This week we decided it was time to start Baby Boo on a bedtime routine. When I say “we” I really mean “I” but he gives me his full support when I make decisions like this so I’m lumping him in with me.
I decided we would start on March 1st. When she was smaller she spent much of her evening feeding, but as she has grown she has been tending to either have a long feed and then fall asleep in my lap, or be wide away and full of baby rage. I took these as signs to mean she needs to be asleep, and when she isn’t she’s not happy.
We waited until March 1st as with the Sirens Launch book party on Tuesday 28th, there seemed no point attempting to establish a routine right before she would be jerked out of it again for a night out, so March 1st was set and we prepared ourselves for it.
I started Miss Rose on a bedtime routine at about the same age, and it hasn’t changed much since. We’ve dropped the evening bath, she now spends a lot longer in the bath in the mornings, and she doesn’t have a boob or a bottle anymore, but for the most part what we set up in babyhood has lasted until now, so it was really easy to start with Boo in the same way.
After dinner, Boo now eats her dinner at the same time as the Bigs, we go upstairs for quiet time. We read picture books, lift the flap books, rhyme books. We sit quietly upstairs chatting about what we’re reading with no TV, no music.
Fortunately Boo adores this time, as does Miss Rose, and they sit together on Rose’s bed laughing away. Rose points things out in the books for Boo, who dutifully attempts to eat the pages. Rose sings the songs and Boo laughs until she falls over backwards. It’s a really lovely and contented way to round off the day.
After stories, Rose gets undressed and does her last wee on the toilet and then we brush teeth. I’ve been brushing Boo’s teeth since she first got them so I do Rose’s teeth with her brush then I do Boo’s little gnashers and clean off her gums.
After teeth it’s back into the bedroom and into pyjamas and then it’s last cuddles and conversations before quiet time. I turn out the lights and, using the torch from my phone, read a book. All three of us lie in Rose’s little bed, Boo in the middle having a breastfeed, and I read. Currently I’m reading The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis and it’s a real joy.
Once both girls are asleep I take Boo and move her into her crib next to our bed. So far she’s always disturbed a little so I give her another quiet feed and then settle her with a blanket. I breastfeed her to sleep. I know people say you shouldn’t, rod for your own back and all that, but I say balls to them because it’s my rod, my back, and it makes my baby go to sleep.
The first time I did it was bizarre. I walked downstairs feeling quite alone and peculiar. I’m so used to her being with me that to be without her felt lonely.
She obviously heard my inner cries of despair and soon woke up, however, and so back up I went to do another breastfeed and another settle.
So far it is taking about an hour and a half from the first time she falls asleep to when she stays properly. I’m going up and down, breastfeeding her quietly and then leaving again.
For the most part she’s not having a huge feed, she’s not crying because she’s hungry, she’s crying because she’s realising she’s alone and she doesn’t like it. She’s never left alone. I don’t feed her to fill her up, I feed her to reassure her, to comfort her. To make sure she knows that if she needs me I’m there, she doesn’t need to be afraid, she’ll never be abandoned. Over time she’ll start to take comfort in that fact and not wake up afraid that she’s alone because she’ll never fear that she’s alone.
Of course, I say that, but the big two still pile into our bed in the night because they don’t like being alone, but it usually takes a good few hours and really that’s all we need.
Some people don’t bother with a bedtime routine, indeed Jonathan didn’t with his ex wife for Z. Z just stayed up until they went to bed. Doing a bedtime routine isn’t something everyone subscribes to. Then other’s do it earlier and more strictly. My mother in law told me how from day one her boys were put to bed at bedtime and that’s how they learned.
I’m somewhere in the middle.
I couldn’t cope with never putting her to bed, I need my evenings. I need my time away from children. I need my time with Jonathan. I need time to be quiet and wind down because children drain so much energy from me when I already have so little to give.
But I didn’t want to do a bedtime until I felt she was ready. If she was feeding all evening then I’d rather have her with me so she could just be with the boobs she do desperately craved during those tiny months when all she wanted in the world was boobs, boobs, boobs, and more boobs. And I do miss her. She’s still so small I worry about her constantly when she’s not on me. Of course, if I’m honest, I still worry about Miss Rose and have to repeatedly check that she’s surviving alone in bed throughout the evening too. So I don’t suppose that will ever change.
For now her bedtime routine is working. It’s eating a good size chunk out of my evening with repeated return visits, especially when I don’t stay up late as it is, but I know it’s not forever. It’s only until she adjusts to the change in her life and stops feeling so peculiar about being left alone. The key is, and I definitely believe this, not give in. When I did this with Rose it was my first baby and I didn’t know what to do so I just made it up, but I am certain this time around that giving in is how to derail the entire affair. If I can stick it out and just do repeated boobs and repeated settles, she’ll soon be sleeping in her own crib in the evening just fine.
Of course, then we have to go through what happens when I stop breastfeeding. Then what happens when she stops having a bottle. But honestly, my rod, my back, my baby. These are all bridges I’ll cross when I get to them. For now this is what works and I’m sticking to it!
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!