Palo Alto, CA

Why I don’t read bedtime stories

Modern Parent

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One of my fondest memories growing up is reading with my mom. She is an avid reader, and as an only child in quiet suburbia, I appreciated books as both entertainment and a window into other families and worlds. Even after I read independently, we continued our nightly chapter book tradition for several more years.

So it shocks me to say that I don’t read bedtime stories to my kids. But I can explain.

The daily routines and rituals I shared with my mom as a child were too numerous to count, but my dad worked long hours and traveled almost weekly for his job, so I really only saw him on the weekends. We formed a close bond as I entered adulthood, but the opportunities for consistently shared activities when I was young were few and far between.

Even in the 21st century, we moms can become the default option for many daily parenting activities, whether it’s the bedtime story or the morning mad dash to school. I was determined that wouldn’t be the case with my own children, at least not for everything.

My husband and I set up a routine early on that involved him in most aspects of our kids’ bedtimes. He was the main bath-giver during their first few years and is the designated bedtime reader now that they’re getting older. Yes, of course, I read to my kids at other times, and I even take over at bedtime once in a while, but Dad is the primary reader.

This nightly routine is a relatively short but extremely important window of bonding time my husband can have with our kids. Very conveniently, it also hits right about the time of day when Mommy needs some silence and just breathe for a minute. It also makes me fall in love with my husband all over again to overhear him introducing our kids to Mercy Watson, Cindy Lou Who, and Harry Potter. So, win-win-win.

As moms, we may lead the charge when establishing comforting, stable routines for our kids. But it benefits the whole family to ensure that each parent is integrated into those shared moments as much as possible. When my kids look back at their childhoods and their special memories with my husband and me, that’s the story I want them to tell.

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