From debut picture book author Justine Adams and featuring stunning illustrations by Camille Manley, Goodnight, Toes is the perfect book for winding down with little ones before bed. Here, Justine shares how bedtime chaos inspired this warm and dreamy book.

Bedtime with a toddler – a classic picture of cosy, cuddly bliss … or not. Not in my house at least!

It was complete chaos. Frazzled, grouchy, exhausted and frustrated chaos. With a newborn on the scene, both my 2-year-old and myself contributed to the fray in equal measure, leaving me feeling like I had failed in some mystical task that only ‘ideal families’ could manage.

On one seemingly endless night, after again emerging from my son’s room as though from a minor natural disaster, it dawned on me that he probably feels the same way I do. Learning to wind down at the end of the day is a tough skill for many of us. Yet it’s also a skill we desperately want our kids to acquire as quickly and fuss-free as possible. It can sometimes feel like the ultimate mark of parental success.

But here’s the thing – I was pushing my son to understand how to calm himself for sleep when I hadn’t really mastered the skill myself. We were both struggling against the situation, trying to learn something new and difficult whilst overwhelmed, mind-blowingly tired and stressed-out. We were both craving the same thing – a moment of peace, connection, and nourishment without pressure.

So, we pressed pause on it all. We put falling asleep aside and just tried to give ourselves some help in that moment. From this, our ‘Goodnight, Toes’ bedtime ritual emerged. We decided that I would stay in the room for a few extra minutes and we would work together on simply slowing down for a moment. Lights off, snuggled in and with the time for talking finished for the day.  I say the words of ‘Goodnight, Toes’ to us both and allow myself the meditation also. We let ourselves off the hook and surrender to this moment of connection with each other and ourselves.

We have been so lucky to have had access to many beautiful children’s books which comfort and help us to view the world from new perspectives. Over time, with Camille’s help, ‘Goodnight, Toes’ grew into a children’s book of its own and I feel very lucky to be able to share it.

Goodnight, Toes reminds us how grateful we are for our marvellous, capable body (whatever sort of body we have), the rich day it has given us, and the safe place in which we can let go and be still. We aren’t expected to do or be any more than that. It is nourishing, grounding and provides a consistent anchor to unwind from the day behind us – to forget the washing that needs folding, the work emails yet to finish, the sleep we are meant to find on our own, the fact that Mum will be leaving the room, just for now.

When Camille lends her incredible imagination and talent to Goodnight, Toes, she shows us how we can look through a lens of wonder usually reserved for children to reflect upon our day. She brings in multiple dimensions from sense, movement and our internal world to enrich the dreamy experience.

Every family’s night-time routine is personal, unique and often peculiar to the outside eye. Importantly, it is a time when both parent and child are vulnerable and stretched. Our ‘Goodnight, Toes’ routine taught me that the despair and frustration I was feeling at my children’s bedtime wasn’t an indication that I was failing in my parental duties, nor were my children failing in theirs. It was simply a sign that we were all in need of stillness, rest and connection, with ourselves and each other, within this little world that is just for us.