Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Getting to toes up and checking out the backs of their eyelids

I really don't know how I got so lucky to have two kids who don't fight bedtime. No tantrums, no meltdowns, no daily begging to stay up late. Longer days do prompt questions about why they have to go to bed when it's still light out, but never an argument.

No doubt, my kids can backtalk and whine with the best of them, so this isn't about them being perfect little angels. It just seems that somehow, we've avoided bedtime drama.

I will take at least a small amount of parenting credit. We've had the exact. same. routine. since they were infants. And since my intent with this blog is to capture the little moments that make up our lives, that's what this is about. The routine itself.

Step 1: Daddy preps the bedrooms. My kids have no idea that turndown service is a semi-luxury, available only upon request at most hotels. Because they've had it every night of their lives since they've been in big kid beds.

Step 2: Shower time. In this step, I do have an idea how lucky I am that we've moved on from baths to showers. Other than "Mommy, I'm ready" when they need conditioner or body wash on their scrubbers, they can manage this by themselves. Huge quality of life upgrade when we made the bath --> shower transition, despite the fact that Caroline may not get all of the conditioner out of her hair most nights. Trade offs.

Step 3: Jammies. Which, as you can see, are laid out and ready to go, along with Swankies and the approximately 52 stuffed animals that each child needs to sleep at night.

Step 4: Brush the teeth. For better or worse, I turned this task over several months ago. It's still done while heavily supervised, but no more Mommy wielding the toothbrush. Put that on the list of parenting tasks that hold exactly zero moments of nostalgia for me.

Step 5: Read books together. I read somewhere that one of the mistakes many parents make is to stop reading to their children once they're reading independently. For me, it's one of the few moments of stillness and nontalkingness in our house. I relish it, and hope it lasts a long, long time.

Step 6: Heater on, white noise on, lights out. Don't judge on the white noise. Like most parents, I'll do whatever it takes to get uninterrupted sleep time for us and for the kids.

Step 7: Sing a song. When they were babies, I had a repertoire of lullabies, and I sang the same ones, in the same order, every night while I rocked with them. I can't remember now (where was my 360 blog then?!) exactly what order I sang them in, but they included Hush Little Baby; My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean; Rock A Bye Baby; Jesus Loves Me; Jesus Loves the Little Children; Home on the Range; Somewhere Over the Rainbow; and Rainbow Connection.

Once the kids were old enough to make requests, we added Itsy Bitsy Spider; the theme song from Thomas the Train; This Little Light of Mine; Deep in the Heart of Texas; and various Christmas carols as the season approached us. John tends to stick with one song much longer than his sister - Caroline will request a different song every few nights, but John has a favorite and hangs on to it. We sang the theme song from Thomas (They're two, they're four, they're six, they're eight...) for months on end.

Tonight, we sang Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Three and a half months post-Christmas, it still hasn't gotten old. Caroline chose My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, and for her, she requires back rubbing during the song. She says she can't sleep otherwise. Oh, the drama.

Step 8: Hugs, kisses, and I love you.

Which, when you think about it, is really how we all want our days to end, no matter how old we are.

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