Bedtime Routine

I’ve written about Elena’s bedtime routine before, but not in detail. I don’t think we’ll be able to maintain it after Moonbeam arrives, but I could use help figuring out how to streamline.

We start by changing into pajamas. This is a good time to get Elena to use the potty–often she succeeds in using it, but even when she resists we can usually get her to sit on it while we count to ten. Elena picks out her own pajamas most of the time, unless we need to move quickly and have them already prepared.

Next comes story time, usually in her room but sometimes on our bed. She picks a story which I read, but more and more of the time she knows the words well enough to fill in some of the details. While I find the right page in the our picture scripture book, Elena finds Jenny and brings her in. Elena gets the first shot at the scriptrues–she ‘reads’ or ‘sings,’ inspired by what she sees on the page. Then Jenny reads from them; tonight it was part of the story of Joseph in Egypt. We follow scripture reading with a family prayer.

Elena was having difficulty behaving during this portion of the routine last week. One evening I showed her that we could forgo the rest of the routine if she didn’t shape up for scriptures and prayer, and she’s done much better after that.

After hugs we say goodnight to Jenny, then Elena and I go into the bathroom to brush teeth. It’s better for me not to describe in full detail our intricate tooth brushing ritual. It even includes a short game of hide and seek, but she always hides in the same place (between towel and door), and I have to be the one who comes up with a different way to find her every night. We also take turns with the toothbrush–first she does it all by herself, then on my turn I actually clean her teeth. Then we rinse. Elena is having a very hard time figuring out how to swish water around in her mouth without swallowing it, but she keeps on trying.

For the last stage we head into her room, where she turns out the light, with my help because she isn’t tall enough to reach it by herself. I make sure that her chosen stuffed animal is appropriately swaddled. We sit down for cuddle time, during which I make up a story, sing some extra songs, or we look at pictures of play a game on the iPod. She climbs into bed, I arrange her blankets and sing her songs.

The most recent addition to our routine is the way I exit the room. One night she didn’t want me to go, so I exited like a choo-choo train. Now I have to do that kind of thing every night, either as a train, a plane, or a boat. By the time I get out of there I’m so relieved to be done that I can’t seem to remember when we started or how long it’s been. For instance, tonight we started late but my plane didn’t fly out of her room until 9:40! We have to simplify.

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