Parenting

Learning to appreciate the bedtime routine

Part of our bedtime routine involves taking Miriam on what we like to call “Bouncy Walks”; basically a bouncy walk is where we hold her and bounce her while walking around the house and singing to her until she falls asleep. We started doing them when she was a tiny little newborn, and now, my almost two year old still loves them.

Here’s the thing though — two year olds weigh a lot more than newborns, and can squirm, and take much longer to go to sleep. Sometimes I get tired or my arms are sore, or I just don’t FEEL like walking around and singing and bouncing so I found myself starting to resent that part of her bedtime routine. I would still do the walks; Miri loved them after all, and the short ones weren’t bad, so I sucked it up and bounced my kid to sleep.

One might ask, “Why didn’t you stop doing bouncy walks?” or “Why didn’t you let her cry?” that’s not the way I do things. What I did consider was gently transitioning “bouncy walk” out of our bedtime routine, and some day in the future we may yet do that.

I can’t remember if it was one night when she fell asleep before I ever held her, or something I read, or maybe she just fell asleep much faster than usual… but I had a thought that was “I should appreciate this more. I should appreciate these little moments that have become an annoying chore because they don’t last forever”.

Everyone says that, and it used to be so annoying to me. Cherish these moments. Cherishing moments is a HARD thing to do when you are living them. The years are short but the days are LONG, and full of challenges, and it is easy to lose perspective when you are in the trenches. Cherishing the bedtime routine was a BIG challenge for me. 

One day it just clicked. I was holding Miriam in my arms and singing (annoyedly) and I realized that my body was tense, which probably made her tiny body scared. I realized that I didn’t have to fight. Bedtime did not have to be a battle. I relaxed, my voice grew softer, and I thought about how sad I would be when I couldn’t hold my little girl like this any more.

I pressed my cheek against her soft, sweet little toddler hair and embraced the bouncy walk. I could stop if I was tired. I didn’t have to kill myself to make her happy, she just wanted her mama to love her and hold her and sing to her. She wanted to be comforted and held and by doing it, but not enjoying it, I was not giving her what she needed — tender loving care.

I relaxed my muscles and held my baby and she was asleep in no time, of course, because days when you have big realizations like this always play out like that. Since then there have been other nights when bouncing took longer, when bedtime was more challenging, but I feel have a different perspective.  I know now that what she needs is not for me to physically do the things that make her fall asleep… she needs my love and comfort, and by giving her that love and comfort she has an easier time going to sleep.

Someday all of this will change, she’ll transition out of her bouncy walks, she’ll fall asleep on her own, she’ll be too big for me to hold her. And when those days come, I’ll look back and be so grateful that I didn’t fight or resent or throw all my energy away… I just held and loved my daughter.

I’d love to hear your bedtime routine stories. What challenges you? What parts do you love? Have you ever had a change of heart or new perspective on a parenting challenge?

 

 

AboutKara

I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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