For most of my parenting tenure, I have hated my kids' bedtime. With four children under 9, it's a serious challenge to get everyone bathed, brushed, and asleep, and mostly, I just want them to hop in and go to sleep quickly so I can enjoy the quiet before I collapse.
But lately I've had a huge shift in how I feel about the time before my kids fall asleep, and it's become one of my favorite times of the day. And with a little adjustment, it can be yours too.
Like most experiences with parenting, these moments don't last forever. I used to hate when people would tell me, "Treasure these times because you'll miss them." Which, yeah, I don't really want to hear when my kid is throwing a tantrum in the middle of Target.
But I've actually seen that the bedtime moments don't last forever. My oldest can put herself to bed 100 percent on her own. And I'm sure my near-7-year-old will soon follow.
And with school and activities and work, I don't see them as much as I used to. The quality time we might have had during the day has disappeared. And let's be honest. Even though I was with them much more earlier on, how much quality time were we really having anyway? Not as much as I'd like to think.
So these days, I make bedtime our quality time together, and it's become something magical.
For me, bathtime occurs every other day to make life easier. And we start bedtime much earlier to give ourselves lots of time for stories, cuddles, and private talks; that's what I call the moments I spend with each kid in bed where they get to talk about anything they want for a few minutes with my undivided attention.
At around 7 p.m., I put my phone away and gather them up, and we begin our routine. They must all be dressed for bed before they can come have their teeth brushed. Then when they're all done, they're each allowed to pick a story, or we read longer from one book.
Then they negotiate who gets first, second, and last cuddles (my oldest goes to bed later than the littles), at which point I hop into bed with them and let them talk my ear off for a good solid five to seven minutes.
I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to have those moments where I'm completely and 100 percent engaged with my kids. I'm not thinking about laundry or the dishes. I'm not worrying about work.
I realize this isn't feasible for everyone's situation. I'm sure you SAHMs are probably ready to throw in the towel after a long day home with your children.
And it's time-consuming. I'm not going to lie.
But if you're dreading bedtime every night like I was, there's something awesome about embracing it and making it a time to look forward to. Not just for your kids -- but for you, too.
What's your bedtime ritual with your kids?
Image via Samiksha/Flickr