June 30, 2011

The Importance of Bedtime Rituals

 Every family has its own special set of rituals that allow the march towards bedtime to become bearable, even happy.  And we have this at our house too.  Every night about 6:30, I start preparing myself mentally for the last things that need to happen in order to get to my boys bed on time.  And about 7PM, I start the march.  Sleep II

*Brush your teeth—(And I’ll finish for you—not that you don’t do a good job.  It’s just that I’m better at finding the white on your teeth than you are.)

*Change your clothes—(We don’t do pajamas because that’s just setting ourselves up for an additional chore and possible fight in the morning.  My boys wear tomorrow’s clothes to bed.  Just another  Mother Cleaver tip for free.  I know, my parenting skills are astounding. 

*Go potty, go potty, go potty—in the toilet—before bed.  If you pee in your bed-to my 4 year old-, you will be undressing the bed and washing the sheets on your own before breakfast. (or something much less than this fantastic threat)  This gives him a little incentive to get out of bed and pee in the morning, we’ve found.  Simply peeing in the toilet in the morning for its own sake holds no merit, no motivation. 

*Drink a LITTLE water.  To my 7 year old– 125 ounces of water before bed and promising to get up the 1,259 times you will need to empty your bladder in the middle of the night, means you’re awake all night-not sleeping, which is the point of this whole activity.  Put the glass of water down. Seriously, put it down!  You’d think I outlawed drinking any liquids all day. Sleep I

*If you get ready in 15 minutes, we read books.  If you get ready in 45 minutes with intermittent fits of “butt dances”, elephant sized toothpaste art displays, screaming, fighting and tattling, you will simply be tied to the bed and have to sleep standing up.  There is always a little time for the pillars of childhood mentioned, but in shorter increments please.  My attention and patience depletes after 20 minutes.  See how I built in 5 minutes of “gimme” time for my kids?  Yes, you are welcome to use that one too—if you give me the appropriate credit. 

And after some family reading time, which is one very sweet family moment we all share at the end of the day—  (in between negotiating who goes first and who can see the pages and who turns the pages and who sits where and why the other sibling ALWAYS gets to go first), my hubby and I walk our little buggars down the passageway to Sleepy World.  And they jump into their beds and yell, “Jump on me, jump on me!”  And I tuck them neatly into their beds, kiss their little noses and cheeks and say, “Ready, one, two, three….”  And I body slam their tiny bodies into the mattresses and say good night.  Slighty stunned, dazed and happily giggling, their little bodies settle in for a night of rest.  It sounds passive aggressive, but truly they love it.  And it makes me laugh.  I really feel my kids are so lucky I am such a tender person.   

 It’s magical, it’s candy sweet, and it’s all ours!  To little boys and tender moments!  Do they really have to grow up?  Sleep III