Why I Let Go of (Some) of Our Family’s Routine


“Mami, put me to sleep again, please?” were the last words I wanted to hear after a long 10-hour workday. We had just gone through the whole bedtime routine–bath, play for 20 minutes, brush teeth, read two books in Spanish, two in English, prayers, lullaby, and bedtime story. Yet, there she was, standing next to me asking me to put her down again. My husband had just left for a quick store run, so it was all me.

In those three seconds, I debated whether to just brush her off and tell her to go back to bed. After all, I still had a million things left to do before going to bed myself. But with her big blue eyes staring at me, I couldn’t do it. I got up, I held her in my arms, and I started walking to her room. Then she whispered, “Ruru carruru, Mami.”

Ruru Carruru is this lullaby my grandma sang to my mom when she was little. Then my mom sang it to me, and now I sing it to my girls. I had already sung this lullaby three times that night, but there I was, carrying my 3-year-old back to bed singing, “Ruru carruru patita de burro, que tan que tan, patita de gavilán” for the fourth time.

As I left her room, she thanked me for putting her to sleep again. She then said, “I love you” in the sweetest voice with the biggest smile on her face.

I instantly thought about all the many “little moments” we take for granted on a daily basis. How many special “I love yous” do we miss out on?

As a working mom, I strive to pay attention to every detail. I try to savor every little moment I get to spend with my girls because there’s never enough time.

However, some of these moments fall between the cracks of our daily routines. That night, I started thinking how different bedtime is now from a year ago. I remembered how Arielle used to ask me for exactly three songs every night: Hush Little Baby, Bebé Tiburón, and The Wheels On The Bus. Every. Single. Night. It made me sad that I couldn’t remember the last time this was part of her bedtime routine.

Somewhere in the last few months, I sang these three songs for the last time, and I didn’t even know it.

As moms, we’re always documenting and celebrating important milestones. We celebrate the first time they roll over, the first time they have solids, their first steps, and the first time they ride their bike on their own. I’m not talking about these sorts of obvious special moments. I’m talking about the quieter ones, those hidden gems that no one notices are gone until they are.

I know our routine will change a million times in the years to come. I never want my girls to stop wanting me to sing Ruru Carruru every night, but I know it will happen. One day will be the last time they need me to kiss their “owie” and sing “sana sana colita de rana” to make it feel better. I also know that one day, they won’t need me to put them down once, twice, or 10 times because they’ll be old enough to do it on their own.

That night, I pledged to do it willingly, with a smile, savoring every second of it while it lasts.

I once heard that the days are long, but the years are so very short, and it’s true! They’re only little once, so the next time your little one asks you to put them to sleep again, or read another book, or sing another song, I challenge you to do it willingly with a smile and see the magic around you. I promise you that the extra minutes will not heavily impact your routine, but it will definitely make a difference in your children’s lives forever.

Originally published September 2020.

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