Thank goodness for books and bedtime routines

One of the things that had me the most worried about parenting was the thought of losing the final baby gaol: the cot. For two years, there was always somewhere contained where I could leave Tilly if I needed a few moments where I couldn’t watch her and knew she would be safe. And the cot was great at bedtime. Do the bedtime routine, leave her in the cot, walk out, and I’m free! Same in the morning — she can call all she wants but she still has to wait for me to go and get her.

What happens when you switch to the big girl bed and lose any kind of containment? I’ve heard lots of stories from other parents about their kids climbing out of bed and having access to their books and toys, roaming the house, getting into mischief. Taking lots and lots of convincing that it’s bed time.

We moved Tilly to the big girl bed a few nights ago. We’re on night 4 or 5 now at the time of writing, and so far we’ve been lucky. We’ve lengthened the bedtime story routine at the suggestion of one parent, and I think they have helped Tilly realise that it’s bedtime and time for sleep. Books aren’t necessarily associated with sleep and bedtime because we read throughout the day, but stories at bedtime definitely are a thing. In the weeks leading up to the transition, we had about four or five books that we always read at bedtime, deliberately chosen to be the ones that really hammer into her that this isn’t just reading time, this is bedtime reading time. Since the switch to the big girl bed, we usually read about 5 to 8 books at bedtime, and we so far haven’t had problems with her climbing out of bed and defying bedtime. May this continue for the next 18 years.

These are the books we read tonight: Hairy Maclary, Hairy Maclary Sit, Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack, Hairy Maclary’s Bone, My Art Book of Sleep, Tiddler, and Where is the Green Sheep? (three times). Notably absent were the Bonnie and Ben books (Good Night Sleep Tight and Bonnie and Ben Rhyme Again) which we’ve been reading every night for months. Maybe she got sick of them. Can toddlers get sick of things? You wouldn’t think so with how repetition seems to dominate their lives…

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