When I worked with teenagers, I used to gather the seniors together at the beginning of the year to give them a vision for impacting their school. As the oldest class, they were reaching a great opportunity for influence. The unfortunate trend, I would tell them, is that most seniors check out halfway through the year. It was a chance to have an impact in their school and they missed it. How something is finished leaves an indelible impression on people’s memory.
I’m sure you can remember a movie or book that was enjoyable but then ends poorly. It is such a letdown and can downgrade it from great to just good or maybe even worse. I love my kids and spending time with them is a major priority. However, if you have young kids and are anything like me, you are exhausted by the end of the day. I look forward to having just a little alone time to unplug. Many times, I wish I could just snap my fingers and magically have my kids asleep. That’s when I realize that I am missing an opportunity to finish the day strong. I’m letting something that could be purposeful just fizzle out. Here are some bedtime routines to start putting your kids to bed with meaning.
Make Up a Story
This is a fun way to bond. There are a number of ways to do it. You can make up a story all by yourself. This can be tough, even for people who are gifted with creativity. One way to start is to tell them a true story about your childhood. When I am struggling, I’ll think of a movie I like and tell a really simple version of it. Don’t worry, I tell them it is not an original. The other day, they saw a commercial and said, “Hey Dad, is that movie the same story you told us about the teenager who traveled back in time in a time machine car?” The way that I enjoy more is making a story up together. Start telling the story and then have them tell the next part. Keep taking turns. In most stories, all you need is a hero (come up with a name), a description of them and their environment, a trial they endure, and then how they overcome the difficulty. My kids ask me all the time if we can make up a story.
Lay Down with Them and Discuss the Day
Laying down with them is a physical act that communicates that you are with them. Going to bed for kids is a lonely experience. It’s reassuring them that they are not alone because you are walking through life with them. It’s also a chance to talk. Ask them questions such as, “What were the best and worst parts of your day?” When you are done talking, don’t feel like you need to stay there until they fall asleep. In lying down with them even for a bit, the last thing they will remember from their day is that you wanted to spend time with them.
Read to Them
Not only does it encourage them to read themselves, but it nurtures their imaginations. There are also books with important life lessons that you can talk about. It’s an easy way to help build their character.
Close the Day Out with a Final Word
If you could tell your kids one thing what would it be? Tell them that every night.If you could tell your kids one thing what would it be? Tell them that every night. The thing I want my kids to know is that I love them. So every night the last thing I do is ask them, “Who loves you?” They say, “Daddy does.” That’s when I say, “Don’t ever forget it.” After a while, they would say, “You always say that.” When I thought they were sick of it, I stopped saying it and they said, “Daddy, you didn’t say your thing. Can you please say that thing?” I haven’t missed saying it since. Come up with a final thought to tell them that closes out the day.
You might not be the praying type or think that you need to “be good at it.” This is a great way to end the day for a number of reasons. First, it lets the your kids escape from the noise and stress the day. There is something therapeutic about being quiet. It can bring peace which will help them sleep better. Second, praying for one another is a wonderful way to show that you care deeply for each other. You will also hear the things that are on their mind, perhaps things they would never share in a normal conversation.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and do one of these things.