(Excuse the blurred pictures I have. It's hard to get kids to sit still :) .)
I just tucked Henry in bed.
No tantrums, no request cycles, no running out of bedroom--it was a success! After kissing Henry on the forehead for the last time he told me what every mom wants to hear (and I'll get to that in a second).
But first, I'd like to document the conclusions I've come to about bedtime for a toddler. I want this here on my blog so when rough nights come, and I'm sure they will, I can come here and remember that bedtimes aren't always horrible, no good, and very bad.
After experiencing much trouble with bedtimes--which I've found is completely normal because, really, what kid wants to go to bed?--and trying many "techniques" of "convincing"Henry to go to bed (threats, bribes, time outs, ignoring, etc.) I've come to three conclusions. I don't claim to be a master at this, I haven't established my corner on "putting a toddler to bed" but these three things stand true for us every night:
1) The kiddo needs to be tired. Like, played hard all day: been happy, been sad, dirty then clean, discovered and lazed, rebelled and obeyed. In all, a full day.
2) The kiddo can't be too tired. Because too tired (but with enough energy to still fight) is definitely worse than not tired enough. Believe me. Oh boy. It's a scary sight when the kiddo gets beyond tired (and when mom does, too). Lastly,
3) Bedtime, and leading up to bedtime has to be stress free. Henry can't feel rushed or forced to bed. Being rushed combined with points one or two = bad news.
So, although these three things are pretty general and a bit ambiguous, they are my guiding principles for bedtime.
I never thought I'd have to put so much thought and energy into putting a child to bed. But, being a parent of a toddler, I find myself thinking, "I never thought I'd . . . " often.
Like this morning at the playground when Henry came up to me holding something white and black and round-ish, "Hey, Mom, look what I have--bird poop!"
"Gross, Henry!" And chasing after him as he bolts from me, "Drop it, put it down. Let's wash your hands!"
I never thought I'd see my child holding bird poop.
Or later today when playing outside with his friend, Benjamin, Henry picked up an ant and ate it! "Henry, I can't believe you just ate an ant! It's a bug! It's so yucky!" Too all those remarks he just gave kind of a half-smile. I guess eating bugs doesn't alarm him.
I never thought I'd see my child eat an ant.
But I digress.
To the part where Henry told me what every mom wants to hear.
After tucking him in I kissed him on the forehead and he said, "Mom, you're the best mom in the whole world."
I didn't think I heard him right. Usually it's something like, "I want some more milk," or with a mischievous smile, "I'm gonna get out of bed."
Hesitant I whispered, "What?"
"You're the best mom in the world."
My heart melted. All that I do everyday suddenly became worth it.
"And you know what, Henry? You're the best boy in the world."
[And your brother is the best baby in the world.]
I love you!