Here's the thing about Tiny Owlet. Tiny is fierce and loving and so very funny. And she is busy! Always doing something and she loves to be in on whatever anyone else is doing. She's active and playful and she doesn't miss a trick. But she doesn't know how to switch off without a fight. She'll tell you she's tired, but she'll resist any attempts to help that transition to bed happen. She wants to run to bed covered in paint or tomato sauce, in the nude, and breastfeed until she falls asleep, however long that may take. Which is perfectly fine, except it's MY bed she's sleeping in and it's ME that gets covered in tomato sauce. And I'm not too keen on that. She wants a book too, but not the one I've chosen. Or the one she's chosen. And she will not ever, never brush her teeth. And we neeeeed her to brush her teeth. Tiny is very three.
In thinking a little about three year olds and remembering what they like, I've returned to rhythm and ritual to help smooth gentle transitions. I'm remembering the time we spent reading story after story each night with Big Owlet and how Little Owlet still won't go to sleep unless I say "sweet dreams". Like her sisters, there is a time each day when bed suits Tiny best, she just needs a little help and a few cues to remember how to do it. I'm also watching her energy levels and how to keep her balanced so our evenings are calm and peaceful...
On evenings where she's still not tired (perhaps we've had a quiet day at home), we go for a walk before bed.
On evenings where she's a bit rough and ragged and shouty and overtired, we have a long, quiet bath together. Some one-on-one time to stop and slow right down and talk and sing and whisper and cuddle… With soothing oils and epsom salts and rose petals and all the fixings for a peaceful night.
Here's the thing about three year olds. They like to be involved in the job. In charge. And they like gear. Kits go a long way when you are three. So, to help smooth Tiny's transition to bed, we have her bedtime basket. She started it. One evening, she shouted at me that it was bedtime and headed down the hallway with a basket full of books. The next night, I grabbed the basket and suggested we fill it together. She chose some books and the water/oil hourglass thing that she's taken to staring at. The next night, I presented her the basket with pyjamas in it. Right now it looks like the basket you see above. In the basket are:
- Tiny's hourglass toy
- A little friend to keep her company while she brushes her teeth
- Books - sometimes I choose them, sometimes she helps
So we go to the basket, put on pyjamas, take the little friend to the bathroom and brush her teeth, hop into bed, look at the hourglass thing, read a book and zonk out. And there's not a scream or a shout or anger or frustration. Just calm. And quiet. And a sense of getting the job done and an all-over sense of peaceful relief (from both of us), when she snuggles down finally, happily to snooze.
Sweet dreams, Tiny. xx
Do you have any bedtime routines in your home?
Does no routine at all suit you better?
What does bedtime look like in your nest? xx