Monday, January 26, 2015

Bed time ritual

It's been about 3 weeks back in school and back to early morning wake ups.So the entire family has been walking around pretty much in a zombified state.

We've had to re-train them to get up at 6 which meant re-training them to sleep at a decent hour. And that's been difficult. Their bed time ritual has become so long drawn and hilariously ridiculous at times that it isn't easy to shut down the shenanigans. And some of the time, we don't really want to shut it down because they get up to weird stuff that is amusing for us.

But for the sake of an easy wake-up the next morning (read: no tears and no flailing limbs), we've had to pretend that things aren't funny and switch off the lights.

As a rule, their bed time routine, which only starts post wash-up (anything before that is not part of the bed time wind down), consists of
1. Them putting on a show for us- this could range from miming the last episode of Shaun the Sheep they watched or re-enacting comic strips from Calvin and Hobbes to their latest party trick picked up from gym class.
2. Them 'tucking' each other in, though for most part, it's Muffin pretending to be a baby and needing to be tucked in by his "mummy" (Jordan) and "daddy" (Evan) and fed with milk (water from a sipper cup).
3. Them reading to one another or us reading to them. The rule of thumb is that I read them a Chinese book, Packrat reads them an English book and whatever else, they have got to read it to themselves.

That's when we switch off all the lights.

But that doesn't usually mean that they go to bed. It just means part 2 of the bed time ritual begins. 

This is the bit that is a little more meaningful, for them and for us. It's also the bit that winds them down and calms them down enough for sleep. I'm often inclined to rush them through their monkeying around so that we can do this bit properly. Unfortunately, it's more parent- centred and often leaves me feeling the need to borrow some tentacles from the nearest living octopus.

Each kids needs something special for this part. 

1. Jordan requires hugs, cuddles and affirmation that she's done good in the day or that what we were crossed with her, we no longer are. I also need to sing her The Lord's Prayer before she deigns herself ready to go to bed. And it has to be sung by me, in the tone and tune that I learnt it as a teenager for Holy Communion in an Anglican church. This was something I started with them as babies and 7 years later, it's so much part of her bed time routine that without it, she doesn't feel ready to sleep. The only time I'm ever let off the hook is when I'm down with laryngitis. 

2.  Evan requires us to pray very specifically for 'no bad dreams'. He's the most self-sufficient and because of that, the easiest to just leave to his own devices. But because of that, I try to make it a point to lie with him and chat with him before he falls off to sleep. He's most thoughtful then and that's often when the existential questions surface- "what's heaven like?" "Will I be able to find you when I go to heaven?" "Will my duck duck (his security blankie) be in heaven with me?". With him, it's also a great time to cuddle him, kiss him and let him know what I'm proud of him for doing that day (it could be neat Chinese writing or looking out for Muffin at the playground) or just to tell him I love him. 

3. Muffin's learnt from Evan that there are bad dreams out there. In the last 6 months, he's been able to very vividly recall his dreams and has on occasion declared that he doesn't want to sleep because he's worried about the bad dreams. So what we have to do with him is to 'pick' out his bad dreams and toss them out the window. But we have to be careful not to pull out his 'brains'. He will tell us if we have and we have to then shove it back in and glue it down. 

As a rule, regardless of how annoyed they've made me, we make peace before they fall asleep. Thankfully, this second bit doesn't usually take more than 15 minutes with Muffin usually falling asleep first and Evan last.

On bad days, I fall asleep half way through doing this but on good days, they fall asleep quickly and that allows me to creep out to my dinner.

At some point, they're not going to want me to do this any more so I guess while they want it and are still tiny enough for me to cuddle (Evan is rapidly getting to the point where I can't), our bed time ritual stands as is.


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