Now I'm no model parent - far from it - but reading bedtime stories is my favourite part of the day, and undoubtedly one of the most rewarding experiences that parenthood has to offer.
Some days my children's bedtime can't come quickly enough, and when story-time is all that stands between you and a large glass of wine, it can be tempting to make your excuses at the book shelf and hot-foot it to the wine rack. But, as with so many aspects of parenting, pushing through the pain barrier brings rich rewards. Forcing yourself to hunker down for story time when you least feel like it might sound like torture but it feels like bliss.
I know of no better relaxation at the end of a difficult day than losing myself in the gorgeous pages of an Oliver Jeffers book, watching my boys fight sleep, wide-eyed, as they strain to see the pictures and stay awake long enough to hear the ending.
It's a bewitching moment and a unparalleled opportunity to bond with your babies, whatever their age, and put right anything that might have gone wrong earlier in the day. The fears and concerns that children don't readily give voice to during the day often come tumbling during bedtime stories, so it's heart-breaking to think of children missing out on that.
Really, what's the point of having children, if not to savour the experience of curling up to read a soothing bedtime story together at the end of every day? What's more, endless studies have shown that reading to children isn't just good for their development, but absolutely vital. So why would any parent deliberately forgo the golden nightly ritual that is reading bedtime stories?
There is literally no excuse, in my book, for not reading bedtime stories to your children. Even the most high-flying parent who can't be there for bedtime can still read stories thanks to the wonders of modern technology. You wouldn't buy a dog if you were too busy to walk it every day, so why have a child if you can't make time to read to it at bedtime?
And you have to wonder how the kids who don't get read a bedtime story are settling themselves to sleep at night. It's sobering to read that 44VIRTUAL-Gallery-121319%