As of today, I am very lucky with my son's bedtime routine. He and I snuggle up in his bed and read books together (he reads me one and I read him three). Then there are hugs and kisses and then the light goes off. He very rarely leaves the bedroom.
But one night that may change, and he may decided to push his luck and leave the warm comfort of his bed to use the bathroom or tell me something "important" or to get a drink of water. And when that starts, I will institute the rule of the bedtime pass.
The bedtime pass is simple, which is probably why it works. Every night parents give their child a small piece of paper, which is the child's pass to leave the bed one time per night. After that one time is used, the parent will not respond to their child for any reason and the child may not leave the bed.
And that is it. Really.
It works, because the rules are set ahead of time with all parties, and because children feel that they are in control to leave the bed once per night if they want to. Everyone is happy; everyone can sleep better.
And isn't that the real goal?
Tell me what tricks you use to keep bedtime routines simple.