Bedtime is exhausting!
My kid’s bedtime is about two hours before I usually go to bed, but most of the time by the time we are done getting pajamas on, brushing and flossing, reading and saying prayers I am ready for bed myself! There have been many nights where I want to give my husband a high five and jump for joy for surviving another bedtime routine.
Typically the thought of adding another thing to the already exhausting bedtime routine would make me shake my head and laugh out loud. There is already so much going on at bedtime, I don’t need to add anything else, thank you very much. That was until I accidentally discovered one of our newest bedtime tradition. I wasn’t meaning to add anything else to the craziest time of day for us, but this simple thing has quickly become my kids’ favorite time of day.
After all the teeth are brushed and prayers are said and my kids are already tucked in bed I simply take a few minutes to snuggle each child and tell them one story about when they were a baby or a toddler. That’s it, easy peasy!
I was already giving them a quick snuggle every night anyway, but I typically would stay quiet or say a quick I love you. One night, however, I could tell my little girl was feeling a little sad about something so I told her the story about when I found out the baby in my belly was a baby girl and how excited I was. Her face lit up and she was delighted by the story. This is a story I cherish and I’m sure I’ve told her before, but she listened and reacted as if it was the first time she had ever heard it. I realized that I have so many stories about my kids that I cherish and love, but they don’t remember them at all. These are stories that I want them to know!
So every night since then I have thought of a story and shared it with each of them. Some of them are funny things that they said when they were little and I love to hear them roll with laughter as they realize how clever and funny they were. Some stories are the mundane day-to-day stories that you would never think they would love to hear. For example, my son loved to hear about when he was weaned from using a pacifier. He thought it was so funny that he was attached to a binky and was thrilled to hear how we were victorious in getting rid of it.
We have only been doing this nightly ritual a short time, but I am already seeing positive benefits.
First of all, spending one-on-one time with each kid makes them feel special. Like I said, I was already giving them a quick snuggle at night, but adding in a short story about them has helped make it feel more special and individualized. Taking these few moments to sit and talk with them has also made bedtime not feel so rushed.
Next, I have adored watching their faces as I tell them these stories. We lived through these moments together, but I’m the only one that remembers them, so it’s fun to pass on the memories. I love that I can witness their reaction to something from the past and then think of how they reacted to it when it first happened. You can get a better understanding of how much they’ve grown and matured.
They enjoy hearing the stories so much that they often talk about them the next day and they will usually share with each other the story I told them the night before. It’s so cute how much they love hearing these simple things from when they were little. I like to think these personal stories are helping to boost their self esteem.
Most of all, I love remembering all of those silly and special memories from when they were little. I’ve had to refer to my journals occasionally for some help remembering and it’s always rewarding to read something I had forgotten. It’s hard to remember everything that happens, and I still don’t remember it all, but saying these stories out loud helps. I’m also realizing how fast time flies and it gives me more reason to want to slow down and snuggle them while they are still little!
This simple change has made bedtime feel less like a nuisance and more loving and special. Last night when I said it was bedtime they all jumped for joy and said, “I can’t wait to hear my story!”
Bedtime is still exhausting. There is still a lot of wrangling and craziness, but this small and simple thing has helped it to feel not so stressed and hurried and a lot more special.