The ever-so-important bedtime routine has been established for a good, long while now, and I'm finding that Griffin is beginning to anticipate what comes next in the routine! For posterity's sake, I thought I would document our nightly routine.
We begin with a walk around the neighborhood at 5:30, taking in the sights and sounds of the "wild" outdoors. Actually, things are quite peaceful at this hour of the day. It seems most families are inside having dinner around this time, so we have the sun and sky to ourselves. Griffin is becoming more and more interested in checking out his surroundings. I get the feeling he sees quite a few things for the very first time each time we go out. Sometimes, he chews on a teething ring or toy, but he's mainly in the business of observing on these walks.
After our walk, it's bath time. This boy loves his baths. I lay him on a towel on the bathroom floor and let him play and roll around naked until the water is ready. Lately, he's been catching on to the fun of splashing, which has been so fun! I'm sure I'll spend the next 5 years trying to get him to STOP splashing, but I might as well enjoy the fun now while he can't cause too much damage! His favorite things to do in the tub are chewing/sucking on the washcloth, reaching for and chewing on the cup, playing with his rubber ducky, and splashing around. We usually sing "Old McDonald" while he's in the bath, and he cracks up at the pig and dog noises.
Immediately following the bath is the baby massage. When I put the lotion or oil in my hands and rub my hands together, Griffin squeals in anticipation! He absolutely loves his massage. When we get to each set of toes, we do "This Little Piggy." After the front, I flip Griffin and let him spend some time on his tummy while I rub his back and play peek-a-boo with him. He thinks naked tummy time is the best thing in the world. This is the time of day when he's usually the most vocal, squealing, screaming, laughing, etc. He's discovered how to initiate the game of peek-a-boo. What he'll do is turn his head away from me. Then, slowly, he'll turn his head towards me until I come into his line of vision. Of course, I make a great big deal out of this, and he squeals with delight as he buries his face in the towel. Then, he'll lift his head and look away from me and start it all over again. How smart is he?! Very advanced, I think :)
After the massage, I dress Griffin and settle down in the rocking chair to read a couple books. First, we read some stories out of his children's Bible. Then, we'll pick another book to peruse through like Goodnight Moon or Harold and the Purple Crayon. Sometimes, we only make it through one story before it becomes clear that Griffin is getting sleepy. Then, it's time to swaddle and nurse my sweet boy. Since we've been putting him in bed by 7:00pm, he hasn't drifted off to sleep during nursing like he used to. Now, we give him his nuk, rock him a bit and then lay him down.
As much as I'm truly not a structured, habitual kind of person, I'm learning to find the beauty and stability in routine. There is something so familiar and dependable about routine that makes everything easier and more pleasurable to do. I remember on my first day of college, one of my professors was discussing the burden and expense of energy of the NEW. He said that it would be very overwhelming and difficult for the first couple weeks, but that after that, routine and habituation would begin to form, making college life much more do-able and even enjoyable. I think this holds true for the new routines in my life of being a mom. At first, every little task requires so much effort, thought, planning, strain. Just giving Griffin a bath used to be a pretty overwhelming thing. Now, multiply that by the hundreds and hundreds of new little tasks you have when you are caring for your first baby. However, there does come a point several months down the road where you are able to create some structure in napping, feedings, bedtimes, and daily routines. This structure is far from onerous. It is LIBERATING! It liberates you from the burden and stress of the ever changing NEW. There is something so beautiful about not questioning when you should wake up, feed the baby, put the baby down for a nap/bed and not wondering what to do next with your child. Of course, a growing little one demands that new routines must be formed to be age appropriate, but at least I can always look forward to the eventual stability of the new routine.