When the end of the day comes I find myself looking forward to bedtime. My bedtime is always exciting to anticipate since all my days are usually purpose-filled and very busy. However, I also look forward to the time the children go to bed each night. I love my children, and our days are filled with joy and laughter, but that quiet time after they have gone to bed, and before I go to bed is a great treat too. The quiet times to think, ponder, write and read are some of the treasured moments of my days as well.
I have noticed that some nights I don't have a good attitude at bedtime because I am craving my quiet time so much. On these nights I get a little bit selfish and don't really want to go tuck in the children. My youngest son is especially insistent that I come tuck him in. Even if his father has already come to tuck him in, he still requests me to come for a hug and a kiss.
I would not be totally honest if I didn't admit that sometimes I don't want to get up off the couch, when I feel tired, to go do the bedtime routine and tuck someone in. Luckily, during this moment of selfishness I usually recognize my flaw. I catch myself going down the selfish road and quickly point myself in the right direction again. This is the parent self-government moment.
This is the time when the parent with a vision of the kind of family they are making must rally their body to get up one more time. And, even more than the action.....the parent must have the right attitude. If a parent is bothered or short tempered at bedtime the child goes to sleep with anxiety and discomfort.
If a parent abandons a child during this time in order to teach them to “do it them self,” then the child may learn to function without the help of the parent, but they will also not get the time to connect with the parent in this intimate way each day. At bed time we get to touch our children, show affection, say kind words, give the gift of songs, short bedtime stories or conversation, serve them, and spend a little quality time.
If bedtime is done well, all five of the love languages are shown to our children. No matter which love language your child has, he will feel his favorite kind of love from you at bedtime. When parents tuck their children into bed, they connect with them in a deeper way than they do throughout the rest of the day.
Many parents like and accept tucking young children into bed, but stop when the child becomes more self-sufficient. Just because the child can maneuver the covers and turn the light out herself doesn't mean parents should stop tucking. My 16 and 14 year old love it when I come into their rooms to give them a goodnight hug and kiss, or to talk to them about the day for a few minutes. I feel our relationship strengthen during these brief, but deliberate and loving conversations.
Yes, tucking in children is a sign of love, and they love it and remember it! Sometimes, all night long.
Years ago I read an article that said that a child's brain replays the last 45 minutes before bed all night long. I don't know if this is true, but it made sense to me and has always been a good motivation for me to make bedtime a good, safe feeling experience, instead of a stressful emotional one.
However, the greatest incentive I have to tuck my children in bed is to make memories. When I was a young girl, my youngest son's age, I wouldn't go to bed unless I was tucked in. I wanted Mom or Dad to come show love to me by tucking my covers and singing to me. Both my parents would sing me bedtime songs, but Dad's songs always had actions. He would dance around my room making up actions to “You're a Grand Ole' Flag,” which was my most requested song.
Those memories will forever be imprinted upon my mind. I want to make those kinds of memories for my children too.
For many many generations bedtime music has been a vital part of connecting to and serving children. My husband's mother used to sing him a song as part of his bedtime ritual. This was one of his sweet childhood memories as well. Now I make sure to pass on his mother's bedtime song to my children too.
“Now run along home,
And climb into bed.
Say your prayers,
Don't cover your head.
Just one more thing,
That I say to you.
You dream of me,
And I'll dream of you.”
Make bedtime matter! Give your children connection, memories and love so that they really will have “sweet dreams” all night long.