Don’t Wind Them Up

Brett and I are all about the United Front of Parenting in that we back each other up on matters of Be Kind to Your Siblings, Put Your Dirty Clothes in the Hamper and If Your Mom Said No, I’m Not Saying Yes. For major issues, our parenting philosophies are pretty similar, so we really don’t run into a whole lot of problems.

Unless you count bedtime.

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I don’t know how he does it, but Brett can take the kids from an energy level of 10 to 1 gradually and effortlessly so that, without even realizing it’s happening, they’re in bed with their eyes half-closed before they’re all, “Wait—it’s bedtime?” A professional winder-downer he is—just a high lace collar and an apron away from Mary Poppins herself. (Remember Stay Awake? Stealthy little put-‘em-to-sleep-er, she was.)

Me? I get my best ideas for fun when my kids have just slid under the covers. Hey kids, want to build a fort? Hey kids, want to have a dance-off? Hey kids, want to jump on the bed and turn the music up as loud as it goes?

Take the other night. I offer to lay with Nella to give Lainey a chance to stay up later. It’s quiet and peaceful, and Nella looks at me with this precious twinkle in her eye that—yes—could be saying, “Goodnight, Mom,” but could also be translated as “one more fun, please,” the latter which, of course I’m going to hear because—duh, unicorn. So in the dark, we sing the newly memorized words to “All About That Base.” Which leads to newly choreographed dance moves on the “Shake it, shake it” and the “Boom Boom” parts. Which leads to Dad coming in to simmer it down.

“Seriously, you can’t just count sheep?” he says. “Don’t wind them up.”

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That face? Wound up. You’re welcome.

It’s not that I think my way is right because it doesn’t take King Solomon to point out the most responsible routine here—it’s clearly Brett’s. But there’s something super fun (imagine bubble letters there) about slipping in a “Hey Life, You’re Amazing!” right where you didn’t expect it. It’s like the opposite of my old days of thinking a long boring sermon was about to finish when the pastor announced, “And now to Part II: Fearing God. If you’ll turn with me to Isaiah…” And being the opposite of that is a very good thing indeed.

I realized this morning though, that it’s good I’m a winder-upper and he’s a winder-downer. We need both. I’m the first one up with my coffee, and pulling Brett and Lainey out of bed can sometimes be a challenging task. You know what they need? A winder-upper, thank you. Someone to walk up in there, fling back the curtains and Shake it, Shake it with a Boom-Boom and a We’re Bringing Booty Baaaaaack! See—winding up has its perks. Brett, you take the high road and I’ll take the low road and together, we’ll get our kids from sunrise to sunset.

Parenting calls for all the things, all the gifts, all the personalities. Whatever your characteristics are, bring them, and they’ll be put to good use. Organized? You’ll need that. Laid back? You’ll need that too. A great sense of direction? Bring it. An appreciation of the joy of getting lost? Hell yes. Strict? Fantastic. Lenient? Awesome. It’s all good, it will all get used up, and where there are gaps, growth and compromise and leaning on each other will fill it all in.

The result? Cool kids who inhale calm and exhale a great big zeal for life.


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  1. love this. my husband swears that i stored up all my childhood stalling techniques for bedtime JUST to use them on our own children now… can’t deny it. i’m a sucker for another story, another song, another tell me a little bit more about your day. i find out the most amazing details about these fairy people, laugh more, love freer in those last stollen moments of the day than any other. and when they think back over their life, i hope they remember their mom leaning in for that one last kiss not because she had to, but because she couldn’t quite stop herself from loving them past rational behavior.

  2. We love All About That Bass too! We sing about bringing booty back all the time now.

    I’m also a winder-upper. I like fun, and while I like sleep, bedtime just isn’t my favorite part of the day. Best to make it funner.

  3. Love it!:)

  4. @Tara Pohlkotte–
    “loving past rational behavior.” Might be a favorite phrase now. Love that. Not a bad thing at all.

  5. I love it! I was surprised that YOU are the one who winds them up at bedtime, because at my house its just the opposite. You blew my assumptions right out the water – and gave me a chuckle too – and a new perspective!

  6. Okay, I need to see these choreographed dances moves, “Boom Boom” and all!!! 😉 Love that song and this post. Perfect balance :)

  7. I’m pretty sure I need to dance with that guy in the video… That booty, booty!!! Love it!

  8. Love this post! I’ve yet to have kids but can tell my husband and I are going to be opposites sometimes. And I think I’ll love that…

  9. Love this post! Made me smile!

  10. Memory maker is what you are!! :)

  11. this is my favorite post so far. Thank you.

  12. I love this post! You’re so right about things complimenting eachother in parenting styles and the kids getting the whole package. :-) Like you, I’m the winder upper, something strikes me, and well, we’re likely to do it!

    P.S. Thanks for getting that song in my head!

  13. I want to see the dance!

  14. Love this post!

  15. Love your philosophy…wish my rigid mother would have had some of that attitude. Unfortunately my father was a completely united front and always backed her up so us kids (who are now in our 60’s!!) never had the ying and yang…was always just the yang (or ying?).

  16. We definitely need both. I think I am both some days. :)

  17. Love this post. You and Brett have a great dynamic and thus make a great team :) -Rachel (

  18. That, dear Kelly, was a fantastic post; worthy of the most top-notch journalist. You are absolutely right, of course. Everyone gives what they’ve got and the kids just get on swimmingly.

    Thank you.

  19. Yes! I love the balancing of both parents. My husband is the winder-upper. I used to have a bake shoppe & he would feed the kids frosting while reading bedtime stories. What?! But they loved it! How boring life would be without both ends of the spectrum!


  20. Thought you and Nella would enjoy this:

  21. Love it…i wanna see the dance, too.

  22. Smiled all the way through reading this. Your kids have everything they need. And more.

  23. Well….I’m the “winder-upper” at our house too. And my husband the “winder-downer”. Who is out of bed first? ME! To rally the troops and get them up and ready for the day. Oh, and I have heard on many occasions over the last 15 years, “Honey! It’s bedtime. Bring it down a notch!” I love those last few moments in the day with my 3. To listen to their stories and laugh with them. I guess it’s what allows me to fall peacefully asleep at night. Knowing they’re happy. :)

  24. Thank you my dear Kelle for the perspective. I am the winder-downer, and hubs is the winder-upper… and boy do they get wound up!! I am the bed time parent while he gets to chill since he was with them all day while I was at work, and all I want is 5 minutes of peace in my VERY long day which does not come until the kids are asleep. Thank you for helping me to see that winding up is not bad, and neither is winding down. I need to open my perspectacles to the fun and unicorn-ness of winding up and not be so damn uptight. Thank you, really!!

  25. Love! Sweet dreams Hampton family & have a great weekend~
    Tejas hugs,

  26. Is that base song not the best song ever?

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