Babies and bedtime rituals
Most people have odd bedroom routines and quirks. Personally, I always read a bit of my book before I drop off, while some parents will insist their kids will only settle down once they’ve had a bath or a story.
Jack’s staple has always been a bedtime story and a song, although lately he’s developed another odd foible.
I’m not quite sure when it happened, but he’s somehow acquired a miniscule, fingerprint-sized paper star which he keeps under his pillow. Now, without fail, he’ll check to make sure the star is there each night before lying down to go to sleep.
The funny thing is, he won’t explain why he does it, but it obviously gives him some comfort – in much the same way as going to bed with one of his soft toys does.
We’re more than happy to let him do this, but we’ve realised this week that it makes changing his bed covers a rather more delicate affair than it has been in the past.
In fact, taking care to look after the ‘star’ has now become a part of our bed-changing ritual as parents.
Owing to the prominence of this star in Jack’s routine, we make it a priority to remove the star from his bed before doing anything else, placing it carefully back under the pillow once we’re finished.
It sounds completely ridiculous to write it down, if entirely harmless and stress-free. But it does highlight how strange ‘family habits’ can develop and, as in this case, completely without you noticing it.
In fact, it reminds me a lot of bedtime rituals with much smaller babies. You know, those little subtle things you do convince yourself help to get your child to sleep, no matter how bizarre they seem, such as lying them in a particular position, singing a particular lullaby, or soothing them with a particular toy.
In a way, it’s quite reassuring these still work when kids get a bit older, especially if it’s something as simple yet effective as putting a star under someone’s pillow!