Week 1 | Sleep


Week One is about SLEEP.  Take a photo of your bedtime rituals, your kids’ bedtime rituals, books you are reading before bed, how you like to sleep, where you sleep or even what you are doing instead of sleeping... anything related to resting your weary mind and body. --Shawn @ AA/P52

Gratitude has been something I’ve brought into my life as of Fall ’12, with the help of the Abundant Mama Project.  And I mean, intentional gratitude.  It is really kind of a practice, something to work at.  But I did it knowing that there was something that would come out of it, that could only HELP me and my being a mother.  It has started me on a journey of self-discovery, among many other things...which I have enjoyed immensely.  For a Mom who was reaching out for ways to be a better mom, more calm, less stressed, more fun...I have found that I’m doing more reaching inward to what makes me happy, calm and grateful.  In doing so, I believe, being a better person, better mom, better wife, will come as a secondary gain.  I am still young in this journey, and have lots to learn, to get better at, but I feel a shift, a good shift.  

Along those lines, I created a paper chain count down for the girls in the month of December to count down to Christmas.  I put a question on the back of the paper, that they had to answer.  It became our nightly ritual.  They looked forward to it.  They fought over whose turn it was to cut the paper ring...they always listened carefully to the question and gave it lots of thought.  I tried to make the questions easy and age appropriate, but the general focus was to give them attention, to help them realize what they already have and to be grateful for it, to help them feel thankful for their family, friends and belongings.  

So, when Christmas rolled around, Santa got our family a gratitude jar, with a pad of paper explaining the rules.  We were to write down one thing, each night, that we were grateful for that day.   Santa knew that Hadley might be a little young, but within less than one month, I think she’s getting it!!!  So we put our piece of paper in the jar.  And by next christmas, we will have a years-worth of gratitude in a jar.  What we will do with those pieces of paper, I have a year to figure out.  Meanwhile, this has become my new favorite bedtime routine.  Things that we say are a combination of funny, meaningful, special, personal...

Once tucked in, it is either story time, or stories “from our head”...the latter is one of my personal favorites. They have gotten quite a bit longer than when we first started this little routine.  So sometimes we have to specify “short” stories from our heads.  Typically, Rich and I go...we keep them short, we sometimes try to incorporate a lesson that relates to something that happened that day...and sometimes they are quite random.  Then Hadz is usually next, because Maycee wants it that way and Boo could care less!  

“Once upon  a time...there was a bear...a scary bear...and it went “rooooaaaaar”...and there was a nice Hadley bear, a ____ (either nice or mean depending on her day with her beloved sister) Maycee bear, a nice Mommy bear, an nice Daddy bear.  And they went on a pic-a-nick...”  

With some variation on the theme, there is almost always a bear and a picnic.  I love her stories.  I love her animated face when she tells the stories.  I love seeing her thinking and searching for the next word.  I love how she sits on the edge of her bed, hands usually in the air helping with animation; I love how she captures our attention.  She ends with a “theeee end”. And lays down while saying, “Maycee its your tuhn”.  

Maycee, on the other hand, has no problem changing it up every time.  There can be animals, outer space, people and food all intertwined into some connected yet disconnected story.  But there are names, very creative and unique names, for each live thing, and rarely is the same name used twice; there’s almost always a suspenseful moment, and most definitely an extension to the story that you thought ended 2 extensions prior.  But ooooh where her imagination takes her is really quite impressive from the perspective of the audience.  The gleaming parent audience.

And then we give them kisses goodnight, sometimes with tickles, sometimes with a few whispered words of love, of gratitude for something that was done or said that day, of promise that the next day will be better.  I tuck Boo in first; Rich tucks May.  We switch, and then lights off.  Lights off usually invites one last question along the lines of “can I have a drink” or “what are you guys going to do downstairs?” or “where’s my baby (doll)?”.  But so grateful am I that our girls, once down, do so well at staying down.  

Because as much as I love my time with my girls, I truly value my time with Rich.  To have a conversation uninterrupted.  To watch our recorded Modern Family or Parenthood.  To sit by each other on the couch, computers on our laps, bringing up random thoughts that our computers inspire.  I’ve even started reading books again.

And, I am trying hard.  Really hard.  At being mindful of my bedtime.  I do best the next day when I’m asleep by 930-10.  11 is pushing it.   I am also trying to be mindful of what I am doing before bedtime.  Am I thumbing mindlessly on my phone to just fill the time I could be getting some Zzzzzz’s?  Am I watching TV that is not interesting/stimulating/inspiring me?  

I am doing better at making sure that whatever I do between girls going down and me going down, is something worthwhile doing, for my spirit, for my soul, for my happiness.  

But no matter what, and without fail,  applying chapstick is the final bit of my routine before climbing into bed. 

 © Houseman 2013