Quite honestly, I'm writing this because I really wanted to post this little poem I love that's been cracking me up lately. It's from the Holly Pond Hill Child's Book Of Bedtime Prayers – although it's not a prayer at all, so I don't know why! I do love the little Holly Pond Hill books (one of the few “mainstream” Christian books I like nowadays – they have sweet poems, blessings, prayers and scriptures) and they're fun to sing the words to, instead of read sometimes.
Anyway, as a preface to the poem, and in case anyone here in blogville is interested, here are some of our thoughts on bedtime that we like in our little family (they might be in a random order, I'm pretty tired today!):
Our girls have always (within reason) slept at the same times as one another – naps and nights. This allows me some project time or downtime during the day, time alone with Matt in the evening, and allows for those “special” times that we let one daughter stay up late! People have always said we're lucky they do this, but it's really not luck at all – just training! One trick is you have to be able to wake them up (either in the morning or after a nap) at the right time to ensure they'll be ready for bed for the next time. Though now that I have four munchkins so young, I have “scheduled” myself out of a nap or time with all four asleep. I find that I enjoy a little alone time with Juliette when the other girls are sleeping, so she gets up to eat after Isabelle goes down. It's just working better for now . . .
Since they were babies, we've always put the girls down awake and let them fall asleep on their own. We do rock and sing to them before bed quite often (or of course to comfort them if they're sick or had a nightmare or something), we just don't rock them to sleep. This has always been a blessing, as going to sleep has never really been a difficulty for them. The rules are (for the older girls): no talking (though they now are allowed to pray in a whisper voice if they desire, and they're doing well with this), and stay laying down happily till they fall asleep. We've never let them fuss about bedtime, and though they've occasionally needed discipline for this, it hasn't been too often since they were used to it from infancy. Now that Isabelle doesn't need quite as much sleep as her little sisters, she stays up a bit later and folds laundry with me, and then she can take a book to bed, to read if she's not sleepy (though she's never actually stayed awake!).
Our girls have never been attached to a comfort object (except little babies with paci's, though I go back and forth on this!). I can't say that's from anything we've really done intentionally, but it is nice to not be tied to something. I think they're more attached to the routine than anything else. Here's our routine:
Family worship is usually before bed (or before nap on this current schedule)
Everyone potties who uses the potty, and I change the two littlest girls' diapers.
Daddy blesses Naomi (I usually do too), I sing her bedtime song (we invented one for her) and we tuck her in. She likes to snuggle any piece of fabric she can get her hands on, so any blanket works! She still talks to herself and wiggles around a bit – soon I'll probably teach her to go to sleep more quietly (though I'm not sure it will matter since she often talks at full volume in her sleep .)
Isabelle and Hannah share a room now – We have tons of rooms here, but we'll probably still have all the girls share once they're all sleeping through the night and going to sleep quietly and such. They enjoy it, and when they do go to sleep alone (like Hannah does at nap before Belle comes to bed), they usually ask if their “sister-friend” will be coming to bed soon! Anyway, Daddy blesses both girls, and so do I (it started out as a daddy thing, but now the girls like both of us to bless them, and they bless their dollies when they put them down.), we tuck them in, kisses and hugs, turn on their Scripture Songs CD, and shut the door. They each are usually allowed to sleep with one book, one bear and one hanky (in case of runny noses). When Hannah goes to nap by herself, I usually sing her “Edelweiss” – did I spell that right? The most important part is the blessing, and them being used to laying quietly, so they can *usually* go to sleep anywhere, without their bear for example.
The biggest difficulty we've probably ever run into with bedtimes is that one of our daughters is a total perfectionist, so she has a rough time if anything is askew (I mean really, if one corner of her blanket is not laid straight, she'll totally stress!) While we do typically keep things just so, so as to bless our daughter, life is not always perfectly how we want it to be! So for training's sake, there are some days that we'll mix up the routine slightly, or let the blanket be a little crooked to help her learn to deal gracefully with change. Then if it's not met with cheerful submission, she'll lose the priviledge of a book or something like that for the nap.
With babies, I think it's helpful to put them into a different bed or crib to sleep occasionally, so they won't be too attached to their own. I think I forgot to do this with one of our's, and as I recall it was more difficult to put her to bed at a friend's house.
Last night Hannah had a fever, so I brought her in our bed so I'd know if she got too hot. She's SUCH a wiggler – you should have seen how contorted she managed to get herself! In her sleep, I think she was managing to kick me and Matt on opposite sides of the bed at the same time!
Lastly, they do stay in their bed until we get them up. They can talk or sing quietly or quietly say “mommy, I'm awake” (we have a moniter so I'll hear them, and hopefully they won't wake their sissies up). Except for Isabelle – she's allowed to get up and go potty, then she goes back to her bed and reads till I get her up.
Ok, my favorite part, here's the silly poem. I think it must describe what really goes on in kids' minds, especially in the summer when it's still so light at bedtime. We always have fun reading this and “acting it out”:
Goodnight and Goodnight,
Goodnight, if you please
All I need is some water,
A kiss and a squeeze
All I need is some honey
Some milk and some pie
And to talk while we rock
And a long lullaby
Did I mention some hugs –
Just a hundred or so
And a back scratch
A head scratch
And tickle my toe
So good night and good night
May I have some cake?
How can you be so tired
When I’m wide awake?
I think a pillow fight should be in there somewhere, though … 🙂