(This post, which I wrote quickly the other day and needed to finish, seems like an ironically appropriate post given tonight’s bedtime scream-o-thon. I stand my these words none-the-less.)
Can I just say, that I love Audrey’s bedtime routine.
We were early adopters of the ‘bedtime routine.’ Audrey’s current bedtime routine started when she was only 4 months old. Determined and delusional about the magical effects of a bed time routine and touted as the ‘cure all’ by many a ‘no-cry’ sleep advocate, we were ALL OVER IT.
Did it work? While I have already admitted to extreme amnesia regarding Audrey’s first 6 months, but she was always a pretty good baby when it came to sleep. But I will dare to say, yes, I do suspect it helped, if only a little. By 5 months or so, she had a pretty consistent early bedtime and usually slept through to morning with a couple short wake ups for a bottle. (Yes, I know, this sleeping pattern is not typical and many of you right now are probably trying to kick me through the screen. Trust me, we had other issues.) Was this the magic of the bedtime routine at work or just the winning of the proverbial baby lottery with our ‘really fussy eater but great sleeper’ baby? I don’t know. And quite honestly, I don’t care.
Because as much as the bed time routine was adopted in desperate hope for a bit of a break in the evening, gained from the ‘victory’ of a sleeping baby, we got so much more out of that bed time routine. Namely, it is the time, every day, where we re-group, connect and are quiet together.
While the timing of the routine has shifted as bedtime has shifted (from later to earlier from 4-6 months and from earlier to later from 12-16 months) the routine has remained the same:
First Audrey has her bath. Honestly, we skip this sometimes because the water here in Calgary is HARD and her skin is SOFT… = dry skin. There is just not enough moisturizer in the world to keep your skin moisturized in Calgary and she has particularly dry skin. Anyway, sometimes we skip this part.
Next, we get her in pajamas and get her bottle ready. Then she has her bottle while sitting on either mommy or daddy’s lap, rocking in the rocking chair beside her crib.
Then, we read her a story. For a very, very long time, that story was always the same. “Good Night Moon.” I love a good classic. But recently, she started to get antsy and likes to hold the book herself and kicks as we try and read to her. So now, we tend to read to her pre- bottle, while she toddles around the room, happily pulling things off shelves. I still like reading “Good Night Moon”, but we mix it up.
My favourite part is after her bottle. We play her a song and sing it to her. The song is by Raffi and is called “Thanks A lot.” This is my favouite part of my day. No matter how frustrated I am or tired I am. No matter if we have had a good day or a bad day. No matter if A was happy and giggly or whiny-mc-whinerson, this part of the day always makes me feel nothing but love for my child and love for being a parent. The song is about being thankful for everything we have around us. And there is something about recognizing that you are grateful every day and communicating that to your child that is wonderful and magical. So I love it. LOVE.
After the magic of the song, we put her down in the crib, with her two lovies, sheep and sophie (no, not the rubber one, the blankie one), and turn on her ‘sleepy music.’ An other relic from the days of trying to find the perfect formula for optimal baby sleep, we have this white noise track on an ipod of rain in the rainforest. We play it every night, all night, on repeat. We swear it helps her sleep. Who knows….
Also, I should mention, either my husband or I can do part or all of it. We regularly tag team and if either one of us is away- no problem- she is all good. Now that wasn’t always the case- there have been periods of separation anxiety when only Mommy would do. But for the most part, she has been pretty easy going about it.
Bed time is my favourite time of the day. And sure, it is partly because it signals the end of my least favourite time of the day: get home/clean up/make dinner/whiny child part of the day. And partly because it signals the beginning of one of the best times of the day: the ‘time not at work and not taking care of toddler, Mommy and Daddy alone time’. But it really is more then that.
I really do love the way I feel holding my daughter and singing to her. I love the calm and the closeness. It is pretty much the only time of the day she will let me hold her without wiggling free to get to something that catches her eye. And as I said, there is something truly magical about practicing gratefulness together. I look forward to the day that she will sing that song with me, know all the words and get value from their meaning, just like I do.