Bedtime. The word alone sends a jolt of anxiety coursing through my veins.
Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. But bedtime at our house is a process.
The big kid? She’s a dream to put to bed nowadays. (She certainly wasn’t this way when she was three.)
But this one?
She’s got some spunk left in her at the end of the day.
We have a good routine involving a warm bath, books and prayers. However, I’m a softie when it comes to my girls. The cuddles and back rubs? They do. not. end. Our routine involves the expectation that mom (or dad) will snuggle until long, black eyelashes flutter into slumber.
I preach about slowing down and savoring the moment. The truth is some nights I cannot help but count down the minutes in the princess bed, trying hard to stay awake myself at the end of a long day. Thoughts swirl of dishes soaking in the now-cold water, laundry needing fluffing and folding, the stack of books sitting ignored on my nightstand. (Did I mention the snuggle can take a good 90 minutes some nights?!)
Today, this wired three-year-old took a looong nap after a night of wedding dancing. So, her bedtime was pushed back, allowing me time to put our independent first grader to bed alone. She, too, had the royal bedtime treatment at age three. These days, we simply pray for happy dreams, she reads one book to herself by flashlight, and she’s good to go in the top bunk.
Tonight, while I rubbed her back like the good old days, she whispered, “Mom, remember when you used to do this every night? We’d sing that one song from the Bible… ‘Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your Presence? If I go up to Heaven, You’re there. Lay my bed in the depths, You are there.’ I think of that song every time I feel scared of the dark.”
This. This is why I choose cozy bedtime over all the other evening activities begging for my attention. In the grand scheme of life, it’s a short season. Soon, she’ll also be six, independently resting with a lifetime of happy memories.
Yes, they could cry it out while we play a not-so-fun game of bedtime whack-a-mole. Or we could continue to make them feel cherished and loved and safe.
This, in my opinion, is time well-spent.