family fun

Special Moments: Bedtime Routines and Traditions

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Bedtime—While most people are still clinging to the last lazy days of summer, something very different is going on in our home. In the last week of August or so, my five year-old started passing on the pool in favor of going to the fabric and craft store. He wanted to look at Halloween supplies, pore over patterns, and plan in exhausting detail the world's scariest, most elaborate spider August.

I recognize that this is a little weird, and also that it is my fault. Holidays are a really big deal in our house and I'll admit that it's an effect that trickles down from at least my half of the top. I've always loved the baking, decorating, and celebrating frenzy of the fall and winter, and the memories made over that thermos of apple cider on a trick or treating voyage or that paper carton of Christmas Eve Chinese food are some of my favorites. A number of my own favorite childhood memories are holiday related, including the year I wrote and performed a musical for my family when we were snowed in on Christmas Eve. I believe I was around six, and I'm terribly grateful it all took place before cell phones and widespread video taping.

Embarrassing original songs about reindeer aside, the impending arrival of the holidays has me reflecting on what meant the most to me as a kid. Instead of costumes and trees, time and time again I come back to bedtime.

Each and every night without fail, my mother would sit on the edge of my bed and tuck me into the covers. While she rubbed my back we'd talk about the day and days to come. Any lingering mother-daughter bickering would diffuse. This moment was a chance to laugh, to say thank you, to say I love you. As much as I remember my eagerness to escape to college, I remember being surprised at how deeply I missed those bedtime chats. Tucking each of my children in at night has always been a priority, and I'm sure my reasons are similar to those of my mother. We have the best talks when they're drifting off, and for me it's the nicest, most peaceful time of the day to remind them that I'm really glad they're here.

With another holiday season around the corner, I know I will have at least one night when the kitchen table is covered with gifts to be packaged for the post office, there are cupcakes to bake for the class party, and mounds of laundry are competing for the time between tree lightings and office soirees. Before those nights take over, I like to remind myself how much this daily tradition means to us.

An extra tuck and a kiss on the cheek don't seem like much, but even when they're up against the world's scariest, most elaborate spider costume, they're the little the things that mean the very most.

What is bedtime like in your household? How can/will you make this moment special for you and your kids?

Second photo courtesy of Flickr.

Julie is a freelance writer and mother of two working full time in media and communications.  Most of her free time is spent in yoga class or running shoes, mostly to support her chocolate habit.  She blogs about her lively boys  and life in the suburbs at Freckles & Fickle.

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Julie Watson

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