Musical Beds at Bedtime

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"Musical beds" by Melanie Jean Juneau (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: Pixabay.com (2015), CC0 Public Domain

Bedtime in a family of eleven is not an easy mission not if you want to nurture each child and meet their emotional and spiritual needs. Bedtime took hours every night for decades at our house because it included storytime, sharing, prayers, and back rubs.

Bedtime Must Be Peaceful

I did anything and everything to make sure bedtime was as peaceful and as loving as possible. Happy, secure kids fall asleep quicker, sleep through the night (occasionally) and don’t wake up as early (sometimes). So to execute my outrageous mission, I hung quilts over windows in the summer and used fans in bedrooms to create white noise.

This tactic blocked out any household noise that could disturb a younger child who needed more sleep. If someone was sick or couldn’t fall asleep, I would always lay down beside them. Soon another couple of bodies would sneak in, sandwiching me between them. When I was sure that everyone was in a deep sleep, I moved in comical slow motion, careful not to wake anyone up.

Another strategy that helped soothe kids to sleep was to tuck them in beside an older sibling who was reading in bed. Any fears or loneliness disappeared with the older sibling’s comforting presence.

My husband often lamented that our house should be called the house of musical beds because it seemed everybody changed places so many times, he was never sure who would end up where by the morning.

If there was a new baby in the house, he or she transformed bedtime into something magical. Kids couldn’t wait to climb under the covers because I would wrap the baby up tightly in a soft blanket and gently place the newborn beside them. I can still see my children’s’ delight as they gazed at the baby and the content, satisfied expression on their faces as they fell asleep, cuddled beside them. During those months, no one clamoured for mum or a teddy bear because they had a teddy baby.

As parents, we must trust our nurturing instincts as we ease our children to sleep. Although it takes sacrifice and maturity, we can learn to shut out advice that is contrary to our innate parenting instincts and enjoy the “teddy baby” moments that result.

I’m always amazed at how differently Canadians and Americans handle children’s sleep, compared to the rest of the world!
Sometimes we must stop, give ourselves a shake out of our preconceived ideas, and then ask God how HE would like us to deal with bedtime rituals.

Copyright 2018 Melanie Jean Juneau

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About Author

Melanie Jean Juneau is a mother of nine children who blogs at joy of nine9. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought-provoking. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life. Melanie is the administrator of ACWB, the Editor in Chief at CatholicLane, CatholicStand, Catholic365 , CAPC & author of Echoes of the Divine.

4 Comments

  1. Thank you, thank you for this. As a fairly new mom is two, this gives me so much comfort to hear a more seasoned mom glad that she did bedtime this way. Just came down from sitting by my toddler until she was almost asleep. Now I plan to rock and hold my eight month old baby until he’s asleep and then he’ll sleep beside me. It’s not always easy but they’re so little and vulnerable at night and can’t help it if they want mommy.

    • When a friend of mine (a staff member of Madonna House) visited Mexico, she missed a bus and was taken in by a poor family. Everyone slept in the same room, of course. She mentioned ho babies slept in cribs in separate rooms in Canada and the family was appalled. They considered our sleeping arrangements barbaric, like sleeping in a prison, in solitary confinement. Perhaps simple societies are more in tune with natural parenting.

  2. Awesome. When my kids were little I would sleep with the three of them in one bed (2 singles pushed together). We did that for years. Then we had a musical beds time where I might even wind up on the couch in our room because the kids would climb into bed with mommy.

    I never understood modern ideas of one bed one person. I once saw an old Dutch painting of a family sleeping in a bed with legs and sleeping children hanging out everywhere and thought “yes, that’s what the love of family is about”.

    Now they are older (4,5,8), they sleep by themselves for the most part, but our middle boy likes to fall asleep in bed.

    Anyway, lots of love in our house!
    Vivat Jesus
    Russ

    • You are a special sort of father, a man with a nurturing heart combined with a practical, logical way of handling the sleep problem. Obviously, your methods worked; some parents struggle with bedtime drama for YEARS.

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