Guess who had one of those eureka moments tonight? Too slow, the answer is me, Father-Hood. It came around 47 minutes ago and it has made all my struggles to get my son to sleep in his own cot suddenly seem so simple.
Here’s what happened. My wife, who implements my son’s bedtime routine 99.99% of the time, had to work late this evening. It’s a situation we’ve experienced in the past, and one that tends to lead to tears, punches and a recurring whining sound from the bubster (note: if your kid does this you’ll know a) what I’m talking about and b) just how quickly it drills through your skull and into your very soul).
In the past, we’ve attributed this reaction to the following reasons.
- He’s a mummy’s boy, especially after the hour of 7pm when he is tired, slightly under the weather and/or teething.
- The Achilles injury that meant I was able to do absolutely hee-haw with him during an extremely key time in his development.
- My son being a bit of a prima donna, who knows what he wants and how to get it.
There is more than a modicum of truth in all of the above, but less than an hour ago I discovered something that, depending on whether you know it already or not, is either really interesting or blindingly obvious. And that thing is… there is an ‘I’ in routine.
What the? Come on, mate. This isn’t a cryptic crossword. Okay, okay, I’ll explain a little further. Before tonight, whenever I implemented the bedtime routine, I attempted to copy what my wife does almost to the word, beginning with, “7.15, you know what that means… bath time” and ending with the “I love milk” song.
In my head, this made perfect sense, as it was what the bubster was used to. But do you know what? It doesn’t work and it never will, because – drum roll, please – I don’t talk like my wife, sing like my wife, react like my wife, hum like my wife, back pat like my wife or indeed look like my wife.
No s***, Sherlock. But why is this problematic? It’s a problematic because it means that the more myself or someone else tries to copy my wife’s routine, the more we are unsettling my son by ramming home the fact that his go-to parent isn’t around.
So what’s the solution? The solution, judging by tonight, is to stop playing substitute mummy and start being myself. Really? Yes, really. The moment I began performing a slightly alternative routine featuring my own songs, words, mannerisms and Dinosaur voice was the moment my son stopped whining and started settling.
Eureka moment over. Blog post over. Hopefully my son sleeps through the night and this article has taught you something that will help you in the future. Now, let’s all go and get dinner, shall we?
Until next time…