Feed on

The Bedtime Ritual

Sleepy BunnyI am, to say the least, a creature of habit. While I’m not afraid to change jobs or move across the country, I am pretty wedded to the smaller things in life. If you take away my morning tea and newspaper, for example, I tend to get crabby; I can’t function without a morning shower; and I am sure that I have eaten yogurt, granola, muesli, or a bagel for breakfast every day I’ve been home for the last ten years or more.

So it’s not too surprising that I’ve visited my love of routine on Simon. In some respects, this is a bad thing. For example, we haven’t gotten out and explored play groups or classes as much as I’d like, because doing so would deviate from our standard homebody routine.

In other areas, though, my love of routine has been a blessing. One of those areas is bedtime. It took a while to get there, but Matt and I now have-and have had for several months-a baby who easily falls asleep alone in his crib. It’s a complete joy, and it makes our lives much easier. Best of all, we never had to let him “cry it out” to get here.

I think there are many reasons for this happy development, and I have no doubt that one of the bigger ones is that my love of routine has manifest itself in a consistent bedtime ritual that helps cue Simon. Every night, nearly without fail, we do the following in the following order:

1. Once Simon shows signs of sleepiness, we take him upstairs and put him in his PJs.

2. Then we move into the bedroom, where Matt, Simon, and I play together quietly on the bed. This typically consists of some peek-a-boo, some piggy toes, and a fair bit of “reading”.

3. At the first sign of eye-rubbing or head-titling, we get out Pat the Bunny, Sleepy Bunny and a cup of milk. Simon takes the occasional sip while we read about the sleepy bunny putting his toys away, having a yummy snack, patting the cat goodnight, making a wish out his window, pulling up the covers, and going to sleep. Now that he’s older, Simon can pat the kitty himself, point out the light in the book to me, and sometimes even act out the bunny putting his toys away.

4. After we’ve finished the book, I pick him up and carry into the bedroom. On my way, I might sing “Little Goldie Goldfish” if I think Simon can hang on for a few minutes. After the song, the words and gestures in our little ritual never, ever change. I turn on his CD player and tell him I’m doing so. I turn on his noise machine and tell him I’m doing so. I turn off the froggie lamp and tell him I’m doing so. I pull the shade back from the window so he can make a wish, which I say for him and which is always something we’ll be doing the next day. (Perhaps setting him up for disappointment later in life when all wishes don’t come true!). Finally, I lay him into bed, hand him his pacifier and dirty dog, tuck a blanket around him, and say the following, “It’s time to go to sleep sweetheart. Here’s your paci and dirty dog. I love you very much. Good night (hair stroked), sleep tight (cheek and eyebrows stroked), and I’ll see you in the morning (I kiss my hand and touch it to his cheek).”

And if that sounds just a bit too treacley for your taste, consider that the last thing Simon hears each night is my hissing between my teeth, “Percy, get the *&^% out of here, NOW,” as I practically kick Percival out the room behind me. It seems that my cat, too, is a creature of habit, and one of his is launching his dinner-time campaign in the nursery at 8:00 p.m.

Now isn’t that the stuff that children’s books are made of?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.