Here's our regular bedtime routine:
Sometime between 7 and 7:30 the kids shower and/or get in their pajamas. They get to choose whether or not they shower, unless they seem particularly dirty or stinky. Then they get a shower whether they want one or not. This process takes a while because we only have one tiny apartment bathroom everyone gets to share, one at a time of course.
But there's no locking the one door to our tiny apartment bathroom when they shower. Because we only have one tiny apartment bathroom, and sometimes (all the time) someone suddenly needs to use it while someone else is in the shower.
Then they (usually Ashley and Josh) fight over the one tiny apartment bathroom as they brush their teeth and try to not spit on each other.I guess I need a picture of that someday, too. But there's usually a lot of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth involved...It's not pretty. That's when mom comes in, all mad, saying the traditional bedtime (and, coincidentally, early-morning) mantra, "We have neighbors all around us, and they can hear you! Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"
After prayers are said (sometimes too short, sometimes too long, depending on the day) and kids are tucked in (sometimes in made beds, sometimes in an unmade ball of blankets, depending on the day), I read out loud to them for a half-hour (have I mentioned they all share a room in this tiny college apartment?). We recently finished Among The Hidden series. Haddix is my favorite author of all time when it comes to children's books, so I read them to the kids as often as I can. In fact, when I grow up, I want to be Margaret Peterson Haddix. Is that possible? If not, I wouldn't mind being the ever humorous Janette Ralison, but I usually have to edit the minimal kissing in her books because my elementary aged kids don't seem to appreciate it for some crazy reason.
Once the story has been read, Ashley must have a kiss on each cheek. Ethan needs a fist bump, sometimes ending with a big firework, and other times the sparkle falls flat, depending on Ethan's pre-teen mood and/or tiredness. Josh is usually fast asleep with his thumb in his mouth even though he's seven.
But there are rules to all of this. If I'm gone, Chris isn't allowed to read. Or if he reads, he's not allowed to read any good books, just boring ones. Ashley doesn't want me to miss a moment of the good stories we read together. And Chris's kisses aren't good enough. Ashley can't sleep until I come home and kiss both of her cheeks. She'll whimper and sneak out and sit in the hallway and get in trouble and be put back in bed and sneak back out, just waiting for me to come home again. (Have I mentioned she's a bit ocd?...)
In the past, even if I tucked her in, she had to get out of bed at least once to tell us she can't sleep. But I've solved this problem by making her get out of bed right after I turn off the light. She has to go tell Chris she can't sleep while I stand by her bed and wait. Then she gets back in bed and I tuck her in again. For some reason this has been working recently and she doesn't get out of bed again. She gets it out of her system, I guess?
Then I get to do dishes. And Chris and I watch TV for an hour before bed because he needs to let his brain veg out after studying and reading and writing all day. Usually I read while I watch TV. Chris can't figure out how this works, but it's a talent I have. A gift, really. We often watch the food network, or if I'm lucky The Gator Boys or whatever is on HGTV. Sometimes we watch Everybody Loves Raymond, when it's not filled with inappropriate humor.
After dragging our oldish bodies off the couch, we go to sleep (while our neighbors seem to wake up and decide to cook garlic -- and occasionally stinky fish -- about this same time) and do it all over the next night. I love these funny kids and our semi-charmed kind of life!