Monday, November 14, 2011

Bedtime Routine

I got a comment a few days (or was it weeks? I lose track...) ago, asking about our bedtime routine.
And so I thought I would share what we do in the Pitcher casa in the evening-times. THIS IS REALLY LONG, and I apologize.
Near the end, it sort of morphed into "And here are my thoughts on bedtime in general."

Okay, so there are several stages and levels of evening / bedtime routine, including some things which are unnecessary and inexact, but which we do a couple times a week - all the way down to the last part of the bedtime routine which I insist on following with Camazotz-ball-bouncing exactness, because it leads to a sans-tears bedtime.

So. it begins:

Usually the boys take three good naps a day. Which I know is pretty much unbelievable to any mother of eight-month olds that I've spoken to. But my boys take after their mama, and they love to sleep.
Our bedtime routine is preceded by our evening routine, and the evening routine begins when the boys wake up from their third nap of the day, usually around 4:30 or 5:00pm.

They each get a small bottle (like 4 or 5 ounces) and then we play for a while.  That's when Travis gets home, so he plays with the boys, chasing them around the house and trying to teach them to walk.
Around 5:30 or 6:00 (depending on how tired the boys are) we usually put the boys in their "high chairs" (aka Bumbos) and feed them dinner, perhaps half an orange each, a roll, and a bowl of cottage cheese and applesauce.
Then they take their bath together, which -also, depending on crabbiness- is long or short, fun or tear-filled, just daddy and boys, or daddy and boys and mama dancing around the bathroom waving a towel.
If at any point during the evening the boys have shown that they are ready for bed IMMEDIATELY then we skip ahead past the playtime, food, and bath to this point:
(The previous things are the evening routine, and we usually follow this routine four or five times a week. However, since it is the only time that Travis is home, sometimes we just give them normal sized bottles and then run errands instead of playing with them, and feeding them solids. )
Bedtime routine: After the boys are bathed (or, again, are just otherwise ready for bed) we move into their room and complete their entire bedtime routine in their room, in exact order. 
We put them into fresh diapers and pajamas, and I spend a while making their hair into mohawks with baby lotion while Travis goes and makes bottles. (Seriously, we fill  these babies with as many calories as possible before bed).
He then sneaks the bottles into the bedroom, because if the boys see the bottles, all hell breaks loose.
When he returns, we all politely sit down, with no hair pulling, screaming, back-arching, or page ripping (by the babies) and zero shouting over the babies to be heard (by the adults) and read a story.
And by that, of course, I mean the complete opposite.
Besides not having the patience to look at one entire story during the day,  the boys are now additionally very tired, and -having realized that it's bedtime - suddenly know that 1. there are bottles hidden somewhere in the room and 2. THEY AREN'T IN THEIR MOUTHS.
That second part is the most upsetting for them.

So we struggle through Hop on Pop, or the board-book version of Go, Dog! Go! because they're the shortest books we own, and then we lie the boys down on the big chaise in their room and they get their bedtime bottles.
We dim the lights (or turn them off completely - with just a hall light on) and while they eat, Travis and I sing some quiet songs and we say family prayers. We try not to let them fall asleep at the bottle, but sometimes they do, and it's not a huge deal.
But assuming they don't, they finish their bottles and we give them a pacifier, and hold and rock them, sing one more short song, and then we lie them in their beds and leave.
They usually lie down for the night around 7:00, give or take a half-hour.

A couple things that we've done to try to ensure happier bedtime, though, are these: we repeat key-words everytime they go to sleep, even at naptime.  So I always say "It's night-night time. Are you ready to go night-night?" and things like that (using the word "night-night") and when I lie them in their beds I say some variation of "Night-night, I love you."
They also each have a really snuggly blanket that is always in their bed with them, and an animal that they sleep with.
For Micah it's a stuffed monster, because he would pull the crib bumper out and hold it against his chest - so I made a pillow-shaped monster that he holds instead. I usually hand it to him and say "Here's your monster, Micah," and he grabs it and holds it while he sleeps.
And for Grey it's a little puppy named Little Eddie (it's from Eddie Bauer, so it's named Eddie, obviously), and I usually give it to him and say "Here's your puppy. Woof woof!" and then I pretend that the puppy is kissing his face and he lies there and smiles and opens his mouth wide (to kiss Little Eddie back) and then he takes his puppy, and rolls over and sleeps.
Having those specific bedtime objects has been really helpful, too, because then even when we're somewhere else -like traveling in the car- the objects help them know that it's bedtime, and they snuggle them and love them.
And I think it helps comfort them, like if their blankets are out of their bed and they're tired - they'll crawl over and start rubbing the blanket against their face.
It's pretty much the cutest thing ever.
And it also makes me feel guilty, because I'm like "Oops, you're exhausted. How did I miss that?"

Anyway, I'd be really interested to hear what you have to say in the comments about YOUR bedtime routines; what you do differently, and what works (or doesn't work) in your household.

And if you wouldn't mind... I'd love a vote! Thanks!
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Anonymous said...

Voted! Sounds like you've got a great routine going on! We've always been VERY into our routine, I truly believe babies thrive on a routine. Yours sounds extremely similar to ours, except with an almost 22 month old, no bottle at bed. We eat supper at about 5:30 (key to preventing toddler low blood sugar melt down!) then he plays, has a bath around 6:30, clean diaper & jammies, then it's story time (he LOVES to read) and then he's in bed with his blankie and soother by 7. Works like a charm!

Becky said...

What? Your babies are in bed by 7pm? I wish! My two year old goes to bed at 8pm and my baby usually doesn't fall asleep until 9pm. I'm totally jealous.