Every parent knows the instance when you’ve done ALL the things — tucked your kids in, sang the song (thrice), prayed the prayer, got the water, had them pee, and still. STILL. As you leave their rooms, you hear, “Hey Mommy, what’s the meaning of life?” Yes, we’ve all been there. Staring into the wide-awake eyes of your little one, wanting to connect with you just a little bit longer.
Bedtime can be a sweet time to connect with your kids and pour truthful words into them that they ruminate on as they fall asleep. Because your voice becomes your child’s inner voice, telling them how you see them and feel about them in detail is an incredible way to nurture a peace-filled environment, one where your child feels safe to be themselves.
Spend less time trying to control bedtime and more time listening
But bedtime can also be an incredible time to just lay with them and LISTEN. Try saying nothing at all. See what they come up with. What questions do they ask? I do this with my 4-year-old, and he will share just about every little detail about his day, down to how many turds he pooed out.
I once heard that parents shouldn’t make a big deal about bedtime for fear that their kids will milk it for all it’s worth down the road. And while they might do that at times, there is a reason they do it. Because your child feels connected to you in those pre-bedtime moments, they want it to last forever. It’s not necessarily because they want to stay up later. And while giving bedtime routines a little more attention might cause some frustrating parenting moments in the future, it shouldn’t cause us to avoid them altogether.
These moments can also create opportunities to teach your child self-regulation and impulse control. By allowing some nights to be extra special and others to be a quick, “let’s get to bed because it’s late,” you present to them situations where they don’t always get what they want, and that’s okay.
Parents, we can’t avoid certain battles with our kids. They will arise. One of the biggest lies of our culture is making us think that parenting should be easy, our kids always obedient, and our bedtimes always smooth. But that’s not reality. And waking up to the fact that things won’t always go OUR way sooner than later will help us regulate our own emotions and expectations.
Check out more on how to help your child fall asleep peacefully.
Bedtime gratitude check
Bedtime can also be a great way to help your child see the good in their life, which instills gratitude. As a Christian, bedtime is also a time for us to reflect on God’s goodness; to thank Him for the many blessings we have. Incorporating that into bedtime is a great way to encourage your kids in their own faith journey.
Here are some phrases that will leave your child feeling confident in your and God’s love for them and in who God has created them to be. But also make sure to create space for them to just talk about whatever is on their minds, no questions for prompting. You might be surprised how they fill the silence.