How to put your toddler to bed in 49 easy steps

A teddy bear peering around a corner with the words "HOW TO PUT YOUR TODDLER TO BED IN 49 EASY STEPS" superimposed.

Big news. The toddler finally knows how to spit out toothpaste. It came at a cost, of course. My favourite hoodie is now slightly stained. But at least some progress has been made.

Just under a year ago, I wrote a post about how to brush a toddler’s teeth in 37 easy steps. I can probably now think of it as 36 steps. Progress.

I wish the same could be said about the rest of the bedtime routine. There’s still work to be done on that front here.

However, we have a routine of sorts. So, in case you’re where we were a couple of months ago, here’s how to put your toddler to bed in the most streamlined way I know.

  1. Ensure that your toddler has said goodnight to everyone.
  2. Get toddler to their bedroom.
  3. Chase toddler when they inevitably run away.
  4. Attempt rugby tackle on runaway toddler.
  5. Fail miserably and assess your injuries as toddler requests repeat performance.
  6. Catch toddler and escort them back to their room.
  7. Attempt to put pyjamas on toddler.
  8. Point out to toddler that it’s rather decadent to wear a different pair of pyjamas every night and extoll virtues of wearing the same ones on consecutive nights.
  9. Allow toddler to wear whatever the hell they want to bed.
  10. Don’t allow toddler to dress themselves. They’ll only run off again.
  11. After toddler objects to offers of help and bounces on bed, allow them to dress themselves.
  12. Take toddler to bathroom.
  13. Tell toddler to go to the toilet.
  14. Stop toddler unravelling bog roll.
  15. Allow toddler to remove toddler seat and step.
  16. Allow toddler to flush toilet. Doing so yourself is an act of war.
  17. Chase after toddler when they attempt to run off without washing hands.
  18. Return toddler to bathroom without touching their dirty toilet hands.
  19. Try to appear unflapped when they touch your face with dirty toilet hands.
  20. Insist that toddler washes their hands.
  21. Watch in horror as toddler wipes their runny nose on hand towel.
  22. Put hand towel in washing basket and replace with a clean one.
  23. Trick toddler into drying their hands by asking them to give you ten with your hands under the clean towel.
  24. Brush their teeth, ensuring you observe all 37 steps.
  25. Put toddler in their bed.
  26. Allow toddler back out of bed to say goodnight to everyone again.
  27. Read toddler first book.
  28. Read toddler second book while trying not to nod off yourself.
  29. Tell toddler there’s no time for a third book.
  30. Read toddler third book.
  31. Cuddle and kiss toddler goodnight.
  32. Remind toddler that they won’t get the LEGO set they keep asking for unless they stay in their own bed all night.
  33. Switch off light.
  34. Switch light back on when toddler complains.
  35. Resist all requests for a glass of water.
  36. Attempt to tell toddler they don’t need another wee.
  37. Allow toddler to try for another wee.
  38. Remind toddler that it’s not cool to tell fibs about needing a wee.
  39. Repeat steps 13 to 23, omitting step 14 if they haven’t actually been.
  40. Allow toddler to perform blanket trick with towel.
  41. Retrieve towel from floor to find that toddler has, in fact, disappeared.
  42. Find toddler feigning sleep in someone else’s bed.
  43. Return toddler to their own bed.
  44. Stand guard at doorway and wait for toddler to fall asleep. This can take a while. Have a copy of War and Peace handy.
  45. Once toddler is asleep, switch off light and escape silently.
  46. Spend sparse remainder of evening in silence, including your own bedtime routine.
  47. Get woken up by toddler at around 3am.
  48. Quickly remember the previous 47 steps and allow them to sleep in your bed.
  49. Console yourself by remembering that they will eventually grow up and move out.

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