Recently, I integrated something a little new into our bedtime routine.
Confession: The ‘something a little new’ part is actually a ‘creating a new routine’, full stop.
We used to have an extraordinary amount of excuses, bickering and crying at bedtime.
It would end with me completely losing it – and yelling – and when I say yelling, I really mean yelling! I sounded more like a fishwife or an army drill instructor than a loving Mum.
Last year, in order to combat this, I set a nightly Alarm on my iPhone, that goes off when it is bedtime. The kids understood that once this alarm went off, there were no excuses. It was time for bed.
This worked for a while. It was a bit exciting! The kids would race to be the one who was first to find and swipe my iPhone to turn off the alarm, and they would all then dutifully trundle off to bed.
But ever so slowly, the bedtime boundaries once again began to get a bit blurry.
The excuses, arguments and crying about bedtime began to start again.
There was the usual ‘I need to go to the toilet’, ‘I need a drink’, ‘I’m scared’ excuses, as well as many other, more ridiculous reasons for not going to bed.
So on the odd occasion, I let one, or more, of the kids fall asleep on the couch in front of Disney Channnel or Disney Junior, just because after my day at work, and all the rest that happens after I get home, I am just too tired to argue about bedtime and it can be easier to carry them to their beds once they have nodded off.
Suddenly, before I knew it, around about 4 out of the 7 nights in a week one or more the kids were falling asleep in front of the TV. Sometimes I would even fall asleep on my own bed before they did!
Having a good look at my life and the lack of quality time that I spend with my kids, I came to the conclusion that lazily allowing this to become the norm instead of something that happens on the odd occasion really isn’t going to earn me the mother of the year award any time soon.
So I decided I needed to make a major change in the way bedtime is run in our household.
My kids need to have rules and boundaries about bedtime, they need to feel loved, and they need to have some relaxing one-on-one time with Mum.
So now, each kid gets a special ‘one on one’ story, talk and cuddle time.
In talk and cuddle time, I ask the kids to tell me what was the ‘worst thing’ about the day.
Then I ask them to tell me what what was the ‘best thing’ about the day.
It is amazing just how much the kids tell you when you ask these two questions.
The answers that they give you regarding the ‘worst thing‘ about their day can give you a deeper insight into their feelings and fears that they may not otherwise have shared. For Miss O (who has recently turned 10) it is a great opportunity to talk a bit more about problems that she is having, and on more than one occasion she has cried and poured her little heart out.
Getting them to tell you the ‘best thing‘ about their day helps them to get into the habit of being thankful for the good things they have in life, whether big or small. It also helps to end the night on a light and positive note, so that they are thinking about pleasant things before they go to sleep.
How do I know I will try my best to stick to my new routine? That it won’t fall by the wayside?
Because on the very first night, Mr S, gave me a wonderful answer about his ‘best thing‘ of the day.
What was his answer?
“When you loved me”.
That was all.
The best part of his day was when I made him feel special and loved.
And you know what?
That was the best part of my day too.
This is what I am thankful for today.
Linking Up with Kate Says Stuff for Thankful Thursday. Pop over to Kate’s page to see why others are thankful today.