You have just finished “bedtime”, the good night tuck in, good night kisses, good night hugs, good night… You close the bedroom door and begin to anticipate what the last few hours of your day may look like. On the other side of that door, your child lays their head on their pillow and their mind becomes still (for a second). Then… the real work starts. They begin to process… the day that just ended… the day ahead… the years ahead and even the years past. The real, the imaginary, the unfathomable. For many of us (unless you’re someone who falls asleep in 8 seconds flat) this time of transition as we shift into sleep is when our busy brains gain momentum. Especially for children. It can be a time of big questions and big needs. “It’s always at bedtime” … no they are not trying to stay up later (well they might be a little). However, the reality for children in particular, is that they live so fully and completely in the moment that their brains spare no energy throughout the day to sort through all the joy, turmoil, and quandaries that have come their way. That moment… that transition from awake to sleep is when it all bubbles up. Depending on your child’s age it can look like “thirsty”, “monsters”, “belly aches” and so much more. This is quite possibly the time of day when our children need us the most. The dilemma being that it is also the time when we as parents may have the least to give. It can be a time of uncertainty, loneliness, and anxiety for many.
The good news is that what they need from us is simple… us, connection, our love in its purest form, the comfort of our presence. Our ear, to listen, not to fix, not to solve… to hear their thoughts and worries, their dreams and their questions. To know they are not alone. What may sound like a story, a recount of their day is them organizing and learning from all they encountered.
Connecting with our kids can look many ways, but at this so very important time it can come in its most basic form. “Snuggle time”. A designated part of bedtime routine when for that moment when we can curl up with the little pieces of our hearts and hold them, lie beside them, lie on the floor in their room and stare at the ceiling with them. There is no right or wrong. Just the simple gift of your presence for whatever amount of time works in your family.
At the end of it all… the message for both them and ourselves …
“Tomorrow is a new day”