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Mama, Talk Busy Day?

Cee was sick about a month ago – sick in a flu-sort of way with fever, cough, stuffy nose, and general misery. We threw our regular sleep routines out the window. There was a lot of back rubbing and singing to help her to sleep and more of the same when she woke burning with fever during the night, needing some reassurance from Mama or Daddy and another dose of ibuprofen.

Once she was better, Cee had a bit of a hard time transitioning back to our regular routine of books, song, and goodnight. She said, “Mama, lie down?” wanting me to stay with her until she fell asleep. I couldn’t get into that habit.  I had humored her a few times, and I knew how it went. I would lay down next to her until her breathing slowed and she was still, but I’d still be afraid to budge for another 20 minutes to be sure she was in a deep sleep. By that time, I would either fall asleep myself or at the very least have lost all motivation to do anything productive for the rest of the night. Plus, I hate the sneaking out thing. It makes me feel like I’m not being honest with her. Cee knows how to go to sleep on her own.

mama and ceeInstead, I stayed with her for a few extra minutes. I held her hand and talked quietly about her day, full of friends at daycare, walks outside, time with mommy and daddy, meals, bath, books, and all the regular mundane things we do together. It was a busy day, I told her, and tomorrow would be another busy day. Time to rest, little girl. Night night. I kissed first one hand and then the other and then her forehead, now thankfully cool now since the fever was gone. It was a good bedtime. She fell asleep, and I got to work.

The next night, as I was kissing her goodnight, she said, “Mama, lie down?”

“No,” I said, “I’m not going to lie down with you. I need to go work upstairs.” (She actually accepts this response. It seems to make sense to her.)

She had another idea.

“Mama, talk busy day?”

And so began our new bedtime tradition. It’s Cee’s favorite part of bedtime now, and mine too. She asks for it with anticipation every night. When Husband is home at bedtime, he shares in it as well. We snuggle together in a Cee sandwich and recall the day.

I love going back through the day with Cee. She often tells us little details about her morning at daycare, and Husband and I remind her of special moments that we shared together – all the funny, sad, joyful, painful, delicious, creative, and scary ones. In this quiet space, little bits of the day come to light that might otherwise be lost in the rush of getting from here to there. After we say goodnight and leave the room, I often listen over the monitor as Cee runs through her own busy day monologue, telling her baby dolls all about it, until her voice fades to quiet.

These days, I feel like I can never get enough done. But snuggling with Cee at the end of the day and talking “busy day” puts things in perspective. It is like pulling special stones and shells from our pockets at the end of a day on the beach. We lay them out so we can see each one. We polish the bright spots and examine the dark crevices we hadn’t noticed when we first picked them up. Remember? This is the one that was almost washed away by a wave; I grabbed it just in time. Remember this one? It was the bridge to our sand castle. The castle is gone, but let’s keep this shell, OK? And this one? I noticed it because it looks like a heart. It will remind me of you.

Our lives are filled to the brim with little moments, so many that it is hard to do much besides move from one moment to the next. But if I worry that there is too much left to do at the end of my busy day, Cee’s little hand in mine reminds me of this: Of all the busy things we do, what could be more important for caring for the ones we love?

28 Comments
  1. Gena #

    So beautiful, thank you!

    Like

    February 12, 2013
  2. I need to be better at ending the day with my 2 yr old. Sometimes I’m in such a rush to get her to sleep so I can focus on me that I lose sight and I really need to stop and just focus on her. Thanks for the post. Loved it and all your posts!

    Like

    February 12, 2013
  3. Lovely thoughts! We are in the exhausting process of night weaning our cosleeping 22 month old who can only seem to sleep on his own (without nursing or drama) at daycare one day a week. It is always nice to hear about other people’s successful nighttime routines.

    Like

    February 12, 2013
  4. Vasudha #

    how lovely. such a perfect time of togetherness and peace for all of you. thanks for sharing this.

    Like

    February 12, 2013
  5. Lori #

    We do the same and love it!! Bedtime is such a great time together (for now, this is always a work in progress). We “snuggle two more minutes” and “talk about it in the chair.” It is hilarious to hear his interpretation of events and how he asks about my day.

    Like

    February 12, 2013
  6. Lena #

    This was beautiful. It brought a tear to my eye. I do this now with my four month old but I cant wait until he truly understands and can participate in our daily wrap-up.

    Like

    February 12, 2013
  7. Love this, Alice. We do the same with our almost 3 year old son. We started about a month or so ago and now he consistently says, “telll me my day mommy” at the end of our bedtime routine. He’s also started asking that I tell him about my day and his dad’s day as well. Although it might be a stalling technique, it’s actually really fun to see how interested he is in what we (his parents) did all day too. And, afterward, he seems genuinely more ready to sleep.

    Like

    February 12, 2013
    • I agree that it may have started as a stalling technique, but now that it is our routine, I’m really happy to have this time together to mentally wrap up the day.

      Like

      February 13, 2013
  8. This is hard to do with 3 little ones, but I try my best.

    Like

    February 12, 2013
  9. Beautiful, beautiful post. I will be sharing this far and wide!

    Like

    February 12, 2013
  10. Reblogged this on The Life of Kylie and commented:
    A beautiful post from Science of Mom.

    Like

    February 12, 2013
  11. kirkykoo79 #

    I can’t believe I never thought to do this. My little boy often asks me to recount a particular day (“London Bridge book Mummy” which means the story of the day we walked over London Bridge) but I will start doing it with ‘ordinary’ days too. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Like

    February 12, 2013
  12. sofia'smom #

    Great post. So now…

    Any suggestions for a 7.5 month old who no longer wants to sleep in her crib? We sleep trained her (Ferber gradualt method) at 5 months to sleep in her crib and had great success. It took 3 nights and she cried for 45 min the longest night. All of a sudden she wakes up after an hour of sleep and does not want to go back to sleep. She cries and screams until she is picked up, which she never did before. Now it’s HOURS and all night. If she falls back asleep she’ll wake up again and scream. It repeats all night. In an act of desperation I brought her to our bed and she slept the rest of the night fine. NOTHING has really changed. Same bed time routine (pjs, story, bottle/boob) and we put her down drowsy but awake. It’s not teething -we had 3 nights of that a few weeks ago and she would cry even when being held or in bed with me but that passed and she went back to sleeping fine. Is it separation anxiety? Afraid of the dark? Any ideas? I don’t mind doing the Feber thing again but it seems much harder now since she will cry for what seems like forever and still wake up repeatedly. I appreciate any suggestions.

    Like

    February 12, 2013
    • Hello Sofia’sM

      It might be separation anxiety? I read somewhere around that age they want your company more and more. We’ve only had success sleep training our 13 months old. We co-slept beforehand. He would cry and scream endlessly and I couldn’t bear it. He still cries now before fell asleep but its a different cry; a tired cry that does not need attention and picking up.

      I would suggest the word “patience”. Give her plenty of cuddle during the day, more time with her to re-assure her that you’ll always be there for her. Maybe check again nap time during the day to see if it needs improvement (less nap or shorter nap etc.) Earlier bed time would work too. Help her to calm down and relax before bed time maybe considering changing routine slightly?

      Above all enjoy this milestone. It won’t last forever trust me. I miss those co-sleeping days when we three would snuggle up together all night (before he started getting big and started doing karate in his sleep – the reason why we feel it’s the right time for sleep training).

      I hope this helps. I like Alice’s blog today and might consider it for our bed routine.

      Like

      February 12, 2013
    • maggie #

      Fisher Price makes a crib toy that hangs on the side, projects a picture on the ceiling, and plays (somewhat insipid) music. It also turns itself on when the child crys. That worked for us.
      The other thing that used to set our daughter off at that age was gas. Try simethicone drops if the belly feels at all rigid. Because the mere act of picking them up to carry them can cause the gas to relieve or shift to a less painful place.
      The only other thing I could think of would be too warm or too cold. i live in the frozen north, and this time of year it is really hard to dress my child appropriately for “heat still on” when she goes to bed, and “heat turns off” when the adults go to bed.

      Good luck. If it keep up no matter what, you might want to check with your doctor to make sure there isn’t anything like acid reflux.

      Like

      February 13, 2013
    • Ahh the mysteries of infant sleep… I am by no means an expert on these things, and I didn’t experience this with my daughter, but I also thought of separation anxiety. It seems a little early for this stage, but she may be hitting it. Any other signs of that during the day? I know that some families intentionally shift to cosleeping during this stage because it seems that their babies – who may have slept alone just fine for months – suddenly want that closeness and reassurance. If you don’t mind cosleeping, you might just want to roll with it. If she is feeling separation anxiety right now, it probably isn’t the best time to try sleep training again just yet – that may just make her anxiety worse.

      An intermediate solution would be to try picking her up, soothing her, letting her know that you are close, and then see if she will fall back asleep in her crib with you present. Have you tried that? (Maybe that’s what you’ve been doing…) My only other thought is that she might be going through some developmental leap – like working on crawling or pulling up – something she is working on that might interrupt her sleep and make it harder for her to settle. In that case, it will pass. Well, in any case, it WILL pass – it is just a matter of how long.

      If I were in this situation, which sounds really tough, I think I would choose the path of least resistance and cosleep for a while. Safety is not as much of a concern in older infants like your daughter – just make sure that your bed is a safe environment for your baby if you go this route.
      http://cosleeping.nd.edu/safe-co-sleeping-guidelines/

      Like

      February 13, 2013
    • I know you said it isn’t teething, but that is exactly what our son did most recently when teething. His symptoms for teething changed from when he was a 5 month-old through getting all of his teeth at 20 mos. Just wanted to throw that in the ring of ideas.

      Like

      February 19, 2013
  13. What a wonderful post. It sounds like a great way to cement the memories for both you and your little one and give her a comforting tradition. My little guy is still too small, but I look forward to him starting to verbalize his thoughts with me like that.

    Like

    February 12, 2013
  14. We’ve been doing this for a while now with our 4 year old. I usually put her to bed and she’ll just start talking about her day. Sometimes she goes on and on and on (and on) and it’s usually a stalling tactic, but oh, so cute.

    Like

    February 13, 2013
  15. bellissimom #

    This is so incredibly sweet.

    Like

    February 13, 2013
  16. As I read your comments, it is striking to me how many families do this with their little ones – and how in many cases it is the child’s idea. Yes, it may be a stalling tactic, but it is also a really nice way to end the day together. Cee gives me the, “Mama, talk busy day AGAIN?” line, which I always refuse. I tell her to talk to her babydoll about her busy day, and then I kiss her and say goodnight:)

    Like

    February 13, 2013
  17. Since Georgie was six months old, once we entered his room for the night, there was no talking and no activity. We play during bathtime and talk about his day while dressing him. But as soon as that’s over, we tone down our voices, enter his dark quiet room-except for a little red lamp and soft music- and sit for a while with him resting on my chest. Then I pop him in the cot and say Goodnight, my love. Mummy loves you. That’s it. I often think about introducing a book or a story before bed but I’s scared I might mess up his routine. Maybe as he gets older things will change anyway.

    Like

    March 3, 2013
  18. Thanks for this. I read this when you first posted, and its one that has stuck with me. Since my little guy is a little younger (16 months now!) we are not there yet, but are getting there. I am slowly introducing this and know I will more and more as he gets older. Its lovely.

    Like

    March 31, 2013
  19. So sometimes you look up something on the internet and you find less than satisfying answers, but this, this was written for me tonight (. Thank you so much for your straightforward and clearly been in the trenches right there with you kind of answer!

    Like

    January 6, 2016
    • This is just the best comment ever! I’m glad you liked the post. You made my day:)

      Like

      January 7, 2016

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  1. Getting our 3-Year-Old Back to Good Sleep… In 9 (Not Easy) Steps | Science of Mom
  2. A Bedtime Conversation with My Daughter | Science of Mom

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