When you head off to bed at night what are the routines you follow before your head hits the pillow?
Do you check to make sure the oven and stovetop burners are off?
Do you wash your face, brush your teeth and comb your hair?


Do you look to see if the doors and windows are locked?
What is the one thing — let’s call it “The Kicker” — that will pull
you back out of bed if you forget to do it before getting into bed. My
Kicker is checking the oven. If I forget to check the oven I will get
out of bed to make sure it’s off. Death by incineration is a most
horrible way to die.

When my grandfather was alive he’d go around his house in North Loup,
Nebraska — a village of 300 people at that time — and open all the
windows and unlock all the doors before he went to bed so if someone
wanted to rob him they could do so without waking him up.

One musician I know who played on tour in my hometown of Lincoln,
Nebraska told me 15 years ago the most amazing thing his band noticed
about the city was how all the parked cars downtown had their windows
down and the doors were unlocked.

My friend grew up in Chicago where
everything was locked up tight if you were not within eyesight of your
property; he found that willing vulnerability of Lincoln to be charming
and good-natured. He felt safe.
Unfortunately, Lincoln has now joined Chicago in locking doors and
rolling up windows.

69 Comments

  1. oh i know that a neighbor burned down his place a couple of years ago and i sleep with the doors open too so burglars or firemen can get easy access just don’t let the cat out

  2. That’s a good one, clem! I don’t know if I could easily fall asleep with the doors open. It would be pretty awful to wake up in the middle of the night with someone standing over you with a knife or a gun looking to do some damage.

  3. I’m from the opposite school of thought. Double check to make sure everything is secured.
    Before going upstairs, I always check the front door to make sure it is locked — both the passage handle and the deadbolt. Then, I proceed to the kitchen door and check to make sure the garage is secure and closed. Then, I lock the kitchen door.
    I don’t worry about my car much — it has an alarm and automatically locking doors, so if I forget, it sets itself.
    Since it’s cold and the windows are always closed, I don’t bother checking windows like I would in the spring, because they should already be locked.

  4. Chris!
    I love it that you, too, lock down the house. Janna has no interest in anything other than readying herself for bed. I take care of all the details like locking and turning things off like lights… and the oven and making sure where the cat is before he attack us at 3:00am!
    😀
    Do you leave any lights on inside out outside the house to deter anyone looking to gain entry while you sleep?

  5. Dave!
    I am SO GLAD you don’t smoke in the house — just for fear of having its implements somehow burn down around you.
    I lock our flimsy door three ways: The knob, the deadbolt and the chain though none of it feels very solid.
    Does the TV stay on all night or do you put it on a timer to turn off after you’ve tuned out?
    Do you surf from bed? Do you use a laptop?

  6. Hi David,
    I have a motion detector light for the driveway that does a good job lighting up the whole front yard. I also have a photosensor light by the front door that automatically turns on.
    I also have motion dectector lights in the backyard, but I often turn them off because we have deer and other animals that come into the yard every so often.
    Our neighbor’s adult son lives in an addition to their house that has a large picture window that faces our yard, so we have his eyes looking out into our backyard to keep things safe.

  7. Chris —
    Motion detector lights have to be the greatest invention since the automatic car alarm (when those alarms were actually taken seriously by passersby).
    Eyes are always good to have peeled. Suspicious neighbors are your best defense against the ugly and cruel-intentioned!

  8. My alarm kills the gas and the ignition, so I disabled the siren since it doesn’t do any good anyway. They can still get the car, but would need a tow truck. (Of course, there are tow trucks that can back up to a car, grab the wheels, and be gone in 15 seconds …)
    My neighbors have been pretty good. One of our neighbors is retired, so he keeps an eye on everything. The other next door neighbor is in some sort of school program, so he’s always around hanging out. We also have some cops that live in the area — always an added bonus, since there’s always at least one or two cop cars in the vicinity.

  9. The alarm came with the car. I bought it pre-owned.
    It also has a remote starter for cold days.
    When I got the title to get my plates, I noticed that the previous owner was a union local, so they must have gotten the fanciest system installed when they bought the car. I always wondered if they got the remote starter for convenience, or to make sure the car didn’t explode one day …

  10. Chris —
    That’s slick! Buying pre-owned has its benefits. Did you buy from a dealer or a private individual? Did you get a new warranty?
    The remote starter feature is fascinating. What prevents the car from over-revving or driving away without you?
    Remote starting is big here on the East Coast. People want their car seats warm and ready to go in the dead of winter. I don’t think I’d use that feature if I had it available to me because a car isn’t supposed to idle longer than 60 seconds without risk of damaging the engine, right?

  11. I bought the car from a dealer, but didn’t buy an extended warranty since the model is very reliable. (It’s a rear wheel drive car).
    The remote starter won’t work unless the car is in park. It also shuts off the car if it is running and any of the pedals are depressed.
    I don’t use it much. Usually, I just clean off the snow or frost and start driving. I’d rather just have the car warm up as I’m driving the surface streets to the expressway.

  12. I think the locking of doors and setting the alarm must be a male thing. I’m more than happy to let Hubby do it. I usually just make sure my makeup is off and my teeth are brushed. 😀
    We also call the dog in the room if she’s not already there. She usually sleeps in the floor on my side of the bed, and if we don’t call her to come in before we turn out the lights, she almost tiptoes in and sticks her nose right up at Hubby as if to say, “You forgot to tell me good night.” So then he has to pet her. Then he tells her, “Go say good-night to Mommy.” And she comes around and sticks her nose under my arm so I can tell her good-night too.
    We’re such suckers. 😀

  13. Hi Carla!
    It’s interesting that locking down the house so far is a male task! I’m glad you take your makeup off. I know women who wear their makeup 24/7.
    Yes, saying “good night” to animals is important. Jack is usually already with us but if he isn’t he’ll attack us by running on the bed and walking over us and sniffing us and breathing on us all night long. If we let him know “we’re done for the day” and hug him and kiss him and press him gently down onto the bed then he’ll usually join us and stay quiet until at least 6:00am.

  14. Domino sometimes beats us to bed. If we’re up late (as in past 11 pm) watching a movie or whatnot, she might go ahead and go lay in her spot on the floor on my side of the bed.
    I’ve walked in the bedroom before calling her name to come to bed and found her in her spot (which is not visible from the bedroom door) and hearing the thump of her tail gently tapping the bedframe because she scooches as far under the bed as she can.

  15. Carla —
    Your dog living half under the bed is hilarious!
    Yes, makeup on 24/7 is awful for your skin — but some women never want their husbands to see their “real” face. Some even have their eyebrows, eyeliner and lipstick tattooed on so they’ll always have their face “on.”
    I love Janna’s unadorned face. There are small freckles on her nose and cheeks that are so cute and faint but you can’t see them if she’s wearing makeup or powder.

  16. I don’t smoke so that’s not an issue. I’m not too terribly concerned about locking doors so I don’t bother to check and sometimes they are locked and sometimes they are not. The only thing I do religiously is let the dogs out one final time before we all go to bed and I turn on the tv and watch some rerun until I can’t keep my eyes open or I actually fall asleep watching whatever it was and then about 2 hours later I wake up to realize the tv’s on so I cut it off and check the clock and role back over to go back to sleep. In the middle of the night if I happen to wake up it is an absolute must to see what time it is otherwise I can’t go back to sleep. Oh and before I can even get into the bed, I have to rearrange the dog beds because the little one camps out on the big dogs bed and moves it all around as well as her own so I have to fix two beds and make sure they get in there own beds, cover them up with their blankets (yes they are spoiled) and then get in my bed.

  17. Thanks for the excellent articles, Chris!
    With my ThinkPad and Toshiba laptops I can just turn on a search for signals and I get a strength level and distance meter for all the available signals in my area. You can imagine how someone who wants to remain “under the radar” and not sign up for service could do a lot of nasty stuff with all that high speed free bandwidth floating around out there.

  18. I’d piggyback if I could but the people actually have some smarts near me because the two that I could have access to are secured 😛 I confiscated my nurses tablet because she doesnt know how to use it and she doesnt need to use it.

  19. You bring up an interesting point, hterry — there are Wi-Fi networks that are operated by BAD PEOPLE who WANT you to ride on their bandwidth and they don’t encrypt their router on purpose so they can “watch” you and log everything you’re doing on their bandwidth.
    Then they sell your login information and what they captured from your surfing.
    Sometimes they’re even able to install viruses and Trojan programs on your computer if you don’t have a good Firewall or AV program and a lot of people don’t have any sort of protection on their computer.

  20. Yes that’s true but I would hope, that if one wanted to piggyback someone elses Wi-Fi they’d know there would be a possibility of this because technically they are stealing their bandwidth when it all comes down to the nitty gritty.

  21. Hmmmm, Last thing at night. Visit the washroom, brush teeth brush hair, have a smoke, lock the door, double check the door and cover the damn birds up to stop them competing with the birds outside at 6am!
    I had to make sure the door was securely locked when I lived in the UK, I lived in a rough part of town, but here it’s different. It doesn’t matter whether the door is locked or unlocked. Nobody ever gets burgled or held at Gunpoint in their beds. Well, not that I’ve heard of anyway.
    Making sure the door is locked is just habit for me, not one I’m likely to ever lose.

  22. Dawn!
    THERE YOU ARE!
    You’re clear of moderation now — first time you post after Registering WordPress stops you for a check. You won’t be checked again!
    Thank you for sharing your Bedtime Routine! You have it down to a great and clear system of discovery and protection. Fine work!

  23. I am a paranoid individual.
    I will have a smoke, and while my partner takes the dog out for her last potty trip I will check, and re-check the doors and windows countless times. I’ll especially check the windows in my daughters room. When I finally crawl into bed I ask my partner if he’s check everything. I don’t trust myself to have picked up a problem, I’m that paranoid.
    When I sleep I face the door, making sure that either my partner or a wall is behind me, usually both. I sleep with a baseball bat under my pillow, and two of my favourite knives slid between the mattress and the base. Not far from me I have my belt, which as amusing as this is to people, is my favourite weapon.
    You would be surprised how useful a belt is in defending yourself.
    I’m sure many can understand why I am like this.

  24. There was a time when I was actually worse than this. I would spend nights awake as if I was waiting. Things are actually getting better thanks to my partners support and understanding, the progress is slow, but it is positive.

  25. I’m sorry I haven’t been around much the last week or so. I suffered a huge personal let down at the hands on the one man I love almost as much as my partner. My Dad.
    See I told Dad over a year ago that myself and my partner were getting married and you know, basically told him to save the date. When I spoke to him 2 weeks ago, he said he was still coming, because I wanted him to give me away. So I thought all was good. Then I get a phonecall from him.
    “Unfortuately, we’re not going to be able to come to your wedding, because we’ve just spent Two Thousand Pounds on a Vacation for September”
    Those words sliced through my like a Knife. On my Wedding Day in July this year, I walk down the aisle with one side of the venue completely empty. My Mom and Sister can’t make it, although both have legitimate reasons (mom doesn’t fly well and her partner has just has 2 hip replacements, and my Sister recently split with her partner, as a direct result, she’s now a single mother of 2 small children and not a lot of available cash). But my Dad has let me down in the worst possible way he could. He booked this Vacation WELL after he was told about the weddding.
    I used to be SO close to my Dad, but now I feel like we’re a million miles apart. How can he book a Vacation after agreeing to come out for his Daughter’s Wedding day? And how can he believe that a vacation for him and his wife is more important than his Daughters Wedding? I’m sure you understand my feelings on this one. I’ve spent the last few days in tears, and now I feel numb. I don’t even want to talk to him. My partner has been instructed to tell my Dad I’m out if he calls. If that message sinks in my dad’s brain after being told a few times then good! I hope it makes him feel bad about what he’s done. Letting me down on the Biggest Day of my life was the most hurtful thing he could ever have done to me.
    Anyway, Rant over!! Lol.

  26. Hi Dawn —
    Gosh, I feel for you, I really do. His decision does seem deliberate.
    I suppose it’s a good thing you know now so you can recover from the shattering — imagine if he’d called with that information the night before the big day?
    If you’re one thing — you’re tough and bounce-back-able — and while you’re severely disappointed now you already are getting back your energy and drive that we all know and respect and tomorrow and the day after and the day after all this, too, will fade and you will gain even more strength to move on.

  27. Sweetie that is absolutely horrible.
    I don’t want to come across as a nasty bitch, but you really should tell him how that makes you feel. Tell him straight. You have a right to voice your feelings, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of them. Such as how it made you feel, and then how because of this you don’t feel like talking to him.
    It could be rather healing if you do, I know it made me feel damn good when I did it. Of course, I did it for a different reason, but I still felt “freed” afterwards.

  28. Thanks to you both for your comments.
    My Dad knows exactly how I feel. My sister called him and told him I was less than happy about it, so he called me and told me that she’d told him. He went into this whole spiel about how it’s not that he doesn’t want to be there. He asked if I could change the wedding date to next year and I flat out refused. He’s known about this for over a year and he’s had long enough to save for it. Both he and his wife work full time so I don’t see why I should change it just to suit them. I told him basically that he’s hurt me and badly, and it made no difference, he said that he couldn’t cancel his vacation because he’d lose the money he paid for it and then wouldn’t have a vacation OR be able to come to the Wedding.
    Without meaning to sound crude, my Dad has his head stuffed so far up his wife’s *ss he doesn’t see daylight.
    I have been helped by my online friends a LOT. They’ve all been there for me and have all offered words of advice, it’s nice to know that people I’ve never even met, do care.
    [Edited for Content by David W. Boles]

  29. Crude? I told my father when I was 16 that I was going to dance on his coffin, literally. I absolutely despise my father, but considering the abuse I suffered at his hands it’s understandable. This is why this situation kind of strikes a nerve with me. I always wished I had a father who I was close with, and to think it’s turned out like this for someone who did. It’s heartbreaking, it really is. I just feel it is such a pity that your father is acting like such a .. well .. spoilt brat. Sounds like he needs a good spanking .. 😉
    As for people you’ve never met. I have an online brother and sister I’ve never met face to face. We’ve been chatting for about four years online, but we can’t afford to visit each other. We are amazingly close, and I care for them as if I would any other member of my family (well, the ones I care for anyway). They have helped me through really bad times in my life with endless emotional support. I’m so glad that you have people to support you.

  30. To cut a long story short, my father was physically, mentally and emotionally abusive to me until I ran away from home at 16. He continues to be mentally and emotionally abusive if given the opportunity, and due to this I have little to nothing to do with him. As far as I’m concerned he is mentally unstable, in need of serious medical help instead of hiding behind religion and saying everyone should forgive him because god does.
    I look at my friends, family, even my daughter, and notice a long list of dead beat fathers. It’s pretty upsetting. The reason I find it upsetting is because I know a lot of wonderful dads. Guys who aren’t actually the biological fathers, and yet are loving and supportive parents to the children involved. I guess this goes to show, biological parents are simply genetics.

  31. To cut a long story short, my father was physically, mentally and emotionally abusive to me until I ran away from home at 16. He continues to be mentally and emotionally abusive if given the opportunity, and due to this I have little to nothing to do with him. As far as I’m concerned he is mentally unstable, in need of serious medical help instead of hiding behind religion and saying everyone should forgive him because god does.
    I look at my friends, family, even my daughter, and notice a long list of dead beat fathers. It’s pretty upsetting. The reason I find it upsetting is because I know a lot of wonderful dads. Guys who aren’t actually the biological fathers, and yet are loving and supportive parents to the children involved. I guess this goes to show, biological parents are simply genetics.

  32. As a note, people say whatever doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.
    I like to think that it gives you priceless life experience, a couple of mental illnesses, a real unique personality, and a fascinating book to write latter on.

  33. As a note, people say whatever doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.
    I like to think that it gives you priceless life experience, a couple of mental illnesses, a real unique personality, and a fascinating book to write latter on.

  34. Wow, I really should check these messages more often, In checking my email just now there were like 4 new comments!
    Krome, I cannot imagine what would make a grown man do to his Children what your father did to you. It’s abhorrent! And how as a person do you ever get over that? The scars that kind of abuse must have left have to be horrific! I’m so sorry to hear of what you’ve gone through 🙁
    David, I read the piece you wrote about your Father and was moved to tears. That strikes a chord with me. As an adopted baby I’ve never met my birth family, bot honestly, I don’t think I want to. My parents gave me the best upbringing they could, and although mom and I don’t have too much contact (we tend to spark off each other) I know she’d do whatever she can to help. My sister is also adopted and despite the usual sibling fights growing up, we are very close now. Dad and I were always close. He’d take me fishing with him and let me hold the rod from time to time. My dad was the one who told me about the birds and the bees growing up, and he was the one to explain a woman’s monthly cycle to me also.
    He was the one who openly cried when I told him I was moving to Canada, he was the first one to wish me well and not to worry what people might say about me moving so far away from my Children. He was the first one I called when I started arranging the marriage – and this is his thanks. By not coming. I don’t know if I can get over that. It might seem trivial to some people – but to me, it meant the world. My world has now come crashing down round my ears. I hate him for being so shallow and cold hearted about the whole thing. One day, I hope for my own sake, that I can get past this.

  35. Hi Dawn!
    Thank you for the kind comments on my article. That means a lot to me coming from you.
    Your story about growing up is heartbreaking. I am glad you had a good family to help you grow in the great person you are today.
    The first thing we all must do in order to live our own lives is to forgive our parents or we will never be free from their chains and the control they operate over us. That doesn’t mean we forget. That doesn’t mean we need to be fake. Forgiving simply means we don’t have to keep earning our childhoods all over again every day of our lives. We can and must move beyond the bounds of that family and create the frame of our own that may include them or may not.

  36. You don’t. One of my favourite sayings, I shall let the pain pass through me, I shall not fear. That’s pretty much how I get through these kinds of things, I let it pass through me, I accept my emotions and try to express them in positive ways (contrary to popular belief there is positive ways to express negative emotions).
    It was due to the abuse that I found satisfaction in helping street kids who were abused. I did that for a short time several years back, now I’m in no position to do it, but I some day hope to open a center to help take troubled youth off the street and get them back into education and on track to a better life. I’m not much for silver linings, but I believe everything happens for a reason, it’s simply never easy to see that reason until we look back.
    Neither of my children are biologically my partners, and yet he loves them more than anything, he is a wonderful dad even if he doesn’t realise it. I use to worry a lot about the whole biological issue. I feel a great sense of pain while reading your story, David. I had to cut myself off from my ex, he was trying to use emotional blackmail, was mentally abusive, and made threats of kidnapping my daughter (sorry, I simply can not think of her as his daughter regardless of the genetic link).
    He sent her a birthday present back in August, to my mother, and there has been no contact since. This is a guy who walks in and out of her life as it suits him, I couldn’t let it continue, she isn’t a toy to be picked up and played with whenever he sees fit. She is a human being, an individual, and she needs support and love. That’s how I see it anyway.
    I could see him doing everything my father would do. The countless “I’m sorry” lines, followed by repeating the pain. I can only hope that IF my daughter chooses to seek him out when she’s older that she will understand that I was only trying to protect her.

  37. I think you’re doing the right thing, krome. Sometimes it’s best to forgive and then cut and run and keep running. That’s the only way to find a path to sanity. I’m glad you’re leaving the decision for future contact up to your daughter because that will allow her the opportunity to do her own required forgiving.

  38. I don’t control my children, I can’t think or feel for them, though I know there will be countless times that I’ll want to so I can save them the pain. Life just doesn’t work that way, and admittedly, it would be boring if we let someone else live it for us. It will be up to here what she wants to do about him, or even if she wants to do anything.
    My partner has never met his biological father, and has no interest or intention of even looking. I’ve had friends who didn’t care, and others who did. I guess it all depends on the answers your seeking. Hopefully he will have become an adult by that stage and will be worth her time, if she does seek him out.

  39. Right on all counts, krome! We all must live our own lives even when we see the dangers in how others are living. If they fall, we pick them up. If they weep, we weep with them. If they laugh, we know we did the right thing.

  40. Apart from my intellectual/scientific life, which is well ordered and logical, routines continually elude me. Much to my consternation, I simply cannot seem to fall into any sort of pattern for almost anything. Consequently, my life observed from the outside would seem rather haphazard as I careen along through life. My girlfriend often asks me how I survive on my own without others to enforce some degree of organization. Organization seems to require more work than it returns. I never have problems finding things or getting things done, but I live in a state of continual entropy. People who know me best have given up trying to organize me and my life, they understand that there is a method to my madness no matter how arcane it my seem from the outside.

  41. That’s interesting, Jonathan, so does your living space get locked down at night by someone — all the lights are checked to make sure they’re off and doors locked and such — or is it all merely left to chance?
    Do you eat on a regular schedule?
    Do you awaken and sleep at the same time?
    Do you wash the dishes after you eat at home?
    Do you have a laundry schedule you follow?

  42. Lights and locks were ingrained into me as a child, I dont specifically check them before going to sleep, but I rarely forget to lock a front door after entering or turn off a light after leaving a room.
    My waking time varies by up to an hour. I show up the lab anywhere between 9 and 10 and stay until 6 or 7. Brekfast is determined by waking, though often I completely forget to eat. I always drink coffee however. Lunch is very variable, though this is true of most bench scientists I know, as meals are fit in around an experimental schedule. Dinner is almost always with somebody else. Bedtime varies even more than waking, I have no set time or set amount of sleep I need, though I have a minimum requirement of about 6hrs that I need to meet or exceed. Ideally I woul get up around 10M and go to sleep around 2-3AM. I feel most mentally productive from about 11PM to 2AM. Unfortunately, the rest of the world does operate on this schedule :)!
    My girlfriend and I split morning and evening dishes. I do all the cooking, so I usally take the lighter morning dishes. I really hate washing dishes, I grew up with a dishwasher.
    My laundary schedule is highly irregular. I have a subset a clothing that I feel most comfortable in a will selectively wash even if I have more laundary to do. Usually, I do a large amount of laundry when I run out of essentials like underwear.

  43. Fascinating stuff, there, Jonathan, but I do see a routine in there — a routine of the necessary now and the shifting required!
    :mrgreen:
    You’re a man on the go and you fit the needs of living into the crevices in your life and that’s a good thing. You don’t feel tied down and everything eventually gets completed.