Why yes, I do still lie with my kids at bedtime every night. Yep. Every. Single. Night. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
I used to think — no, believe — that I was doing my children an injustice by putting them to sleep every night. I mean all the books and articles talk about teaching the child to do it themselves. Heck, even my doctor warned me that if I wanted to get my kid out of coming into my bed in the middle of the night then I had to start letting her go to sleep on her own.
On top of that, how exhausting after a day of momming and working was it to spend extra time just getting them to sleep? Surely, those parents who just kiss them goodnight and turn out the lights have it all figured out. Or so I thought.
So, we tried it. Prayers, hugs, kisses, good night, lights out, I left. But it was a constant battle of who was out of bed, who needed to go potty (again) and constant chatter (which I was secretly dying to get in on). Plus, I found that bedtime lasted way longer than it would have it I would have just stayed with them.
Which is what initially led to me being back in there full-time at night. Yeah, that was the start of it — to save time or better utilize the time for resting and get them to sleep faster. But that is not what keeps me going back night after night.
You see, our world moves fast, especially through the week. Some nights I am home for dinner and some nights I have to work over. Regardless, the amount of time available in the evenings is limited and quickly becomes going through the motions to get to the next day — dinner and what they are or are not eating, clean up so as to not get backed up, baths and that whole fiasco, jammies, teeth brushing and bed.
In just a few hours, it is a lot to fit in, and clear communication — truly listening to what is going on in my daughters’ world — is unfortunately not an imperative part of making it to bedtime.
Ah, but once our heads hit the pillows, the weight of their world escapes. They cannot tell me quick enough, or in enough detail, just how adventuresome their day was.
It is our time — no, their time — when I am completely task free. While I am in bed with them, I have learned to let go of everything and just be present. There are, theoretically, no dishes to wash, no scrubbing behind the ears, no laundry to fold, no work emails to attend to, no interruptions. They get me. All of me.
And while I would like to say I build undivided attention in to all aspects of our day, I cannot lie, life often gets the best of us. But this is our dedicated time to completely be involved in each other’s lives. From the preschool antics to the Kindergarten escapades, I get to hear it all. Sometimes, I try to build lessons out of their renditions of the day, but many times, I just soak it all in and listen.
In my head, I guess, I am hoping that being there at the end of the day to take on the zombie fright of a 5 year old at recess and the outrageous thoughts of a 3 year old’s adventures will guide them to me when the tensions of 12 and the fears of 15 float in.
By opening the door to pillow talk and a safe place to let it all out every night, I’d like to think that they will feel comfortable coming to me when the worst part of their day is no longer that some girl didn’t want to play with them but rather the offer of a drink, a pass by a boyfriend or even the just overwhelming emotions surrounding growing up.
And my bed will always be an open option as well — any time of night — if they have a bad dream or feel like they are living a bad dream in the over dramatics of adolescence. They are always welcome.
Even when our world gets overwhelmingly busy, I want them to know that I will be there at the end of every day. Because, at least for as long as they fight over whose turn it is that night and scoot on over to let me in, no daily task will ever be more important than our nightly talks.
So, yes, I put my kids to bed every night. And it is one thing that I couldn’t imagine missing out on.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.