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New Bedtime Routine

This story of how one mom is challenging her own insecurities and creating new routines for her little ones, comes to us from a mom here in Spokane. She posted this to her own blog and gave us permission to repost it here.

My New Bedtime Routine; May 2, 2012 Blog Post by Brittney Barney

One of the greatest blessings I've had while living here in Spokane is being able to take what's called the "Circle of Security" (COS) training. The COS is an attachment based theory, and the training I've taken (an eight week class) focuses on parenting and the relationship(s) with your child(ren). I have absolutely loved it. This year was the second year I did the training, and I feel like it has opened my eyes to a lot of things about each girl and myself.

COS's basic premise is that all behavior is communication, and if the parent can learn to identify the need being communicated in the behavior, the parent can then meet the need of the child and thus help create a stable relationship as well as a secure attachment.

In doing this training, I did a lot of self reflection, and I began to realize what causes me anxiety as a parent. And guess what one of those is??? BEDTIME! Yes. Bedtime causes anxiety in me because I want to be able to read the girls a story while they lovingly cuddle in my lap and quietly listen, taking turns asking questions or turning pages for me. And as soon as the story is over, they kneel down and pray together, then quickly jump into bed without any complaints. I tuck them in, kiss them goodnight, and walk out of the room for them to peacefully fall asleep.

Okay. So that's where the anxiety comes in. Because it doesn't happen that way. And for a while, I began to wonder if it was even possible to ever happen that way. I began to wonder, do other kids go right to bed? Do other kids make their parents sit in their room for sometimes more than an hour until they fall asleep? Do other kids make their parents almost pull their hair out as the child flails and screams and kicks in bed because they don't want to sleep?

Well, after taking the COS training for the second time, I realized that one of my weaknesses as a parent is that I second guess my decisions for my kids. It's like, I get that little devil and angel on my shoulders. One moment, I say, "Summer, climb off the table please." The next, I'm thinking, It's okay if she climbs on the table. We don't have a lot of room here, and she needs at least some kind of exercise. So when she doesn't even acknowledge my command, I let it slide and let her stay there. And then a few minutes later, I realize, Wow, that looks pretty dangerous. She better get down. So I ask her again to get down. And then that little she-devil says, But if it were a jungle gym, it would totally be okay. In fact, the table is safer than a jungle gym, because at least there are no holes for her to fall through! So when she ignores my request again, I again let it go. Sometimes, when I know I'm going to have this little debate and feel anxiety over a decision, I choose to ignore the confrontation altogether, to protect me from feeling the anxiety. But then Summer's climbing on counters and tables and dressers and even bookshelves, and I'm not saying anything to stop her! (Okay, so I may be dramatizing a little here . . . maybe . . .)

Needless to say, Summer has figured out that if she just ignores what I say, she can get away with anything.

But! Not anymore. The COS has helped me realize that the anxiety I feel when I have to make a decision for my child should be the secondary concern for me, and the safety and care of my child is the primary concern. (It makes perfect sense! But when you have to take your anxiety head on, it's HARD!)

And what is the solution? Well, because of my weakness in following through, Summer (and Claire too, but she is a different story) has begun to think, Who is really in charge here? Mom is my mom, but when I want to do something, I get to do it. So who, then, is really in charge? This is quite a scary question for a little three year old. For the past three months, since I attended COS the second time, I've been working on helping her realize that I am in charge, and that I will take care of her.

Now, this all ties back into bedtime. Our new bedtime routine goes something like this: once we make it to reading time, the girls grab a book or two. I hold each girl (if they want, sometimes they just prefer sitting by me), but I hold Summer for her book and Claire for her's?to fill up their love cups before bedtime. Then, when it's time, I tell them to get in bed. Sometimes they do, sometimes they need a little assistance from me. Once they're in bed, I pull Claire's blanket up around her, stroke the hair away from her face, look into her beautiful blue eyes, and then say, "Claire, who is in charge tonight?"

She says, "Momma."

I quiz her: "Is Summer in charge?"

"No."

"Is Pyper in charge?"

"No." (smile)

"Is Claire in charge?"

"No."

"Is this stuffed cheetah in charge?"

"No." (smile)

"Then who is in charge?"

"Momma's in charge."

"That's right. And momma says it's bedtime. I love you, and I'm taking care of you. That's why it's time to close your eyes, rest your body, and go to sleep. Because I love you. And I'm helping your body grow healthy and strong. So we can play and play and play tomorrow." (This is almost verbatim every night.)

And as I say this, the little she-devil on my left begins to shrink and shrink until she disappears, leaving the angel on my right saying, "Yes. This is a good decision you are making for your children."

Then I kiss Claire goodnight, tell her I'm going to go wash the dishes, and I'll come check on her when I'm done.

I make my way to Summer and do the same thing. Sometimes I have to throw a little threat out that if they talk or scream or cry, then I'll have to close the door (which I follow through with, but I only close it for a minute or so, until they are ready to settle down and listen to me wash dishes).

And guess what? Usually, after I do this with Summer, she throws her arms around me and gives me a tight-squeeze hug.

Then I walk into the kitchen and do the dishes, with the quiet of two sleepy girls behind me.

If you would like to share a story of how you are utilizing the Circle of Security? please email gretchen@circleofsecurity.org


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