When Willa was born and we were short a staff member at the studio, Bob was working even more than the crazy schedule he normally keeps. And I was doing wakeup to bedtime solo for most of the week. With a 2.5 year old and a newborn. Yikes. It still sounds terrifying to me!
And it was for a time. There were nights when all three of us cried. Which broke my heart just a bit, because I have worked hard since Kai was born to make sleep a peaceful, loving, nurturing event. He was a child who actually got excited about bedtime most nights before Willa joined us. We never did CIO and were totally comfortable nursing or cuddling him to sleep all along. So three people crying their way through bedtime was, well, excruciating for me. And sad for Kai.
But it just did not work for me to tandem nurse Kai and Willa to sleep. I tried it and I felt like all of my life force and energy were being pulled from me. It was too much for me to give.
So I spent a lot of time and thought on the subject of a peaceful, loving bedtime. I needed to be able to be up and carrying Willa in a carrier while nursing her. That was our best bet for a bedtime that met her need for being held and for nursing, while also meeting Kai's need for a bedtime free of a screaming infant.
I pulled out a lovely book of bedtime meditations for children that I have used for kids' yoga classes in the past.
I simplified and shortened our routine and made it very, very consistent night after night.
Kai and I both still miss snuggling up at bedtime until he falls asleep, but I am thrilled to say that he once again looks forward to bedtime, as do I. Most nights that I am solo, both he and Willa fall asleep in 3-20 minutes. On the now rare occasions, like tonight, when Willa is just too fussy to allow me to share meditations wtih him, he tends to fall asleep in the two minutes it takes me to walk her around the house and calm her down.
More often, though, after we finish stories or cuddling, nursing for two minutes in the living room, pajamas and teeth, we head to the bedroom and he has some water, then snuggles down under a blanket, says "bippity boppity boo!" while I turn out the lights. I then light a candle and share the "Bedtime Bless" as he calls it:
Bless my pillow, bless my bedI read about Kai's special star, his own special garden, the animals that come to drink at a watering hold in his garden, the old tree that lives there. And he drifts to sleep, repeating back to me things like the fact that tonight his star is purple or the giraffe whose back he rides upon is blue.
Bless me, too, from toes to head
Bless the earth, the sun, the air
And bless the children everywhere.
I keep coming back to the idea that I want this time in my children's lives to be full of magic and wonder....