by guest blogger, Deanna Cogdon Miller
Bedtime – the best of times and the worst of times. Different every night, different at every stage and different based on who's putting them to sleep.
As I walked downstairs tonight after the nightly routine, I was struck by how different the needs of each of our kids are when it comes to saying goodnight. Keeping in mind that they are one, three and five I'm sure some of it is due to age but for the most part, I think their personalities shine through at this time of day.
According to birth order theory, first borns tend to be reliable and conscientious. Ours is no different. At bedtime, she follows routine to the letter and can (for the most part) be counted on to follow the rules and directions without very much parental intervention. Generally, once stories are done, she likes to have someone stay with her for a few minutes of quiet cuddling and then when we get up to leave, she very often turns her light back on to look at her books herself. Without fail, she'll ask for a time on the clock and once we give her the ‘numbers' that are about 15 minutes later, she's good to go. She'll sit quietly looking at books and once those numbers show up on the clock, she turns out her light on her own and hits the hay.
When it comes to middle children, birth order theory would say that they require more attention than first borns and last borns. Again, this is true in our house and very evident at bedtime. Ours is the one who finds every excuse to stay awake with us a little longer. She'll want a snack and then a certain stuffed animal and then another story and then some water and then she'll need to go to the bathroom. Her cuddle time is different than her older sister's. She uses it to lie in the dark and ask a few questions or tell you a few things that have been on her mind that day. Once she's done, she likes to lie quietly holding our hands for a few minutes before we get up to leave. She's the one who's the most passionate about her nighttime "I love you". As we walk out the door and whisper how much we love her, she answers quickly and sweetly – like it's what she's waiting to hear before she can head off to dreamland.
Although he's still pretty young, our one year old already shows the typical signs of being a last born. He's sociable, charming and loving and it tends to be no different when he's going to sleep. After reading stories (and sometimes during stories if he's tired), he'll turn in and cuddle up on our shoulders to tell us he's ready for bed. Once we turn out the light, he just stays there nestled in and very often will rub and pat our backs while he cuddles. He snuggles tight for awhile and many times he'll suddenly pop up and point or gesture towards his crib indicating that he's ready to get in. A kiss goodnight and for the most part he lies on his belly and just calmly watches you walk out the door. Big, tight cuddles and then asleep in minutes.
Just like breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I think bedtime is one of the most important times of the day for kids. There are so many nights when we're exhausted from work or have things we need to get done and our inclination is to rush through the bedtime routine to get on to other things. Even though the needs of kids seem to be slightly different at the end of the day, they do have one thing in common – a need to have special quiet time with a parent. And you know, as parents, there's nothing quite like special quiet time with our kids to make the stress of the day fade away and put everything into perspective. Never has the word "goodnight" meant so much.
Deanna is a Mom of three, wife, marketer and blogger – lover of travel, morning coffee, family time, belly laughs, good friends and uninterrupted showers! Follow her on twitter @DeannaCMiller