Bedtime Routines for the Win!
Recently, I've been reading The Lifegiving Home by Sally Clarkson, and I just read a section about bedtime routines. It got me thinking about how essential a routine really is to a good bedtime experience for us all. In her book, Sally talked about those nights when she was just completely exhausted and not at all looking forward to all the work that comprised bedtime. I don't know about you, but I can totally relate! Sally said she would find a way to take a few minutes to herself, regain some energy, and then dive in.
Until recently, there were many nights that I was just so tired and so ready to relax after a struggle to get my baby to bed, that I didn't want to read one-on-one to my toddler. (I read to the entire family before getting the baby to bed, and she wanted her own story afterwards.) What ensued was a bedtime battle and I soon realized that it was easier physically AND emotionally to just read her a book! I could spend 2 hours putting her back to bed and dealing with tantrums, or I could spend 5-10 minutes reading one final book. Instead of coming out of my baby's room sighing with exhaustion, I decided to change my approach and embrace that few minutes I got with my toddler alone, snuggled in her bed with her. After all, I spend my days schooling the three older kids and taking care of the baby. My toddler gets left out a lot if I'm not careful!
Now, when I'm done putting my baby to bed, it's "our time" to share a story alone. After a long day, I've come to be excited about and look forward to alone time with my toddler. I get a chance to make her laugh, hear her thoughts and worries, and let her know how special she is to me. And guess what, bedtime is easier when I embrace this time with her! It's a total win-win.
So now, no matter how tired I am, I know that I'm going to leave that time with her smiling, feeling fulfilled, and usually I'll feel a little less exhausted because it's a relaxing time for us both. It helps her drift off to sleep easier after having her little bucket of needs filled.