According to parenting experts, all you need for happy bedtimes is a good evening routine. Here’s what that looks like in real life (at least some of the time):
6:30- Dinner time. Prepare various mushy foods and serve to baby. Shoo dog away from under the table, where he’s patiently waiting for flying food.
6:45- Remove food globs from baby’s high chair, hair, face, clothing, ears and nostrils. Wipe down all floors and furniture in a nine-foot radius of said high chair. Attempt to remove sticky streaks from own hair; quickly give up. Wish dog was around to help clean up.
6:50- Wonder whether any food actually got into baby.
7:00- Bathe baby in a warm tub of lavender-scented bubbles (to promote relaxation). Change into handy bathrobe after getting soaked by splashing, squirming baby, who is happy but obviously not relaxed.
7:10- put sweet-smelling baby in cute little footie pyjamas.
7:12- smell foul odour; notice stain spreading across back of baby’s pyjamas.
7:13- change slightly less sweet-smelling baby into clean jammies; start a load of laundry.
7:20- return to scheduled events. Story time: read Guess How Much I Love You and Goodnight Moon, gently removing books from baby’s mouth every few minutes. Marvel at baby’s obvious appreciation for literature.
7:30- Chase dog out of room after he starts growling at the ceiling for no apparent reason. Ignore the fact that he has stolen a sock and is carrying it away. Return to bed for last feed of the evening.
7:35- Yell in pain after being bitten by over-zealous teething baby; baby cries from fright. Cry from guilt (and fear of having scarred the poor child for life)
7:36- Husband runs in and comforts everyone. Back to scheduled events, once again...
7:35- Lullabye time. Try "rock-a-bye baby"; find self unable to finish due to realisation of how beastly the words are. Try "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". Sudden attack of "mommy brain" causes memory loss- can’t finish song. Hum for a minute, then take it home with a stunning rendition of the theme song from "Friends".
7:45- first attempt at bed. Put baby down while he’s still awake (as per instructions in baby books). Head out to living room for quality time with husband.
7:50- hear strange noises- baby seems to be singing.
7:51- ... and now he’s crying. Pat him on the back- still crying. Pick him up- nope, still crying. Take another crack at "Twinkle, Twinkle"- baby starts laughing hysterically. Realise that he’s about a quarter-past overtired already. Put him back to bed.
8:00- Baby crying again. Have short "discussion" with the Hubby about whose turn it is to go in, as he did nap time this afternoon.
8:01- Hubby goes and walks baby to sleep. So much for putting him down awake, but at least he’s asleep.
8:30- Haul wailing baby to rocking chair in the living room; wish Hubby was watching a movie that did not involve gunfights and swearing. Return to baby’s bedroom to cuddle and sing. Give up on pacifier after he spits it out for the seventh time.
8:40- Resign self to life imprisonment in the baby’s room, singing self hoarse.
8:45- Baby’s eyes start to close. Hold breath...
8:46- Nope, they’re open again. Release breath and return to singing. Oh, there they go again...
8:50- Success! He’s finally asleep. Find self unable to put him down, after all- enjoy time to cuddle without any squirming, screaming or biting.
9:05- Put Baby down in crib. His eyes flutter open; offer hasty prayer that they’ll close again.
9:08- Offer prayer of thanks while backing out of the room and closing the door.
9:10- Collapse into living room chair, ready for quality time with patient and understanding husband.
See? Nothing to it.
......12:30 a.m. - Remember that load of laundry. Get out of bed to move laundry over to dryer, motivated entirely by guilt at the thought of mold growing all over poor baby's pyjamas. Peek in at sleeping baby- goodness, he does look sweet. It's good to be me.