I've got a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde thing going on at the kids' bedtime. More often it's one of my favorite times of day, but there are the occasional nights we say a quick prayer and I go hide out in my locked bedroom for a few minutes to re-energize. It really is exhausting to get five little ones down, especially considering that it comes strait from piano practice, homework, dinner and dishes, often doing several of those at once, and it's Baby's fussy time. And I'm usually alone. But with all that, I still find that I really love it. I know I can't take it for granted. Pretty soon the kids will be older and going every which way in the evening, but for right now they are little and I have them all to myself. At the beginning of the year we cut most of our outside commitments hoping to make a smoother transition to not having Daddy around as much. I miss him, he's my best friend, but our nighttime routine has actually become even sweeter since the kids and I only have commitments two evenings out of the week. I have felt blessed and I've felt a bit more empowered and independent. I think the older kids have felt the same way.
I like to have the kids down by 7:30 or 8:00 if we have to. So around 7:00 we will hurry into jammies, potty, teeth, and maybe putting away laundry. Bryce is our reminder of whose day it is to pray. Then we read and read and read. First we'll read scriptures (either the illustrated kids version or the Book of Mormon) and then a chapter book. Last year we read from Jean Rio Baker's (an ancestor's) journal whenever the date corresponded with one of her entries. Since Brynn was about four we have been reading at night, but we've been more consistent about it the last couple of years. We all go to the boys' room where they each lay in their bunk beds, Millie lays in the little Toy Story couch with a couple of stuffed animals, and Brynn will lay on the sofa in their room. Clara plays on the floor if I haven't already put her down for the night, and I will either share the couch with Brynn or lay/sit on the floor. We usually read until Bryce falls asleep (he works hard, he plays hard, he sleeps hard).
Some of the books I can remember that Marty or I have read aloud (although I know this isn't all of them) are:
- The House at Pooh Corner
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- The Mouse and the Motorcycle
- Runaway Ralph
- A House of Many Rooms
- Narnia: Prince Caspian
- Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- The Indian in the Cupboard
- Charlotte's Web
- Goosebumps (a mummy one)
- James and the Giant Peach
- Book of Mormon a few times, the four illustrated books of standard works, 7 volumes of the B of M that Marty's family read when they were kids, the Pearl of Great Price, the four gospels. Someday we'll make it through the Old Testament and D&C....
- I am a Child of God
- Pretty Bird
- My Heavenly Father Loves Me
- Love is Spoken Here
- A Child's prayer
- Life's an Hourglass
- Baby Brynn's lullaby: Child of Light
- Baby Bryce's lullaby: Rockabye Sweet Baby Bryce ("the cowboy song")
- Baby Gabe's lullaby: The House at Pooh Corner
- Baby Camille's lullaby: Dream
- Baby Clara's lullaby: Where is Heaven
Sometimes if Marty is in the middle of a book with them and I don't want to lose his place (he gets so into them!) I will just sing a few songs, or lately I have been reading from my Collection of Emily Dickenson poems. I'll let each kid pick from either Life, Love, Nature, or Time and Eternity.
After they are in bed it's anyone's guess as to whether I can get work/study/reading/Netflix/laundry/bathrooms done in peace, or if my night will consist of solving sibling disputes or individual issues (both of which go a little like this, "Go back to bed!!"). I usually go to bed later than I would like to, but not late by most people's standards. I'm not in any way a night owl, but Marty is.
Speaking of books, I'm in a bit of a rut with reading picture books to the kids. Usually what happens is that when I offer to read, a couple of them want to, Camille whines and screams about it (no idea why, I tell her she doesn't have to), Clara tries to rip the pages, and someone is always complaining that they can't see the pictures. I really want to figure this out, but I really don't think there are enough hours in the day to get them each some individual reading time, and there certainly isn't enough time during Clara's nap.
Well, Marty is home now and it's that time of night. 9:30 - I wish I was already in bed, haha!