Bedtime Lessons that Change Everything…

I’ve been practicing something lately.  Wanna know what it is?
Self-improvement as a mother.
Not really self, though, I guess, because it’s not me that’s actually doing any of it.

The changes are coming from three things:  God, my children, and bedtime.

Yes, bedtime.

 

I’ve had this on my mind each night as we’re going through our typical bedtime routine, which entails:

baths, pjs, stories, songs, prayers, hugs and kisses, *repeat* steps 5-7, and then *repeat* 6-7 on and off throughout the entire night.  

So, as you can see, bedtime around here can be quite a challenge.  So challenging sometimes that I find myself losing my cool and ruining those little moments before we all nod off for the night (or the hour).
Someone wants a drink or has to go potty.  The other cries wails because a lovey or bink has fallen out of the bed.  Two AM brings a little one with a bad dream into our room.  Five AM brings a feeding.  Seven AM brings a wake up call.  Legs hurt, sounds startle, storms rumble… It isn’t all ‘nose-kisses’ and ‘night-night’ prayers.
So, as I stumbled across this little image on Facebook
It confirmed that I’ve had this on my heart for good reason.
Here they are:

1 – Establish a routine.  This is just a given.  Doesn’t really need to be elaborated on too much, because I’m sure you have one, and your pediatrician has emphasized the importance of it.  Aside from the obvious benefits, I’d like to add that sticking to a routine speaks “I love you” to your child.  It says, “I care about you, and I want you to not only develop healthy routines, but I also want you to know what to expect.  I know that’s important for you as a little child in a world of uncertainty.”  It gives your child a sense of control and security.  Bedtime can be a vulnerable and scary time for a little one.  My little Ava just asked me tonight, “Mommy, why do I sleep alone in here?” (“here” being her room, of course), and I went on to tell her about how I was little once before marrying her daddy, and I slept in a big girl bed all by myself too.  I don’t like it one bit when my husband travels from time to time.  I don’t like that big, empty bed.  Imagine how your little person may feel.  They need all of the security you can offer.

2 – Personalization speaks volumes.  Not everyone likes to sing.  I get it.  But, I do, and I have sung to my kids since day one.  (Longer than that even, if you’d count the days I spent singing to them in the womb.)  I sing the same three songs every night (my husband has his own song of choice that he sings to them, and they call it “Daddy’s song”), but each of our girls also has a song that I’ve made up just for them.  It blew me away when Ava sang along with *her song* for the first time.  She had been soaking it in and absorbing every word, and then one night, she joined in and knew every word.  There is something so meaningful and powerful in that.  That song is her’s; it’s special, and she knows that.  I sing it with purpose, and she feels that.  It doesn’t have to be Grammy-worthy; I usually just pick a melody that I already know and adjust the words.  It makes an impact on them and you.  Trust me.
And if you still don’t want to sing, find a phrase that’s near and dear to your heart and say it every.single.night.  I know a mommy who says, “I love you to the moon and back.”  Her babies will always cherish that, even when they’re 80 years old.  Just make it real and personal, and it will stick for a lifetime.
(We have this CD in the girls’ room.  It plays all day and night and is super soothing.  I highly recommend it.  I’m thinking about trying JJ Heller’s lullaby CD as well.  We also keep sound machines like this one in the girls’ rooms.  My hubby is annoyed by them, but I love them and think they are calming, even for mommies! (aff. links))
3 – Don’t run away.  Seriously.  So many nights I’ve caught myself rushing the steps, “going through the motions” just to get ‘er done and get on with my night.  I have things to do!  Time is precious.  I know we’ve all been there.  But guess what’s more precious than the dishes, that shower you’ve been wanting all stinkin’ (literally) day, your blog post, a movie…that child.  That child is more precious.  You don’t have to be a pushover, and you certainly don’t need to pitch a tent next to the bed.  Having boundaries and ‘me time’ is important; just don’t let them see you rushing.  Be stern.  Be calm.  And most importantly – turn around after your hugs, kisses, prayers and ‘good nights,’ and WALK SLOWLY out of their room. 
I have really been trying to make it a point to do this.  The last thing I ever want to speak to my child through my body language is:  “I want to get out of here and away from you asap.”  I know you don’t want to say that to their tender souls either.  And to make sure that I am sending the right message, I try to pause at the door, turn around, and say once more, “I love you.  I’ll see you in the morning.  Goodnight, sweetheart.”  I may have to get more firm with my voice and even threaten a consequence for misbehaviors, but I will continue to remember that my actions are speaking something too.
4 – PRAY.  Pray for anything and everything.  That storm.  Those little sore legs.  The bad dream.  Mr. Joe’s car.  Yep, that was the one I just encountered.  Ava’s hearing is so superb that the slightest rumble of a car’s engine wakes her up from the deepest sleep.  “Mom!  Mr. Joe’s car woke me up!” she cried, with only one eyelid open, rubbing her face with a fist and clenching her ‘Claire’ with the other.  “Can we pray for it, Mom?”
Wow.  How awesome that a child, my child, goes straight to prayer – over a car engine?!  Wow.  I needed that lesson more than any of them.  So, I said yes, of course, and we said a quick prayer for Mr. Joe, our neighbor, and we thanked God for her healthy ears and their ability to hear so many sounds.  *Notice* I didn’t call them “noises”, because that word has a negative connotation.  I want her to shift her perspective from a noise woke me up to I can hear so many sounds, because my ears work so well.  Thank you, God for healthy ears.
We pray over everything, because we firmly believe that God hears ALL prayers, and prayer changes things.  Faith changes things.  So, in faith we pray for all things.  I also often claim Psalm 127 over us, which states that God gives sleep to His beloved.  I’ll pray something along the lines of,  “Lord, you said in your word that you give your beloved rest, and I know you love {child’s name}, so please grant them sweet sleep tonight in Jesus’ name. Amen.”  I know He loves to give His children the rest they need to face the coming day in health and strength.
5 – If you “mess up” today, try again tomorrow.  Ask God to help you in any area that may be lacking or putting stress on you or your kids.  My husband and I pray blessings over our children, over their rooms, their dreams, and our home every night.  We also pray for more patience and know-how when it comes to the practical aspects of bedtime, and we try to take time on rough nights to talk about what went awry, and how we can address or tweak it.

I think Colossians 3:12-17 speaks directly to mothering, especially when in the midst of trying moments:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
And on that note…it is now my bedtime.  Goodnight. xo
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Comments

  1. says

    Wow what a great post! As another of a 7 month old I really appreciate every bit of information I can soak up. Our daughter loves being sung to, especially when daddy sings she smiles very big 🙂 thanks for sharing!

    Found you via babies and beyond 🙂

    • says

      Thank you so much! And thank you for stopping by and commenting! Congratulations on your baby girl! As parents, we are learning EVERY day! Kudos to you and your hubby for singing to her! A Daddy has such an impact of the heart of his princess. He serves as her image of her Heavenly Father, and her Heavenly Father sings over her too! Hope to hear from you more as your little girl grows. Us mommies are in this thing together! ~ Kristi

  2. says

    I have a song for each of my kids too. They're all Scripture verses put to music that we've given to each of them when we named them. They each want me to sing all of them, so now that number 4 is here, song time is getting long but we love it!

    I needed the reminder not to run away. I'm guilty of that sometimes.
    Thanks,
    Tina from mommynificent.com

    • says

      That is AWESOME, Tina! Just reading this makes me want to hear your songs! haha I LOVE that my girls know *their songs* and sing along. The first of our three songs is a scripture, the second is a snippet of a worship song, and the third is a song of love with their names. It fills my heart up to hear them sing along to a song that says they love themselves! What an incredible foundation for our kids…to love and trust the Lord, to know they are loved by Him and us, and to love THEMSELVES! Thank you for the comment! And, yes, it's hard to remember not to 'jet' after that final kiss on the forehead, huh? 🙂 It takes a conscious effort some nights. ~ Kristi

  3. says

    Don't run away. Oh how often I do this! I rush my kids through something because I want to do something else. I've never thought about sending them the message that I don't want to be there or they aren't important to me!

    Thanks for the great post and linking up at Babies and Beyond. I really appreciate your honestly and humility about the lessons you are learning.

    • says

      Thank you so much for the comments! I am so happy to be connecting with other parents in similar boats. This really has been an important lesson for me – the don't 'run away' thing. Even tonight, I was rushing b/c it was time to feed our newborn and my body was telling me so in a big, hurtful way! I just tried to make it a point to explain it to my oldest daughter in a way she could understand, so she could go to bed knowing that my time with her was important too. Thank you again for the encouragement! (And for the weekly link-up opportunities!) ~Kristi

  4. says

    I needed to read this. I struggle with bedtime. I use to use the excuse that my husband was deployed and this was my quiet time. I have realized it makes such a difference when I take the time to snuggle with the kids before bed.

    • says

      You're right! It DOES make a difference in them, in us, in the atmosphere of the home. My husband travels for work at times, and I was just saying to a mommy-friend, "I don't know how military wives do it!" It is HARD work, being a CALM, 'single' mommy! I give you all of the credit in the world! Thank you so much for reading and for commenting. It's great to connect with other moms!

  5. says

    I'm visiting from the Babies and Beyond link-up. These are some excellent tips! I know I've been guilty before of trying to rush through our bedtime routine (so I can get to the "me" time quicker), and it always backfires. I spend much more time going up and down the stairs. But if I take my time, as you suggested and really enjoy those moments along with them, they seem much more relaxed and fall asleep more easily. 🙂

    • says

      Thanks so much! That is SO true here as well! If I set an ill tone – I rush and 'rock the boat' per se – we ALL feel it, and I ultimately suffer in trying to restore peace and get everyone to actually go to bed compliantly. We are the keepers of our homes and the shepherds of our babies' hearts. I'm learning bedtime is a daily opportunity to make a difference.

  6. says

    This post is absolutely beautiful! So much of the attitude of the household hinges on how we approach daily life and mundane tasks. Thank you for this reminder and for linking it up with me last week at Walking Redeemed!

  7. says

    Thank you so much for this post. My husband and I have been struggling with getting our 5-month-old son to sleep in his own room. He's teething and cranky in the evening! My husband and I need to pray for patience and for God's guidance in this area, for sure!

    God is teaching me so much through new parenthood and, even though it can be tiring and overwhelming, it is SUCH a blessing 🙂 I love being a mom!

  8. says

    Hi, there!! Just wanted to let you know that your post is among this week's featured, so will be shared on FB, Twitter, and pinned to pinterest. Be sure to visit tomorrow to help yourself to a featured button. 🙂

    Thanks for linking up. 🙂

  9. Lynda says

    The first time your child sings their song to you without prompting, just melts your heart. One day I wasn’t feeling well and was having a lie down. My daughter comes in, tucks me in and sang the songs I sang to her! The best medicine in the world!

    • kloverhouse says

      That is awesome! You are right – that would be the best medicine. They really are listening and learning to express their love for us by following the example we’re setting. It’s so beautiful.

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