A couple of months ago we decided to change Freya’s bedtime routine because the old one clearly no longer worked.
In the past you could guarantee that, however bad the rest of the night was, she would always drop almost instantly off to sleep following bottle, bath then bed but it had got to the point where we’d put her down and she’d sometimes spend more than an hour playing up. In fact, I was going to sleep earlier than she was some nights (Mark takes first watch)!
She is generally what I like to describe as a “spirited” child but she just seemed unable to shut her brain off and I wondered if the bath was winding her up rather than calming her down.
By this point we figured it was worth a shot so bath time was moved to the morning and instead we went with bottle, books then bed – and it worked a treat from the very first night.
We’ve read to Freya from when she was a tiny baby and if you ask her “where would you like to go today?” nine out of 10 times she will say “the library” so I was always a little disappointed that she would never sit still enough for a bedtime story.
Now though she will snuggle up on the sofa in her PJs and Mark, who now misses out on bath time because he has to go to work, will read the books she picks out.
In April I wrote about the four books that had shaped my parenting experience (so far) so I thought I’d carry that on now she is capable of voicing her opinion with her current five favourites. She has a large selection of books but these are the ones she requests each night.
1. The Tiger Who Came To Tea, written and illustrated by Judith Kerr – I’m sure you already know the story but it’s about a little girl called Sophie and her mum and a tiger who comes for tea who eats (and drinks) them out of house and home. This was first published in 1968 and remains hugely popular. I know I’m not the only one to get to the end of this book and think “what is this actually about?” because I Googled it and there are various threads about it and it’s mentioned in the Wiki entry. I’m still none the wiser but I find the answer “sometimes a tiger just comes for tea” frustrating.
2. Room on the Broom written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler – It tells the story of a nice witch (and her cat) who invites a number of very polite animals to join her on her broom and is paid back at the end when they save her. I love rhyming books and I think this one is especially good. Freya likes to shout “yes” at the end of each section and also gasps delightedly when the dragon appears.
3. Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr – Another classic children’s book which follows Mog as she gets into trouble and then saves the day. Mark bought this for Freya because he remembers it from his own childhood. He also recently got her the Christmas one. Freya likes to name the characters and also seems to think that I am Mrs Thomas. “Look mummy, there’s you.” She will say. I recently made her a boiled egg and soldiers for the first time and tried to sell it to her as “this is Mog’s favourite food” but she wasn’t having any of it (I enjoyed it).
4. Peep Inside Dinosaurs by Anna Milbourne and Simona Dimitri – we have four of these peep inside books and Freya really enjoys lifting the flaps to discover what is beneath. I’d say the dino one (or at least the roaring that goes along with which is clearly not ideal at bed time) is tied in first position as her favourite with Peep Inside The Garden which she calls Grandad’s Shed. It’s also fun (for us) to hear her try and pronounce some of the dinosaur names.
5. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram. Another really popular book where Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare talk about their love for one another. This is a fairly new book for us and I can’t believe we didn’t have this from the start. The first time I read it in Waterstones I got teary. We always have this book last so that she knows once it’s finished it’s time for bed. She gathers up her loveys and I carry her through to her cot and she’s out for the count in minutes (rather than hours). Job done.
These are all board book versions but I think we are almost ready for paper pages (at least when we read with her). Any tips for which books she might like for the next stage?