Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The problem with bedtime

The bigs at bedtime after a trip to Costco
Last week I was corresponding with a friend about one of the great mysteries of the world: when is a good time to take family pictures.  She suggested how dreamy it would be (pun intended) to have family pictures taken at bedtime, to capture the freshly scrubbed faces and footie pajamas and story time and cuddle time and rocking time.  It did sound dreamy.  But when I talked about it with Ed, he brought me back to reality.

"That wouldn't be a good idea," he said casually.  "Why not?" I felt defensive, eager to know why I couldn't have those idyllic Norman Rockwell type bedtime scenes captured forever and hung around our house.  "Think about how bedtime is at our house."  I hated that he was right, but he was right.  Bedtime at our house is not my finest hour.  I like to think I'm a decent mom for 10 or 11 hours a day, but when it gets to that crucial last hour of the day I'm really starting to lose whatever good things I've had going earlier in the day.  Meltdowns are rampant, and I'm not just talking about the kids.  Ed is good to usually take over the bedtime scene, because if it's left to me the drill sergeant within emerges and instead of lovingly winding down our day and enjoying our bedtime routines I'm shouting commands of jammies-teeth-potty-prayer.  And really, shouting about praying?  You know I've lost it.

As I've realized the bedtime disconnect, I've started to think about the positive bedtime experiences I want for my kids.  A story from my friend Natalie  came to mind that she posted about several years ago, but it's stuck with me (probably because the first half of her experience is so familiar to my own- definitely click over to read her beautiful words).  She talked about her own bedtime bedlam and at the end of a particularly exhausting day, she got her kids back out of bed so she could make it up to them and end the day on a happier note.  As they were reading scripture stories together they came across the story of Christ's miracle at the wedding of Cana turning water into wine, and she realized that this same miracle of turning something ordinary into something extraordinary can happen through His power- even if that means turning a hard time of day into a happy time of day.

I came across the following quote recently on 320 Sycamore, a decorating blog I enjoy, and thought I'd share it again.

"Parents, remember that now is your opportunity; you may feel yourself harassed as you struggle through the days with an unruly child, but you are living the happiest and the most golden years of your life. As you tuck them into their beds at night, please be kind to them. Let them hear a kind voice amid all the angry, vile voices that they will hear throughout life. Let there be an anchor to which these little ones can turn when all else fails. The Lord help you so to do."
                                                                                      -Harold B. Lee

Speaking from experience, I know that bedtime will not get better for me without some divine intervention.  I'm too tired/ornery/insert-negative-adjective-here at the end of the day.  But I can ask for help.  And I know when I do, it will get better.


Meg said...

oh, how I can relate to this. I have ever been in tears infront the kiddos shouting, "Why does our day have to end like this?!" Not good at all.

I too have been working on having more pleasant bedtime routines. And, more pleasant mornings for that matter. When I'm tired, I'm grumpy. Or at least I have been. I am working on changing this and praying A LOT for help.

Meg said...


Hannah said...

Christina. I love this and needed to read this. I love that quote by Pres.Lee. I printed it out.

100 Percent Cottam said...

beautiful post and that quote is the greatest. i need to have that one! thanks!

Jill said...

Wow - what a beautiful and oh so true post! I have my good nights putting my son to bed but I also have the ones where I wish I could start over and put cranky me on the back-burner until his sweet blue eyes are in sleepyville! I think it is so true that we, as moms, can do a really good job for the major portion of the day and then when we ourselves are exhausted we then can't hold it together for the night-time routine. In July of this year my husband was diagnosed with a grade 4 brain cancer which he is fighting with all of his might. This has changed my perspective so much with him and with my son. We have no guarantees of time with our kids or our spouses and families. I so identified with our voices being the kind one's that they hear each day or night as the case may be. I am working to "bee a little better" each day with my son and with my husband because time is so precious. Each day is a gift and I think this blog is one that I will visit often to help me remember! Thanks for what you are doing!
Jill Norwood
Seattle, WA.

Kate said...

That brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for the Pres Lee quote. I'm happy Ella directed me so kindly to your blog. You have some good insights and it's always nice to read something so uplifting in the middle of a crazy day :)