Snug in bed, when it’s quiet and still, that’s when my kids want to talk to me about their worries, future plans, their day, all that is on their minds. I used to shush them and tell them it’s time to sleep. Someone was always up 5 minutes later and I’d walk them back to bed. This would go on for hours! Now, each night I snuggle up and lay with whomever is in bed first or alternate days between them for who is first and I lay with each child for 10 minutes each. You could make it more or less time, but do spend time laying with your young child. If you already understand attachment parenting this may be of no surprise to you, but my kids relaxed and fell asleep faster and stopped getting out of bed!
This has made a huge difference in keeping kids in their beds for the rest of the night.
And it’s a fantastic time for bonding and listening to my kids. I have two kids, so one must wait their turn, but that hasn’t been an issue as I’m consistent and fair in alternating who gets to be first. Well, when my daughter was 3 there were some tears when she had to wait, but she learned I always came back to give her her turn and her patience paid off.
Actually, now that Daddy is always home at bedtime, he will lay with one kid while I lay with the other, but we still alternate who gets to snuggle Mommy or Daddy first. If you’re a singe parent or the only one handling bed time, it’s a great exercise in patience for your children.
I allow my kids to talk quietly while we snuggle in the glow of the nightlight. We’ve had some interesting conversations, silly stories, I’ve learned about worries, concerns, and deep feelings I wouldn’t otherwise have known my kids thought about. Really be in the moment during this time. Put all your other cares and to-do lists out of your head and just listen and enjoy snuggling with your amazing child. When 10 minutes is up, I switch to my other kid’s bed. It’s important to be timely if you have another child waiting. Breaking that trust by even one minute and making them wait longer can feel like hours to them. All they want is you, don’t disappoint.
Establishing Life Long Trust
I want them to always feel they can talk to me, especially when they grow into teens. This is the time to establish that trust and communication, so when their worries or decisions they are pondering are more serious, they will still feel safe in trusting me with their thoughts. Also, they will know that I care enough to take this extra time to listen. They are important enough for me to listen to. I don’t dismiss any of their concerns as silly or petty. Whatever they want to discuss is open for that time. If it needs more than 10 minutes to discuss, we can come back to it the next day or next snuggle time. Positive Parenting talks about children needing to feel close and connected with their parents as well as respected and heard. This is the perfect way to show that to your child each and every day. Actions speak louder than words, so make the time!
20 Reasons to make a special time to listen without distraction
- They know you care enough to make time
- They feel they can trust you with their deepest thoughts and cares
- You make them feel they are worth listening to
- Their thoughts and feelings are important
- Encourages them to question and think through decisions or theories
- Time for them to clarify their own beliefs
- Leads to great discussions you can both learn from
- Knowing the cares that are on your child’s heart
- You both get extra cuddles
- No room for doubt that you love them
- Relaxes both of you
- Kids are less likely to feel the need to get up again
- Faster to fall asleep
- More time for parents in the evening
- Extra bonding time with your spouse
- More peaceful environment
- Better connected family
- Strengthens communication and bonds
- More restful sleep for your children
- Less stress for you and your children
Cuddling Saves Time and Decreases stress
Sometimes we don’t discuss anything at all, just cuddle. Once in a while one will fall asleep before I’m out the door, but with my night owls, it doesn’t happen often. Though, when I do leave, they are relaxed, feel safe and loved, and rarely get out of bed again. I know I won’t have this type of cuddle time with my kids for long, they grow up so fast, and I remind myself of this when I am busy and feel like skipping it or cutting it short some nights. I often write in the evenings, so I’m anxious to get to it and be productive so I can go to bed at a reasonable hour. However, laying with my kids has proven every day to save time! The kids don’t get up over and over for hours after bed time and I have much more time to work, spend with my husband, relax and enjoy some non-kid hours before I am off to bed myself. The whole family is also less frustrated and stressed, so I can focus or relax on what I need to without anxiety and without interruption.
What if my child won’t relax?
When I started laying with my kids more consistently, they at first thought it was play time. They wanted to get up and show me this toy or sit up and animatedly tell me something. If they are too wiggly, bouncy, or goofing around, I have cut snuggle time short. For my kids, this is pretty devastating! I give them 2 warnings, but if they just can’t be still and talk quietly, I will get up. I’ll say, “my being in here is keeping you awake rather than relaxing you, so I’m going to go out and let you sleep. We’ll try again tomorrow. I love you, goodnight.”
There may be tears, arguments, etc, but I stick to my word. If I say I’m going to do something, I do, otherwise it leads to whining and negotiating the next time because they learn so quickly that if they try hard enough, I will change my mind. Kids are also quick to learn I won’t change my mind, so though tonight might be a hard one, if I stick to what I say, next time will be better.
I hope you can enjoy some extra cuddles each night and really see improvement in sleep and relationships in your own family.