I would consider myself quite “Laissez faire” as a mama. I’ve read, but not followed the advice of many books to put my baby on a strict nap schedule or eating regime and have broken all the rules when it comes to “good sleep habits”. When Monie was just a few weeks old, I started a journal to try to figure out her schedule, but alas the girl is quite spirited, and things would change from day today, so I quickly gave that up. But there is one, very special and regimented part of my day–a routine and set of rituals, if you will, that I follow every day that I can, and that is Monie’s bedtime. Monie and I have somehow slipped into a routine that has seriously become my very favorite part of the day.
As an introvert, I used to escape by taking at least one bath a day in an attempt to get some alone time. I’d bring a glass of wine up with me, turn off all of the lights, light a candle and bask in the present. Since my little Moon arrived, I don’t have the luxury of taking these spontaneous baths anymore. My new refuge and therapy has become something else that involves my sweet daughter. I’m not even sure how it started, but I, Julie Chatham have actually found a set of nighty- night rituals that both Monie and I live and thrive by. They start with a bath of course. Unlike the baths of my past, I bathe with my girl. I honestly can’t think of a more luxurious sensation than soft slippery baby skin against mine, with a little lavender oil. The bath is then followed with the bedtime story, Goodnight Moon, a book that I swear she has loved since she was three months old. I’ve tried others, but there is something so amazingly entrancing about the illustrations and alliteration of this book that lulls Ramona into deep relaxation. I’ve tried other books, but if it’s not Goodnight Moon, my little bean is fussy and ready for the next ritual which is a nice hearty bedtime meal. I like to tank my baby up with food before bed. She seems to sleep better this way and she soothes herself to sleep with food (against every rule in the book). It works like a charm. After her meal, we turn on some nice folk music. We like James Taylor, Nora Jones and Gregory Alan Isokov for bedtime. We slow dance to three or four songs and then I gently place her in her crib. She has a turtle that casts stars and a moon on the wall that I turn on. Shes usually stares at this for about 5 minutes until she falls asleep. The brilliant turtle turns itself off. This ritual can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, and I will gladly devote as much time to this bedtime hour(s) that is necessary. It is my daily retreat and sweet, sweet time to be fully present with my baby. I’m savoring every night, for I’m afraid these will soon be fleeting memories….