Bedtime in a family of eleven is not an easy mission not if you want to nurture each child and meet their emotional and spiritual needs. Bedtime took hours every night for decades at our house because it included storytime, sharing, prayers and back rubs.
I did anything and everything to make sure bedtime was as peaceful and as loving as possible. Happy, secure kids fall asleep quicker, sleep through the night (occasionally) and don’t wake up as early (sometimes). So to execute my outrageous mission, I hung quilts over windows in the summer and used fans in bedrooms to create white noise. This tactic blocked out any household noise that could disturb a younger child who needed more sleep. If someone was sick or couldn’t fall asleep. I would always lay down beside them. Soon another couple of bodies would sneak in, sandwiching me between them. When I was sure that everyone was in a deep sleep, I moved in comical slow motion, careful not to wake anyone up.
My husband often lamented that our house should be called the house of musical beds because it seemed everybody changed places so many times, he was never sure who would end up where by the morning.
If there was a new baby in the house
, he or she transformed bedtime into a something magical. Kids couldn’t wait to climb under the covers because I would wrap the baby up tightly in a soft blanket and gently place the newborn beside them. I can still see my children’s’ delight as they gazed at the baby and the content, satisfied expression on their faces as they fell asleep cuddled beside them. During those months, no one clamored for mum or a teddy bear because they had a teddy baby.
“As parents, we must trust our nurturing instincts as we ease our children to sleep. Although it takes sacrifice and maturity, we can learn to shut out advice that is contrary to our innate parenting instincts and enjoy the “teddy baby” moments that result.”
I’m always amazed at how differently Canadians and Americans handle children’s sleep than the rest of the world