We’ve all done it. Rushed through our day, pushed ourselves further than we should, and looked so forward to getting the kids in bed so we can have some peace and quiet.
But is that really what we want to do?
Do we intend on shuttling our kids through their day and then at bedtime just popping them in bed with a quick kiss?
I wrote previously on a child’s bedtime routine, but here’s the more subjective side. What I’ve realized is that what happens in the last thirty minutes before a child’s bedtime has much to do with how he sleeps and how he wakes up in the morning.
Recently, when I cared for four of my grandchildren for a 5-day stint, I staggered their bedtimes by thirty minutes. That allowed me to spend thirty minutes with each child before they were put to bed. Following this plan had so many benefits for them as well as for me!
Assuming that you want your child to sleep well, wake up refreshed, and feel good about himself and the upcoming day, consider planning his last thirty minutes before sleep to be:
- Calming. Watch what your child is doing in that half hour before bed. Is he running around? Playing games on his iPod? Watching a tense or scary video? As parents, we can direct how our children prepare for sleeping. Taking a bath, reading a book (or having a book read to him), or doing a quiet activity in his room all assist in calming him before sleepy time.
Reflecting. Part of a child’s time before bed should be spent talking with a parent about his day. Helping him to reflect on the high points of his day gives him a positive feeling as he is fading into dreamland.
Encouraging. This time with a parent before lights out is so special. We may not have had time to spend individually with each child other than in just functional communication. Just taking the time to stop what you’re doing shows him he is precious and valuable to you. Use this time to encourage your child in who he is. What are some of the strong points you see in him? What qualities have you seen him exhibit lately that are admirable? Find something you can compliment him for and he will beam. It will also be the last thought on his mind as he drifts off to sleep.
Taking some time with your child to sow some positive seeds into him before he sleeps is crucial. Though he may not be able to put it into words, your child will love to have undivided time with you and to hear you praise him. It changes not only how he views himself, but how he thinks others see him. Going to bed on a happy note causes him to sleep well, wake up happy, and start the new day with a smile.
Question: What makes the time you spend with your child before bedtime special? Share your answer in the comments below.