My Solo Bedtime Routine With My Kids


Eva Amurri Martino puts both of her children to be using her solo bedtime routine when her husband is out of town

I’m about to serve you up some #MomLife tea nice and hot, so get ready people! LOL.  When my second child was born (spoiler alert: it’s the enormous boy in these pics) the number one thing that freaked me out the most about adjusting to life with two kids was…drumroll please…BEDTIME.  I can’t tell you how much anxiety I had over it.  My husband is gone often for work, and the idea of putting both kids to bed on my own when he was out of town had me in knots.  How would I even start?! How would I bathe both of them, manage both of them while getting them in to individual bedrooms?! I texted every single Mom of more than one kid that I knew: “How do you do BEDTIME with multiple kids? What are your tips?!” I was panicked.

Eva Amurri Martino holds one year old son Major before getting him ready for bath time

Eva Amurri Martino snuggles one year old son Major before getting him ready for bath time

Looking back, I see this predicament as the bucket that all of my anxieties went in to during a pretty stressful time.  This “bedtime worry” became the vessel for everything I was worried about: if I can just figure out how to do bedtime on my own, perfectly, then my life is manageable.  Right? (Well, wrong, obviously. But just to put you in my frame of mind. Ha!).  The first few times I did double bedtime on my own, it was the chaotic disaster of my nightmares.  Self-Fulfilling-Prophecy City, if you will.  But then I started to figure out little tricks, and as my kids grew up and I got more nimble with both of them, things got better. And then when Major got to the toddler phase, things became a bit trickier again.  Because what is harder than a second squirmy child to wrangle in to pajamas and beg to sleep? A RUNNING second squirmy child to wrangle in to pajamas and beg to sleep.  Naturally.

Eva Amurri Martino wraps daughter Marlowe in a white towel in the bedroom of her Connecticut home


Then flash forward all the way to now, and we just ended a phase of life where Kyle was essentially gone from November 1st through February 10th.  I have been alone with both my kids more consistently in the past few months than ever before, and needless to say, I was finally able to lock in a great Solo Bedtime Routine.  I’ve had sooooo many requests to share my routine with both kids at night (I chuckle when I get these requests since it reminds me so much of myself during that new “two kid” orientation period) that I decided to finally post it! I’m sorry in advance that this is my Solo Bedtime Routine as it is with my kids NOW.  I know that doesn’t help Moms with a newborn too much.  For you newborn Mamas, I will briefly share my best trick I had when Major was in the newborn bath (and I couldn’t bathe the kids together): I started HIS bedtime FIRST.  I bathed him (Marlowe helped me), Dressed him (Marlowe helped me), and then fed him his bottle and rocked him while Marlowe watched a movie on the ipad in her bed.  I kept all the lights off, and both bedroom doors open so that I could hear her (she wasn’t as independent then as she is now).  Then I would do her whole routine for bed after he was down for the night.  I hope that helps!  Ok, here we go with the current one…


Eva Amurri Martino wrangles one year old son, Major, and three year old daughter, Marlowe as she goes through her solo bedtime routine in their connecticut home


My Solo Bedtime Routine…

I just wanted to note that I started this routine when my kids were Three years old and 13 months old, respectively.  I begin this routine after Dinner Time, which ends at about 5:30 pm.

5:30pm: After Dinner Play

This time of the night is all about getting their wiggles out! Usually we actually spend a few minutes putting toys AWAY from the day, and I put on music to have a little dance party.  We always listen to stations on Spotify.  They love the Disney Hits station, and we listen to The Beatles and the Annie Movie Soundtrack more than anything else.  Sometimes I put on the Beyoncé station, which Major actually likes more than Marlowe does.  Go figure.

6pm: Bath Time

I start bath time much earlier when I’m doing it alone (when Kyle is home we start it between 6:15 and 6:30 because it doesn’t take as long).  I make sure to grab everything I need from downstairs before we head up so I don’t have to drag the kids up and down the stairs for things I forgot (obviously can’t leave them alone up there!). I always bring Major’s monitor (so I can keep an ear out for him while I’m putting Marlowe to bed) and two smoothie pouches.  Since Major weaned himself off of bottles and won’t drink Milk at all, I like him to have a smoothie pouch before bed to keep him full at night and as a nice calcium-rich routine.  Of course after we did that a couple of times, Big Sister has made it a necessary part of her bedtime as well.  Go figure.

I head upstairs, and the first thing I do is close every single door off of the hallway that isn’t Marlowe’s room or the bathroom.  I don’t want the kids getting in to anything while my back is turned for a second.  They go together to Lowie’s room to play while I run the bath.  When the water is ready, I get them both in there! Marlowe is pretty good at undressing herself these days which makes life easier.  Then, I always start with Marlowe’s bath routine first because she has about 90 million strands of hair and it takes forever.  We wash her first and shampoo, condition, etc– getting her totally “done” while Major is happily playing with the toys.  Then I switch their positions and Major gets clean.  This is my most challenging time, since he doesn’t like his hair washed, or water poured over his face.  I usually turn the faucet on to distract him.  As soon as he’s clean, I open the drain to let the water start draining out. They always ask for two more minutes in the bath, but have learned that the water is their timer. I let them play until it’s all out of tub, then bundle them in their towels.

6:20pm: Pajamas

I make Marlowe come in and sit in Major’s room, wrapped in her towel, while I get him in his pajamas.  I used to let her do her own thing while she waited for me, but she dripped on the floor and slipped a couple of times, or wandered in to my room and closet, or went back in the bathtub, and finally I was like “Ok. You’re coming in here also, and we are shutting the door behind us.  The end!” I lotion Major up, put his night time diaper on, give him a little vial of his teething potion, and get him in his pajamas.  When he’s all done, I put him standing on the floor and hand him his smoothie pouch.  Then the Martino train heads in to Marlowe’s room together.

Major drinks his smoothie on the way, and always likes to be the one to close the door to his sister’s room once’s we’re all inside.  While I get Marlowe ready, he finishes his pouch and plays with her books and dress up stuff.  I get Lowie all lotioned up, help her with her Pajamas, and spray a detangler in her hair.  Then I hand her HER smoothie pouch while I brush out her hair to distract her.  This is always a super charming part of my day…KNOT.  hehe.  She screams every time no matter what, just because.  The joys of Threenagers! Then, I braid her hair loosely.

Eva Amurri Martino holds son, Major, on her lap as she gets him ready for bed

6:35pm: 5 Minutes of Sibling Time

I’ve found in my solo bed time routine that my kids are both way less fussy about getting in their beds if I allot them five minutes of play time together before bed.  Normally they elect for me to be OUT of the room during this time, and find shutting me out to be absolutely hilarious.  If you follow me on Instagram Stories I’m sure you’ve seen this in action multiple times.  I use the five minutes to change out the water in both of their humidifiers in their rooms, and to get Major’s room ready for bed (lights out, humidifier on, sound machine on, sleep sack on the changing table).  FYI I only use a humidifier in their rooms in the Winter to combat dry air, or when they’re sick– not year round!

6:40pm: Major’s Bedtime

Major is ALWAYS fussy about being the first one to bed.  After the kids say goodnight to each other, I bring him in to his room and zip him in to his sleep sack.  During Major’s bed time, Marlowe stays in her room, with the door shut, reading or playing quietly.  On days when she’s acting up and resisting, I give her the iPad to distract her in there while I get her brother to bed.  Normally she’s good just playing with her books and toys.  I shut the lights off in the hallway, and keep Major’s door open so I can hear her just in case.  Then I grab his lovey from the crib, and sit in the glider for some cuddle time.  We sing a couple songs, snuggle a bit, and chat– and then he usually points to his crib and says “bed.” That’s my cue! I give him one last hug and kiss, and lay him down in there.  I close the door behind me, and turn on his monitor, bringing it back with me in to Lowie’s room.

6:50pm: Marlowe’s Bedtime

The first thing I do is bring Marlowe in to the bathroom to brush her teeth.  Then we go back to her room and she gets to pick two books for me to read her before bed.  We read them in the little reading nook, and then it’s time to use the potty and snuggle! She climbs in to bed, I switch on her night light, humidifier, and sound machine– and shut off the lights.  Then I lay down with her for a few minutes and we do “Peak and Pit” of the day– when we share our best part and our worst part of the day.  Then I give her one last hug and kiss, and leave the room.  She has wanted me to leave the door a little cracked as she’s falling asleep recently, which I always do.  Then, when I check on her before I go to bed I shut it all the way! I’m normally out of her room by 7:05 or 7:10.

Eva Amurri Martino wears a red sweater and jeans, and lifts one year old son, Major, in the air to tickle him

Eva Amurri Martino wears a red sweater and jeans, and lifts one year old son, Major, in the air to tickle him

Eva Amurri Martino wears a red sweater and jeans, and lifts one year old son, Major, in the air to tickle him

So, there you have it! Hopefully the details aren’t too boring– I know sometimes people like the detail aspect, especially when they’re looking for ideas to apply to their own routines! I hope this helps anybody out there feel a little less overwhelmed by getting kids to bed on their own.  If you have any great solo bedtime routine tips, or additional questions for me, please share in the comments below!!

Eva Amurri Martino sits on the master bed in her Connecticut home with her two children as she readies them for bed

Photographs by Carter Fish




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  1. Shireen says:

    Do you have The Wet Brush for Marlowe’s hair? I swear that was the biggest game changer for my daughter. Like your kiddo, my girl has Uber thick hair that knots easily and the tears and screaming was too much. My hair stylist recommended The Wet Brush and it’s so much easier now. Barely any fussing when we brush out her hair. Just thought I’d share!

    • Alex says:

      Was about to say the same thing! That brush has changed my life, haha.

    • Sadly the Wetbrush routine is already a part of our routine! It is no match for Marlowe Hair! LOL

  2. Alicia says:

    Oh my gosh, I could have written this post word for word! That was also my biggest fear becoming a mom of 2! How do I do bath and bedtime alone?!? My husband often gets home late so I am solo many nights. My kids are within months of your kids (girl then boy!) and their bedtimes are also the same. 2 thumbs up for early bedtimes!!! I also do the same where I take turns on washing, dressing, etc and drag each kid around for the whole process. Haha!

  3. Anne says:

    This is a great routine – very similar to ours with our two girls (oldest is almost 6 and youngest is almost 19 months). I don’t have to do it solo often but when I do I am always so exhausted when they’re both in bed! Ha!

    And I second the comments on the wet brush. We have been using it for a few years now with our older daughter and it really works!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Anne,
      We have a 3.5 year old daughter (whoslept terribly, had awful reflux, colic and allergies) and are contemplating having another child – but are scared because of our first experience as parents. We also don’t feel like our family is incomplete per se, and are head over heels in love with or daughter. We do enjoy our ‘threesome’ but wonder if a sibling, despite a large age gap, would benefit our daughter. I noticed the age difference between your daughters and hope you don’t mind my asking for any insight or advice you may have!!!! Thank you! 🙏🏻

      • Anne says:

        I don’t mind at all! We, too, were a little anxious about adding a second child to our family (me more than my husband, I think). Our older daughter was such a good baby (slept and nursed well, etc) and then she turned 2. Ha! When she was a toddler I was definitely not yet ready to have another baby. She was just a handful – high energy, independent, lots of sass (typical of girls). Everyone kept telling us that having a big age gap would make us feel like we were starting over again. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to love another baby as much as our older daughter. She’d been our only child for more than 4 years and was my little bestie! We did kind of feel like we were starting over again but the upshot is that the second time around you have a better idea about what you’re doing! You don’t feel as clueless so that helps. 🙂

        I will say that it was quite an adjustment for our older daughter. I feel awful saying this but it took an entire year for her to really “like” her little sister. She was, and still is, a big time momma’s girl (they both are, actually) so she would want my attention as soon as I couldn’t give it to her (like when I was nursing the baby and couldn’t get her ready for bed. Poor daddy had to deal with her wrath!). And adjusting to two kids after having only one for such a long time was a challenge. But here we are almost 19 months later and they love each other so much! They are each other’s favorite person in the entire world. The baby asks for her sister first thing in the morning and they are starting to play together a little bit better now that the younger one is talking more and more every day. I sometimes wish they were closer in age because, for example, they’ll never be in the same school at the same time (older one will be in upper elementary when the younger one is just starting kindergarten) but that’s really not a huge deal. I also think the age gap only seems large now when they’re little – it will seem a lot smaller as they get older. And the older one can now read to the baby and that’s pretty sweet. 🙂

        I have two sisters so I always wanted girls of my own and my husband, strangely enough, wanted girls, too, after having grown up with a brother so we are beyond happy that we have them. The are both high energy, independent, strong-willed little girls with lots of personality – and we wouldn’t want them any other way! Our family definitely feels complete now that we have two.

  4. Abbey C says:

    What age did you get the awake clock for in the mornings and what time did you set it? I have a one year old, and obviously i think he’s a little young, but I’d love to jump on it early.

    • Hi!
      I started using it with Marlowe at around 19 months. For a few weeks we started to set it for 7am and then we gradually shifted it over a week to 7:30 am which is what it is still set at now!

  5. Jamie says:

    Love this post! And yes, I am going to be THAT mom and ask a specific question related to your post. (Other moms, feel free to chime in as well!) What are your favorite kiddo friendly hair-care products? I prefer natural products but have a hard time finding a conditioner/de-tangler that works well on my daughter’s hair. We are also fans of the Wet Brush! As always, thank you for your posts 🙂

    • Hi Jamie!
      So my fave kids haircare changes a lot, since I find there are so many different brands on the market and I like to always try new ones! Unfortunately after our lice debacle, I now use Fairytales on Marlowe’s hair for lice prevention. I like it a lot!
      Otherwise, I use Honest Company, their detangler is really good. And I’ve recently started trying out Wash With Water, which I really like a lot also!

  6. dana says:

    thanks for this! can you tell us how you sleel trained your adorable kids when they were babies?

    • Check out my latest Happily Eva Answers Video, I answer that question!

  7. Katie says:

    Great details!
    What time do your kiddos wake up?
    What is Major’s nap schedule?


    • Marlowe’s Alarm is set for 7:30am, and Major has been waking up this month in between 7:30 and 8am.

      He takes one nap a day, from 1pm to around 2:30 or 3:00

  8. Tara says:

    My husband travels a lot for work too, and honestly our bedtime routine is almost identical to yours 😊. My kids are 6 and 3 now, my 3 year old goes to bed about 30 minutes before my 6 year old. And he doesn’t like staying downstairs alone while I put his sister to bed so he’ll lay on my bed and read or watch cartoons while I put my daughter in bed. The only thing I struggle with is both of my kids want me to lay with them until they fall asleep. They’ve fallen asleep on their own in the past, but the last year or so they want me with them. Most nights it’s not a problem, they’re asleep within minutes. But some nights my 6 year old will take an hour or longer to fall asleep. Something I’m trying to work on…..hopefully I can get them falling asleep on their own soon. Nighttime after their sleeping is my only downtime, quiet time, so I’d love to spend it relaxing and not laying in my kids bed telling them over and over again to “please just go to sleep”

    • Oh, I feel you! I’ve let Marlowe sleep in my bed four times in her entire life, and all four times she was awake until 1am, was too excited to sleep! The struggle is real

  9. Christin says:

    7:05???? I am more than jealous!!! Love reading other bedtime routines. My little girl sadly doesn’t need that much sleep and would be awake at 05:00 in the morning. But I learned to love the evenings together with her. Hopin it gets different when she doesn’t have to nap anymore… greeting

  10. Monica says:

    Hahaha I was going to tell you to get the Wet brush, but someone beat me to it. It really is amazing. Also, Marlow has so much hair so it probably doesn’t matter, hair is most elastic and breakable when it’s wet, braiding wet hair can be damaging, especially if sleeping on it. I love your routine. It really works. You’re such a thoughtful mama.

    • We have been using the wetbrush for two years! Unfortunately it doesnt help that much 🙁

  11. Leigh says:

    My daughter has a duck hat (kind of like a visor with it open in the center) so you pull it down past the hair line and then when you pour the water on their hair it doesn’t go into their eyes 🙂

  12. Alex says:

    My husband has been away for four months overseas and we have a 2.5 year old and 4.5 month old. I was so worried about the bedtime routine too, especially since our older daughter had a great routine leading up to her baby sister arriving. It’s taken some time to find the right routine (for now) and I appreciate your post with tips! It’s hard to do it yourself!

    • Oh my gosh, you’re amazing! Hang in there! I can also attest to the fact that bedtime/bathtime gets so much easier as soon as the little sib can sit up on their own. You’re almost there! xo

  13. Jenny says:

    So you give your kids a bath every single night?! Reading that just made me exhausted! But it sounds like a lot of parents do. We just have a 2 year old and we do bath every other night. If we had 2 kids I’d push it to every 3 nights!😂

    • Yes!
      I mostly do it every night because it’s a part of their routine, and so they associate it with sleep and settling down for the night (a sleep-training tactic). Also since Marlowe is in school now I like to make sure we give her a good warm bath to wash the germs off!

  14. M Harris says:

    All the praise hands!!!

  15. Nikki says:

    Loved reading your routine! I’m curious as to 1) why you couldn’t bath them together, and 2) what smoothie pouches you get 🙂

    • Nikki says:


    • I couldn’t bathe them together when Major was a newborn because they’re only two years apart, and having them both in the bath was a bit hectic. Marlowe is so energetic and it was intense keeping them both safe in there. It got easier as she got older!

      I get whatever smoothie pouches I can find! I like to try new ones. So far, we like the stonyfield mango spinach ones for refrigerated and the Earth’s Best sesame street ones for shelf stable.

  16. Laura says:

    Hi Eva,

    I thoroughly enjoy all your posts/pictures/videos. I love how you keep it real, and I’ve fallen in love with Marlowe and Major, LOL. Thank you for sharing them – and you – with us!

    I’m curious: what is the necklace (for lack of a better word) that Major wears, and does it hold any significance?

    • Thanks for the kind words, Laura!!

      It is a baltic amber teething necklace! The amber is raw so when it’s warmed by the skin, it transfers its analgesic properties to him. I’ve used them w both kids and notice a huge difference in their mood when their teething while they have them. I’m including it in a whole post that I’m working on about teething babies! 😉


      • Laura says:

        VERY cool! My stepson and daughter-in-law are expecting their first child in June; I bet they would love this! Looking forward to your post.

  17. Brittany says:

    Thank u so much for sharing, Eva! I benefit SO much from your blog & love following your posts. Have you heard recommendations re: not using a humidifier year round? Any potential complications in using one throughout the year? I ask just b/c we are pretty hooked on ours due to the sound machine-like component of it. Our other sound machine times out. Thanks again!

  18. Erin says:

    My 2 year-old has incredibly curly, thick hair. My mom ordered a brush called The Ultimate Detangling Hair Brush from a catalog called Chinaberry (the only place I’ve been able to find it), and it’s been a complete game changer! We used to break the teeth on even wide-tooth combs, just trying to comb out her wet curls that were covered in conditioner. Now, I can brush her hair out while receiving only minimal side eye! I highly recommend it!

  19. Mary says:

    Well, it is comforting to know that yes it can be done, to handle a bedtime routine for two kids without collapsing and without getting close to a nervous breakdown! LOL! I have a two year old son who never seems to be tired enough in order to go to bed without screaming and crying! I barely survive his bedtime routine every night although I have some help from my husband who prepares his milk and even sometimes read him a story.The problem is that my little star sleeps late, usually around 11.30 pm to 12.00 am and this is because we usually go out as a family in the afternoon for walks, shopping, at the playground, etc. so it is unrealistic to put him to bed before 10 or 10.30 pm especially during scorching summer months.Otherwise we would be stuck inside a flat (although a nice one) every afternoon which is unbearable. My question to you is this : Do you go out with the kids in the afternoons and how do you manage to have them tired enough to sleep from 8 am especially Major who also naps until 3am? And also regarding bathing, do you have both of them sitting directly on the bathtub or on a bathing mat or seat ? As you can imagine I would be happy with even more details!!!

  20. Maggie says:

    Thank you for this! I have a two month old and a four year old and have yet to successfully put them to bed solo, which I’ll need to be doing most of the time. It helps to know that I’m not the only one overwhelmed at the start and gives me some hope that I’ll find our new routine!

  21. Paulina Romo says:

    Hi, I would love to know how you sleep train your kids, I have a 3 month girl and a two year old, and I don’t know how to keep my toddler in bed.