I have a confession to make: my children do not bathe every single night.
They used to, but man…it was exhausting getting every single child in and out of the bath on a consistent basis. The baby can't walk or dry himself or do much of anything, obviously, and the other two are running around like sopping wet lunatics playing pretend vet and building forts and tying their towels around themselves like capes. It's chaotic and stressful for me, if I'm being completely honest.
So I stopped making it a daily thing. It's become more of an every-other-day plus as-needed kind of a thing. Which works well for us. However, it caused our whole bedtime routine to completely fall apart.
I quickly learned that in order for bedtime to go smoothly, it needs to revolve around one or two central tasks. With bathtime no longer jump-starting the routine, I had to find something else.
Like Pavlov's dogs, my kids need to finish dinner and pick up their toys and have a little chemical reaction in their brain that says, “Aha! It is nighttime and I'm entering my bedroom so now this is what happens.” Over and over and over again.
I started making story time the big, central focus that they look forward to.
I read Olin the Three Bees book so he knows exactly what to expect.
Brush, book, bed!
Since Some Boy is our oldest and is the most stubborn about change, I took a night to read it to him alone. I knew that a conversation and setting clear expectations would prepare him for the nighttime adjustment and avoid future meltdowns.
After I finished reading the book and explaining that we were going to start practicing the whole “brush, book, bed” thing in our own home, I gave him a new toothbrush to make it extra-exciting. He's obsessed with Paw Patrol™ (can you tell from his companion there?) so I nabbed some Orajel™ PAW Patrol™ toothpaste and a matching toothbrush.
Nights have been a lot more peaceful, actually, and I'm enjoying the chance to fully embrace our bedtime routine together.