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Oct 08

Bedtime Champion

I’m awful at putting my kids to bed.  There, I’ve said it.  I like to think I’m pretty good at most of the mothering stuff.  I’m patient, pretty relaxed about most things.  I can bake really good cookies,  and get dinner on the table quickly and most of them eat it.  But I’ve never been good at putting them to bed, awake, and walking away.

When I just had Jessie, it was easy.  I was GOOD at bedtime with just Jessie.  We had an elaborate routine, involving stories and singing.  I sat beside her at night and rubbed her back and she’d drift off to sleep.  After Sam was born, it started to get more complicated.  He wasn’t an easy baby, he was convinced that his rightful place was in my arms.  All the time.  And while it’s possible to sing while nursing, reading a bedtime story is a lot more complicated.

That’s where George Stephanopolis came into my life.  I learned quickly that my kids would fall asleep immediately when faced with political commentary.  We had a big love seat then, and Marc was working most nights.  So I’d snuggle them in on either side of me, shut off all the lights and we’d watch a little George.  On the upside, I became incredibly politically fluent, and we had a bedtime routine that was perhaps unorthodox, but effective.  I’d slide out from under them, and then haul them both into their own beds.

Once Julianna was born – things got more challenging.  We moved to my king size bed.  And I’d put them all to bed at the same time.  Still watching George, or the Daily Show.  We had settled into a routine where we’d all snuggle up and watch recorded episodes of Big Bang Theory.   And it was nice… for a while.   But more and more, they were staying up with me, and I was feeling trapped and stuck because I had to stay there with them.  Nobody was getting that much sleep, and it was time for a change.  Jessie’s always been pretty good at sleeping in her own bed, but she’s struggled with falling asleep forever (hence the long drawn out routine as a toddler).  Sam’s the opposite, he falls asleep easily, but would always prefer to be in my bed.

Cut to – books on tape.  Or CDs.    I had a long conversation with both the older two, and explained that it was time for them to start falling asleep, in their own beds.  Their little bodies needed more sleep.  I googled sleep requirements and explained that they needed between 11 and 12 hours a night, and waking up at seven meant that they needed to be in bed by eight.  Julie had always been good at going to sleep, she’s down for the night at seven or seven thirty each night.

So now I’m in control.  We’ve got a SYSTEM.  I put Julie down first, getting Sam and Julie ready for bed at the same time.  Once Julie falls asleep, I focus on Sam, doing a little reading or Big Bang with him and then tuck him into bed.  He’s listening to Magic Tree House or Harry Potter.  I leave on the kitchen light, so he isn’t in the dark, and he just chills until he’s out.  Then I move on to my Jessie – she likes to read or sometimes watch television for a bit, but then it’s lights out.  AND IT WORKS.  Last night, I got Julie down by 7:15, and both the older two were sound sleep by 8:30.  I’ve got at least two extra hours a day!  Brilliant.  Bedtime Champion.

I just hope I haven’t accidentally cursed myself by bragging 🙂


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