Due to me working full time, with an hour commute each way, my time with Pippa is limited Monday to Friday. Because of this however, I enjoy the task of being the one who puts Pippa to bed each night. I’ve been the one to do that pretty much from when my paternity leave finished. I don’t remember if we discussed me being the one, or if it just happened. But I’m happy either way.
From the early days there’s been a routine. It feels like there’s always been a routine. It’s changed slightly over time, but I think a routine in general is important. If anything, so you, the parent, don’t forget to do something that you’re supposed to remember to do but you can’t remember because you’re too busy trying to remember that thing that your partner asked you to remember for them!
14 months in, and I don’t really think Pippa is aware of the routine. Well, that’s not true. She’s definitely aware of some of it, but she sometimes wants to do things in a different order. Bless her, it’s going to take her years to realise just how pedantic and OCD her daddy can be. Change the order of the routine? Good Lord no!
Step One – Prep the room
Black out blind goes down, the curtains are closed and the little lamp goes on. In the summer, the room was still pretty light even after both blind and curtains were shut. So much so that I didn’t even need the lamp on some nights. The same can’t be said right now. Damn you dark nights!
Next check for toothpaste, toothbrush, book, bottle, bib, pyjamas and sleeping bag. Oh yeah, and get a nappy ready. It’s good to be ready.
Step Two – The Quick Change
Unless it’s bath night, we head up to Pippa’s bedroom. All is well, right up until we approach her change table. The happy, giggly, playful and gorgeous child of mine suddenly acts like I’ve told her how the Harry Potter books end before she’s even old enough to read them! He dies in the end. Just kidding!
Back to the change table. She gets proper unhappy, stroppy and has been known to kick me in the bojangles from time to time! I need feet faster than Pele to avoid one of those kicks in the trouser barnacles! This is her routine though. I don’t know why, but she just hates having her nappy changed, especially at bed time.
A few silly noises and distractions later, she’s in her pyjamas, happy and cute once more, and ready for step three.
Step Three – Bottle & Burp & Brush Teeth
This used to be my favourite stage. Well, I suppose it still is really, although this part has changed quite recently. Through no choice of my own. We head over to the rocking chair, sit down with Pippa on my lap, pop on a bib, then it’s onto the milk.
She’s on cows milk now. So much easier than when she was on formula. And it means that I get to have whole milk on my cereal in the mornings! Result!
Anyways, until very recently, I would hold the bottle in my right hand, tip her head back onto my left arm and hold the bottle in place while she supped away. Not anymore. I’m no longer allowed to hold the bottle. My 14 month old daughter has decided that she’s too old for her daddy to feed her her milk. She has to do it herself. If I try to hold it now, she puts both hands firmly on the bottle and either lifts it up high or pulls it down until I let go. It was my first “last time” that I realised was happening. I’m not gonna lie, I proper miss holding the bottle while she fed.
Where were we? Ah yes, after she’s finished the bottle, with a little encouragement, she burps three times. Each one smaller, but wetter sounding than the one before. If I’m really (un)lucky, I’ll get a burp right in my face just as she’s leaning in for a kiss. To keep me on my toes, she throws in the occasional bottom burp too!
Then it’s onto her teeth. Not an easy task! There’s chewing, giggling, dribbling, poking daddy in the eye with a tube of toothpaste and if I’m lucky, a few actual brushes of her teeth.
Step Four – Story
Pippa loves a book. We’re lucky that we seem to have been given quite a lot of books as hand me downs. It’s quite a challenge finding a book that interests me enough while reading it, but not so much that when Pippa randomly starts turning the page I don’t get too annoyed that I have to skip whole sections of the story. I mean, one minute your counting 3 bears picking pears and before you know it, you’re on to 6 parrots pulling up carrots!
Step Five – The Lay Down
With the book finished, sleeping bag on and light off, it’s time for one last cuddle before I lay her down. This part has changed the most as she’s got older. Initially she would fall asleep in my arms. That was nice, and super cute. But gently laying her down and slipping your arm out without waking her was an Indian Jones level task! A few month later and I would lay her down and stay with her for another 5 minutes while she settled, then slowly back away and exit. Now, the length of time she spends in my arms depends on how tired she is. I rock her gently until she’s had enough, then I lay her down, give her a kiss on the forehead and leave. No fuss, no crying, no need to return. That’s it. Good as gold.
She doesn’t always fall asleep straight away, but she’s happy just laying there, maybe wriggling about for a bit, until she does finally drop off. By then I’m on the sofa with a peppermint and a Tunnock’s Tea Cake. I’m so rock and roll!