Being a mother of four relatively young children, I am regularly asked some variation of, “how do you do it.” Usually people are genuinely curious and kind, but occasionally I will meet *that* guy who can’t resist the birth control “joke” or *that* grandma who can’t resist saying, “Oh you finally got your boy” as my three daughters stand right there wondering why they never count. But I digress. My point was supposed to be about the “how do you do it” question. My answer is always the same, “Well, the first one is the hardest and after that your expectations lower with each child until you are nine parts chaos and one part resignation.”
One day someone asked me a question that I had never heard before. She asked me, “What is your favorite part of the day?” (Just as a note, if you feel you must talk to parents of young children, this is a brilliant question to ask!) I immediately said, “Bedtime.” Later, I laughed about this answer thinking, “Can your favorite part of the day also be the worst part of your day?” I remember this short conversation all the time as I live through the emotional contradiction that is “The Bedtime Routine.”
I will be honest, I look forward to “The Bedtime Routine” with unusual glee. There are many, many, many moments throughout the day when I long for the silence and calm and solitude…and silence (so much silence) of when the kids are finally in bed. I look forward to the smell of clean little bodies, the warm cuddles, the attentive minds as we read together, and those beautiful, precious sleeping children all tucked in. It is picture perfect and my favorite. Except the reality is cleaning up a flooded bathroom because they decided to play “scuba diver” AGAIN instead of washing their mud covered bodies. The “cuddles” are actually a constant wrestling match over any number of things, including but not limited to touching someone or any of their things, looking at someone, getting to sit next to Dad, or generally ruining someone’s life. Those attentive minds are attentive to every single detail around them…except the words I am reading out loud. The precious sleeping children are, instead, a revolving door of requests and urgent reports.
And so, every night, I find myself actively involved in the best and worst part of my day. Like in so many parts of my life, books help. There are so many fantastic bedtime books available and I thoroughly enjoy finding them. There are few things more satisfying than finding the right book to bring everyone together for a few peaceful, quiet moments before bed. Here are a few of the bedtime books my family has enjoyed the most.
The Going to Bed Book (Sandra Boynton) – I have read this book approximately 3285 times and I still enjoy reading it.
Good Night, Good Night Construction Site (Sherri Duskey Rinker) – Riots will ensue if this book is not read each and every night. It is, apparently, impossible to fall asleep if you do not know that all the construction vehicles are tucked in for the night.
Good Night, Gorilla (Peggy Rathmann) – I love watching kids “get” this book. When they are very young they mostly like looking at all the different animals but as they get older, they start to pick up on all the hilarious nuances in the illustrations.
Little Quack’s Bedtime (Lauren Thompson) – This book is just so cute and sometimes that’s a good thing.
Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown) – It’s an American classic and it is fantastic.
Mommy’s Best Kisses (Margaret Anastas) – No matter what happened in the bath or while brushing their teeth or getting their pajamas on, the kids will love getting kisses just like the baby animals in the book and you will be happy to give them.
Hibernation Station (Michelle Meadows) – While technically not a “good night” book, this is a great book about the hilarity that can be involved in getting many different creatures to sleep.
Llama, Llama Red Pajama (Anna Dewdney) – This is one of my personal favorites of the “Llama, Llama” books.
Good Night, Sleep Tight Little Bunnies (Dawn Apperley) – One of my daughters went through a phase when this book was read A LOT, usually that ends up being a bad thing, but this book holds up even when memorized.
I’m Not Sleepy (Jane Chapman) – This book is funny, accurate, and a really fun read.
May these books bring you the silence you so desperately need!