(Evolution of Date Night–Part 2)
We wrote this one together. Brian is in orange. Anna-Marie is in green.
One area that had changed greatly with the addition of our second child, Tobin, was our morning and night routine.
With our commitment to have Anna-Marie drive two hours to take to Tobin to school and then two hours back home every day, came an early bedtime and an early rise time.
Our morning consisted of A-M getting up and getting stuff ready and then heading out the door about an hour before Knox and I woke up.
She would tell us bye…
We would wake up and tell her bye…
Knox and I would fall back asleep.
I have always hated mornings.
People tell me you can become a morning person if you make it a habit…
My opinion is that people lie…
It’s not that bad, Brian.
In fact, now that my internal alarm is set for 5:15, I pretty much always wake up at that time. Even though I used to love sleeping in, now I’m finding I like those hours when the world is waking up.
It’s all a part of it.
During the evenings, A-M would have to put the boys to bed early.
The boys slept with us when each of them first came home because we were practicing co-sleeping. Anna-Marie had done research before Knox came home on attachment issues for adoptive parents and their kids and found co-sleeping for a period of time was a good idea.
It had worked well with Knox, so we continued it with Tobin.
Problem number 1 was that when Tobin came home, Knox still continued to sleep with us, too.
We had already moved to a King-sized bed…
The only bed that we knew of that was bigger was Shaq’s bed from MTV Cribs and it was a bit out of our price range.
A typical night consisted at first of us (by “us,” I mean Anna-Marie) getting the boys to sleep in our bed, while I was downstairs. A-M would then fall asleep with the boys in our bed.
We actually moved Knox to his own bed at the same time we moved Tobin to his own bed.
(As I’m typing this out, I’m seeing an “Evolution of Bedtime Routine” post developing, as our bedtime process is wayyyyyy complicated. Just know that we were balancing things we had read about attachment parenting with trial and error on what worked for our family.)
Moving Tobin to his own bed was HUGE for us (so were essential oils and a weighted blanket). Tobin either goes to sleep quickly or lays in bed until he does. Either way, Tobin is a complete rockstar when it comes to bedtime… right now. I know that can change and I’m bracing myself for it. But still. Right now? Amazing.
Knox, on the other hand, has been a bit more of a process.
When we first moved him to his own bed, I would lay by him until he fell asleep… I fall asleep once my head hits the pillow, so ultimately what ended up happening is that I would fall asleep by Knox, wake up around 2 a.m. (because I can’t sleep in there) and then walk to our bedroom.
While Brian slept downstairs on the couch.
I have always been a night person.
I’d find myself watching Jimmy Fallon, messing around on the computer, doing homework, or organizing my desk drawers until I fell asleep on the couch somewhere around 1 a.m. most nights.
It was almost like once 8 p.m. hit, the downstairs became my mancave for the next five hours.
When we began putting our lives back together, we decided we wanted to take back our mornings and the evenings.
Date nights were important…
Our daily relationship was even more important.
(I’m not sure why I missed this for so many years.)
So… I began setting my alarm at 5:45 a.m. This is about an hour and 15 minutes before I normally got up.
But this gives me 45 minutes with A-M before she and Tobin leave for school.
And get on the same page as we head into the day.
I am still not a morning person.
I LOVE mornings now.
He started this all on his own.
One late October morning, I was packing Tobin’s lunch and heard movement down the stairs. I thought it was Knox, but when I looked in the living room, Brian was on the couch, asking me about coffee.
Which is hilarious.
I have always wanted him to drink coffee with me. But he doesn’t really like hot drinks, and never wanted to try coffee. (Even though we have access to The. Best. Coffee.)
So, I finished the lunch, poured two cups of coffee and we sat on the couch and talked. Together.
And at first? He just held his cup of coffee in his hands. He would pretend to drink it. I only knew this because later I would look in his cup… and it would be full.
But each morning, we sit with our coffee and talk and connect and read a little bit to each other. I sip my coffee. He pretends to sip his.
Then I go up and get Tobin and load him in the car, while Brian gets my “to go” cup ready for the trip and puts it in my car cup holder. Which was also a surprise. But now he does it every morning.
And now? He actually drinks the coffee.
Our night routine is totally different now, too.
I help put the boys to bed… in their OWN bed!
(I didn’t realize what I was missing out on. Not only was this good that I helped Anna-Marie in this, but before I had totally wasted this time with my boys… but that is another post.)
After the boys are in their beds, A-M and I spend the rest of our night together.
Sometimes we talk…
Sometimes we watch a movie…
Sometimes we clean up the house…
Sometimes we work on our business stuff…
Sometimes I have work to do, so she falls asleep downstairs by me where I am working…
We close our day out together.
I haven’t caught as many episodes of Jimmy Fallon, but I am catching something way more fulfilling and fun.
Of course, this was (and is) quite a process with Knox. We kind of “scaffolded” it for him.
Truth? We ended up paying him to sleep in his own bed.
(We don’t do chores for pay around here, so this is the only way we have for him to “earn” money… so we’re okay with this arrangement.)
After we tuck the boys in, we go back to our room and whisper until they’re asleep and then we tiptoe downstairs.
However, this is about to evolve again for Knox… Now that he has “mastered” going to sleep by himself in his own room, he is now only getting paid for nights when we can go downstairs immediately after tucking him in.
We’ll see how that goes.
Because the process is Good for Knox, too. We have really great conversations about doing hard things. About doing things we don’t want to do. (Because Knox does NOT want to do this. He wants us to all sleep in the same bed for-ev-er.)
But he knows this change is important. (Or at least he’s learning it is.)
We talk about being brave and facing things we don’t want to face. And we tell him that this new nighttime routine is Good for all of us. Because just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it isn’t Good.
We have very honest conversations with each other and with God. And Knox is learning to lean on God in ways that are very real to him.
And even though knowing Knox hates going to sleep alone makes it incredibly hard to have him do it… It’s worth it in the morning when we celebrate his victory. It’s worth it knowing he’s learning that sometimes you have to do the very thing you don’t want to do. It’s worth it knowing he is learning to rely on God to give him strength.
And it’s worth it to have this time together as the day draws to an end.
Taking back our mornings and our nights has been one of the most important things we have done for our relationship.
I never realized how much my life would change as a result of having this steady, consistent time together.
And the time and energy we put in each day to making our relationships with people deeper and stronger is the most important thing that we can do in our lives.