Children are funny. Putting them to bed is less funny.
1. Pajamas – this can take 5 seconds or 15 minutes – choosing the ones to match the weather, finding the bottoms to go with the tops, visiting Grandma and Grandpa and realizing you forgot to pack them (the you in this case is the 7 year old who packed her own bag, thank you very much).
2. Brush teeth – again, 5 second or 15 minutes. We prefer about 3 minutes: paste on, brush, spit, clean up the sink. Rarely does the sink clean up happen by the brusher in my house, especially if the brusher is under my current age or over my current age.
3. Clean up the room – it is important to have a toy-free walk way between the bed and the doorway in case a trip to the bathroom or parents’ bed or wherever should arise. This is harder to explain to the children (“look, I can step over it” or “but I’m going to play with that tomorrow” or “it’s ok, it doesn’t hurt when I step on my dirty clothes”). This is a behavior I try to model, but my bed time is later, so it is lost on them.
4. Read – Zoë is reading Fudge-a-mania, her first of what I hope will be many Judy Blume books. Nathan is reading another Star Wars book from the library. Again.
5. Sleep – 15 minutes or 2 hours later (depending on steps 1-4), the lights go off and the children go to sleep. Or they don’t. Or they do eventually. Or in our bed. Or after coming downstairs several times. The best was when we had the Cantor from the Temple over for dinner: David went up stairs to put the kids to bed and Nathan did a Broadway kick line routine down the stairs in the buff. Luckily, he’s cute and only 5.