The further I come in my experience as a mother, the more I’ve begun to appreciate the rhythm of routine. From the first night home from the hospital, I began establishing a bedtime routine with my son that I’ve stuck with to this day, adding new elements, and adjusting habits as I’ve found necessary along the way. Children, as do adults, thrive in a framework of habit and familiarity. There’s something comforting about knowing what lies ahead, and that’s why, with very little tweaking, I’ve stuck with the same routine now for the past number of years. Want to hear more?
Looking back now, I’m not sure whether I even contemplated the thought or not, but I remember saying Shema with my newborn son, that tiny little innocent swaddled infant. These nighttime prayers that Jewish parents have sung with their children for generation upon generation mesmerized me. For years prior to becoming a parent this had been personal habit, and I don’t think I gave a second thought to whether or not a newborn should have Shema said to him – it just felt inherently right.
Soon, teething began waking him up at night, and so tooth brushing joined that nighttime to-do list.
As the little guy grew older, he continued to have that nighttime Shema recited, and as books became part of his day, they became a part of his nighttime as well. And this just felt right.
Looking back into my childhood, I remember the rhythm of a special time before bed being spent with one of my own parents. Whether it was a few minutes in bed being read a story, or have the inner workings of my nightlight explained, or being told about the stars and planets far beyond my windowpane, these memories have become an integral part of my inner child.
My mother, an avid reader herself, had long been helping with building my son’s book collection, and at some early point in time, I began reading to him, every night after PJs had been put on, diaper changed, and teeth brushed – and he was still a very little man.
He grew into a toddler, and snuggled down in PJs, freshly bathed, began picking out the books himself, offering a few words or animated noises to help me through the most familiar stories. Then Shema, and lights out.
He started daycare, then pre-school. Pretty soon he was wearing big kid jammies, and helping to brush his own teeth. Toilet trained, he would visit the bathroom before bed, have a drink of water, pick out a story, and snuggle down on the couch with me. Then Shema, kisses, and lights out.
That infant is a big little boy now, with after school lessons and playdates. A real social life – not my baby anymore. But he still comes home, has his supper, bathes or showers, puts on PJs, does his homework (!), brushes teeth, and then we snuggle down together for a chapter from whatever the latest book is that we’ve been reading. Recently we finished Charlotte’s Web, saying after each chapter “Mommy please don’t leave me in suspense!” Then he’d go and use the facilities, and head to bed. He’s now asking to say Shema without assistance (tear…). And then a goodnight kiss and hug.
Every night – there’s something comforting about that rhythm.
Please share your bedtime routine or rituals so that other mothers will be inspired. Looking forward to hearing from you!