People always talk about how the years fly by when you have kids. Surrounded by four little ones, I don’t always feel like this is true. In fact, sometimes it FEELS like I’m wading through molasses with a constant soundtrack of screaming.
There are always so many questions and so many things to do, from the house work to meal prep (or at least putting the frozen pizza) to the smoothing out of hurt feelings and the keeping of the peace between our kids.
With all the things to do, I’ve found that there are ten minutes each day that matter the MOST in my parenting.
The ten minutes that matter the most are the ones I spend with each child at bedtime.
Alone time with each kid when you have four is no easy task during the day, but I remember when Sawyer was the solo kid, and how even then finding a few precious, slow moments were difficult.
I don’t know that the number matters: finding those sweet one-on-one times can be a challenge.
But kids long for these moments. They are unhurried (confession: sometimes they are a little hurried because I do a lot of work after bedtime!) and have no agenda. I simply climb into bed (which for the boys means top bunks) and lie down with them. We call it Special Time.
Sawyer likes to show me the things he’s built out of Lego bricks: spaceships and dragons and Star Wars creations. Some from the instructions in a box, most from his head. I tend to fall asleep when I’m talking and praying with him. The other day I woke up while I was praying in my sleep, thanking God for decorative tape. Because apparently I’m a sleep-prayer.
Lincoln likes to make up jobs for all his stuffed animals with me. Usually at least one of them is a spy while another cleans poop. (These are the kinds of jobs that six-year-olds imagine for stuffed bears and bunnies.) He tells me about his (imaginary) friend Mr. Bush. For a while I tried to reign him in to be serious. Sometimes I still do. But I’m learning to just let him be Lincoln.
I ask them both if anything is making them sad today. Sometimes I hear about being left out of a game or being called a name by a friend. It hurts me to hear their hurts. I ask what one thing they are thankful for today. I ask how I can pray for them. I pray, give them a kiss, and then it’s goodnight.
For the girls, it’s a little shorter, a little different. I think it may evolve through the years for all of them.
Can I be honest? It’s hard for me to give up this time.
Because it’s not ten minutes. It’s ten minutes per kid. Sometimes more. Which means that my nice, neat bedtime schedule and the cutoff time where I get to unwind.
Because you know that moms rush toward bedtime like it’s free coffee day at Starbucks. (Do they have that? I wish they had that.) We can’t help it sometimes. We’ve been through those tough witching hours, when the kids get all restless and cranky and keep asking when’s-dinner-when’s-dinner-when’s-dinner so that you can hardly MAKE dinner for all the asking.
We sometimes count down those last hours. And last minutes.
So giving up even a little of that time is a sacrifice. BUT SO VERY WORTH IT.
Rob’s mom tucked them in or read to them or did some kind of bedtime ritual for years. All the way through high school. I remember her telling me one or two of the high school kids went through periods where this looked like her on the outside of a closed door, praying.
Those memories still mean so much to Rob.
You can’t know the impact of moments like these. They aren’t measurable. At the yearly checkups, the doctor won’t say, “I can tell you’ve been spending some serious quality time with your kids!”
I can’t measure it, but I KNOW this is the most important ten minutes (times four plus five or ten) that I’ll spend each day. Period. The end.
Have you found special time with your kids each day, whether that’s at bed time or some other time? Share what’s working for YOUR family in the comments!
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