As my youngest takes a much-needed nap, I feel compelled to lay next to him for a while. With each passing day, a phase of our lives as parents to newborns-toddlers-preschoolers wanes and, for all the excitement of what lies ahead, there is also a sadness of letting go of the chaos with all its imperfect beauty.
…so one weekend morning, I wanted to run out and get some ingredients to make a nice big breakfast but I needed to ensure Michele Lynn Sequeira could stay sleeping since she worked the evening shift the night before. How to prevent the kids from coming in and waking her up? A honey-trap!
In Photo 1, a kid’s eye view coming into Mommy-Daddy’s room, you will note the placement of the iPad in the lower right corner, already playing PBS Kids very quietly.
By Photo 2, the first wild Sequeirlet has been caught. On his way to jump on Mommy, he runs by at first, then slowly backs up and plops down in front of the screen, helplessly caught.
By the time I got home from the store, all three Sequeirlets were sitting right in that spot, unmoved, unblinking, while Mama slept peacefully just a room away.
Now that two of my three are in school full day, I spend a lot of time with my third. One ritual we’ve been enjoying together is nap time. Sometimes he wants to be alone and just goes to his bed but sometimes he and I snuggle together and fall asleep together. Maybe it’s because he’s my last baby and soon this phase of our lives will be over. Maybe it’s because things are finally a little more relaxed around here – when my oldest was this age, I had three babies around full time and no two of them fell asleep at the same time.
Whatever the reason, I’m glad I’ve slowed down enough to enjoy these afternoon naps while it lasts.
I try not to think of it as “falling asleep on the rug during the bedtime ritual.” I much prefer to think of it it, “modeling good behavior for my kids.”
Early into into parenting my wife and I learned an important fact: While we have the right stay out as late as we want to, our kids don’t give a shit how late we stayed up and will wake up at their normal time the next morning.
We learned that painful lesson only once. After that, we decided that it wasn’t worth it, at least until our kids were old enough to head downstairs, get some cereal, and plug themselves into some PBS until Mommy and Daddy were ready to face the world again. Our kids are now 6, 4, and 3, and we’re still waiting. It’s okay, though. My wife and I learned to adapt.
Perhaps the best adaptation to our new life was something we call “The Date Matinee.” It’s sort of like date night, only it occurs significantly earlier in the day. We’d have a babysitter come over at 2 or 3 in the afternoon. then we’d head out to the local mall/movie theater. After parking the car, we’d hit happy hour at one of the restaurants for dinner and drinks. We didn’t have to worry about driving since we’d be walking to the movie theater to watch the early showing of the movie. When all was said and done, we’d head back home and relieve the sitter at 7pm. Per our instructions, the sitter would have the kids fed, bathed, and teeth brushed by this time. We could then slip into our jammies and read books to the kids to finish the night time ritual.
Who could argue with it – my wife and I got some time out alone, we got to put our kids to bed AND as an added bonus, we saved money on all the happy hour and early bird specials. Perfect for a young family like ours!
We’re currently filming a new movie called, “Napless in North Portland.” It’s a horror flick.
I’ve found that a successful bedtime hinges upon rituals. Kids who know and understand what’s about to happen are much more at ease and co-operative.
For the babies, it’s a bottle of milk and some snuggling in the rocking chair. For the older kids, reading books and brushing teeth. For Daddy, it’s a martini and a good cry.
My kids can ignore and mistreat me all day and yet, in the middle of the night, they come with those sad puppy dog eyes and crawl into my bed. It’s sort of a toddler booty call.
Some people look at the clock and mumble:
What the..@%#$^%#, it’s 4:45 am. Why the hell am I awake?
I look at the clock and think:
I only have 2 hours and 15 minutes of quiet before my kids wake up