I have a new favorite phrase from our kids: “Mommy, will you lay with me?” Why is this my favorite? Let me tell you.
Do you hear this every night, as I do? “Mommy, can you lie down with me for a few minutes?” (or, as our little one says, “Can you lay with me?”)
Our children want me to lie down with them every night. This question is always on their minds because they love to spend time with you.
I know that our goal is to teach them to sleep through the night, so they are well-rested, but these few minutes BEFORE your child falls asleep, and even before you say “Good Night” make all of the difference.
Several years ago, a friend of the family’s son passed away, after several hours of sleep, while he was asleep in his room.
A week later, another seven-year-old boy passed away, only one town away, unexpectedly, while he was outside playing.
One year later, another child passed away at only 36 months of age, in the middle of the night after he was put to sleep in his own bed.
This is hard for me to think about, talk about, write about, or share today. At the time of their passing, our children were very close in age to several children that had passed away. (We have four kids: born in ’06, ’08, ’10 and ’12)
- Just for a second, sweetie.
- Ok – for a minute. I have to make sure that your sister and brothers are all tucked in.
- I have to clean up the kitchen, so I’ll just give you a kiss & hug, ok?
- I have to do some work – so I’ll just tuck you in quickly.
- Daddy and I are going to eat dinner since we didn’t get to eat as early as you tonight, so give me a big hug & then stay in bed and get right to sleep….”
…whatever the reason, they all say the same thing to him: “Just for a second. Other things are coming first.”
I know, I know… as parents, we don’t want to start any sort of sleep problems, and many of us do not have a family bed or bed sharing (we don’t), but this is different.
This happens as you are putting them to bed. When our son is going to sleep in his own room, while we are tucking him in, we just talk.
I know that we can’t lie there all night…
Our son would expect this, as would all of our kids. “You give an inch, they take a mile”. We think we will lie down for 5 minutes; they want 20. We give 20; they want 40. (To be honest… our youngest child be happiest if I stayed 12 hours in her bed every night!)
Hold on… there is a catch.
This is when the good stuff comes out.♥
- “So & So told me that I was cute today. How disgusting. Right, Mom?”
- “Today we had a math test, and I got them all right… I was really distracted though and thought I might miss one because out in the hallway, the kids were setting up for the play. Did I tell you about the play?”
- “Did I tell you what happened at the football game in the student section last week? It was crazy.”
- “Do you remember when I had that toddler bed, and I slept with that blue stuffed animal? Do we still have it? I think I’ll give it to my kids one day. “
- .“Mom, you know how you always say that family is everything and that the younger siblings look up to me? I think it’s the truth – I heard them telling someone that they were going to play laccosse so they could practice with me. I wonder if they’ll always be that way… it’s kind of a lot of pressure to know they’re watching me, but in a good way, because I can help them by being a good example, you know?”
- “Yesterday, when I went running with a friend, he kept saying that his stomach was hurting from running, so we slowed down. It’s so hard and pretty boring to run slow, but it’s more important to be supportive than fast. It made me think about how many times you have had to slow down when we go on bike rides just so the last person isn’t riding alone.”
- “When did you first hold someone’s hand?”
- “You’ll never believe who ____ likes this year. It’s ______ ! He told me in math class today. Crazy, isn’t it? Don’t say anything because no one knows yet, but I think he might ask her to go out.”
These are the stories that come out when we put everything else aside.
These are things that happen when we forget about whatever else we have to do or want to do.
These are the conversations that happen when we just listen… when we sit down with them with only one goal: to let them know we are there to talk & listen to them.
My late grandmother used to tell me, “Enjoy our kids Enjoy every minute that you can. I loved raising my kids and if you don’t enjoy it, you’ll be missing out on so much.”
While she never suggested having a child sleep in my bed (I’ve always taught them to stay in their own beds), she always suggested talking to them every chance that I get.
She said that she loved raising her kids and that she knew I would be the same way.
My parents and my husband’s parents remind us that one day, they won’t want to spend so much time with us. One day they will be older.
One day they will be grown and they will have many other things to take up their time, other people to listen to their stories…
It fills me with joy to know that one day they will spread their wings and fly, but at the same time, breaks my heart to think of the day when they need us less and less. One day…
TODAY is not that day.
TODAY… I will lie down with our children when they ask. I will sing Toora Loora Loora and Que Sera Sera (their favorite songs). I will pray with them. I will listen to them. I will give them my full attention.
And do you know what?
If this new bedtime routine adds ten minutes onto the end of our night, when our patience is low and our exhaustion is high, that is ten more minutes that I was lucky enough to have spent with our children…. listening, encouraging, telling them the unspoken words that say:
TODAY, RIGHT NOW, YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO ME.
As I look in at my child sleeping, I think about how time goes by so quickly and how I am so glad to have these little moments now. I can remember looking at my tiny baby sleep in his crib years ago… and now when I look at him sleeping he is so much older. Time goes so fast.
In ten years, those unspoken words will come back to me when he is grown, getting ready to head off to start his own life and I ask him to stop what he is doing and sit with ME for a moment… and he does.
We only have a few years to really be present in their lives. Let’s spend these years wisely.
ps- I want to invite you to sign up for my FREE e-mail series called One on One time. It is completely free & I will send you this calendar to get you started. 🙂
If you are having trouble keeping your CHILD IN BED or helping them to SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT, these posts will be helpful:
- 2-3 year old still waking at night? Try this.
- If your child is waking too early, this works.
- This is how to keep a young child in their bed.
- How this medical advice changed our son’s sleep habits forever.
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