When I was a child, one of my favorite bedtime rituals was when my Mom would announce, "It's eight! Come on and don't make me wait!" My three younger siblings and I would then line up from youngest to oldest and we would eagerly wait for our turn to be bathed by the world's most amazing woman. We didn't have a bath tub so Mom would put us in a big pail, fill it with water, and submerge us down to our shoulders. She would wrap us in big towels and command us to go up our room and wear the clothes she laid for us on the bed. Those were 'activities' I loved and looked forward to as a child. For this post, I am listing some more bedtime rituals that, I think, your kids will love:
1. Set the Mood with a Calm Voice
When working on your bedtime rituals, remember that you should calm your child down - not spike up his energy to the highest conceivable level. As part of the routine, speak softly and calmly. Don't shout even when little Jason is making you crazy. Take control of the situation, stay calm, and stay steady!
2. Get Ready for the 4Bs
This is probably the combination that many mothers use most often. These letters stand for different things but for me they mean, "bottle, bath, book, and bed." The sequence is self-explanatory. I admit though that sometimes the first three Bs do not follow the order, owing to tantrums, illness, or travel. But we follow this arrangement most of the time and our twins know what comes next when we say, "Time for bed."
3. Create Your Own Story
This one was my Dad's idea. When I was a kid, all six of us - my parents and four children - slept on one huge bed. We are a Catholic family so we normally prayed the Holy Rosary and after that, he would start the ball rolling by saying one or two sentences. For example, he would start by saying, "The Lato family has a big mango tree at the back of their house." Then anybody could just say something to continue the story.
4. Give Them a Massage
I was six years old when my youngest brother, Kevin, was born. I often saw my Mom giving him a massage every night until he was about 12 years old. Kevin was an ultra, mega, super hyperactive youngster. It usually took a back massage to calm him down in the evening.
5. Tell Those Bedtime Stories
This is a classic, which means that this bedtime ritual is definitely here to stay. We know about Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon, but you don't need to stick to just one book. Read two, three, or four books a night. The bookstore and Amazon are full of options. I just recently explored The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton and so far, the kids like it.
6. Sing Your Bedtime Anthem
My musician friend shared that she prepared a short playlist of songs that she sings (or plays) during bedtime. She sings three to four lullabies before the "final song," which is basically like that station ID that television networks play before signing off. "My children know that after the final song, Mom will kiss them and then she will be out of the door," she said.
7. Go for Snuggles and Cuddles
While I really love reading books to the twins before bedtime, I must say that my favorite are the moments when I just snuggle and cuddle with them. I believe that hugs keep our kids warm and are a potent ingredient in making sleeping an "activity" to look forward to.
Being a stay-at-home Mom takes a lot of energy, so the last thing we need is a bad night's sleep. When children sleep better, we sleep best. Agree? What's your bedtime routine with your kids?