I did not want this trade. I love end of day snuggles with a tiny body curled in my arms while I steal 182 kisses from her squishy baby cheeks. I love sitting quietly in the dark, rocking my tiny girl for 15 minutes while decompressing from the demands of the day. Also, I like to play Words With Friends uninterrupted.
Beatrice is a big kid and never wants to cuddle. She wants to read 254 books and play with her stuffed animals for 45 minutes while she asks me questions about why the sun is hot and the moon is cold. Putting Penelope to bed is mindless and relaxing, putting Beatrice to bed is interactive and demanding. Both girls have particular bedtimes needs and I prefer to tend to the needs of the sleepier, quieter child.
But, JD needed a break from 3 year old bedtime wars so I let him have a trial run at putting Penelope down. "Don't get your feelings hurt if she cries for me to put her down," I told him. "She has never been put to bed by anyone but her mother, she's probably going to flip out when you try." Except she never flipped out. She loved the switch. Every night since the first night we traded she eagerly runs for him to put her to bed.
They stay in her room for close to an hour each night. I asked him what the heck takes so long and he says they read 150 books, pray, and sing songs until Penelope asks to lay in her bed. It's basically the same routine he did with Beatrice for the past 21 months minus all the attitude and negotiating for more books/water/dolls/etc.
Poor Beatrice got the raw end of the deal. I'm still a quick, 15 minute get-in-the-bed kind of mom. We read 2 stories tops, play 5 minutes of stuffed animals only when she has displayed excellent obedience during teeth brushing, say prayers, and I'm out. I do smother her with 193 hugs and kisses each night before I go though. I'll never stop doing that. She actually doesn't mind the abbreviated bedtime drill. She needs a lot of structure at this age and my no nonsense approach has left her with fewer tears (and spanks) before bed.
Every now and then JD and I will swap kids and I'll get to put Penelope down for the night. I'm amazed at how big she has gotten in 4 months. Her once small body that fit so perfectly cradled in the crook of my arm now spills out of my lap. Her legs hang over the arm of the chair and her head is a lot heavier than I remember. She sings along to every lullaby I sing and sometimes makes up her own. She prays too. She also begs and pleads for more stories/songs/dolls/etc. She's a big kid now. Almost.
Honestly, I'm glad JD and I made the switch all those months ago. He has gotten to have so many sweet moments with his itty bitty girl before she got too big for the cradle position in the crook of his arm. Plus, Beatrice really likes the change. It's given us some special alone time we both needed. I love it too. Some of the best things I've heard all day are in those 15 minutes before her light goes out. Although I sometimes wish she'd let me wrap her up like a baby and smooch on her cheeks before she totally grows up. She won't let me, I've asked.
We all needed a fresh bedtime approach and fresh bedtime approach is what we got! The change has been good for all of us.