When my children were very small, my world revolved around their sleeping schedules. Establishing naptimes, and bedtimes, and all the feeding in between, as well as creating all the rituals to make my babies comfy and ready to rest were a big part of my job description. As they’ve grew in stature and independence, bedtime began to look a little different. Lingering over picture books slowly became independent reading time, toddler baths became showers and fewer songs and cuddles were necessary to keep kids settled in bed at tuck in. But back then, as now, sometimes we have crazy nights.
You know the ones. Kids running in and out of bed, offering excuse after excuse and requests for water and potty time and questions about how God hung all the stars into the place. Some nights, its all I can do to count to three in my head, take a deep breath and tuck them in just one.more.time. In those moments they seem so needy, so dependent, so hungry for me to never leave their side until they are fast asleep and dreaming….
How like them I am before God. How needy for his presence. How dependent upon him for affirmation and my identity. How hungry for his words and rest. I sleep at night because I know I am his. Because I trust that he is with me. Because I know of his great love. Bedtime teaches me every so often, that my kids need me to reveal the character of God to them, through the way I express love and pour into their hearts so that they can sleep too.
When my children struggle to fall asleep, I can usually pinpoint it to a longing for connection that is unmet. Do you sense the same thing in the hearts of your children? To keep our bedtime flow intentional, here are some questions I’m asking myself at bedtime and throughout the day, so that as I tuck my big kid in these days, I’m able to ensure they can rest their little bodies and their hearts as they sleep for the night.
1. Have I Listened Well?
So often, all my children need is the invitation and space to be heard. Did I ask them open ended questions and leave enough time for them to respond? Did I make eye contact? Did I leave room in my own schedule for them to linger with me and approach me with ideas or concerns that were on their heart?
2. What Made up our Daily Rhythms?
Some days, life is overwhelmingly beyond our control, but in a typical day, do we talk? Eat healthy meals? Enjoy conversation at the table or in the car? Are we praying together as a family, or one on one? Are there hard stops throughout our day that lend themselves to prayer, reflection, time together and play? Unhealthy patterns that settle into our daily rhythms can often unsettle us at bedtime- is there something that needs to change?
3. Have I Connected?
Read alouds snuggled on the couch, activities and games indoors and out, or finding ways to laugh together are all ways to fill up the hearts of our children. Have I been distant or engaged in the affairs of the day? Was I spending too much time looking at my phone? Are their needs I can help support, or activities I can recommend and participate in WITH my children? Finding ways to explore and adventure through life together serves our own hearts too!
4. Have I pointed them to Christ?
In their questions, their struggles, their heartaches and arguments, have I encouraged my children with Scripture? Have I pointed them to Christ in their need? Ultimately, faith in their Savior and trust in his care is what will bring ultimate rest and provision to their lives. I want to be sure to help them run to him in the way I respond to their circumstances each day.
So, how do you sleep? What do you find helpful in connecting with your children before you put the day to bed?