So, how free or flexible does one need to be, in regards to bedtime rituals? If you've been reading my blog or Logical Mommy's blog, you'll know how much trouble we've had getting the boys to sleep at night. That's not entirely true. They sleep well; it's just a matter of getting them to sleep in a place that's convenient for all concerned parties. While the boys would PREFER to sleep on top of Daddy (The Boy) or in a silent, dark room with no possible disturbances (Younger Bro), that is not necessarily possible.
Anyway, with The Boy, we've narrowed down a few bedtime things. For one, an hour before bed, we're stopping as much running around as we can. We're not stopping television, although we probably should; it's working right now, for the most part. Most nights - weeknights, for sure - we give goodnight kisses to everyone around, then tramp over to our room. ("Would you like to walk, or would you like Daddy to carry you?" "Daddy carry you!") There, The Boy is given the choice between two stories or three stories; he usually, but not always, chooses three. We read his stories, then we talk about his day. If Mommy's doing bedtime, then she might sing a song or two of his choice. He does not like me singing to him at night. (Tough critic, I guess.) He's given the choice of Mommy or Daddy to take him inside, then the same choice as before - to walk or to be carried. Usually, he's carried. Tonight, for instance, he walked.
We usually get, from him: "Shhhh! Younger Bro is sleeping," said at the same rough decibel level as a jet engine. YB doesn't generally like to put up with The Boy's crap and usually wakes up when I'm getting The Boy settled. Tonight, he didn't.
The Boy is offered the choice of having Daddy sit with him or leave. Here's where things might break down a little bit, because when he wakes up and finds me gone, he's pissed. A better choice might be, do you want Daddy to stay for five minutes or to leave? I don't know. I sit for a bit, until he's asleep or close enough, and then leave. If I get frustrated, then I do the "Daddy will be back in a minute," take a five minute break, and return. I never promise to return and then not return, because I want him to trust me.
The rest of the night is usually spent playing whack-a-mole. Younger Bro wakes up at 11, 1 or 2, and 5 or 6, but returns to sleep after getting milk. The Boy will wake up at random sleep cycle times, usually about thirty seconds after I fall asleep.
The crux of the matter is how to adjust their schedules to make life easier for us. For instance, on Friday, we had visitors. The Wife and Grandma kept the boys up far too late; YB went to bed closer to 9:00 than his usual 7:30, and The Boy didn't get to bed until almost 11. That played hell with their sleeping, and we had a restless night Friday night and a difficult night last night.
Tonight, also, we did something a little different. I gave The Boy the choice between reading his stories or watching an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I'm not entirely sure why I made that decision, but it was the right call. He was attentive but relaxed all the way through (he even picked the episode - the Justice Society of America episode), and he was extremely cooperative. That was shown by walking into his room, climbing up into the bed by himself, and pulling the covers up.
I'm sure that I don't want to do that regularly. But, it worked for tonight. How do you guys manipulate your bedtime rituals? What's the negotiable stuff for you?
(There's a blog entry there about the reading thing. The Boy doesn't willingly sit still for reading, although his little brother tends to ONLY sit still when someone's reading to him. Weird, no?)