There was a time when I had to chase my children around the house and wrestle them into their pajamas. They seemed like they were never tired at bedtime. Although I was exhausted at the end of the day, like many mothers are, I'd try my best to keep a Mary Poppins-type demeanor for them. I'd tuck them in and give them a kiss goodnight, but they'd always find an excuse to try to stay up a bit longer. "I'm hungry." "I'm thirsty." "My eyes just won't close." I've heard them all.
I'd become increasingly frustrated with bedtime, and our nights almost always ended with me looking at the clock, losing my temper once I realized how late it was, and then screaming at them to go to sleep. It was absolutely awful, and I hated the fact that the last image my kids had of their mother that day was me screaming like a banshee. Once I really thought about it and realized what my kids actually wanted, though, everything changed for the better. The solution was actually very simple.
What my kids wanted and craved was more time with me. For the majority of the day, they're at school and at their extracurricular activities. As soon as they come home, they have a snack and then they do their homework. I'm there to help them with their homework, of course, but I wouldn't really call that quality time. After homework, we have dinner, clean up, and then before we know it, it's time for the kids to get ready for bed. Although the kids and I have been together since they got home, we haven't really spent much time together and connected as a family.
So now I make it a point to spend quality time with my kids after dinner, even if that means the kitchen is still a mess. I never would have thought that I'd have to schedule quality time with my kids, but I do. In the fast-paced and heavily scheduled world we live in, it's heartbreakingly easy to overlook what is really important in our lives — but I'm changing that. Every evening, my kids and I play with dolls, draw, or just goof around and be silly together. It doesn't really matter what it is, as long as my kids are happy spending quality time with me. Next, I help my kids get ready for bed and I read them a bedtime story. I tuck them into bed, sing each of them a couple of lullabies, and kiss them goodnight. They go to sleep without a fuss (and on time, I might add) and I leave their bedroom with a happy heart.
Knowing that taking the time to spend extra time with my kids every evening is making them feel special, loved, and cared for fills my heart with so much joy. Since I've started this new bedtime routine, I've felt better about myself as a mother. When my children look back on their childhood, I want them to remember bedtime being a happy and loving time when they got to spend special moments with their mother. And when they grow up and have children of their own, it is my hope that they will do the same for them.