Last night, I put number 3 and 4 to bed. I snuggled with number 4 and then went to lay down with number 3, and he asked to hold my hand while he went to sleep. And of course, I did.
Parenting 101 – How not to…
Let me give you a little snapshot into the failings of Hannah and me as parents. We will not win any parenting award when it comes to sleep training nor will we be writing any “how-to” books on the subject. It is likely that we are the “poster parents” of “what not to do” from those who want to be able to lay their child down at bedtime and they just go to sleep. With our first and second child, our sleep routine was easy to do. We would take turns with our first and at times would “fight” over who would get the joy of bedtime. When number two was born, we would divide and conquer as our children are just far enough apart that their sleep times are different. When number 3 came along, it was more of a challenge, and we combined 1 and 2 together. And then, number 4 entered our world 4 years ago, and it all changed. I want to be honest. There were some nights in the last 4 years where I wished we used sleep training with our children. Hannah and I were exhausted and just wanted a few more moments of time for us to talk and be still. On those nights, I would say, “we did this to ourselves.”
What will you regret?
Last night holding number 3’s hand was a reminder to me…Years ago we had a conversation about changing how we do bedtime routines. During our conversation, we imagined different scenarios. We said, “when we are older and our children are grown, what will we regret?” We agreed – what we will regret most is not spending more time with our kids. That is hard to think about in the season we are in right now. But, ask any seasoned parent whose children are gone from the house what they miss most. The majority of them will respond, “we wish we would have taken the opportunity to spend more time with our children.” It was then we decided we will snuggle our children a little longer, and we will spend as much time as we can with them. We realized the extra things we could do around the house or the time reading a book or watching a television show are not going to matter when we are older. Spending time with our children when we can is what we want.
(Please know I am not saying sleep training is bad. It is just not what we chose. This post is not meant to show you how your bedtime routines should look.)
(PERSONAL ASIDE): Many people will read this and tell us why this is bad. Some will say our children need to learn to be independent. Let me respond by saying our children are wonderfully able to do what they need. Yesterday on our first day off from school, my two oldest who are 8 and 11, fixed their own food, washed and folded clothes, put the clothes in their proper place, vacuumed the kitchen and den, emptied the dishwasher, took out the trash and many other normal activities they are made to do and can do. They are wonderfully ready and independent. In fact, I believe our children feel safe and because of that are wildly independent. They know how to carry on conversations with their peers, they know how to carry on conversations with adults…They are just fine.
Time is Precious
Why am I telling you all this? As I was holding 3’s hand, I thought about the specialness of this time I will never get back. The wonder of just being still and being with one another. No words: just safety, comfort, support and much love.
The Cares of this World
So many of us have bemoaned what is going on in our world and nation. We have thought about our jobs and businesses. We can totally relate to this. We have a retail store where our money has been spent on seasonal clothes. Our money is tied up in inventory that does us no good if people do not buy them. The weight and struggle of this are real and at times overwhelming. We understand. But we also understand there is nothing we can do about this virus. There is nothing we can do about the precautions taken. All we can do is remember our God is still sovereign, and He has all things in His Hands. He will take care of us and we must trust in this.
Use the Blessing of Time
In the meantime, use the blessing God has placed in front of you right now. The message we see today is for us to SLOW DOWN. Schools, sports, some places of business have stopped. After we bemoan for a moment, we need to SEE this is an opportunity for us to just be. Be with your family, be with your children, teach them, show them, talk to them, play with them. What does this mean – parent them!
We live in a world where we delegate responsibility to the professionals: school, sports, music, spiritual formation, and so much more. There is no delegating during COVID-19. You are the teacher; you are the discipler; you are the coach; you are the PARENT. Seize the opportunity to do the things that are important: the things that once you are older, you will look back and have no regret.
In essence, hold their hand a little longer…