Making the Most of the Dreaded Bedtime Routine

George’s bedtime routine is long. I’m the parent. I should have more control—or at least a bit more say—over when my 3.5-year-old should be in bed with the lights off and the sound machine on. I’ve got 27 years, at least 100 pounds (hey, I’m not a size 00!), and like two feet on the kid. Yet, every night, it drags on and on.

It seems a bit ridiculous, don’tcha think?

Well, I would agree, however, it’s also a very sweet time.

The periodic table of elements is now a nightly part of the bedtime routine.

That little boy isn’t going to be this small ever again. And I think it’s precious that he organizes his periodic table of elements cards by color while I read The Cat in the Hat to him.While a tad annoying, I also think it’s adorable that I have to threaten to take away said cards every night to make him stop organizing and get under the covers, a stuffed dog under each arm.

The nightly traditions have shifted throughout the years, and we’ve recently landed on something new. After the cat in his striped hat has caused his mayhem, I turn off the lights, turn on the recorded rain of George’s sound machine, crawl into bed next to him, pray, and tell him two stories. It’s always two stories, because the first time I told him one story, he begged for a second (to delay the inevitable bedtime, obviously), and I’m a pushover.

OK, not a bedtime picture, but I’m too busy making up stories to take too many nighttime photos.

When was the last time you told a made-up story?


Until now, I’m not sure if I’ve ever made one up on the spot. I remember asking my mom to tell me a story when I was a kid, so maybe I returned the favor way back when. But recently?

It’s actually been an entertaining exercise. Thankfully, 3-year-olds don’t give a flip about backstories or logic in their bedtime stories. He mostly wants to hear 1.) his name, 2.) his stuffed animals’ names, and 3.) something silly.

And so, my stories turn him into elements. I send his stuffed dogs (Black Dog and Brown Dog, respectively) on vacations. And I send he and his little sister on adventures, hoping to cultivate more love and friendship into their relationship.

When we started, I felt self-conscious. I used to feel this way when I read books aloud to my boy. It was a skill I never used, and I remembered feeling nervous reading out loud in school. But now? I add the crazy voices and the inflections. May as well make the time as creative as possible!

With bedtime stories, I pushed through any feelings of inadequacy and just started talking. My stories are brief, silly, and absurd, but he loves them. It doesn’t matter if they make sense, and it doesn’t matter if they’re the best stories ever. His mommy is lying next to him in his “big boy bed” telling him a tale of fantasy. And it’s definitely a highlight of my day.

Do your kids insist on any bedtime traditions? Are you a pushover too? *wink face*

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Published by Christine Boatwright

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