After having some seriously disastrous results trying to get our kids to fall asleep on their own, we did what any good parent would do… We gave up.
While we hold our ground with many important parenting issues (to help ensure that our kids don’t prance around like self-entitled chops), this was one we felt that we had a bit of choice on. Seth and I chatted about it and decided that we would much rather face the judgement of fellow parents, than have to clean up the crying induced vomit all over their beds every single night. With hindsight and a lot more perspective, I still think that we made the right decision.
Instead of leaving them in their cots to scream themselves to sleep (they had no chill), we snuggled. In the beginning that meant holding them close, snuffling their baby smell and rocking them into lala-land. It eventually progressed to lying next to them and holding their hands (because trying to snuggle two at the same time AND get them to sleep is pretty much impossible).
Seven years later… Wait, can we just take a moment to note that I have been a parent for SEVEN YEARS?! How on Earth did that happen so quickly??!
Anyways, seven years later and not much has changed.
Our bed time routine has morphed along with their needs. From a story and a prayer before commencing singing and cuddling, we have now added more and more to our bed time. It goes a little something like this:
- 6.35 – Ask everyone to go to the loo, brush their teeth and get into bed.
- 6.40 – Repeat myself because no one has done any of what I asked.
- 6.45 – Shriek like a banshee while repeating myself for the third time. Silently laugh at their terrified faces.
- 6.55 – They are finally in bed.
- 6.56 – Start reading a chapter of a book that we’re reading – just finished the Faraway Tree series which was super if you’re looking for a book.
- 7.05 – Get one of the girls to start praying, then me and then the other girl. Like everything else in their lives, this needs to be fair – so they take turns every night on who goes first.
- 7.15 – Start playing their songs (they each have two songs that I play on my phone “while they fall asleep”. For Riya it is Too Young (our wedding song) and Somewhere Over The Rainbow. For Kyla it is Ballerina Girl and All Of Me.)
- 7.30 – Declare, “No more talking” and then sit there, messing around on my phone until they fall asleep.
- 7.31 – Field requests to go to the toilet, hear a story about their day that they couldn’t tell me about when I asked them about their day, get water, freak out, get impatient, refuse to play the Michael Jackson music video, threaten, cry.
- 8.30 – They finally fall asleep and I can begin to enjoy my evening. By passing out on the couch. But that’s another story, we’re not talking about MY bed time routine.
And this isn’t even including Knox. This is just for the girls.
As you can see, things were getting out of control. It actually got to the point that getting the kids to sleep was something that I seriously disliked. But when it takes TWO HOURS to do something I’ve been wanting to do since I woke up, then well, it’s OK to get mad. I think. When Seth was out and I had to do it all on my own, there is no doubt that I would be a grumpy mess by the end of it. It sucked.
Then I went out for coffee with a friend and by the end of our chat, I had a plan.
We were going to take the bedtime down from 2 hours to like 20 minutes.
Cue a slow clap from every other parent in the World that’s been doing this for years and enjoying ALL of their evening.
I chatted to the girls at a random point in the day and suggested that we try something new. I explained that because they were older now, they could take on more responsibility and handle this whole going to sleep thing on their own. PLUS if they managed to nail it for 6 nights in a row (more than enough to break a habit and teach them that they could do it), then they get a REWARD.
Obviously they squealed with excitement and were all in.
Our bed time has been knocked down to a story, prayer and one song each before I kiss them goodnight and waltz out the door.
Out of interest Kyla chose butterfly wings and Riya decided on a microphone. So typical of their big little personalities.
So a whole bed time routine of death era is at an end. I thought I’d be sad that this chapter is over, but I’m so totally NOT. The freedom is still too sweet 😉 Now all that’s left to do is get it right with Knox but we’ve only just gotten him sleeping in his own bed, so I’ll wait.