I recently read a parenting meme that might be the best one I’ve ever read. It talked about how parenting during the day was like cooking and parenting at night was like baking. During the day, you put a lot of things together, make adjustments, and see how it goes. At night, however, if you mess up even one tiny bit, you’re doomed. Is this not the most accurate thing you’ve ever heard??
Bedtime is one of my least favorite times of the day. Please don’t judge me. I know that I will miss it one day and I should cherish it and not rush through it. But in this season, it’s not fun and I usually have a bad attitude throughout the process. By the end of the day I am worn out, I am done answering to tiny humans and just want to sit on the couch and decompress. It never goes that way, though. Especially because three of our boys share a room.
Most nights we send at least two of them back to their beds a minimum of ten times. Drinks, band-aids, music, covers. It’s always something. Even on the nights when they don’t necessarily need anything, we make multiple trips to their room to let them know that they are being way too loud and have got to stop talking. We have actually spent the last two years being very firm on this matter. They have gotten in trouble, had consequences, and received many stern looks and tones from both my husband and me as we have lectured them on the importance of zipping their lips and going to sleep. But lately, we’ve wondered why we have chosen this bedtime chatter as our hill to die on.
A couple of weeks ago we put the boys to bed and were sitting in the living room. Neither one of us noticed it for a few minutes, but we had stopped talking and were both listening to the conversation going on in the boys’ room. It was nothing deep by any means, but it was one of the sweetest sounds we had ever heard. Three little boys talking about things they love, giggling at each other’s outrageous comments (most likely about bodily functions), and very obviously enjoying themselves. For the first time, we didn’t go lecture them. We just let them talk.
The end of the day is so exhausting. As moms, we just want everyone, especially our children, to be quiet so that our brains can take a breather. I find myself rushing through the bedtime routine just so that I can have a break. I want them all to go to bed without any hassle and stay in their rooms without a peep while they go to sleep. But silence doesn’t build bonds and neither does my bedtime lecturing.
One of the greatest joys of my life would be to see my children grow to love and cherish each other. To see them form friendships that go beyond just family status, to watch them support and love each other throughout the good and the bad, and to know that they truly care for each other. That’s what we all want, right? To know that they don’t really hate each other and that we didn’t ruin them as we try to get that bedtime recipe just perfect every night.
So now we let them talk. Some nights they talk for 30 minutes. Some nights they can only manage three minutes before they are all fast asleep (all the praise hands). Either way, I have started finding joy in hearing their bedtime conversations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still exhausted at the end of the day. I still find myself rushing through bedtime–maybe one of you can give me some tips on how to enjoy this time of day more. But the boys’ room is not silent anymore. It is filled with chatter and it is the sweetest thing I hear all day.