Sometimes getting the kiddos down can be challenge. Also, not every day is created alike. However, if you want to have somewhat of a scheduled bedtime or routine to the day, it is possible.
I have found that a bedtime was very important for them...and for me. It really does help to ensure they get enough sleep, gives you some downtime at night if you need (that is if you don't pass out yourself), and in general it creates an expectation that they have some rules they must follow and stick to.
I read a lot about bedtimes, and talked to other moms, and found that the same advice kept popping up.
So here I have summarized my findings into 5 neat rules.
Here are the 5 rules I followed to solidify a schedule for Caiden's sleeping, and it works. These 5 things, learned along the way, some the hard way...need to be followed to have a bedtime really stick.
Basically, once you have set a time in mind, keep to that. Of course, there are exceptions like events that come up, but the majority of time, and when at home, it is important to follow the same timeline every day. This creates a little timer within them.
Set a time to stop play
Before they retire to the bed, you want to know they likely won't go down right away. Also things like playing and watching TV come with brain activity and getting excited, so you want to give them enough time for all their activities and have a time it will end. Once you set a time for that to stop for the day, it will start the bedtime routine, so over time they know what's to follow.
Established routine (i.e. bath, brush, read etc)
I did this from the baby stage, as do most moms. But having a little bedtime routine I think is pivotal. These items become ingrained and they know what is to follow so the fuss of going to bed basically disappears. We do a bath, brushing the teeth, some warm milk, a book, and hugs and kisses. Then it is lights out.
Quiet or chill time
I recall a mom telling me this, and I tried it and it helped immensely. For about 30 minutes before I actually want him to sleep, I have to let him do something quiet and relaxed. This kind of couples up with the "set time to stop play" and "established routine" rules. Incorporate some time for them to relax and come down from the day's activities. For us the bath and books is this quiet time, and we may sing a few songs while he is laying in bed. Either way, it is very relaxed and soothing and it really sets the tone.
Not depending on your kid telling you they are tired or trying to overtire them
I think it is a huge misconception that kids will just fall asleep when they are tired. I think it can't be further from the truth, and I found the exact opposite. Kids, as they get older, will push boundaries and try to stay up as late as they can, they have fear of missing out. So it's important to recognize they are pushing through a sleepy stage...I can tell with Caiden because he starts to get rowdy. Then trying to work them up more, generally has the complete opposite effect. The more tired they get, the more wild they may get and harder to put down. Overtired kids, in general, sleep much worse. So keep that in mind.
Well, I hope this helps. I know it did with me.
Good luck (and good night).