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A day in the life of a mom (or dad) can be hectic, unpredictable, and distracted.
From the time you are getting everyone up, ready for the day, and out the door for whatever you need to be doing until you’re back at home, tidying up, doing homework, eating dinner, and getting ready for bed, there can be days where your quality time with your family doesn’t really get to happen until bedtime.
At least that’s how it works for us, but that’s okay because it is usually our very best family time.
#1 – Bedtime is the one time when all four of us are present without distractions
My hubby works four 10-hour shifts a week, with a 9 a.m. start time. This means that he doesn’t generally get home until nearly 8 p.m. (or later) most nights. With Elijah in school and having a stricter bedtime now, time with Daddy during those days is limited.
However, by bedtime, we are all there. We’ve turned off the television, we put down our phones, and we focus on sharing time together.
(And I will be honest, sometimes I’m a late-comer to the party. There are days when I can’t work on writing or editing pictures until Brad is home, so when it’s time for getting the boys ready for bed, he’ll take the lead and let me work until they are ready for me to come join them. I try not to miss it, though, because it is such valuable family time.)
The boys take turns getting to pick the bedtime story each night, which means we can pretty much guarantee an argument every few days about whose turn it actually is to pick the book. J
We all snuggle up on Elijah’s bed to read our story. If we’re in a time crunch because they took longer brushing their teeth or dawdled while getting into their pajamas, I’ll read. I’m a much faster reader than Brad, and I’m quite good at summarizing as I go along, just in case Elijah has picked a particularly lengthy book. (Now that he’s learning to read, however, I have a feeling I may get called out on this little trick sooner or later.)
Of course, if Elijah hands me our copy of Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss, there isn’t much even I can do. We’re going to be tongue-twisting our way slowly through that one. (But we still love it!)
Sometimes it’s hard to get through a book quickly, though, because…
#2 – Bedtime is when the boys are the most talkative
My boys are always pretty talkative. (I think they get it from their mother.) However, at night time, they are even more so. Maybe it’s partly a technique to stall the inevitable “going to bed” part of the bedtime routine, maybe it’s because they know they have our full attention, or maybe it’s because they have started processing their day by then. I’m not sure. I just know that when we’re trying to get them to settle down, they are trying to start all kinds of conversations.
We try to allow time for this in our routine because we want them to know that what they have to share is important to us, no matter what they want to talk about. We chat while they’re getting faces washed and teeth brushed. We chat while they are changing into jammies and picking out tomorrow’s ensemble. And we chat before, during, and after their story, their Bible reading, and their prayers.
Which brings me to our third reason…
#3 – Bedtime is when we spend time in God’s Word and in prayer as a family
While we pray with our boys throughout the day, bedtime is when we really get to, again, do so without distractions and all together.
We read a story or passage from one of their children’s Bibles or use our Kids’ Bible App to study the Word together, and then we each take a turn praying.
From the time our boys could talk, we started leading them in simple prayers, just saying, “Thank You,” to God for family and praying for safety and good sleep. With just a little guidance, before long they start to pray on their own very easily, and now, sometimes they surprise us with their words (in a good way).
We end our bedtime routine with a song, usually “Jesus Loves Me,” although they can request whatever song they’d like.
Then it’s time for kisses and cuddles, which is our last reason.
#4 – Bedtime is when my boys are the cuddliest
From snuggling on our laps during a story to laying down on Mommy during prayers to giving tons of good night kisses and hugs, our boys are especially affectionate as they wind down from the day. Josiah will even flat-out lie and tell you that “I didn’t get a hug!” when you know you just hugged him after you tucked him in, right before you said, “Good night,” and turned to leave his room. Another stall tactic, maybe, but another hug, too.
Watching how quickly my boys are growing, I know that our bedtime routine will someday change. Soon they’ll be able to get ready completely on their own. They’ll be able to read to themselves and won’t always want us to read them a bedtime story. At some point, we definitely won’t be able to fit all of us comfortably on a twin-sized bed because they’ll no longer be snuggled in our laps.
However, I pray they never outgrow spending time with us before bed, even if it looks differently. I pray that they will value reading the Bible together and praying as a family. I want them to be able to talk to us and share about their day, their concerns, and their questions. I never want them to be too big to give me good night hugs and kisses, even if it’s done before they head off to tuck themselves in.
Mostly I pray that Brad and I are always redeeming the time now, while they are young, taking advantage of our best family time, realizing how important it is that we don’t miss the beautiful moments we have with them. These are the moments that will make spending time with us more important to them later.
When is your family’s best “Family Time”?