Yep, I still sing my tween to sleep.
My eldest daughter turned 12 years old this past weekend. As I tucked her into bed on her birthday I shared the story of her birth with her. I’ve told the story a million times over. I’ve shared all the funny little details, and all the remarkably wonderful details, with her before. Yet, every year she sits and listens. Every year she tears up at all the right moments. When the story was over I lay down beside her and sang the same songs I have sung to her almost every night for the last 12 years.
And, then I got to thinking about our bedtime routine. Is it silly to be “tucking in” a 12 year old?
When my daughter was a newborn the top advice given to parents at the time was to establish a bedtime routine. The experts said that a baby needs a routine (I’m pretty sure they say the same thing now, too). A consistent routine helps babies understand when it is time to go to bed.
Our routine consisted of a bath, quiet reading, quiet rocking and singing. I sang “You Are My Sunshine” and another love song I made up for our family.
This routine didn’t always work, in fact I’m not sure that as a baby, this routine ever worked. My daughter was one of those kids who didn’t sleep through the night for months and months and months. Yet, our lovely little routine brought me comfort and my daughter comfort. The bath, reading, rocking and singing time was a way to slow down and connect at the end of the day.
Little did I know that this routine for my baby would become the same routine my toddler would enjoy, my preschooler, my second baby, my school aged daughters and now my tween.
Funnily enough, I find that our bedtime routine is perhaps even more important as we head into the teen years. It seems like each day flies by so quickly. We wake up and everyone is busy doing their own thing…next thing you know it’s bedtime…the day is done.
Our bedtime routine no longer involves a bath (my tween prefers a shower) and she sits in her bed, reading to herself. We don’t cuddle in a rocking chair anymore. However, I still lay down beside her and I still sing. We sit and chat about how our day went and we plan for the day that will come when the sun rises in the morning. The lights are off, so I can ask all of those slightly embarrassing questions (boys, friends, etc) without seeing her cheeks flush, or mine. I sing my songs and give her a kiss. Tucked in and ready for bed.
So, why does our bedtime routine persist?
I learned many valuable lessons when my mom lived with us near the end of her life. One lesson I learned was the importance of making a happy connection with someone as they get ready to fall asleep. Each night I would go to my mom’s room, I would make sure her radio was at the right volume level, I would make sure she had a drink and that she was comfortable. We would have a chat about the day we had and the one that would come when the sun rose in the morning. I would give her a hug and a kiss and say goodnight. Those moments are priceless. Those moments are special. Those moments are ours and ours alone. No matter how difficult the day had been, our quiet bedtime routine brought love and peace into both of our hearts.
When I sing my tween to sleep every night I know that I am sharing special quiet moments in time. Falling asleep with a song in your ear and a kiss on your cheek lets my daughter know that she is loved. No matter how difficult the day has been, those are our moments. I will continue to sing my teen to sleep…for as long as she’ll let me.