For nearly all of my six years of fatherhood, I’ve been a firm believer in a military-grade, smooth, structured bedtime routine. Book reading, teeth brushing, a review of highlights from the day, a prayer, and a song or two (with a little back scratching to go with it) concludes the day quite nice and orderly. I’ve ascribed to a formulaic model of swift sleep-induction, wherein the child is placed on a gradual downward slope of activity and energy expenditure, culminating in a song of cringe-worthy tone (and pitch…and melody…and so on) and (hopefully) resulting in a celebrated finish and prompt exit. Success equaled stillness, quiet and eyelids drooping.
Now, however, I feel differently. I haven’t wholesale departed from my meticulously developed formula – books are read, teeth are cleaned, days are highlighted, prayers are made – but now I walk out the door hearing muffled laughs with bright eyes watching me go. The reason…face smooshing.
A helpful guideline for the face smoosh is to envision a deep facial massage. Cheeks are rotated circularly from their uppermost (closing the eyes) to the front (fish lips) then to the back (plastic surgery gone wrong). Sometimes a nose might need individual attention and sometimes the whole of the face needs work. Either way, they’ll be laughing and so will you. Faces will be smooshed and smiles will result.
And what I’ve realized is that ending the day with laughter is often better than my more efficient formula. Maybe the result is a bit more restlessness than my ideal or an additional wanderer out of the bedroom because sleep is found to be elusive, but it’s worth it.
A strong compliment to a face smoosh session is the dadcraft art of bedtime storytelling. And if giving kids a bath is your typical lead up to bedtime, consider these sage reflections from a seasoned dadcraft dad.
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Photo by Chrissy Wolgemuth; used by permission.