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Bedtime Ritual

[This is about the kids.]

One of the things that Nomi and I have been learning to do for the past five-and-a-half months now is putting the kids to bed in a way that gets them to go to sleep quickly. Whether or not they get to sleep and stay asleep can sometimes feel like a crapshoot; for the past two nights, the girls have gotten to sleep relatively quickly (thanks to Nomi) but then woken up within a half-hour and been unable to get to sleep again until very late. There's also the fact that they do wake up during the night for feedings and diaper changes, all of which contributes to a lack of sleep for both Nomi and myself.

A nice part of all this, however, was developing a bedtime ritual that we thought the kids would enjoy. As it now stands, here's what we tend to do.

First we tend to feed them as much as they'll eat, change them into fresh diapers, and then put them into their sleep sacks. We know the kids are learning because one night we put Muffin in her sleep sack before feeding her, and she got this sad, confused look on her face as if we were planning to put her into her crib without dinner. We fed her immediately, and she ate two and a half bottles of food, and was most satisfied.

After they are in their sacks, we sit them on our laps and read to them. Right now, we're mostly reading to them from "But Not the Hippopotamus" by Sandra Boynton, and they seem to appreciate it a lot. We tend to read them the book twice.

Then we walk them into their room, gently lay them down in their cribs and sing to them. A lot of our singing is from the davening, which makes Nomi think that the girls will spend their lives falling asleep in shul. Sometimes we pick them up and rock them as we sing to them, but we also try to get them to fall asleep without that.

Anyway, that's our usual bedtime ritual with the kids.


My girls both loved But Not the Hippopotamus.

Our bedtime ritual (continued to this day) sees the girls saying the Sh'ma followed by Elaine and I reciting the "Loves," a litany of those who love the girls (generally immediate family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins).
When the girls are old enough, we'll teach them the Sh'ma.
It's amazing how much a bedtime ritual for kids changes the tone of the parents' day, too. A good bedtime relaxes your day and leaves it with a pleasant feel, and a rough bedtime can disrupt everything. I find that Sebastian already takes being swaddled as a "go to sleep now" cue, and the older kids certainly don't take disruptions to their schedule well. It sounds like you guys are doing really well. :)
"It sounds like you guys are doing really well. :)"

We're trying. It's still sometimes a little bit of trial and error.

Right now, Muffin goes to sleep more easily and stays asleep; Squeaker keeps waking up in the middle of the night, wanting food.
Based on experiences with friends' babies, this sort of bedtime ritual seems to be the most effective way to help kids off to meet Morpheus, who might otherwise scare their diapers off. :-) That the children learn to recognize the bedtime ritual is a goodness, in that it's a sign of comfort and normality for them.

I know cats aren't children, but they define my most intimate experience of ritual recognition, and their behavior indicates they recognize bedtime ritual as well. Spanky and Sophie both know when it's time for bed when I start turning out the lights and I head to the bathroom to brush my teeth. And they seem to have a sense of time, because some nights when I decide to stay up late, Spanky will go downstairs to the bedroom, then come back upstairs and sit by the top of the staircase staring at me as if waiting for me to come to bed. It's really remarkable how consistent this behavior is, and Sophie seems to be learning it as well.
In many ways, I still see the kids as aliens, since it's so difficult to communicate with them. But on the other hand, they've started to pick up on certain things, which makes me aware of their own intelligence.
This was lovely. Thank you.

How is EVERYONE holding up?
"How is EVERYONE holding up?"

Nomi is doing an excellent job of really getting the kids to sleep, and I tend to provide more of a support structure to that. But both she and I would love a little more sleep.
When my niece was an infant and having trouble sleeping I found it helped if I read her texts about quantum physics. :)

(Now, at 10, she wants to be an astronomer--and just got herself a telescope for Christmas courtesy of her Uncle Danny and Aunt Laurie. So you never know--it could be a win-win all around!)
Quantum physics texts would make me fall asleep too. :-)

Seriously, though, along with telling the kids how adorable they are, I also keep telling them that they are very smart and good in math. I tend to think that telling them such things will help; at the very least, it can't hurt.
That's adorable - and quite comforting even to read. :)
>A lot of our singing is from the davening, which makes Nomi think that the girls will spend their lives falling asleep in shul.<

That is excellent. It is never too early to start teaching essential skills.
That's so lovely!

One of my earliest memories is the sound of my Tateh layning Torah. To this day, it sends a sweet ache through my heart.
Glad you found a system that works!
Ah, how familiar! Our routine is similar. Bath, then fresh diaper, PJs, sleep-sack, followed by as much as he can eat. While feeding him, I usually sing to him, mostly Bing Crosby. Reading takes place earlier when he has an attention span for it. Finally, I put him in his crib and turn on the mobile. I used to wait until he was asleep, but not anymore. And now he's learning to control his surroundings so if I move out of his range of sight after putting him down, he screams until I move back in sight. Or, as I have discovered, for 15 minutes, whichever is faster. Lately, I've let him cry it out. Turns out he eventually falls asleep.
I'm the mother of five children. My oldest is 23 and my youngest is 9. The four oldest are beyond the need of being tucked in at night. It saddens me to think that soon I will no longer be tucking children into bed.

December 2016

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