Whether it’s 15 minutes, half an hour, or an entire hour, most families settle into some sort of bedtime routine— bath time, brushing teeth, pajamas. It’s all part of getting ready for a good night’s rest whether you’ve got toddlers, preschoolers, or teens. 

But did you know that your family’s bedtime routine can also be a time for helping your children find their identity in Christ? 

Here are 5 tips to show you how:

1. We stand on God’s Word

Include Bible reading in your children’s bedtime routine. For toddlers and preschoolers, reading from an age-appropriate children’s Bible is a good way to start. With elementary kids, a Scripture-based devotion for their age can help them build a solid foundation on God’s Word. For older kids, reading together through the Bible on a one-year plan opens their hearts for a deeper understanding of God’s Word.

Years ago, when we were raising our own two sons, we included a variety of Bible readings. One year when they were in middle school, we read through a devotion that featured one Scripture along with a one-page devotion for each day of the year. When they were in high school, we read through a one-year Bible plan together. After that, we switched up our perspective and read through a one-year chronological Bible plan.

Both our grown sons still remember the times we’d be out late on summer nights driving home from a local amusement park. My husband took the time those days to record himself reading that day’s passage so we could listen to it on the way home while he drove. Of course, being the adventurous Dad they love, he added in crazy sound effects that made them laugh and always eager to hear more. Fun stuff, for sure, but with an eternal spiritual impact.

2. We talk with God

Include prayer in your child’s bedtime routine. Teach your children that they can talk with God just as they talk with their very best friend whether it’s their teddy, their neighbor next door, or you. Pray aloud with them, modeling prayer to teach them how to pray. If you’re uncomfortable praying aloud, start by repeating simple prayers such as the Lord’s prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13. Give them time to pray aloud to God, too.

For toddlers and preschoolers, these special times of prayer can be so sweet! How precious it is to hear our grandsons’ little voices telling God about the simple requests they have. And yet for pre-teens and teenagers, these special times of prayer can be a lifeline, rescuing them from the storms of life. 

3. We sing praises

Include praise and worship in your children’s bedtime routine. This is a wonderful way to pass on faith-based songs from your childhood to the next generation, such as Jesus Loves Me and Jesus Loves the Little Children

Sing a children’s praise song together. Or print out the words to a song your congregation sings at church so you can learn it together at home. Sing familiar hymns. Find a used hymnal at your local thrift shop or library’s used bookstore and learn the old-time Gospel anchors of faith. 

And if you just don’t have a musical bone in your body, simply tune into a worship song and sing along.

Teach your children that they can talk with God just as they talk with their very best friend, whether it’s their teddy, their neighbor next door, or you.

4. We thank God for his goodness

Include storytime in your children’s bedtime routine. Yes, tell them stories. Tell them stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness to you. Tell them stories from your past and stories from today of God’s power and love and forgiveness in your own life. 

The Bible exhorts us in Psalm 78:4, “We will not hide them from [our] children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done,” (NKJV). Make an effort to share with your children the blessings and miracles God has done and continues to do for you personally.

When our children hear us thanking God for His goodness, it helps them have a thankful heart as well. And when they hear us share stories from our childhood about God’s faithfulness, and even stories from our day-to-day life witnessing God’s help and protection and miraculous intervention, it connects our family together with strong ties that bind.

5. We are precious to God

Make your family’s bedtime routine a device-free zone.

In our high-tech world, it’s easy for kids to feel less valuable than their parents’ social media connections. Or they may feel a false sense of value if they’re constantly being photographed for Mommy or Daddy’s social media agendas. Even worse, they may subconsciously measure their worth based on social media stats. 

By establishing your family’s bedtime routine as a device-free zone, it helps ground their feet (and hearts!) in real relationships. With you. And with God!

Turn off your notifications. Turn your devices on silent. Better yet: put all your devices away— it’s a great time to plug them into their charging stations! Let everyone know that bedtime is family time. Technology can and should wait.

The message we give our children when we put our devices away and focus our attention on them is that they have value. Their lives matter. They are precious to you AND to God. A device-free bedtime routine is one of the best defenses against depression and low self-image that there is.

Build a firm foundation each night

A bedtime routine isn’t just about getting physically ready for bed. It can also be a time for spiritual preparation. The blessings that follow will help them find their identity in Christ and not base their self-image on current cultural definitions. 

So while you’re tugging jammies over sweaty feet or measuring small blobs of toothpaste on their toothbrushes, be sure to help build a firm foundation of faith one building block at a time… each night with their bedtime routine.