I don’t know who is more tired at the end of the day—me or my kids. Never mind, it’s me. No contest. All day, they run and yell and play. I sit and think and write. Yet, come 8:45 p.m., I’m the one with heavy eyelids while they keep putting out energy. It feels like their bedtime routine needs to include some deep breathing exercises and Enya (Does anyone listen to Enya anymore?).
So we’re tired, the kids are wired, and it feels like they’re stalling with all the chit-chat. But the truth is, their biology makes them want to talk to us before bed. As they become more relaxed, they feel safer and feeling safe leads to sharing. So I know we’re all exhausted, but this is prime time to say a few important things that will help your kids close out their day. Here are 5 big ones you can say tonight.
1. What’s one question you have?
Allow them to ask one question every night and do your best to answer it or tell them you’ll work on finding out the answer. You will probably get a lot of “Why are leaves green?” but since they are more relaxed, you might get a question every now and again that gives you a peek into what’s on their hearts and minds.
2. I’m so glad I’m your mom.
Our kids aren’t dumb. They know moms are pretty much required to do all the things that moms have to do, like feed them, cheer for them at the swim meet, and make sure they are wearing shoes. But closing the day with this powerful phrase tells your children you actually enjoy parenting. And not just parenting any old kids, but parenting them specifically.
3. I’m listening.
The 15 minutes you give your kids as part of their bedtime routine should be distraction-free. Don’t even bring your phone into the room. Make eye contact and if they share something, repeat it back so they know you heard them. They’ll end the day knowing Mom is interested in what they have to say and that’s a great self-esteem booster.
The 15 minutes you give your kids as part of their bedtime routine should be distraction-free. Don’t even bring your phone into the room.
4. How can we make tomorrow a good day?
Kids have a lot of anxieties and having a plan of action, even just one small thing—like planning to double-knot their shoes or talking to the teacher about opportunities for extra credit—can help them feel more in control and optimistic.
5. I love you just because you’re you.
Between grades, performance on the playing field, and social media likes, our kids are constantly being measured. A bedtime routine needs to include this simple reminder that our love is unconditional.
What do you say to your kids at bedtime?