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!)
There is a catch.
This is when the good stuff comes out.
This is when I hear all of those details that teenagers and almost-teens don’t tell their moms anymore.
“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?”
“I miss our dog. Do all dogs die of cancer? When do you think we can get another one?”
.“Do you remember when I had that toddler bed, and I slept with that blue stuffed animal? Do you think I’ll give it to my kids one day?”
..“Mom, you know how you told me that during wrestling practice I should try to help both brothers uplifted? Cheer them on and run with them? Today I did. I ran right beside them, just like you and Dad told me. I think it made them feel better.
Beau said that his stomach hurt from running and I told him that if he wanted to slow down, I would slow down with him, even though running that slow is REALLY boring, Mom!”
.These are the things that happen when we put aside everything else. These are things that happen when we forget about whatever else we have to do or want to do.
My grandma used to tell me to enjoy our kids when we had them. While she never suggested having a child sleep in my bed, she always suggested talking to them every chance that I get. She would say that she didn’t know why people would have kids if they didn’t get to spend time with them. 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. It breaks my heart to think of this, but you know what? …
That day IS NOT TODAY.
Today, I will lie down with him when he asks me to, and with all four of our children. I will sing Toora Loora Loora and Que Sera Sera (their favorite songs).
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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