Night Night

We still do the full bedtime routine around here. Once they’ve brushed and gotten into bed, we go up to tuck them in. We read a story to the youngest, spend a few – several! – minutes chatting with the older two. We turn out the light and make sure they are comfy and secure, let them know what’s on for tomorrow, and wish them good night.

Sometimes we even make it out of the room at that point. Usually they try to draw it out as long as possible, though.

Since our older two are now going to bed around 9:30 or even 10, that means Sir Monkeypants and I are “on the clock” until pretty late. So late that I’m often asleep on the couch by the time the older two are going up, but they still want a tuck in, still want a parent to come up and see them off for the night.

Sir Monekypants and I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, they aren’t always going to want to be tucked in (…right?). Eventually they’ll be busy in the evenings or staying up later than us and having a parent hover anxiously at their bedside will be so very last year, and then we’ll miss these little moments. And I do like having a little check in with the kids at the very end of the day – a chance for them to talk about anything that is upsetting them, or just to reassure them that everything will be okay in the morning, or to laugh together over a shared experience.

But it gets harder and harder to push aside our time for bedtime. It used to be we’d tuck everyone in by 8, then have a couple of hours together to watch some grown up TV or chat or battle each other at Mario Kart. Time to just flake out and remind ourselves that we were something other than Mom and Dad, once.

It’s a weird time, these in-between days when they are both children and yet moving to adulthood. They still need us and want us but we no longer get the breaks of naptime and early bedtimes. I love my kids and want to hang out with them…but morning, noon, and night? Hm.

The other day I was putting the youngest to bed, and she’d had a hard day and I was doing all the usual Mom soothing stuff, making her feel better. Out of nowhere I remembered a time – this goes back at least three or four years – when she was having trouble falling asleep every night, claiming she was afraid of bad dreams. I somehow managed to convince her that I was able to actually see her dreams, floating gently in clouds over her head, as she was settling into bed for the night. Each night I’d tell her what colour her dreams were (always happy shades of pink, yellow, turquoise) and then I’d “pluck” the bad dreams out by waving my hands over her head, pulling little imaginary tufts away and dropping them in the garbage. It was so hokey I always thought that she could see right through me, and maybe she could, but that didn’t stop her from asking night after night – she couldn’t go to sleep unless Mommy cleared away the bad dreams.

It’s such a lovely thought, don’t you think – that we, as parents, have the absolute power to take bad stuff out of our kids’ brains, their lives, their dreams, and just throw it away. Even though we don’t do that whole dreams routine anymore (when did it stop, exactly?), I think I still have kind of the same effect at bedtime – giving them a moment of comfort, a moment of quiet, a moment of pure love to send them off into dreamland.

And that’s a nice thing, and a good thing, if a little bit of a tiring thing.

Someday, my heart whispers, someday…this will pass. And it will be a sad thing and a happy thing and a bittersweet thing.

9 thoughts on “Night Night

  1. We too are in that weird stage of having older kids: on one hand they need less from us, and on the other hand some of them are up later than we are, and I miss that “no kids” time of day.

  2. I know EXACTLY what you mean – I’m an evening and night person and boy, I value this time period… I have zero patience for interruptions and I like to think I’m “off the mommy clock”. Bath? Done. Dinner? Done. Story? Done. If Mark wants to hang out a bit in front of a movie (he does so, sometime…), fine. But he’d better be captivated by the movie, I’m not playing or whatever, I’m upstairs in my room. And “tucking him in” will be exactly that: “you. Inside bed. Night!”

    When we were traveling and when Mark was sleeping much, much later (like, midnight), Feng and I would make it clear that he could relax (draw, TV, etc.) but playtime was over. It wasn’t perfect privacy (think, an hotel room) but it was nice, after years of baby/toddler stage where ALL the attention was on him) to see him relax on his own. I respect that 🙂

  3. Lynn, your writing is so beautiful. I don’t comment often, but I read every post. Once again you made me tear up. Thank you for sharing these snapshots of your life with us.

  4. This is an interesting post to read for me, because I go to bed before everyone else and have for at least a couple of years. I’m a morning person, our snuggle, chit chat time is during that ‘before the house wakes up’ time, not at night (at least with my youngest). I don’t have it in me to get into talks after 9, 9:30 at night…so I hide out in my bedroom with books and tv and leave them to their dad, who is a night person anyway.

    He does the tucking. I sometimes do, but often, it’s not me.

    And I feel guilty about this. Then I remind myself that it took my youngest 4.5 years to sleep through the night in her own bed and frankly…I’ve done my time with her. Now, it’s an especially nice surprise for them when I do go to tuck her/them in because it’s not a regular thing I do anymore. They like it, but don’t depend on it.

    As far as checking in with them? It’s a tricky thing as one kid is chatty all the time but the other, not so much. I found that when my 12yo goes out on the driveway by himself to play basketball is a good time to join him. I sit on a chair with a white wine spritzer (or coffee, depending on the time of day) and just watch him. He likes it, the silence but companionship. If by chance he has something he wants to share or ponder, that seems to be the time he likes to bring it up.

    Works for me, too. 🙂

  5. lvsconsulting

    Well my kids are a bit older than yours and I’m not nearly as patient as you are! 9pm is computers-off time and into bed, even though our oldest is 15. We still believe in non-screen time before bed. I tell them that at 9:30 I’m off-duty so if they need my help for anything, it’s before 9:30. Around 9:30 I do the “good night” to each in their room (younger one at 13 yrs old still likes more cuddle time, which often extends to 9:45 but I’m ok with that… it’s our in-joke). They read until I don’t know when – I’ve stopped checking in with them. They have alarms in the morning and get up at the right time and they are ready to go when we need them to go. I do miss the no-kids time that we used to have in the evening – now the kids go to bed later than I do! But in a few years, they will both be at university / college (if all goes well and they get their dreams….) and then we’ll have lots of non-kids evenings so I guess I should treasure this time, but really I’m looking forward to just going to bed when I want! LOL.

  6. Shannon

    Abby has always been a less is more kid at bed time. Even as a baby/toddler. I had all these new mom ideas about sweet bed time rituals and endless stories to read when what she herself needed was a quick peck on the cheek, light outs and her mom out the door, thank you very much. She is still like that, she mostly regulates her own bed time and disappears with a quick hug and good night. Maya still wants/needs the whole tuck in/check in about the day service, but there are evenings when it is definitely more of just going through the process than a true need. Both their bedtimes are much closer to my own now and some nights after Mike’s, but they have their own space (they can sometimes get sick of us as well) to hang out and/or watch TV. Often Abby and I (and sometimes Maya) have a series we are watching together, so that is a super great added bonus as we will plan to watch an episode together before bed. Kind of like the bed time ritual we never had.

  7. A.Q.

    If you’re asleep on the couch before they go up, they’re already staying up later than you. They’re just getting you up for their last little bit.

    What if you did your good night/check-in before you were ready for bed? Interrupt whatever they’re doing, have the chat, and then wish them well for the night.

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