We have always had a bedtime routine for our kids, but I didn’t realize how important it was until my daughter was born last summer. Having a good routine helps kids to relax and be able to fall asleep. Prior to my daughter being born, my boys, who were 4 and 2 at the time, would have a bath after dinner, and then we would read a story or two and I would nurse my 2 year old to sleep while my 4 year old would snuggle up with me. They would usually fall asleep fairly quickly. My husband wasn’t home most nights at bedtime for the last year since he was busy farming as well as remodeling our new house.
Trying to find a new routine is always difficult after a new baby is born. When my oldest was a baby, I would bathe him and read to him, but he almost always fell asleep nursing. When I was pregnant with my second son, my oldest abruptly weaned himself, around the time he turned two. It took a few weeks until he got used to lying in bed while we sang and read to him until he fell asleep. He wouldn’t nurse, but he couldn’t figure out what else to do. We very quickly had his favorite bedtime books, such as Goodnight Moon memorized, and I bought every bedtime board book I could find to provide some variety. If he was nearly asleep I would try to not disturb him getting another book, so I would quickly flip to the front of the same book again and start over.
I knew it might be difficult when my daughter was born, since my 2 year old was still nursing to sleep, but I decided rather than weaning him ahead of time, I would wait until the baby was born and see how it went. I tried nursing both the baby and my son, but it was difficult trying to keep both of them in a good position. My two year old started hitting and biting out of frustration, and my 4 year old was bouncing on the bed and running around the room until his brother and sister were asleep and I could finally get him settled down.
It has taken a while, but we finally got a good routine of a bath, and reading books that helps settle the boys down so they will fall asleep, while the baby nurses to sleep. My oldest likes to be next to his baby sister. My two year old likes to have my arm around him, and sometimes my husband’s too. After they fall asleep, the boys get moved to their own bed. If we have any more kids, we’re going to need a bigger bed to get them all to sleep in.
As frustrating as it sometimes can be when I’m waiting for them all to fall asleep, one of the most enjoyable times of the day is cuddling with my whole family in bed. I’m sure it will also make for good memories someday when they are all grown up and I have no one left to put to bed, except an occasional visit from grandchildren. Until then, I try to remember to enjoy every bedtime snuggle with them, no matter how many Thomas the Tank Engine stories I have to read at bedtime.
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