On any give day you can find Zen Master involved in a make-believe world. These scenes may look like couch cushions, pillows, blankets and toys thrown together in a disastrous heap on the floor but what they really are to him are rocket ships, submarines, pirate ships and camp sites. If you ask him what he is doing he will almost always ask you to join him and if you agree to join him he will almost always reply, Well I'd be glad to take you there! Hop aboard my...
Bedtime has been especially trying lately. Little Buddha's routine hasn't been very predictable and it's hard to stick to one with Zen Master because of it. When both boys are tired and ready for bed at the same time it can get a little wild around here. Sometimes I get lucky and can get Little Buddha down and then focus on Zen Master rather than juggling both. These nights are much easier when I can give each child my utmost attention.
Unlike his brother who I can calmly nurse to sleep, Zen Master isn't very zen-like at bedtime. He is usually wound up like the infamous monkey's jumping on the bed. It has taken me months to figure out what works to settle him down. I've tried extra books, puzzles and other quiet games on the iPad and even some children's guided meditations on my iPhone but he always seemed to bounce right back in to monkey-mode.
One night while I was growing impatient and lying in bed while he bounced around me I stopped thinking about the dishes that were piled up waiting for me downstairs and the laundry that needed to be thrown in and I suddenly started my own make-believe story.
Once upon a time...
It worked. He's hooked. When I tell my stories his body is still and he is fully engrossed in the moment. He calms right down and can easily fall asleep afterwards. It is awesome.
Instead of demanding him to calm down, go to sleep in his own bed, and fighting with him (which I'm sure would result in many tears), I have chosen to put his needs ahead of my expectations and schedule. In turn, we have found what works best for him and have struck a pretty great balance. I get some extra hugs and cuddles from my perfect little boy. I enjoy making up stories and watching his eyes light up with every little twist and turn the story brings (the smile that my happily-ever-after-endings bring to his face is to die for). He gets that extra comfort he needs at this time, one-on-one focus from me and he gets to enjoy it all in his element of make-believe.
Tonight's story was about the North Pole, Zen Master, his pet penguin, Mumble, and some lost mittens (I'm getting kind of awesome at this). When the story was over he happily turned over and fell asleep. As I lay here beside him under our freshly washed sheets in our big comfy bed, I am so happy and proud. There is no place I'd rather be. There is no other way I'd want to parent my child, no matter how any other parent or a sleep expert may react to how our bedtime routine goes down. This is what works for our family NOW and for that reason I will follow my gut, embrace every single moment and live happily ever after.