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Founder's Letter: How The Bedtime Routine Helps To Ease Mum Guilt

This Founder's Letter is sponsored by JOHNSON’S® Baby


A few weeks ago, my daughter woke up one morning and said, “You didn’t come back before bedtime.” She was right. I missed bedtime because I decided to get some last snaps of the billboards from our campaign The Face of the Modern British Workforce, and suddenly feelings of mum guilt came flooding back.

I know I have been battling mum guilt since August 2020, the moment I decided to return to work. I was so nervous about missing out on key moments and feeling like I was a part-time mum because I worked full time (well, you work more than full time if you have a business in any capacity.)

I was scared I would miss her first step, first word, not notice changes, but I had to think about what realistically would help me fight the Goliath that is mum guilt. While I can’t be there for every moment, what has actually helped is having a bedtime routine that I rarely miss.

Of course, not every night goes smoothly, and my two-year-old loves to see if he can stay up for as long as possible, but I don’t think words can quite express how priceless getting my children ready for bed has become for me.

Tobi's child

It always starts with them discussing their days at nursery in the bath. Stories that revolve more around play than learning activities (and of course, the Nigerian mum in me is screaming that play takes up so much time at nursery when I think about the price). My daughter especially loves telling me tales of who she chased in the garden, which is often done as she pours her JOHNSON’S® Bedtime wash into her hands. Watching her do it night after night is a reminder of, I guess, the bittersweet nature of parenting - every day our children need us a little bit less.

I guess that is why the bedtime routine that our family has cultivated means so much and helps me feel a little less mum guilt as I can see the growth. We’ve gone from me pouring her JOHNSON’S® Bedtime wash onto a sponge to gently clean her skin, to her attempting to take charge and showing her first signs of independence as she pours the clear liquid into her hands and rubs it between her wet hands and face.

After the bath, I get such joy watching my daughter continue to try and establish her independence by using JOHNSON’S® Bedtime Lotion before she puts on her pyjamas. Making sure her and my son’s beautiful skin is moisturised and looked after is hugely important and something we encourage every day. As a mum, that feeling of having products that are safe for our babies is vital to us all and as a family. All of their products are specially formulated to meet the special needs of babies’ skin and thoroughly assessed to make sure they’re safe, mild and gentle for use on babies. They have all been fully tested, evaluated and approved by scientific and medical experts, their ingredients are free from dyes & sulphates. I’m so excited that Black Ballad are working with JOHNSON’S® Baby this year to celebrate these products that evoke such nostalgia as a skincare brand that has listened and learned to give us a skincare option with a great price point when it comes to nourishing our children’s skin.

Tobi with child

The bedtime routine is where I guess we first teach our children self-care without even knowing it. Teaching them to love their bodies through keeping their skin moist with lotion (or like us, maybe you call it body cream). Teaching both my kids the importance of showing our bodies love and watching them both haphazardly rub baby bedtime lotion (which has an amazing smell that lasts until the next morning) into their arms and legs. Those invaluable rituals of teaching my children that using these products to keep our skin clean and soft are the basic building blocks of looking after their beautiful melanated skin.

The final steps in our bedtime routine, of course, consist of books and night time prayers. Books such as Mari Loves Mangos, Jack and the Beanstalk (the Penguin bedtime classic, with Jack who is black) and Strong Like Me help instil both joy and confidence in my kids and help them normalise black kids being at the centre of their stories.

I guess mum guilt is a journey. It has its ups and downs. Some days I feel like I’m drowning in feelings of not being present enough and other days, especially after those sacred hours of a nighttime routine that often ends in my children thanking God for the things they ate throughout the day. If I’m honest, I don’t think I’ll ever really be free from it, but watching my children gain independence as they take care of their skin, read books that centre them, and say the sweetest things in their bedtime prayers, does make it a little easier (sometimes.) 

To see how JOHNSON’S® Baby is showing the real ups and downs of parenting with their series A Parent Is Born, click the link below