I recently spoke with a young friend who told me that her daughter always gets wound up and unruly at bedtime. It seems to be a real problem. That started me thinking about my own children’s bedtime rituals. They didn’t always want to go to bed, but I don’t remember them giving me a particularly difficult time.
Those of you who know me, know that I love Traditions. Traditions provide structure, security, and memories! Our bedtimes evolved as the children grew. Activities and actions changed to be age appropriate, but we always incorporated some kind of daily rituals, which became traditions, into our bedtimes. “Goodnight; Sleep Tight; Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!” the goodnight refrain from my childhood, was often repeated. The traditions that never changed were bedtime prayers followed by hugs and kisses! Sometimes, we had to kiss all the toys and stuffed animals goodnight, too!
When my children were toddlers, I usually put them to bed by myself. Daddy was too much of a fun distraction when it was time for our children to calm down and go to sleep. As they got a little older, I helped the children get ready for bed and said my goodnights, then my husband actually “fixed the covers and tucked them in.” Many nights, my husband or I fell asleep while lying down for “just a minute” with one child or the other!
During the latter part of elementary school, Daddy took over all bedtime duties when he was in town. That was special “Daddy time” for him, and Mama got a welcome break! My daughter mentioned recently how she and her brother used to race up the stairs to bed.
We went through a period of time when we read bedtime stories every night. Usually my daughter and son had different stories, because their interests were widely varied. Then, we went through the “sleeping with your favorite toys” phase. My daughter’s bedtime companions were always a favorite blanket and her Curious George whom she called “Dodo.” She may or may not have had stuffed horses and other fluffy friends in bed with her.
My son’s bed was always full of multiple weapons, tools, plus assorted toys of the day. We moved many of them after he fell asleep. (Sometimes the pile of toys on his bed grew after we left the room!)
For a decent period of time, we wound up every single music box in my daughter’s collection, all at the same time, and let them play! Brittany also had a favorite lullaby tape which she liked for us to play at bedtime. The singer included her name in the songs.
As the kids got older, my husband asked each of them what were the best and worst things about their days when he tucked them in. All too soon, “tucking in the kids,” became goodnight kisses and hugs with Mama and Daddy downstairs, before they took themselves to bed. We still went up to check on them , of course. Sometimes before, and sometimes after, they fell asleep.
What are your favorite bedtime rituals?Do you have any advice/ideas for my friend whose child doesn’t want to go to bed without a fight?