worked wonderfully for us as well. He has been sleeping through the night around 4 months, however he does wake up sometimes throughout the night but not to be fed. Also he sometimes will have the 45min nap and then even though he is still tired he won't fall back asleep. He just seems stubborn and won't even try to go back to sleep. I'm not sure what, if anything, I can do to help him but I do let him cry it out during this time. He has really progressed though from sleeping 30 min-45min and now up to 2 hours so I can't complain. I just don't want to see him struggle so much.

  6. This is so beautiful! I can just imagine her sweet little voice repeating your prayers. :)

  7. Anonymous5.2.16

    I discovered your blog through AT this week and I am so happy to have found you! A Christian raising kids in a small-ish place in the city (in Canada, no less!)... it's what we are doing as well. We were in a one-bedroom apartment downtown in our city when our daughter was born. Everyone kept asking when we were going to buy a house (in the suburbs). No thank you! We really like what our neighbourhood has to offer and a short commute to work means more time for our family.

    Re: praying with children; I've been doing this as part of our daughter's bedtime routine since she was very small. She's now 18 months and when I start praying, she'll say our family members names (dada, mama, grandma/grandpa) and then she'll point to herself. She'll often say, "Yah" after I pray for something (e.g. Thank you that we could go to the park today). It's pretty neat to see her already being "involved" in praying, whether or not she understands it.