Automatic yawns: the glory of a bedtime routine.

There are a good many things about parenting that I get wrong. My boys regularly go to school wearing pants with holes in the knees. I am not proud of my short fuse that at times erupts in anger. And try as I might sometimes I cannot get behind the 10th rendition of let's play trucks driving around the race track.  Of course there are plenty of other things both good and bad that I do as a parent, as a mom but let me tell you one thing that I've got down to a science 92% of the time.


Bedtime routine.

The time of night when you sweetly tuck your kiddos into bed and then happy dance your way downstairs. Sometimes to watch a show on the telly. Sometimes to eat a treat that you don't want to share (i'm looking at you peanut m&m's). Sometimes to read a good book or a crappy book, but to read more than 2 pages uninterrupted. Sometimes to just sit in silence and sometimes to have real, proper adult conversations with my husband.

My point being that this is a sacred time at the end of a long day.  Now I'm not here to proclaim that how other folks put their kids to bed is wrong. I'm just going to lay out what works for me. And for my family.

I have two boys. Oliver is 7 and Henry is 3.  They both head upstairs to bed at the same time. We do the standard brush teeth and get jams on. Then Oliver hangs out in his bedroom while I put Henry to bed. We read two books. One of his choosing. Mo Willem's Piggie and Gerald books are a fan favourite currently. And then here's the kicker, we end with the same book every night. We read a battered, taped together Goodnight Moon.

Every. Single. Night.

And you know what? My son yawns at the opening line..."in a great green room..." and by the time we are saying "goodnight comb and goodnight brush" his body has gotten heavy and relaxed. Then we say "goodnight noises everywhere" and on a good night I've know I done it. I've gotten my rambunctious toddler to relax and I can tuck him in and not hear from him until the morning. Under the glow of his nightlight I close Henry's door and walk down the hall to tuck my big boy into bed. Oliver no longer cares for Goodnight Moon but we still read a story together and I cherish the quiet time that I get to spend with him before bed.

So thank you to the pavlovian response for allowing me to in effect brainwash my kids at bedtime. They cannot help themselves. Goodnight Moon elicits a conditioned response of yawning. And I utilize that automatic response to pour my kids into bed and get out of the room before they realize the sorcery which I have cast upon them.

So there you have it. I have read or recited Goodnight Moon at our home, while flying on airplanes, in the car, in hotel rooms and rental houses. It is a constant. No matter where we are putting our heads down to bed as soon as we read Goodnight Moon, we are home.

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