Bedtime Routine for Preteens

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The Musings from Me family love weekends. It doesn’t matter if we are at a soccer game, or a volleyball tournament, or an all-day swim meet, we enjoy every minute of our weekends. Even though my preteen and teen frequently have homework or projects to do, the weekend isn’t over until bedtime on Sunday.

Bedtime on Sunday is how shall I put it. An endurance test. A fight to the finish. May the best man or child win. My kids don’t want to let the weekend end. I don’t blame them, but all good things need to come to an end, right? I adopt my Full Mommy Mode voice and stance. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done.

Preteens Need Sleep, Too

When I had a baby, a preschooler, and a 1st grader, bedtime on Sunday or any night was a snap. We had a routine that my husband and I followed to the letter: Bath, Books, and Bed. No arguments. No deviations from the plan.

It was a routiine that worked until my preteen and teen hit the preteen years. Suddenly, there were all sorts of excuses at bedtime. “I’m not tired.” “Can I stay up and watch TV.” ”But, Mom-my, I have homework to do!” 

Preteens and teens need their sleep as much if not more than younger kids. My children come by their nightowl tendencies through me and to some extent my husband. Our family has been known to arrive at a Disney park at 8 a.m. and not leave until after the fireworks. But, on Sunday nights sleep is needed more than ever. But how to get the preteen in your life to take a hint and “Go. To. Bed.!”

Bedtime Routine for Preteens That Works

  • Ask your preteen on Friday afterschool what homework is due on Monday. Don’t wait until Sunday night to find out your preteen needs to create a family tree showing 5 branches of the family on posterboard with photos of each family member (not that I would know anything about this particular assignment…).
  • Check your preteen’s agenda book everyday of the week not just on Friday. I know, I know preteens should be responsible for assignments, but parents should monitor preteens to ensure that assignments are handed in, homework is done, and lengthy projects are completed. I have noticed that my teen is now fully in control of her assignments — she knows what is due and when AND gets the assignments in on time! The preteen still needs some help.
  • Buy your preteen a month-by-month calendar so that she can write down the dates of homework/project assignments, sports activities, and family gatherings. Teach the preteen how to refer to the calendar when looking at what she has to do during the week.
  • Check in with your preteen throughout the weekend to remind him/her that homework needs to be done by Sunday night.
  • On Sunday night give your preteen a 1-hour warning about bedtime.
  • Remind preteen to finish up last-minute assignments.
  • Establish a nightly routine for preteen for packing backpack, placing jacket by the door, finding shoes, and locating any items needed for school on Monday (PE uniform, sneakers, notecards for speech, etc.).
  • Give 30-minute count down for preteen to get a shower, brush teeth, and get ready for bed.
  • Reading time: Some preteens will read with the light on or read under the cover with a flashlight while other preteens need to be forced to read. I have found that setting a bedtime reading time works for both types of readers.
  • Once reading time is over, I make the rounds of bedrooms to say goodnight.
  • After a busy weekend preceded by a busy week, sometimes my preteen wants to chat. Sometimes I indulge in the “postponing bedtime chat” and other times I am firm and say “Night, Night” to the preteen!

Sleep = No Grumpiness in the Morning

On Mondays and all other weekdays, there is no time for lazing in bed. I come from a long line of folks who are not early risers. My husband likes to sleep in as well. My preteen and teen love their sleep. 

Monday mornings can be challenging. But, with a ”get ready for school the next day” routine, our mornings work quite well. The preteen and teen know where to find their backpacks, jacket, shoes, and otther items in the morning. The goal is to get the preteen and teen ready for school in time for the arrival of the school bus. So, far so good with this Sunday — and other nights — Bedtime Routine.

What is Sunday night like at your house? Do you have a bedtime routine that works? Do you have a sure fire routine or do you make it up as you go? Leave a comment as I would love to hear what other moms do to get preteens in bed in a timely fashion.

When not wrangling teens to bed or dealing with “only talkative at bedtime” preteens or explaining to kids why bedtime necessary, Jill finds a moment or three to write about raising kids in the DC Metro areatesting product she knows other moms will love, and parenting tweens.

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Avatar of musingsfrommeAbout the author: musingsfromme (110 Posts)

Jill is a writer who stays at home or a SAHM who depends on her mood. She blogs about seizing family time one dinner - movie - game night at a time at When not blogging, she writes about preteens on TypeAParent, and for several other websites. She is the community manager for two local mommy sites and one national site for moms.



  1. Racheal

    February 23, 2011

    Thanks for the blog. There weren’t many returns on “bedtimes with preteens.” I have dealt with many of the same issues you spoke of. I have 1 13yo daughter, 12yo daughter (who share a room) and an 11 yo son. The bedtime routine has been for the last year or so 8-830 pm after baths, homework, tv, dinner, chores etc. which ALWAYS let to “I need water,” “I need to pee, etc. etc.” Just yesterday I decided to tweak our schedule. The kids now have to be in their bedrooms at 830 with everything done including using the restroom and are not permitted out but are allowed to stay awake without use of electronics and no talking. Obviously, it is a work in progress but I decided I can no longer fuss over this and we needed a change. They have always gotten up when the alarm goes off, pick out their clothes the night before and do not drag around so I think they have had adequate sleep thus far. My son has placed himself in bed and said goodnight…we will see what else occur

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