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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Get 'em in bed - "Catholic Style"

Apologies if this blog title mislead you in any way.  Let me reassure you that my subject matter is pure, virtuous, and completely appropriate for public viewing.   I wanted to find a way to share my technique for getting my children to bed last night.  Bedtime is an on going dilemma that necessitates  a dramatic approach at times.  Last night was no exception.  My two boys do not like sharing a room and have very different activity levels and sleep habits. Nathan, age 8, is willing to go to bed on his own when he becomes tired.  He has a moderate level of energy compared with his more active sibling.  Sebastien, age 6 (as of Friday), is much more animated.  He would be perfectly happy to bounce, do back flips off the mattress, and complete wall climbing flips that rival that of Jackie Chan's maneuvers during Rush Hour.  Sebastien has a hard time settling down and has been known to stay awake until well after 10:00 P.M. 

Last night I made sure Sebastien had a relaxing bath and story time prior to bedtime.  I began my prompts well before 8:30 so he had the appropriate "sensory cues" needed to begin his descent into dream land. We proceeded to the bedroom where night time prayers were said, little faces were kissed, bodies were reluctantly tucked in for the night under covers, and lights were turned off.  That's when the "Resistance" emerged.  Giggles, tumbles, rolling over, and verbal exchanges between the brothers ensued.  I could feel my frustration bubble to the surface.  I really wasn't in the mood for confrontation yet again.  So...I reverted to a favorite technique.  Prayer!

Whenever I am stressed, I fall back on what is familiar and comfortable.  I learned it at home as a child and it was reinforced during my years at Catholic School.  I began to say the Rosary.   "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee."  I started in my normal voice so that they could hear what I was doing.  Nathan giggled, "Mommy's saying the Hail Mary again."  Sebastien continued to attempt his own version of entertainment.  I ignored his distractions.  By the second decade of "Hail Mary's" followed by "Glory Be"  and then an "Our Father" to start it all over again, the boys said, "Please mommy...stop praying."

I calmly advised the boys that I planned to keep reciting my prayers until they settled down and were quiet. As I continued to pray, I adjusted my rate of speech and began to lower my voice.  By the fourth decade I was at a whisper.  My soft, meditative "Ring around the Rosary" continued as I ignored any movement or comments from my sons.  I decided to recite every prayer I could think of that I had memorized from Catholic School.  Before long, I realized that Sebastien had fallen asleep with his tiny arm wrapped around my arm.  I heard a deep sigh follow by what sounded like a loud snore. I looked over at his brother and saw that Nathan had also succumbed to my litany of sleep routine.

Since my years at Catholic School I have had the opportunity to learn about "free-style" prayers.  I love the opportunity to feel as if I can talk to God more directly.  I also appreciate the value and importance of the more "repetitive" prayers that were memorized from childhood.  In times of stress, the repetition can be a source of comfort and allows you to meditate in a different way.  I am encouraging my children to explore both methods in an effort to help them learn how to cope with the many challenges they will face in life.  Learning to get to bed on time is only one of many.

So that's how I got my children to go to bed and fall asleep "Catholic Style."
Information on How to Pray the Rosary:
http://www.catholic.org/prayers/rosary.php