Make yourself at home

Bedtimes, they are a-changing

The routine continues, but it's about to end, and I don't fight it anymore.

  • Palm Coast Observer
  • Opinion
  • Share

When they were small, each of my children “needed” a parent to sit with them in their bedrooms to “help them” fall asleep. I would usually sit in a chair and wait. And wait some more. 

“It’s OK,” I would say. “Just keep your eyes closed, and you’ll fall asleep.”

When they weren’t paying attention, I would stand up and back away slowly, trying to not make any sudden movements, as if I were escaping from a wild beast in a forest. 

Before they knew it, I was next to the door, ready to sneak out into the hallway — until the child would call out something like this: “Dad! Do you think I don’t see you? We’re going to have to start this process all over again, young man!”

So I would obediently return to my original position and wait for the next opportunity.

Didn’t these children know that I have my own life? My own hobbies and interests? 

The tradition has continued with my youngest child, 6-year-old Luke. Except now, after doing this routine with his four older siblings, I don’t fight it.

Just about every night, Luke asks me not just to sit next to him, but to lie next to him in his twin bed as he winds down and tries to fall asleep.

As we listen to a story, I wait for him to stop tossing and turning. The best part is that I often get to doze for 10 minutes myself, a sort of appetizer nap before the entree of a good night’s sleep to come.

Sometimes, we talk.

“I was thinking,” Luke said one night. “You’re always touching something.”

“Meaning what?” I asked, yawning in the dark.

“If you’re eating, you’re touching food,” he said. “If you’re sitting there, you’re touching your clothes. Even if you’re swimming, you’re touching water.”

We were quiet for a long while, before I responded with a fatherly grunt: “Huh.”

It was a moment when I was hyper aware that Luke, despite his bony knees and little high-pitched voice, is not a little kid anymore. He’s a big kid. 

The toddler Luke who whined when I tried to escape from his room a few years ago has dissolved into this larger, deep-thinking Luke who doesn’t really need me to help him fall asleep.

This Luke is now humoring me, sensing my eagerness to spend time with him, just the two of us, as we let the day unpack itself in our minds. Now, with Luke being the last of our five children, I realize that I’m hanging onto this tradition even more fiercely than he is, holding onto the balm of being invited into the bedtime routine a few more times.

What are bedtime routines like with your children or grandchildren? Email [email protected].



Brian McMillan

Brian McMillan and his wife, Hailey, bought the Observer in 2023. Before taking on his role as publisher, Brian was the editor from 2010 to 2022, winning numerous awards for his column writing, photography and journalism, from the Florida Press Association.

Latest News


Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning local news.