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05/05/2011 / melgardener

Confessions of a bedtime cuddler

Read any parenting book released in, say, the last million years and every single one has a chapter on sleep. Specifically, how to redress bad sleeping habits. So it’s not surprising that almost every parent I know has, at one time or another, been caught in the cycle of disturbed sleep.

A recent snap poll amongst my group of friends and acquaintances revealed an interesting array of facts:

  • One girlfriend lets her son play with her hair every night as he falls to sleep.
  • Another friend sings the same song to her daughter every night at bedtime.
  • A third friend leaves every light in the house on until all the kids are asleep.

And me? Well, I’m a self-confessed bedtime cuddler.

It started innocuously enough…as all bad habits do. As a busy working mum, I was well aware that our night-time routine was increasingly hectic – and not a good environment for calming and winding down.

We’d hit the front door around 6pm and the kids would, quite literally, watch me run around like a Duracell bunny on speed trying to get everything done. Between dinner, homework, bath, teeth, stories and bed there wasn’t much time for settling down and winding down, and I was increasingly finding that the children were hyped up instead of calmed down when it came to time to turn the lights out.

So, I fell into the habit of lying down with each of my girls at bedtime to have some personal time with each of them, to have a quiet chat, a bit of a cuddle and time to settle. Now they both expect it to happen every night and they hate it if I’m not there to fulfil my obligation.

I can’t deny that a large part of this habit is for me – not for the kids. After not seeing them all day, being stressed at dinner time, more stressed at bathtime and almost apoplexic by bedtime, the thought of being allowed to stop for 5 minutes and indulge with a cuddle is not the worst thing in the world. In fact, I’ve come to look forward to this time of day as my special time with each of the kids individually.

I admit up front that my habit (note that the habit is mine) does have its drawbacks. There have been many nights I’ve lain next to my kids, fulfilling my part of the bargain in body yet my brain spins quickly out of control as I think about all the jobs I still have to do. I have days when I curse my stupidity in starting this habit and wish I could find an easy way to break it.

But, for the most part, I enjoy it so I’m officially throwing out all the sleep manuals and enjoying my cuddle time.

What’s your bedtime routine? Do you have any habits (good or bad) to report?

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