The bedtime routine. You know which one I’m talking about. No, not the one where you lovingly rock your quiet child to sleep after reading him a bedtime story, and baby goes right to sleep without a fuss at 7pm, like in the movies. I mean the real one. If your house is anything like mine..this is how it goes..
Daughter: “5 more minutes!”
Me: “You already had 5 minutes.”
Daughter: “One more show!”
Daughter: “One more book!” “I’m hungry!, I’m thirsty, My blankets falling off! But! But!”
Aaarrghh!! Yeah that one. Boy, putting a kid to bed can be so exhausting don’t you think? For us, once we are done, we are ready for bed ourselves! The funny thing is there are days where she is really good and goes right to sleep, and other days where she gives every excuse in the world! This past week we had one of those days. “Good night, daughter” “One more book!” “Good niiight!!” “Where is my little bear??” (Thinking to myself… little bear? I don’t even know what she’s talking about!) After we finally got her down, I started to think why some days are easier than others. Sure, we have the occasional night we go to bed later because we had a family function, or when baby girl is sick. Of course I understand those nights, but on a normal night it should all be the same right? We have a night time routine so what is it?
Our family nighttime routine consists of what I like to call “The 5 B’s”. Bath, Brush teeth, Book, Blessings (prayer), and Bed. However, I will admit (and I know I’m not the only one) I have been guilty of leaving out a “B”. Sometimes I leave out a book when we normally read two, or even leave out words, and sometimes I am too tired to give her a bath. But what I didn’t think about was the most important thing I was leaving out, a 6th B. Bonding. Trust me, I know as well as anyone how daunting it can be, especially on those days when you just don’t think you have an ounce left in you, but I also noticed the days she was especially resistant were the ones in which I was rushing her, or I left out a story and she is crying out for one more. It’s so easy to “pretend” you forgot to give her a glass of water, because, let’s be honest, there are days you just can’t wait for them to go to bed so you can have a moment of silence. But before you know it, when I blink, she won’t care if I read her a story, and she won’t even want to cuddle with me when I desperately want to. Right now is the time to make that bond and strengthen it, not when she is grown up and it’s too late. So really, when she is “fighting” to go to bed, she really isn’t, all she wants is me there. She can tell when I am just going through the motions, and all she wants is that 6th B: that special “Mommy and me” time.
I decided it was time for a change. We recently introduced a chore chart for our morning routine, and we made one for our night time routine. We went through the routine, but having it on paper has made a big difference. Her chart has the 5 B’s on it, and when she does one, I showed her how to check it off! (Mini OCD me in the making) We take a bath, then check! She loves it! While it was initially made with her in mind, I’m noticing how much of a help it is for me. No more skipping a B, because it’s on the chart. Since we’ve done this, bed time has been a lot better. She generally has always been pretty good, but we are having less and less of those silly excuses. My husband and I are both trying our best to really treasure that evening time, and that is making such a difference. Last night, husband and I did the routine together. As we said our family prayer, and each read our books to her, I literally felt our family become closer. After her Papa, as she calls him, gave her a final kiss good night, I laid her down and I asked her about her day. A tradition I’ve been wanting to do but wasn’t very consistent with it. We laughed, and talked, and as she sang a song to me, I thought to myself, how could I have been missing out on this?!
This does not mean I am still not tired when I put her to bed, but I’m slowly learning that what I am doing is part of my role as a parent, and is so important.
I realize that doing the night time routine as a couple is not always the case with all families, due to single parent homes, fathers or mothers who work late, etc. Mothers or fathers, you are not alone. None of us are. One of my favorite talks ever was given by Jeffrey R Holland a general authority for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, on mothers, but I think it applies to any parent. He said,
“Do the best you can through these years, but whatever else you do, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones.”…Rely on Him. Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever. And “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.” You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Because She is a Mother, General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 1997).
Last week I had a comment asking for suggestions on how to get more sleep as a busy mom. I contemplated that question all week, and to be honest, I don’t have any answers. I still am trying to figure that out myself!! I will say this. When I was rushing through the routine of my daughter, and having those crazy nights, I went to bed stressed, frustrated, and feeling defeated. Now, taking more time and really taking advantage of that time and bonding with her, I am much more relaxed, when I go to bed. So while I don’t have an answer necessarily for how to get more sleep, I can tell you that when I spend the time bonding with my daughter, it makes for a better night and therefore a better sleep.
If you guys have suggestions for getting better sleep leave me some ideas in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!
About Krystal Wilkerson
Krystal is a latter-day mom and Holy Homemaker to 3 beautiful kiddos who is striving to find joy in the everyday trenches of motherhood and life! Her passion is sharing her experience of decluttering with a purpose to help others create a Holy Home where the messes subside and the Spirit resides. She is a lover of books, nature, music, food, the gospel, and all things Texas! Follow her at her website, Latter-day Mom!