First of all, let me premise this with the fact that it's my husband who is mostly in charge of bedtime in our house. If it had been me, I am SURE bedtime would be much more like what I grew up with: calm, sedate, pleasant, peaceful. My husband is rolling his eyes. Anyway, I usually get to bow out for the beginning of their getting ready and sit at the dinner table and look at a magazine for a few minutes in blessed solitude after a day home with the little monsters.
So Daddy gets the kids upstairs after what seems like half an hour, but is probably only minutes, of orders and threats. Then each of the kids or both come back down to get me or start yelling from the top of the stairs for me. I yell back that I'm COMING or chase escapees back up the steps. After the fight to get pjs on there is the fight to get teeth brushed. This is where I usually come up the stairs, announce that I can't believe my daughter is not all ready yet and ask what in the world she's been doing. Then I go get into MY pjs. Also at some point here is the administration of some melatonin to help the kids sleep. Our kids don't get sleepy and calm down on their own, they ramp up in energy level until they pass out unless there is some mediation, whose suggestion was gratefully received from our pediatrician. Every once in a while we try to go without and one day we won't need the melatonin, but for now it just makes everything SO much easier for us AND the kids.
After that there is the reading. My son gets three picture books or so, usually read by my husband, and my daughter will sometimes catch some of that. But usually I do her reading concurrently, which right now is a great kids book about the periodic table of elements or an encyclopedia of space. (Did I mention my husband and I put the N in nerds? He has a PhD in astrophysics and I have a MS in wildlife biology. We did just finish the Little House on the Prairie series though. It's not like there's NO humanities here.) While I'm reading to my daughter, my son comes in and gives hugs and kisses good night and is either convinced to get in his own bed where my husband commences singing to a couple of the songs from the Kenny Loggins lullaby CD my mom gave me, starting with The House at Pooh Corner. When he finishes he comes in to sing to my daughter OR there are tears and hysterics next door followed by my son coming in and lying across the foot of my daughter's bed begging to sleep there for the night.
In any case, after my daughter's reading I lie down on my right side next to her on her bed and put my left arm over her. She arranges it into the optimum position, known only to her, and everyone is ready for songs. My husband sings a capella Are You Going to Scarborough Fair and then 500 Miles. At that point he is done with his part in the routine. He sets her sleeping music to play from my old green iPod Mini docked in her pink speaker desk lamp, and I rest and listen to Midnight Oil's Diesel and Dust album until the kids are asleep.
So that's a tad bit more involved than the way it was when I was a kid. Like I said, I've asked my sister and my father if there was any of the histrionics we experience at bedtime but they've both reiterated what I tell my husband and he doesn't believe, that it wasn't a big deal, we just went upstairs, got ready and got into bed. The whole thing took minutes and then my mother LEFT. My kids can't stand to be alone, well my son can't. And they both can't bear for us to leave while they are conscious. This is our fault. Well, I blame my husband. He dutifully accepts the blame. This is an ongoing pattern and key arrangement within our marriage. I blame him, saying, "I blame YOU, " and he accepts sheepishly, saying, "I know. It's my fault." Then we grin.