Bedtime Rituals

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Parenting offers us special times of the day to connect with our children. At these “crossroads” in daily life, we should do our best to be available, attentive, and responsive to our child’s needs. Some of the simple, yet powerful times can be mealtimes together (even preparing the food and cleaning up if you can do it together), doing chores side by side, being at the door to greet and say goodbye whenever possible, driving them to and from an activity, and bedtime rituals. Each of these offers critical and meaningful face time in which to influence and understand our children. Sadly, more than one research study reports we spend on average about 7 minutes per day talking with our children.

Annie Murphy Paul posted an article on Time magazine online where she said, “A study
published earlier this month by researchers at North Carolina State University,
Brigham Young University and the University of California-Irvine, for example,
finds that parental involvement — checking homework, attending school meetings
and events, discussing school activities at home — has a more powerful influence
on students’ academic performance than anything about the school the students
attend.” I hope everyone sits up and pays attention. We are the most influential person in our child’s life and those connections are usually made during non-eventful, ordinary times of day.

I’d like to focus on one daily connection: the bedtime ritual. This can include a bath, changing into pajamas, reading a book, brushing teeth, prayers, discussing the events of the day, a song, kiss, and the all-important “tucking in.” These and more ideas can be found in Parenting.com. It adds closure to the day, settles down a restless, perhaps anxious or tired child, and offers a special bond between parent and child. I have found that my children are less defensive at the end of the day and open up more during this time.

My friend Alison is raising a very energetic and willful young son. She shared this recently: HIGHLIGHT of my day: As I’m putting [her son] to bed reading… he turns to me and says, “Mom, I love you so much! I love you more than anyone loves their mom in this whole wide world. . . (thinking….). . . I love you more than an alien loves their mom because aliens love their moms like a thousand, thousand, thousand, 80…7… spaces and 79 times and spaces. That’s a lot. I love you more than that!!!” WOW. I’m the luckiest human mom alive! Love that kid!

What better reward at the end of the day can you think of?

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