We struggle everyday to conform our lives to numbers. Time becomes a parcel of doing this or doing that. We start to break it down into finer allotments, so we can squeeze in just one more thing. Everything becomes more complex and integrated into multiple functions and duties.
I’m guilty of that almost daily. It’s “the nature of the beast” that drives it. It comes down to choice, and not chance, most of the time. Except when I surrender my time to my children at their bedtime.
My kids have taught me, over my eleven plus years of parenting, that chance does exist by the virtues of imagination and patience. Kids will fall asleep better if we instill consistency, calm, and positivity before we lay them down to sleep, so my wife and I developed a standard bedtime routine early in our children’s lives. Years ago as new parents, we planned on using books and “quiet toys” to achieve the effect. We were so focused on the outcome (restful sleep) for the child, that we didn’t realize how much good it was/is for the parent(s) as well.
The bedtime routine slows down the chaotic pace of the parents and creates the same standards for them as for the children. For a brief time, when I’m reading with my child before bedtime, I find myself at peace with everything. Whether it’s my youngest child plopped down on my lap with a blanket carefully draped over his legs and mine, or my daughter reading aloud to an audience of parents and siblings attentive to her every word, the effect is the same. And it’s magical. Before I realize it, twenty minutes has passed, and I’ve learned about trains, or saw how many different ways Sam helped his friend eat green eggs and ham, or enjoyed a Chinese fairy tale about good luck and bad luck. Mixed in with it all are the joy and excitement of a true bonding moment for child and parent.
I often empower parents in the office with a statement to say to their children: “Someday, you will understand why I’m doing this.” It’s meant to build up a parent (or parent)s to take their child to the next development level in their lives. Well, this can be true for the parent as well. I’m appreciating how precious these moments are, and the special time we have to share it with our children. We won’t always have these times in the future, and it’s important to enjoy them when you can.
Dr. Lucas Godinez, a Kids Plus Doc since 2004, is a shareholder in the practice.