Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: Cannot send session cookie - headers already sent by (output started at /home/chris/public_html/wp-includes/version.php:10) in /home/chris/public_html/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/wordpress-automatic-upgrade.php on line 119

Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: Cannot send session cache limiter - headers already sent (output started at /home/chris/public_html/wp-includes/version.php:10) in /home/chris/public_html/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/wordpress-automatic-upgrade.php on line 119
GoodNite, Sweetheart

GoodNite, Sweetheart

My oldest sons are only a year apart in age. When they were very young I would count down the hours and minutes until I could shut the bedroom door and have “my time.” The definition of which was to watch bad television and lay on the couch in an exhausted heap. Let me be completely honest, there were days that I was looking forward to bedtime by 9:00am.

I can still remember their chubby little hands blowing me kisses while I stood in the doorway. I can still see their tiny bodies swallowed up by their gigantic beds. Our evenings were a set routine of bath, stories, songs, and finally sleep. I used to long for the days that I would no longer need such an elaborate bedtime routine, days where I would be able to just breezily kiss them goodnight and they would go to bed on their own. I had a hard time believing that day would ever come. So many nights I would try to rush and escape from their room before they noticed.

Who would have thought that now, all these years later, I miss it.

Now we are a busy family with teenagers. Bedtime? It is never the same from day to day. And routines have all but been lost in the shuffle. I may lie in bed and snuggle my 4 year old as he falls asleep, but usually there is one or more children shouting at me in the background, “Where is____?” insert some item of earth shattering importance that they simply must have at that exact moment. And I end up shouting back for them to quit shouting. It is all very conducive to falling asleep.

Four years ago I wrote the following about how bedtime was evolving:

I’ll carry my daughter upstairs and put her to bed. I’ll study her face for a minute after I lay her down, and brush the wisps of hair, which have curled up from the heat, off of her face. Even though she is asleep, I’ll pause at the bedroom door and say, ‘I love you.’ I think she can hear me in her dreams…

And after what seems like an eternity, the children will all be in bed. I will kiss them all, tuck them into bed, and sing “twinkle, twinkle little star” a few times. Like I have every night for the past ten years, and like I will for at least the next ten, or however long they will let me.

I’ll go downstairs and pick up the articles of clothing that have been discarded around the house and bring them to the laundry room. I’ll straighten up around the house and kick the random shoes into a pile before I flop onto the couch.

Children will come downstairs, in turn, needing water, to use the preferred downstairs bathroom, get a hug, get a toy that has been forgotten, or just tell me something of earth shattering importance that has been forgotten until that moment. After several rounds of this I’ll tell them that I am off duty and all further discussions will need to wait until morning. Someone will test this.

As I go to bed that night I’ll check in on my children, all finally asleep. I will marvel at how big they are sprawled across their beds. The sight of their scraped knees and bruised shins will make me smile, because it will mean they were having fun playing outside. I’ll see their sunkissed cheeks and the freckles across their noses. I can almost see the young man that my eldest son will grow into, his bed filled up with gangly arms and legs. I’ll pull the sheets up and cover them back up.

Before I leave their rooms and close their bedroom doors, I’ll pause for a moment to hear them softly breathe. Even though they are no longer babies, I still need to do this.

They don’t know I do this. They will have no memory of it. They wouldn’t understand anyway. Not until they have children of their own will they understand.

And days similar to this one will happen again and again. Another chance to do it better. Another chance to be the mother I long to be…


It has been years since my oldest sons were young enough for me to tuck them in and read them stories. Or sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Many nights now you will find me asleep before them. When did that all stop? One night did I just not sing as I paused in their doorway? Or did it happen gradually, skipping a night here and there until finally no one noticed a hole in the routine? Not even me? I don’t remember. What else have I forgotten, I wonder.

The other night, I was in my oldest son’s bedroom just talking with him about our plans for the next day, most of which involved me driving him all over hell’s half acre. As I was walking out of his bedroom he called to me.

“Mom, do you remember how you used to sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to us every night?”

“Of course I do.” And just to show how much I remembered it I sang the song, complete with dramatically blowing a kiss at the end. We both laughed. I felt a tug on my shirt. My four year old son was standing there, his arms crossed over his chest.

“Sing to ME!” he demanded.

He took me by my hand and brought me to his bedroom. I tucked him in and began singing. One by one his older siblings came running into the room. It grew louder and more raucous as they all joined in. My 4 yr old son lying in his gigantic bed smiling at each of us in turn. The blowing of kisses was louder than I remember, and there was more laughter than there ever was all those years ago that I now miss. Rather than running from the room and doing a silent fist pump in the air on the other side of the closed door, I lingered in the room.

Things may be very different now, but I realize that at the end of the day it is all about love, about cementing the connections that have been made during the day, about making each child feel special. These things don’t have to look a certain way. Life may be louder and appear more disorderly now than it did 10 years ago, but as I looked at my 4 yr in bed, surrounded by a roomful of people blowing kisses to him, I couldn’t help but feel that there could never be a child more cherished and loved.


So why am I writing about bedtime?

GoodNites is having a ‘Special Bedtime Moments’ contest for the chance to win one of two grand prizes of $2,500 for an all-star bedroom makeover. I really wish that I were eligible for a room makeover. Or, more accurately, my children wish that I were eligible to win a bedroom makeover for them. I will just have to live vicariously thorugh you.

· Step 1: Go to www.SpecialBedtimeMoments.com to enter.
· Step 2: Enter your e-mail address on the first page, then click continue
· Step 3: Enter your name, address, e-mail address, phone, etc. – then click continue
· Step 4: Enter your special bedtime moment (200 words or less, describe your bedtime moment, whether it’s a routine, tip or story, etc.) – BEFORE HITTING CONTINUE, COPY YOUR ENTRY AND PASTE IT IN THE COMMENTS OF THIS POST – then hit continue to submit your entry

That will enter YOU in 1). The contest for GoodNites to win one of two $2,500 bedroom makeovers and 2) The giveaway to win one of the three Bedtime Kits ($250 value!) Kits include the following:

o $100 gift certificate to PajamaGram.com
o $50 gift certificate to Borders
o Blanket
o Bedtime journal for recording special bedtime moments
o Overnight tote bag to hold all items mentioned above

You have until August 7 to enter – three winners will be chosen – two in July and one in August.


Disclaimer: I have partnered with GoodNites® for this series of posts; I am being compensated for writing about my family’s bedtime routine and for promoting this contest, not for endorsing a product.

RSS feed for comments on this post.


  1. Bobbi Janay says:

    I can imagine that you all singing around your youngest as he laid in bed pulled at your heartstrings a little.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Uncle Jim

    Every night, my eldest son (5 years) and I say prayers before bedtime. We started our bedtime routine when he was young. During prayer time, I ask him what he wants to pray for. When he was 2 years old, he would usually say that he wanted to pray for his baby sister or his kitties. However, one night (Sunday, October 29, 2006), he said in his sweet voice, I want to pray for “Uncle” Jim. (At that time, “Uncle” Jim Jeans was a grandfather figure to our family. He loved the kids dearly.) We had never prayed for Uncle Jim before, but we did that night. After our prayer, I kissed Benjamin and he drifted off to sleep.

    The following morning, Monday, October 30, 2006, I saw Uncle Jim. We chatted briefly. We were about to part ways when I turned to Jim and said “Benjamin prayed for you last night.” He responded, ”I need all the prayers I can get.” Then, Jim turned and we went our separate directions. That afternoon, Jim died of a massive heart attack. My husband was with Jim at the time of his death. And, I know that Benjamin’s prayers were too!

  3. Joss says:

    My kids are getting older each day, but I always make sure that I keep one bedtime routine constant: I always tell them I love them. I want them to grow up remembering that each and every day I said those three words to them every day, and by telling them at bedtime I can be sure I haven’t missed a day. I tuck them in, say good-night, and hopefully that’s the last thing they hear me say before falling asleep.

  4. Keyona says:

    That was so sweet. It’s funny how things change but remain the same.

  5. joy says:

    My 4 year old has autistic regression syndrome, so my sweet goodnight memory is something I want back so badly. It was a litany we had going back and forth before he lost the ability to speak - I would say “I love you”, and he would say “Love you too”. I would say Good night, and he would say night night. And then I’d say have happy dreams, and he’d say DREAMS, and scrunch his eyes up. Its the special conversation that I miss the most. I have our blog at domsjourneymomsjournal.blogspot.com

  6. Missy says:

    I have always sung to my kids at bedtime as it seemed to sooth them to sleep. But the funny thing is, is that I don’t know many children’s songs to sing so I always sing Silent Night. My kids are 12 and 9 and they still ask me to sing them Silent Night.

  7. Sue @ My Party of 6 says:

    Beautiful. I am in tears.

  8. Angie says:

    I have two sons who are 13 months apart. Trust me when I say that they are a challenge most days and a delight every day. Bedtime for us is a time for fun, and most importantly, love. It starts with the obligatory reading of one book, no two, no three - how about JUST ONE MORE?! Then teeth brushing and prayer saying. Then we all take turns to thank God for things in our life. Thank you God for…. My oldest ALWAYS starts off by thanking God for his fingers (after all how else is a 3 year old supposed to get into mischief?). Then my youngest thanks God for his brudder and his Mom and Dad. They usually come up with something that relates to our day like our friends, or the park, or even the sunshine. It is just so sweet to hear them notice things in their lives and give thanks for them. Then the routine ends with a song each ranging from Twinkle Twinkle to the superhero song (sun to the tune of the batman cartoon), Jesus Loves Me to Take me out to the ballgame. Then I love to listen to them talk and sing to each other as they drift off.

  9. Claire says:

    Over the years as we’ve added to our family, we learned it’s best to stagger bedtimes. With six children sharing three rooms, we take up one from each room and follow 20 minutes later with the other three. Each of them get a big hug and kiss, and their backs rubbed for a few minutes. An “I love you; see you in the morning.” ends our day.

  10. Britt says:

    When my 12 year old twins were little the last thing I would do before I would leave the room at night would be to scratch their backs. Over the years the bedtime routine has evolved and changed with their ages and phases. However, the one constant has always been for them to ask “will you scratch my back” and me to always reply “until you are grown”.

    At this point they are embarking on becoming teenagers and most of the time figuring out ways to have more independence but the one thing remains. No matter how late, no matter how tired they always ask “will you scratch my back” and I will always answer “until you are grown”.

    I hope that this continues until the day they move out. It seems that in some ways it’s their link to the security of that routine started long ago and it’s my link to holding onto the days when they were little and oh how those days go by so fast.

  11. Jen says:

    Our song is ‘Rock a bye baby’, with my child in my arms. I started this with my son when he was 8 months old, he was a horror to get to sleep. He is about to turn 4, is almost too heavy to lift, but he still asks for it every night (my back doesn’t thank him, but my soul does). I sometimes change to words to make him laugh.

    My almost-2 year old has started asking for it now, I have been doing it off and on with her, but she is a daddy’s girl and prefers my husband to put her to bed. He’s away in Ireland at the moment, so I had two small people asking me to rock them in turn. It took a good hour to get them to bed :)

    Thank you so much for this post, I have also spent the last 4 years rushing out of their rooms, desperate to get downstairs for some ‘me’ time. Lately, my son has asked me to stay with him before he went to sleep, and it (and your post) have made me realise that this time will pass too quickly. Thank you for making me seize the moment.

    ps, How the heck do you get 7 kids to bed?! I can barely manage it with two!

  12. Bre says:

    For years now, my son has requested “lots of kisses” at bedtime. I don’t know where he got the idea, but he believes that lots of kisses keep bad dreams away. On the rare occasion that he does have a bad dream, he asserts that I must not have given him enough. The routine is always: kisses all over his face, then both ears, then the top of his head, and then finally, two on the back of his neck. I wouldn’t dare try to skip a spot, because he’ll know, and we’ll have to start all over again.

  13. CarrieP says:

    As always, so lovely. Here’s mine:

    The relationship between my domineering toddler and sensitive preschooler can be tentative, obstinate. But during goodnight time, they come together. Books are one thing they’ll share, and after picking favorites from a teetering pile, we cycle between their rooms. Usually we’re the storytellers, but sometimes he painstakingly sounds out words or she “reads” a few memorized lines. I sing Distant Melody from Peter Pan, and we take a moment to talk to God. A little song to get the kisses going, and then my oldest helps usher his sis to the crib. He’s more reluctant to say goodnight, and we chime “I love you to the moon and back” over and over as I walk down the stairs.

    It’s a pretty picture on paper, and as I write, I realize the need to appreciate it more. It can be frustrating: it’s crazy long and occasionally a sibling kiss is refused (devastating for the sensitive one). But it’s also where I see two startlingly different kids learn to work together, to grow their “like” to supplement their “love.” She’ll be out of the crib soon, and I’ve promised myself never to get angry if I find them snuggled in bed together.

  14. Laura says:

    My huband puts the kids down every night, but the last step is for me to go lie down with them for two minutes. I used to delay, and often they’d have fallen asleep before I got there. Now they tell their dad, “Tell Mommy to come right away.”

  15. Alyssa Jones says:

    I am currently pregnant and one of the bedtime traditions I will continue with my children will be reading before bed. My favorite memories are reading Jonah and the Whale with my mom before bed.

  16. Lori says:

    When my almost 19yo gives me a great hug every evening (while he’s home on summer break), I am really missing those days when I cuddled up next to him and read book after book. Your children will all have great memories . . . and so will you.

  17. ellen says:

    my goodnites entry: My husband was recently deployed with the Air Force. Our favorite part of bed time is when each of our 3 young children puckers up to the webcam to give Daddy a good night kiss.

  18. St says:

    Our bedtime routine includes my daughter’s physical therapy exercises. Her big sister joins in and we make games out of all of it. It’s bittersweet as we watch her having fun with her sister while struggling through her difficulties.

  19. debbie says:

    Not long ago, my son began having trouble falling asleep because his head was full of frightening thoughts. We started a game called sweet dreams where my son, two daughters and I take turns making up ice cream flavors…the more fanciful, the better. Usually by the time we get through a couple of pink princess sundaes with fairy fluff and pink cherries or rainbow volcano shakes with chocolate lava sauce, we are all in the right frame of mind for sweet dreams.

  20. paige says:

    Our best bedtime moment is our reading time. No matter how difficult the day, it all melts away when we open
    the book to a new chapter and let our imaginations carry us away from the troubles of the day.

  21. sherry says:

    Tonight I was irrationally annoyed at bedtime, wanting it all to be over as quickly as possible because I had work to finish and I just wanted to get to that point in the evening where I can relax.

    Reading this reminded me that while it’s normal to have those nights, it’s important to remember to enjoy it on the other nights too and to not rush too quickly just so I can sit and stare at primetime television.

    Thanks. :)

  22. Leeann says:

    Beautiful post, Chris.

  23. Lori says:

    I’ve had different bedtime routines with all four of my kids. My youngest is 11 now and every night he goes to bed and hides under his covers then yells “ready” I then go to tuck him in. Our dog, Nestle, runs up to find him. She jumps on his bed and pulls the covers off of him…after lots of giggles and dog kisses we fix the blankets. I tell him that I love him and sweet dreams. I will be very sad when he outgrows this bedtime game.

  24. Christina says:

    We just ended a nearly three year run of co-sleeping with our youngest of three sons. Every night he would take my hand and lead me to the stairs, saying “I go bed.” Of course he loved going to bed when mommy would read and cuddle with him until he fell asleep. Now that he’s in his own room we still observe the same routine except that after he falls asleep and I spend a few minutes watching him breathe and kissing his rosy cheeks I walk out and down the hall to our room.

  25. the planet of janet says:

    My daughter’s father was dead, and for a variety of reasons, she grieved alone. We had moved into much smaller digs. She was suddenly faced with all-day preschool, instead of the genteel three-hour version she was used to.

    Bedtime was a nightmare. She wouldn’t leave my bedroom. Wanted to sleep in my bed. Cried endlessly and tantrumed frequently.

    In short, she was completely normal after suffering a traumatic loss.

    But I was at the end of my rope, for I too had suffered. A different suffer than she had, but I needed my space at night and I was frantic to resolve this.

    Turning bedtime into a predictable and therefore comforting routine seemed like the only option.

    And so it began.

    Jammies. Teeth. Bedtime book — the same one night after night after night after night.

    Snuggles and kisses.

    And my final words as I tucked her in — words that I invented in desperation but that she and I still use with each other to this day, 11 precious years later:

    “I love you from the bottom of the ocean to the top of the sky … and all the way around the world.”

  26. tammy says:


  27. Staci says:

    Every night as the night winds down I force baths all 3 of my dirt smeared faces. While my youngest is in the tub we just sit and talk about good and bad things that happened during that day. I always make each of them tell me “one good thing that happened to you today”.
    I sit on the side of my daughters bed and read one story from an old Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme book my great grandmother left me years ago.

  28. mel says:

    Since my children were babies, I would always sing to them before they went to bed. Mostly hymns from church, but really anything. As they got older, they prefered certain songs, and would call them their “night, night” songs. Now we have hit the stage where one wants them occasionally, the other could care less, and I find myself wishing for the time back.

  29. tuesday says:

    Sometimes bed time is my favorite time of day, other days it comes too soon. With twins, by the end of the day I am exhausted. I need alone time, time with my husband. Every single night though, not matter how happy I was to put my kids to bed, I always sneak back in an hour or so later mising them. I talk to them and tell them how much they are loved and I promise to be a better Mommy the next day.
    I know they don’t hear me, but I hope the words will just seep into them and they will know. They will always know.

  30. tammy says:

    Bedtime remembered

    Our very special memory of bedtime with our son is what we called head rubbings.
    We would tuck him in read a book and then we would sit with him and run our fingers threw his hair. We would count one two three and so on. How this first started, I cannot recall. But it was very soothing to him and us. As he got older, he would insist that we rub his head longer. I remember saying ok but only tem more and we would count one two three and so on. We have not done this in a long time, as my son is now 13. I have not even thought about this routine in many years. While reading the notes from the trenches blog Chris shared her memories and it bought tears to my eyes remembering our nightly head rubbings of long ago. I wish life could stand still and we could go back in time and live it again. But at last time goes on and routines change so thanks for the chance to relive these cherished memories.

  31. Kerry Ann says:

    I don’t have children, but I thought I’d post about a ritual my mother instilled in me.

    “My mother used to make sure I had the most crisp sheets. She realized early on in my young life that I used to scratch the bed while sucking my thumb because I am deaf. The vibration from the scratching would lull me to sleep. It was just too silent in my world and my mother understood that. So, along with my pink bunny, a Ginger Bread Man picture book to read and a comfortable pillow and blanket, my mother would routinely tuck me in. I needed that routine in my life when everything else seemed chaotic, straining to learn, to hear, to be normal. I’ll never forget our night time rituals. And when I have children, I will be performing the same ritual to ensure my child feels just as safe, just as happy as I did all those years ago.”

  32. lex says:

    With four small children, all 19 months apart, I depend on routines. Around 6ish, tiny teeth are brushed and vitamins are chewed. The brood begins its ascent up the stairs, with not-so-gentle reminders that playtime has ended. After much argument, all are in pajamas and tomorrow’s clothes picked out. A quick potty stop and story time begins. My three girls get all snuggled in to their beds and my youngest, my steamroller of a boy, cuddles next to me on a beanbag. The light is turned off and with flashlight in hand, I begin the next chapter of whatever scintillating book has been chosen. The girls usually beg for another chapter and I almost always laugh heartily and tell them “I’m off the clock my little darlings.” I then lead the boy to his big bed in his own room, where he proceeds to tell me the same thing every evening. “The girls always talk at night.” Yes, my sweet. You’re right. A quick trip back to the girls room, kisses all around, one more trip to the boy’s room and poof! I am done for the night. It is a few minutes past 7pm and I can finally breathe.

  33. Jana says:

    Your post made me think of the new Darius Rucker song, “It Won’t Be Like This For Long”…that song, about how fast a child grows up, as well as this post, makes me realize just how special each moment of childhood is.

  34. Anna says:

    My little daughter is only 2 months old but we already have our special routine. I give her a warm bath, which she loves. Then after she’s dressed, I read to her - usually “Goodnight Moon”. Its fun to see her look and coo at the book, and as becomes more aware she becomes more interested in the book - its neat to see her “grow up” in this way! Then she breast feeds and drifts off to sleep. I put her in her crib and softly tell her I love her. As I crawl into my bed, I say a silent thank you prayer for my beautiful daughter, and ask that she stay asleep all night!!

  35. Jen L. says:

    I forgot to copy my entry but I’ll reproduce it the best I can.

    My tip for making bedtime a treasured moment is to make it as stress free as possible. My 4 kids (boys who are 7 and 4, girls who are 2 and 1) go to bed at 8pm on the dot. About 7:15 I give them a warning that it’s almost time to get ready for bed. At 7:30 the boys get their pj’s on while the girls brush their teeth (actually Mom or Dad brush their teeth). Then they switch. After their done, if there’s time we read a book. We then put everyone to bed and pray with them before kissing them goodnight. They know what to expect because it’s the same every night.

  36. Jodi says:

    I always kiss each of my kids goodnight and tell them I love them but they are getting older and do not feel the need for mom to make a fuss over them, which I miss greatly. But when my oldest was little she was terrified of monsters being in her room! Bedtime became an ordeal no one looked forward to. Then I came up with the idea to spray “monster spray” in her room each night before bedtime and, just like bug spray, the monsters would stay away! We would spray under the bed, behind the door, in the closest and in the middle of the room so ALL areas where monster proof! A simple can of air freshner made my daughters nights peaceful, not to mention sweet smelling. If we ever put her to bed without the spray, she was always very quick to remind us that “SHE NEEDED THE MONSTER SPRAY! NOW!” in a very loud, very hard to ignore voice! How I wish a can of monster spray could take away all the heartache of being a pre-teen!

  37. Kim says:

    My daughter is only five months old, but we already have a very firm routine. We have a bath every night, read two or three books, turn on her favorite lullaby CD, then nurse and rock to sleep. No matter where we are, even out of town, we follow our routine…of course it is not without creeping into her room every 30 minutes to put my hand softly on her chest to feel it moving up and down. I’ve wondered if I’ll ever stop doing this. When she goes to college, perhaps?

  38. Katie in MA says:

    Bedtime is pretty sacred at my house. It’s always at the same time and always follows the same structure. My girls brush their teeth, get pajamafied, and then we read stories.

    Bee always picks the same book: How Does a Dinosaur Say Goodnight? I choose the second book, a tradition that started when Gracie was little and always grabbed the longest stories she owned. Bee and I snuggle in her toddler bed, read, share kisses and hugs, and then pick a happy thought for Bee to dream about.

    Then it’s Gracie’s turn. Gracie sorts through every book we own before settling on Fancy Nancy or a Little House book. We run to Mom’s bed and burrow under the covers. I stop reading every sixth word to answer 80 gazillion questions. The questions can be exasperating, but how else will I know what that crazy girl of mine is thinking, and what better way is there to foster her curiosity? Then it’s off to bed with kisses and hugs and maybe a piggy-back if she’s not feeling too grown-up-ish.

    It’s a simple routine, but it’s special to us and that’s what counts.

  39. Molly says:

    My son was scared of bad dreams. What started as a last ditch effort to get him to fall asleep has turned into a nightly ritual. We started reciting the following words:

    Close your eyes and take deep breaths. Every breath you take you breathe in happy thoughts and breath out unhappy thoughts until there are only happy thoughts left. When you fall asleep, those happy thoughts turn into happy dreams. Take deep breaths and close your eyes.

    Years later, bedtime is not complete until those words are spoken.

  40. Gwen says:

    Observed one night at bedtime…

    Isaac (4) and Kenley (1 1/2) stood before the sink brushing their teeth. He lifted his toothbrush up to let the water run over it. Kenley lifted hers too, but was unable to reach the running water.

    She looked at her big brother. Holding out her toothbrush she asked “P’ease?” Without a word Isaac took her toothbrush, held it under the water, then returned it to her hand.

    “You,” came her abbreviated gratitude.

    “You’re welcome,” he replied and they continued to brush their teeth together.

    I sat there on the edge of the bathtub brushing my teeth, taking in the sweet exchange, so grateful for these beautiful kids.

    Sometimes all is right with the world; I witnessed it from the edge of my bathtub.

  41. Pamela says:



  42. reen says:

    What a wonderful image, your little one surrounded by family singing him to sleep.

    Ten years from now I know I will miss the bedtime rituals I now share with my preschool daughters. As a single working mother I sometimes find myself rushing through it, annoyed and exhausted, but know that I should slow down and cherish these years.

    My best childhood friend and I used to spend many nights at each other’s houses. Sometimes at bedtime, she would ask her mother to “trace her face,” and her mother would lightly rub her features - eyes, mouth, nose, forehead, chin - and then my friend would ask her to trace mine too. One night, desperate for my children to get to sleep, I tried this with them and found it worked wonders. They sometimes still ask me to “trace my face, mama” and I always will for as long as they ask me.

  43. peepnroosmom says:

    That was a beautiful post, Chris. Thank you for sharing.

    Here’s my bedtime moment:
    Yesterday my husband and I spent the whole day on the lake with our two boys, ages 14 and 3, our two nieces and a friend of my son’s. Our three year old had the time of his life swimming, laughing, eating a picnic and even napping on the boat. When we got him home it was bedtime. I was snuggling him and we were playing our favorite bedtime game Best/Worst. I asked him what the worst part of his day was and he answered “leaving the lake.” I asked him what the best part of his day was and he put his hands on my face and said “Right now!” I wanted last night to last forever.

  44. debbie says:

    I love your sentimental posts. I use to say to our daughter
    nighty night and she would yell I have a boo boo will anything hurt that? I would say no. It was so simple. Last time with her and her husband staying in Atlantic City she said that and we all laughed. Then we turned out the lights and I silently cried for those years to come back. Time does go faster then you can even imagine…

  45. Chandra says:

    Bedtimes are not set in stone for our small family, some nights there are baths some nights there aren’t, usually there are books for our not quite 2 year old. The one constant is my holding him, singing or humming softly to him while he places his tiny hand on my cheek, looks at me with his big blue eyes and says “Oh Mama” and smiles, closes his eyes and falls asleep. Melts my heart and makes my day everytime.

  46. mygalsal says:

    Every night since she could talk my daughter and I go back and forth like this. Me - I love you. Her - I love you too. Me- I love you more. Her - I know you do.

  47. Katie in MA says:

    Of course I got a little wordy with my routine - that happens when I’m writing about something I love! So I posted it over at my blog. Here’s a snippet and a link!

    Bedtime is pretty sacred at my house. It’s simple, it’s structured, it’s my favorite time of the day. Barring extremely special occasions, bedtime is always at the same time and always follows the same structure. My girls brush their teeth (to avoid toothpaste slime from spilling on their pajamas), get pajamafied, and then we read stories.


  48. Rebecca says:

    My 6 year old daughter has trouble unwinding when she’s tired, making bedtime a struggle for her. Last year I started lying next to her in the dark, after we read stories together. We talk about our days, plan our weekend together, if she’s worried about anything she talks it out with me. Instead of dreading the bedtime struggle we both look forward to our special time together. The rest of the world goes away and we focus on each other for a little while. When I leave, she’s relaxed and ready to drift off to sleep, and I feel reconnected to her after our busy days.

  49. ChristieNY says:


    When my five year old was born, he was a very colicky baby. I would spend hours on end carrying, swaying, bouncing, rocking and singing to him to keep him calm. Mostly singing. I found that he’d settle without all the extras if I’d just sing. I would sing and sing and just as I’d try to fade into the background, a tiny dimpled hand would reach up to find me and the sniffling complaints would begin again unless I resumed my serenading.

    When my two year old was born, right from the beginning, I put on a beautiful lullabye CD as I rocked him. I’d hum along or sing softly with the music, but always let the CD do the work for me. It was so much more peaceful. The music would come on and he’d instantly relax and settle into my arms and I could just enjoy my time with my baby, not stressing over which verse would come next or how I could ever slip out of the room.

  50. Ronda says:

    every night we eat dinner, take a bath, brush our teeth and then read 2 books. now that my son is 3 and has a big boy bed i lay in the bed with him and read his books - the 2 he specifies or sometimes 1 book 2 times. i guess knowing that this will one day be forgotten makes me cherish it completely. some nights i’m “grouchy” and I am trying to get in and out as fast as possible and some nights I fall asleep in the bed with him and my husband has to come wake me up. I longed for the night he finally stayed in his bed all night and didn’t climb into mine and then after him sleeping in his for 2 nights in a row I longed for him to crawl back into mine - therefore proving that he is still my baby..

  51. Christina Rhoades says:

    That is such a sweet story. My Mom sang to us and with us all of the time. I like the idea of singing to my child and playing a particular cd every night.

  52. txhorns says:

    I forgot to cut and paste before I hit submit; I hope I can still be entered (it’s the 100 degree heat!). My story is about Daddy Tickles. Our girls share a room, so one of us tucks one in and then goes to the other girl to tuck in. My husband’s part of the tuck in includes “Daddy Tickles.” He’ll tickle the girls unless they say ‘No tickles.” Usually they say nothing and I’ll hear a little voice over their giggles saying “No tickles.” It’s a fun way to get the silliness out before bed.

  53. Ann says:

    When my five year old snuggles up at reading time. He then usually begs for me to sleep with him, which is sometimes a hassle (because once everyone is in bed, that’s my time to get things done!) but I indulge when I can and think ahead to his teenage years when he won’t want me around. I’m getting all my snuggling in now while I can.

  54. Jo says:

    My 9 year old got the reading bug during school this past year. All of a sudden he loves to read. He started requesting that we cuddle up in my big bed and have “reading time”. We both read our own books and will occasionally discuss something in his book.

  55. Lindsay Munson says:

    The other night my 3 year old daughter and I were laying in bed after sticking glow in the dark stars to her ceiling. We turned off the lights and “layed beneath the stars” :) All of the sudden out of no where she says “Mom, we’re in love” I will never forget that moment!

  56. Earthami says:

    At 6 my son has already gone through phases where he has chosen to change the bedtime routine. As a toddler there were specific books we read and times where I was expected to pause to let him ‘read’ the word. As a preschooler there were games that grew ever more elaborate, until it was determined that they could be no longer than one song on the CD. As a school boy it has been talk of the baseball games, and bigger boy books, and occasionally the bedtime games we made up together. The two things that have always been there are the music in the background, and snuggling and cuddling in his bed. The negotiation of how long I will lay down next to him have ended for now, 2 songs, 3 if he is sick, someday I know he will no longer want me to lay next to him and I look forward to and dread that day. He will be another step closer to being a man, and yet, in my heart, still my baby boy.

  57. Teresa Timmins says:

    My favorite bedtime moment is when my husband and 7 year old son reads Another Monster At The End Of This Book to my 2 year old. My husband is Grover and must do the “Grover” voice. My eldest is Elmo and always does the “Elmo” voice. It is adorable to listen to. Always makes everyone smile which is always a nice way to end the day.

  58. Stacey says:

    My favorite bedtime moment is when my husband and I fall into bed, exhausted after keeping up with the 6 kids, and he kisses me on the cheek and says “thank you for our children”.

  59. Amy B says:

    My husband puts my daughter to bed each night with three books. Then she gets to listen to music and waits for me to tell her “a busy day”. The routine is great and it allows each of us to have a special moment with her.

  60. Natalie says:

    Praying for Sleep

    When my youngest son was 17 months old, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Sometimes the various drugs he took made it hard for him to fall asleep. Even though it was a really difficult time in our lives, I’ll always remember sitting in his dark, cool room, rocking him in the wooden Amish rocking chair we’d purchased when our oldest was born, talking quietly to him– my lips against his little bald head, praying that he could experience a peaceful night of sleep. Now that he’s 6 and off treatment, I smile every time his crazy, curly red hair tickles my nose. I remember. And I am grateful. We are blessed to have more nights to snuggle and rock, which he still loves to do.