If you have children, you are fully aware of how a good, solid bedtime ritual can really make a difference in terms of the kids falling asleep at night. After 6 years, I think we are finally getting there.
Basically, it isn't the kids that are resistant to a routine - it's me. And it isn't really that I'm resistant - it's more that by the time bed time finally rolls around, I'm exhausted and therefore less 'skilled' at being consistent. Well, I could consistently do one thing at least - I could lay on the couch and become comatose while the kids whined, complained, argued, and engaged in other behavior counterproductive to falling asleep.
Really, as a mother, I'm at my prime between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Yes, I am aware that this is generally the time my children are at school - but hey, you make it work, right? After that, all bets are off - and my kids know it.
This year has been different though - and I'm rather proud of myself for making this change. I have instituted a fairly strict bedtime routine, and I have to say it has been moderately successful.
We start by doing the standard wash up, brush teeth, read book stuff and then things get specialized.
First, I tuck my daughter into her bed - give her a night time snug and kiss, and then whisper in her ear a secret that no one else knows . . . that I love her very, very much. She then proceeds to scowl and growl at me to "never say that to me again", huffs, rolls over, and generally falls asleep within minutes. I can't WAIT for the teen years!
Next up are the boys. They are a little more rough and tumble than their sister, and prefer to have their backs clawed raw by my nails versus a nice, gentle snug. Then comes my favorite part.
While one is giving me a 'bone crusher hug', the other screams "Choke Her! Choke Her! Is She Dead?!?" until I feign death and lose all control of my limbs. They then proceed to lift and drop my head a few times before either poking me in the eye or punching me in the gut to see if I have actually died. It used to be that they would just tickle my feet - but apparently I didn't give up quickly enough so they resorted to more effective methods.
I then switch boys and repeat the process. They expend so much energy wrapping their arms around my neck, cheering each other on as they squeeze the life out of me and laughing hysterically at how they've resurrected me from the dead that they fall asleep soon after.
Yes, it is unconventional - and let's face it, downright weird. It probably isn't a routine that you will find recommended in most books or by anyone really, but in our house, we are all about strange and creative. And if the only way they fall asleep quickly is to choke me to death - twice - well, who am I to argue?