bedtime storyThink it's hard to put a baby to sleep? Well, for a lot of us, the nighttime fun keeps going as your kids get older. That's why bedtime rituals aren't just for babies and toddlers. They're for kids of all ages -- you just need to adjust them over time. These rituals help relax your kids and quiet their minds so they can get down to the important business of sleeping. They also make for great bonding moments ... well, sometimes, anyway.

This winter I've realized I kind of need to step up my game, so I'm looking to other moms to see what they do with their kids. Here's what they told me.

1. Bedtime stories: These are still a big part of the bedtime ritual for elementary school-age kids. It's a good idea to take care of pajamas and teeth-brushing before story time.

2. Independent reading: With older kids, you might want to transition into independent reading for 15 to 30 minutes, books of their choosing.

3. Special songs and gestures: One mom tells me, "Once lights are out I tickle my son's back while singing 'you are my sunshine.' As for my daughter, once I am through with my son, I go into her room, look under her bed, turn on her dream light, and then tickle her back. She no longer wants me to sing -- but likes the back tickle. Smart kid!" And my mom always said, "Good night, don't let the bed bugs bite!"

4. Evening prayers: However you're doing it, even if you're meditating, this is a good way to reflect on the day. "We always said 'The Lord's Prayer' after bedtime stories and right before lights-out. After we did 'Our Father ...' I would pray for all these relatives and friends and our pets and all the animals in the world," one mom tells me.

5. Talk about your day: Another mom says she and her husband lie down each with a different kid to talk about their day. "I answer all the odd questions that seem to pop into their heads at the time of day that my brain is shutting off, like: Why can’t you just print your own money? and When do you think you are going to die? [head implodes] It’s the one time of day that it’s just the two of us, quiet, no distractions of homework or dinner dishes. The perfect time to really relax, talk, and cuddle. It’s pretty awesome." If you need a prompt, you can try the "rose and thorn" game -- each person has to name one thing that went well today (the rose) and one thing that didn't (the thorn).

Does your family have any other bedtime rituals?