As a woman, I believe in freedom, spontaneity and flexibility. As
a mother, I believe in structure and routines. I've seen first hand
what it means to my daughter to have these routines. It gives her a
sense of security, as well as some control and independence,
knowing what is expected of her and what she can expect from
Now I'm not saying there aren't some variations through out the day,
there are. Even if I wanted everything to go a certain way every day,
it wouldn't. That's life. One of my favorite parts these days
actually...But when it comes to things like bedtime, I've been pretty
rigid about following a certain pattern and timeline. Of course that
pattern has evolved somewhat over the last three years as my
daughter has grown. No doubt it will continue to change as she
At this point in time, we've got the routine down pat. It works well
for both of us and it can be adjusted as needed. Here's how it goes
- We do dinner around 6pm. Usually my daughter rushes through her
meal in anticipation of her favorite part of bedtime, which is bath
time! I like to give her plenty of time to splash around and play
before we get down to the business of actually washing. After her
bath, she gets into her PJ's, which she gets to pick out. Then it's
time for a bedtime snack while she watches a little TV ( these
days there are frequent requests for Beauty and the Beast or
Finding Nemo). Bedtime Snack is always fruit of some sort
and I like to give her a couple of choices to pick from. If I can't
do that, I like to work the "it's a surprise" angle which is
generally well received.
Once the snack is gone, it's time to brush those little teeth.
Usually she likes to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush herself,
and she likes to remind me of that by yelling it during her run
down the hall to the bathroom.
Finally we get settled into bed, where she works me over pretty
good in regard to the amount of books we read. A while back I
realized that she generally falls asleep during book number two,
so agreeing to read 4 books doesn't make me as big of a sucker
as I may sound...Before we read, we make two bedtime calls -
1st to grandma and grandpa and 2nd to Daddy. She chats for
a few minutes with everyone and then it's story time. Which as I
already mentioned, generally leads to the Z's. Sometimes for
both of us.
Anyway, it works out that way most nights. No matter what our
routine has been over the years, I have been surprisingly
comfortable and even grateful for this previously foreign thing to
me called "structure". It's good for her, and it's also good for me.
Sometimes there are days when you are exhausted and at the end
of your rope, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. On those days
especially it's nice to know exactly how many hours of 'mommy'
you have left before you get to sit on the couch and relax and get
comfortable with your own thoughts.
Every once in a while you do get a night, where inspite of the best
laid plans and the most solid routine...things still turn
out...unexpected. I remember this one night in particular about a
year and a half ago....
"Just checked in on my daughter and she is sleeping soundly. Tonight
Bedtime went down without a hitch, nice and easy. Bath time,
bedtime snack, brush teeth and we rock a little. Two songs into
rocking and she was out like a light, just how Momma likes it! Last
night on the other hand, not so much...same routine- different
outcome! I was half an hour into rocking and getting nowhere.
Every time I thought she was drifting off, her head would pop right up
just to let me know that I was wrong, so wrong. Finally she dozed
off enough for me to sit down ( while still holding her - have to
make sure she's really out before I put her down) and just as I feel
my body relaxing and my back aching a little less, her head pops up
yet again. And it's back to rocking. A little while later I try
sitting again only to have my husband come home from work
moments later which in turn wakes her up once more. At this point
I've been doing bedtime for well over an hour, and I am sooo
ready for bed myself, but instead, we rock some more. A little
while goes by and finally her head is resting on my chest and I am
sure that this is finally it, when out of nowhere her head pops up
once more, only this time with her hand to her ear and a quiet
"hello?". Yes, that's right...she got a phone call."