Friday, October 19, 2012

I Love Me a Good Bedtime Routine

A consistent bedtime routine can make or break a vacation, settle a late night or a rushed bedtime, and generally make the day to night transition smoother. A routine gives a sense of familiarity and comfort and it can be taken and used anywhere - on a road trip where the kids are strapped into car seats in the back seat at bedtime, on an airplane with children on your lap and strangers all around who are hyper sensitive to sound, or in a foreign hotel room or distant relatives' guest room. I've taken to memorizing my favorite rhymes and songs so that I don't even need light or books to read so long as I am within earshot.

When I sing to my kids at bedtime I tend to always fall back on the same old songs. There's the predictable and wonderful "May There Always be Sunshine", (we fill in the names of the people in our family or who we saw that day). There's the somewhat unlikely "Brokedown Palace" by the Grateful Dead; it's pretty cute to hear a two year old sing "listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul"! And then there's the unlikely two verses of the hymn "How Great Thou Art"; it's a long story, suffice it to say it's a fond memory thing.

There have been some new additions to my repertoire since attending baby time at the library for two years straight. I've appropriated the short but sweet ditties that can be repeated as much or as little as the situation requires. You know how it is; sometimes you need a short little four-liner to get your toddler through book closed, light off, and into bed so you can get out the door and other times you need something simple enough that you can repeat it until your wakeful baby returns to slumber while you're still half asleep yourself.

Sailing, sailing over the ocean
Sailing, sailing over the sea
Sailing, sailing over the water
Sail back home to me.

Tall trees, warm fire,
strong wind, rushing water.
I feel it in my body.
I feel it in my soul.

Do do mon petit
Do do mon petit
Do do mon petit
Et bonne nuit, et bonne nuit.

Some nights I just can't bring about a singing voice and so I've started memorizing stories. So far I've committed to memory "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown - who hasn't? "The Big Red Barn" by the same author, "Wynken, Blynken and Nod" by Eugene Field, a dozen R L Stevenson poems (which I adore), more than a dozen traditional sleepy time rhymes from anonymous sources, and one beloved poem by Shirley Hughes titled "Alfie Weather" but which I call "Benny Weather."

If you're not already acquainted with Shirley
Hughes and Alfie get yourself to the children's
section of the nearest library!
Alfie Weather

Whether the weather is sunny
Or whether it's drenching with rain -
A river along the garden path,
A sea of mud in the lane;
Any old weather is Alfie weather,
He doesn't really mind,
Even the sort that nips his toes
Or the steamed-up-windows kind.
Sooner or later the clouds will set sail -
Maybe after tea...
Sooner or later the sun will come out,
And so will he.

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