Being Present During The Bedtime Routine

Beingpresent

Things with Emmy have calmed down a bit. She’s feeling much better, though she can turn SUPER cranky on a dime. I’m a worrier by nature, so I’m constantly checking her incision (It’s quite a sight. Eek!) and watching her closely on the monitor during naptime. Because she’s doing so well and is generally happy, it feels as if the past month were a dream.

I can’t believe that happened… Did I watch a movie, or was it real? I’ll think about snippets of scenes from Emmy’s time in the hospital and it’s as if I’m struggling to remember something that happened 10 years ago. I think my lack of memory is my body’s way of protecting myself from going back there. At some point, I want to write it all down. I just can’t do it yet.

One ongoing lesson that really hit home during that insane experience is that I need to be present with my kids. I’ve known this for a while now, but it’s difficult for me to put into practice. I’m a multi-tasker. I want to do, do, do. It’s hard for me to sit and just be.

But time with my kids is so precious. Sometimes I have to just be and not think about my never-ending to-do list.

I read a quote recently that stuck with me. I wish I could remember the author because I want to give him/her credit. But my brain is fried…

Here’s my paraphrase of that lovely quote: When you’re spending time with your kids, don’t rush through it to get to the thing you have to do. Your kids are the thing.

That quote speaks to me at bedtime. We have a routine, and the routine has gotten very long and multi-layered. Emmy is easy to put to bed. She drinks her milk, says “night night,” gets 2 books and a song, and falls right to sleep. Charlotte, on the other hand, likes to stretch out the bedtime routine. It has gotten longer and longer and longer…

First it was a bath, book, and bed.

Then it was a bath, 2 books, and bed.

Then it was a bath, 2 books, think-about-a-story-in-your-head, song, water, two clips in hair, and bed.

Now it is a bath, 2 books, think-about-a-story-in-your-head, song, water, two clips in hair, hug from me to you, turn off and on the light to test darkness levels, turn off and on the colors of the ladybug night light to find the perfect color, and bed.

Once we manage to say “Night night” and close the door, Charlotte still cries 3-4 times for us. We have to go back in there and often replay parts of the routine (maybe an extra hairclip or a different color on the ladybug).

The problem is that, during all of this, I am thinking of the things I have to do! And there are many of them! After we put the kids to bed, Dan and I spend at least 2 hours getting chores done and cleaning up.

So, while I would like Charlotte to be the thing that I am focused on, while I would like to just be and enjoy this time together, I can get increasingly frustrated at the long list of add-ons to the routine.

I know she does it on purpose. Of course she doesn’t want to go to bed! I’m a night owl myself, so I can’t blame her. But it’s hard for me to cut the routine short because I am so very conscious of the fact that, when she’s a teenager, she’ll probably be stomping around the house in all black and ignoring us.

I know I will eventually long for this endless nighttime routine. I just know it!

I’ll catch a glimpse of my future self asking, “Hey, honey, would you like me to think of a story in my head?”

And I’ll see teenage Charlotte roll her eyes and say, “Get a life, mom. No one has time for that.”

It’s true. One day, she won’t have time for me. So I’m conscious of the fact that I have to treasure this time with her instead of getting to that next thing. (Though I maintain the the bedtime routine has gotten a little out there. She’s a smart girl, and I’m a sucker for “Just one more hug from me to you!”)

3 thoughts on “Being Present During The Bedtime Routine

  1. My husband and I have been reading your story now that we met you the other night in the hospital… What an amazing story to say the least! And I didn’t realize this was all so recent – I thought it was longer ago! Emmy is precious and so special to say the least! God bless! I like your quote about don’t rush through your kids to get to the thing you have to do – I will be the first to admit I do that sometimes… and when I think about it, it’s dumb b/c you are totally right – your kids are the THING you need to get to 🙂 I also find myself forgetting slightly about Tyler’s surgery and thinking it was kind of a dream and asking “did it really happen”. I guess your body does that so you can move on with your life and feel kind of normal. Sort of like how your body forgets labor pain and the trauma of birth as you go on … Survival mechanism. 🙂

    • Thank you, Skye! I love your blog. You are quite the Mamarazzi! 🙂 I need you to give me some photography lessons. I think we were at the hospital at the same time. We were there from 5/16/13-6/7/13. I wonder if we crossed paths. 🙂
      -Vanessa

      • Wow! We totally were there at the same time! I bet we walked right by each other- do you recall your nurses names? We had Cathy and Trisha during the day and Clarence a couple times overnight. They were all great nurses. We talked to Paula (nurse) too – she was from our area (Lk Hopatcong) as a kid, so we chatted a lot about that. Thanks about the pictures. Funny thing is I have not picked up my camera lately as much as I normally do… I have so much going on that I have not had the time like I used too. That is one of my goals is to pick that up more soon! I have to catch up on my CHD friend\’s blogs this week … my daughter is home with me (from daycare) and potty training making it even crazier this week. 🙂 have a great day. Skye

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