I’ve come up with a few things I live by in motherhood.
Most are pretty simple, like “If you don’t want them to hear you say it, they will not only hear it but repeat it.” Also, “If all else fails to change a mood, blast some groovy Jesus music.” Things that I often remind myself of in moments of chaos and frustration, when I need a good idea or some sort of breakthrough with my kids.
But one thing in particular has really set the tone for my relationship with my kids, more so than anything aside from my own personal walk with Christ. And it all comes down to how we end our day.
Let’s just face it: there are days in motherhood that feel simply unsalvageable. Things go wrong, Days go off the rails and suddenly it’s nearly bedtime and you realize that everyone’s feelings are hurt and you just want to start over. It’s usually right around then that I realize how thankful I am for bedtime.
Yes, a lot of times I’m thankful for bedtime for simply the fact that it means my kids are going to bed. But because of the routine we have established, I know that it’s extremely likely that whatever kind of day we’ve had will be turned around and my kids and I will end our day on the right foot.
When my oldest was two, and my husband and I had just gotten married, I started a solid routine for bedtime to try to bring a little order and organization after what had been a chaotic few months of wedding planning, moving, and changes for my little guy. What started out as just a way for him and I to reconnect and have some peace at the end of our day has now continued to a highly anticipated part of our daily routine that two little boys look forward to, and soon to be three. We start off with a story from one of our Bible books (right now it’s the Preschooler’s Hands-On Bible), we pray together, sing three songs (which for two and a half years was “Jesus Loves Me”, “The Alphabet Song”, and “I Had a Tiny Turtle”, but my youngest has recently started begging for “Five Little Ducks” so we’ve improvised a bit there), and then I usually read a book or two, or a chapter from one of the books we’ve been reading together. Then it’s hugs and kisses all around and everyone gets into their beds.
It’s pretty simple, and there are definitely nights when we’re home late or really tired and we modify it a bit, shortening it to one song or one book, etc. But my kids know that when bedtime rolls around, either their daddy or I (and sometimes both of us) will be there to go through this routine to end our day.
And honestly, three years later, I’ve learned to love this so much. Because it doesn’t seem to matter how tough the day is, how many fights I’ve broken up or how many times I’ve been at my wit’s end. When we head into their room and get through bedtime together, I can almost guarantee I will walk out with a joyful, thankful heart. And I know that my boys feel better too.
It’s one thing I recommend to moms, especially if a big life change is coming, like a move, a new baby, a wedding, or anything that could be a big adjustment for their kiddo. Find a routine that works for you, one that you can stick with, and then execute it to the very best of your ability. You won’t do it perfectly, and it might take a while before you get it down and have your child (or children) on board. But over time, that time right before they go to sleep will become such a security for your kids in their connection with you, as well as for your own peace of mind. I’ve found that that’s one of the main things that helps me process the day without such a cloud of mom-guilt, because I am able to tell myself that no matter what happened earlier on in the day, we ended our day right. They were prayed for, read the Word, and loved on. They got to see their momma get animated with their favorite songs and give them kisses. And if the enemy starts in on what I did wrong, I remember that this is something that I did right.
Our routines don’t have to look the same, in fact for most families it will look completely different from one home to another. But I truly believe that some sort of connection before bed with some amount of order can really make a difference in the hearts of your kids, as well as in your own heart.
Maybe it’s time you tried a good, end-of-day routine for your home, too! And if you already have one, please tell us about it. I know many moms are always looking for ideas to try something new, myself included!