Thursday, August 30, 2012

{Messy Parenting} Bedtime Routine

It seems that as time goes on, the more complicated and frustrating bedtime becomes.  For the past year, we have had to constantly battle with our kids to go to bed and stay there.  Both parties have often ended the night close to tears as communication lines fail and we all admit defeat.

In one of my many late night feeding/holding sessions with Amelia, I had a parenting epiphany: maybe Emily and Andrew need individual time with us.

The past 2.5 years have not been easy.  I have either been pregnant or miscarrying, making parenting quite difficult.  I have not developed a full relationship with the older kids because of all the physical impediments.

With Amelia as our last natural child, I can remedy this.  Easily.  It just requires swallowing some of my pride and selfishness and giving up an hour at night to devote my full attention to them, individually.

Rather than fight the kids for an hour or two, when all they really want is attention and love, I have decided to give that time to them.  Ben and I will take turns lying down with either Emily or Andrew (separately so they have individual time with both parents throughout the week) and let them tell us whatever they want while tickling their backs and singing/listening to lullabies.

I think this experiment is just what our family needs to truly bond.

On a related note, I picked songs I felt fit Emily, Andrew, and Amelia.  The kids love having a song that is specifically theirs and will often ask that we sing "their" song during the day.  And, they know the lyrics to these songs by heart.

Emily's song: Yellow by Coldplay

Andrew's song: Darling Boy by John Lennon

Amelia's song: You'll Be In My Heart by Phil Collins

Do you have a bedtime routine for your kids?  Do your kids have "their" songs?  Have you ever wanted to cry in a closet because your kids won't go to bed/sleep?  Share YOUR story.  


  1. Bedtime is fraught with emotions. Oh, yes I've cried.

    This summer, I finally had to admit that my girls needed different bedtimes. It's a bit exhausting, but won't last forever -right?

    First, my three year old who doesn't nap is DONE at 6. We all get PJed, brush teeth; after a bath if it's a bath sorta day. And then by 6:15 (or so) she and I sit together reading. Since I'm the only parent home, the baby is napping/fussing/ crawling right there with us. Lights out and then stories and songs and by 7 she's out.

    As this ritual happens, my big girl gets reading time/quiet time/ daddy time if he's home in time. Since school started, it's also homework time.

    When I emerge from the dark quiet, we discuss homework and then read together for about 30 minutes. I sing one song and go. She will always want more, but gets wired not relaxed. Sigh.

    Of course by now the baby has woken from her evening nap and is up until 10 or so. Once she gets into the swing of the school routine and learns to drop that third nap, maybe I'll get a moment at the end of the day.

  2. I punt the bedtime routine to my husband. :) However, when he's on call, I do it. Thankfully, my girls are so tired by the end of the day that I can get away with a story each and that's it.

  3. I love their songs.. So cute!
    Since I have no experience, that is all. :)

  4. The first two and a half years of my daughter's life, bedtime was a charming little routine where we got jammies on, read 2 stories that she picked out, had a snuggle, tucked her in, turned out the light, shut the door and called it a day. Back then, bedtime was 7:30 - 8:00.
    And then the terrible toddler stages hit. We'd go through stretches of bedtime being a hours long battle. There were points in time where we locked her in her room to keep her from coming out (unlocking it after she was asleep). Eventually these would pass. As she got older, the bedtime snuggle went from sitting in the rocking chair to laying down with her for 'just a minute'. If you had a long enough day, you'd be out before her.
    Phasing out the bedtime snuggle was hard - she was 9 before it was completely done with.

    These days, she is a master procrastinator at pushing that bedtime back, no matter what time we start the process of getting ready. We aim for 8:30, it ends up being 9:30. She pops back up until almost 10:30 most nights. Even being proactive about her need for a 'fresh water bottle', making her go to the bathroom doesn't stop the need for her to get up. She's a master at avoiding bedtime. These days it is more pleasant than when she was 2 and 3, although with the start of school, Friday night bedtimes can still be epic meltdowns.

    Bedtime when she was 2 and a half is a very big reason why she's an only child.

  5. We are kind of militant about bedtime. We have a pretty long routine (bath, jammies, teeth, hair, books, potty break, songs), but then it's time for bed, for real. The kids test us occasionally, but we are hardcore ("No, go back to your room, I'll turn off the nightlight, I'll close the door, I'll take away your bunny). I NEED those evening hours to restore my sanity and my house, and I can't handle any shenanigans after 8 p.m. I bet that means one or all of them will need therapy at some point, but oh, well. We're doing the best we can!

  6. Becky, this comment made my day. Locking the door? Check. Crying and screaming fits? (Kids AND me) check. I thought I was such a FANTASTIC mom because Emily and Andrew went to bed at 7 every night without fail. They would sometimes cry for a few minutes but would fall asleep within the hour. And once they hit that fantastically painful age of 2.5-3, everything changed. We continued to keep our bedtime as consistent as possible - even with all the moves and stuff - but it didn't always pan out. Now I'm too tired to fight it, so I figure something needs to change before I hand off my children to the next available family member. But I've found that when I go in and sing to Andrew and Emily , they wil fall asleep and won't get up for the rest of the night. It's just doing it that sounds exhausting. Ha.

  7. I hear you, Kate. These years sure are physically exhausting aren't they?

  8. I love that each baby has their own night time song. I sang Beatles songs to my older two; the twins love "Goodnight My Angel" (Billy Joel) and request it every night.

    You're such a good mommy.

  9. Mine just really HATES going to bed - she's convinced she's going to miss something. Her father is the same way.
    And many of her meltdowns come from her being worn out. So we are trying to get her to recognize and manage herself better when she is tired.

  10. I love that each child has his or her song. Right now, my daughter and I love the song Home by Phillip Phillips.

    As for a nighttime routine, I defer the brushing teeth/flossing duties of my daughter to my husband. I pick up where he leaves off. And I can blame him if the dentist spots any cavities :).


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