I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I had just announced to our four kids it was time for bed. One child, responded that he was hungry. Another with an emotional meltdown. Our oldest son forgot he needed a test signed, which led to a rather lengthy discussion of other assignments due later in the week. And our daughter, the night owl? She was ready to talk!
Whether our four kids were ready for bed or not, I was!
Let’s face it, no matter how organized you are or how well behaved your children are, bedtime can be a struggle. But bedtime can also be incredibly meaningful. It’s not surprising then that when God was instructing parents on how to pass on faith, He included bedtime as sacred time (Deuteronomy 6:7). As tempting as it is to rush through bedtime, if we’re not careful, we can miss out on the opportunities God has for us during this critical season of life.
Being patient with the struggle and intentional to make this time meaningful is so important. As our babies become toddlers and our toddlers become kids there are lots of bedtime hours that pass us by. As I look back now, I’m reminded of how quickly those special times go by.
Bedtime can be a treasured time for our children.
A time for us to connect with them after a long day. A time for us to listen. A time for us to remind them of our love for them. And a time for us to remind them of God’s love for them.
Here are a few practical ways we have tried to make bedtime meaningful for our children:
I used to think that my children’s willingness to talk at bedtime was a delay tactic! While that may be partly true, bedtime also is the perfect time to talk – to get a glimpse into what is going on in my child’s heart. All of the day’s distractions disappear. There’s no more “to-do’s.” Bedtime is a time to relax, wind down, and most often, open up.
One way to make talking at bedtime meaningful is to ask simple questions like, “What was the best part of your day? What was the hardest? What are you most worried about? What are you excited about?” All of these, and more, can be great windows into your child’s heart. These are great opportunities for them to process what they are thinking and feeling. And as a parent, the perfect environment to apply God’s truth and love where our kids need it most.
Reading Special Bedtime Books:
One of my favorite bedtime routines, especially when our kids were younger, is reading. Over the years, we have read through numerous books and children’s Bibles. Reading is a great way to connect with your child, remind them of God’s love, and calm them before bedtime. I especially love the books that are meant for bedtime. Here are a few great ideas:
God’s Word to Dream On: Bedtime Bible Stories and Prayers
Night Night Bible Stories: 30 Stories for Bedtime
Put On Your PJs, Piggies
And finally, we always take this time to pray before bed. We talk about others who are in need of prayer. This is an opportunity to model Christlike love and care for their friends. As my children have gotten older, bedtime looks a little different. Every night we gather in the living room and take time to talk and pray. The meaningful routine we put in place when they were little has carried over into their tween and teen years.
So the next time you feel like you are herding cats at bedtime, remember to slow down. Don’t rush it. Be intentional. God wants to use this seemingly mundane activity to help shape the heart of your child!
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How can you begin to slow down and appreciate bedtime with your children? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!