Is there any topic more central to parenting than sleep? The only two books I read while pregnant with Parker were both centered around sleep and whether it was newborn sleep, dropping night feedings, transitioning out of the crib or nightmares and being afraid of the dark, it seems like sleep is still a central theme at almost every age. (I think ages 2.5-3-years-old was the hardest 6 months of sleep with Parker. She went through a very afraid phase and was having legit night terrors that we would have to snap her out of by taking her outside or putting cold water on her face.) It's 8:30pm here in Austin and I just finished our nightly routine, so I can't think of a better time to write down our current sleep situation. In case you're popping in for the first time, Parker just turned 5 years old and Ever is 20 months. (Also, I'm feeling so nostalgic! Our very first Real Talk with Real Moms topic was about sleep and it was almost 4 years ago!)
Here's how it goes down:
Dinner is served promptly at 5:30pm in our house. I know, I know, we are such early birds, but we are also early risers and I covet my kid-free time at night so it's early to eat for the kiddos if we want to be early to bed. Also, we do one family meal at that time as opposed to a separate adult meal after they go to bed.
I feel like it's worth mentioning that after dinner the entire kitchen gets cleaned and downstairs picked up because by the time I'm done putting them to bed it's the last thing I want to do.
By 6:30 the bath water is running, followed shortly after by the cutest bath time in all the land. They have so much fun but somewhere around 6:45/6:50 their raisin-like toes signal to me that the time has come to pull the plug...er, drain.
I dress both girls for bed in Ever's room and prep her room for bed-- pick up toys, situate the things in her crib. Both girls love La Paloma nightgowns. They're the softest kid's nightgowns ever! Then around 6:55/7 pm we walk down the hall and we brush teeth and hair. Parker departs for her room and me and Ever for hers. I'm fully prepared to admit to you all of the bad habits that currently exist in our nightly routine and here is our first: Most nights if Aaron is traveling, I hand over my phone to Parker to watch Netflix while I put Ever down. Do I wish she was in there reading books? Of course, but if I don't she will usually insist on squeezing her body into the rocking chair with Ever and I and 20% of the time it's super cute and sweet and 80% of the time it causes a whole thing because her leg is touching me and she's looking at me and so forth and so on so it is just more peaceful with the current Netflix situation. This doesn't happen if Aaron is in town.
By 7:05/7:15 I am rocking Ever in her room, white noise sound machine on. We read 2-3 books (Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Wild Backyard, Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You and a Cuddle for Little Duck are current faves!) and then sing two songs (Twinkle, Twinkle with an extra made up verse that begins with Ever, Ever (ha!) and This Little Light of Mine) and then we rock for a bit. Bad habit confession number two: At this point I know that the best sleep habit would be to rock for a couple minutes and put her down totally awake, but she is my snuggliest baby and I usually rock for closer to 10-15 minutes and then negotiate the laying down into the crib awake until I can walk away with no more than a little whine. I'm getting better. Two months ago I was still rocking her totally to sleep and then laying her in her crib. I leave her room between 7:20-7:30p.
By 7:30 I make it to Parker's room where we read two to three books, tell each other the best part of our day, each say a prayer ("Thank you God for birthday parties... and for mermaids that are real.") and then snuggle a bit before I hop into the bed next to hers. (We have two twin beds in her room for the day when she and Ever can share and it comes in handy now around bedtime or when she's sick.) I've lost count of my bad habits, but I'm in the habit of waiting for her to fall asleep, although tonight I left while she was awake and it was fine. Sometimes if I leave before she's asleep, though, she will wander downstairs 15 minutes later and getting her back up to her own bed will become a thing.
This seems like a good time to mention that we have a pretty strict no-sleeping-in-our-bed policy. If she has a bad dream in the middle of the night then we welcome her with open arms, but we never start there for the night. I really need that time to recharge and I feel like once you start with that as an option it's so hard to go back. My mom let Parker sleep in our bed with her while we were in Iceland for just 5 nights and it took 3 nights of me being home and some bribery to get her back in her bed. Also, we both sleep better in our own beds.
I'm usually out of her room between 7:45 and 8:15pm, depending on when I start. Last night it was 7:50 and tonight it was 8:15p. When Aaron is in town and we can divide and conquer bedtime it goes so much faster and we can usually both be downstairs by 7:20 / 7:30.
Ever will wake up between 6:15 and 6:35am. She is such an early riser and usually my alarm clock these days. Parker will wake any time between 7:15 and 8:30am. It really just depends with her.
So there you have it, our nightly routine. I would love to get it shorter and honestly when Aaron is here more regularly the one hour routine is totally doable. The bummer about the two hour routine is that by the time I'm done I have totally lost the will to do all of those things I said I was going to do when it was only 5:30pm.
The great paradox? While totally draining, that sweet time with them at bedtime is also kind of my favorite.
(For all past Real Talk with Real Moms posts, see here!)