One of the benefits of having the kind of job I do – office-based, no direct reports or customers to worry about, and very few late evenings or overnight commitments – is that I’m very much the master of my own diary. Which means that, unlike a number of my friends, I rarely miss the boys’ bedtimes and have become an integral part of their evening routine.
I know Heather appreciates the extra pair of hands, especially now we have two to put to bed. And, to be honest, I wouldn’t miss it for the world either. It means I have a bit of quality daddy-time every day, given that mornings tend to be a bit of a mad dash to get myself out of the door with little time to do anything other than shunt them from point A to point B in their own morning routines.
Even during Isaac’s pre-Toby spell of being the world’s biggest mummy’s boy, bedtime – whether bath, bed or occasionally both – was always the one thing he was as happy to do with me as with Heather. Now that he has become much better about sharing his attention with both of us I get to interact more with him at other times, but it’s still lovely to be able to read to him, particularly now that he has developed enough for it to be a genuinely interactive activity in which he is able to read along with me.
I tend to do Zac’s bedtime more than Toby’s at the moment, largely because he seems to respond better to me and settles down more quickly than he does with Heather. But now that Toby has stopped breast-feeding I do get the opportunity to put our younger boy to bed too. I can feed him his pre-sleep bottle, then pick him up and sing ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ to him, which he now recognises as his cue for bedtime, before laying him down. Given that he usually goes down with a huge smile on his face and is typically asleep within a couple of minutes, it’s a particularly satisfying thing to do.
I guess I’ve been very lucky that being there for both our boys’ bedtime routines is a regular rather than sporadic occurrence. Sometimes it means I have to drop everything and lend a hand the moment I walk in the door, but it’s not something I would want to miss out on if I can possibly avoid it.
In the greater scheme of things it may only be a small thing that I’m able to do nine days out of ten, but for me it’s a very big thing.