Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bedtime Redux

Bedtime is evolving into a nice, stable series of routines for the kids. Even The Baby is starting to (finally) level off and adjust to the nighttime thing.

Routines turn out to be a very important thing for the kids. Giving them a clear, unambiguous set of commands and actions to follow allows them a level of comfort and satisfaction as their day begins (or ends, in this case). Morning routines like getting dressed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, and hearing aids in (as appropriate) before heading downstairs has allowed The Wife to keep an organized and forward-moving morning, rather than having to chase the children back upstairs and around the house to get ready to go to school.

Bedtime starts after dinner. The boys practice violin while Daddy cleans the kitchen. After violin, we might have some dessert, depending. We go upstairs for bathtime, and most nights, all three boys go in the tub. The Boy, recently, has decided that he wants his own bath because he's bigger than his brothers. That's fine. The boys pick their pajamas and get dressed, and there is usually some planned chaos-time after bath, where they run around, play with some toys, build some things, chase each other, read books, etc. We don't guide that, just allow it to develop naturally.

Less often than we used to do (by a long shot), we will have family snuggle time in bed while we watch a show. That used to be the primary feature every night; not so much, any more.

When I'm home, I take The Boy and Little Bear into their room for stories. Sometimes, we'll do a story on the iPad - either reading a comic book or one of the books on iBooks. Lately, I've been sending them to the bookshelves in the playroom to pick a book out. This is my preferred option at this point, because it encourages some variety and the rare occasion where they pick an entirely new book. While it's fun to read the same things because of the security they provide, I want to encourage them to read lots of different things.

I sit up in the bed with Little Bear and read his choice, first. When I'm done, I ask him about his day, and he tells me the best thing that happened in school and the best thing that happened after school. I sit down in bed with The Boy next, and read his story and ask the same questions. The Boy still needs and likes a few extra snuggles after storytime; Little Bear just wants to cuddle in his blankets and go to sleep.

The Baby snuggles with Mommy. They'll read a story or watch one of the book-shows (like "Dem Bones" or "Bugs Bugs Bugs" by Bob Barner, through Scholastic), sing some songs, and go to sleep. He doesn't like going to bed for me, and he will resist while The Wife is at home. If she's gone, he doesn't have an issue; if she's around, he won't.

Little Bear seems to be the "sleeper" of the bunch. He enjoys going to bed and will loudly proclaim it: "Daddy, I love going to bed. I love my comfy jammies, and I love my blankets." He definitely takes after my wife in that regard. The Boy is like me - late to bed and early to rise, ready to go. Jury's still out on The Baby.

Bedtime had been getting kind of rough over the summer (when there was no real structure or routine to their days, so there was no structure or routine to their nights) and in September, when we were all trying to adjust to The Wife's new work schedule and the kids' new care schedule. It's definitely straightened itself out. I honestly have no idea how families with two working parents can handle it with little children - although, most of those families are probably not directing a Sweet Adelines chorus, singing in a quartet each, playing in an orchestra, teaching Sunday school, and a lay cantor at their local temple. That's kind of a rough outside-of-work schedule, so trying to cram in 40 more hours of full-time employment with the little kids (who are more time-intensive in terms of direct attention) was hard.

I'm glad that my children have inherited some of my OCD in their attention to the routines.



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