If your kids ask for your extra long snuggles at bedtime, go ahead and lay in bed with your child for a little while. It can be good for you both.
I remember putting my kids to bed when they were little. Yes, there were battles. Plenty of them. As far as they were concerned, sleep was for babies and they thought they needed exactly none of it.
Honestly, if I hadn’t made them go to bed every night, my kids might be the world’s only humans who completely stopped sleeping when they were pre-schoolers. I had plenty of tricks up my sleeve to win bedtime, some of which actually worked. (Most of which did not. No shame in my game.)
Go Right Ahead and Lay In Bed With Your Child
When it was time for bed in our house, I was focused on the brushing of teeth, the putting on of pajamas and the reading of stories, and I was right to do that. All those things are important, obviously. Kids who aren’t taught to brush their teeth before bed grow up to be grown-ups with no chompers.
But there were times, too many I think, where I missed precious moments snuggling with my kids at the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong. I was (and am) very kissy and huggy with my children.
So yes, I would give them oodles of nighttime hugs and kisses. Yes, I would whisper ‘I love you’ again and again into their little ears. But, when they asked me to lay down with them awhile at bedtime, I said yes far fewer times than I wish now that I had.
Forget the “rules” about whether you should lay in bed with your child.
Parents are given rules by relatives, doctors, friends, and society. Sometimes we ask for input, but most of the time I think we tolerate it. In my experience, we listen to too many voices rather than trusting our own parenting instincts.
The very same instincts that have kept the human race alive and thriving. The same instincts our cave people ancestors understood, even before they discovered how awesome fire is.
We know how to love them and keep them alive. Those are the two biggies when it comes to raising a kid. That sacred knowledge is burned into us, which is why hospitals just hand over babies to parents who have zero ideas about what to do with those tiny screaming bundles when they get them home. They know our instincts will kick in.
So when my kids asked me to lay down with them for a little while at night, I sometimes said yes, and sometimes said no. Now that they’re older, I wish I’d said yes more.
Why laying down with a child is so good for parents.
I remember doing what I’m sure you’ve done. I crept into their rooms after they were asleep and stood beside their beds, watching their chest rise and fall with each sweet breath. I’d pray over each of my kids, and I’d say ‘thank you’ about a zillion times.
Oh, and I’d cry more often than I care to admit. I’d think about the things they’d done that day that got them in trouble with me. The yelling, fighting with each other, and the battle we had at bath time. In those priceless moments, staring down at them as they slept, my heart was always so incredibly full. You know what I mean, I’m sure.
It’s easy to understand why a little one wants their mom or dad to lay down with them at night. They are looking for the comfort that only a parent’s snuggles can give them. It feels safe. There is no monster that stands a chance of getting anywhere near them when mom or dad is there.
But, what about parents? Let’s all own the fact that laying down with our kids at night feels really, really good. It does!
We get to feel their warm, soft skin and breathe in that angelic smell. Crawling into bed with our kids takes away all the noise of the day. All that is left is us and them. We are in harmony with our “baby” again, like we were when a nurse first laid them on our chest.
That invisible strand that is and will always be between our hearts and theirs, feels strong and true again. Laying down with our kids feels like we’ve hit the reset button. I truly believe the kind of peace it brings parents is so overwhelming and real, that it explains why it’s so easy to fall asleep next to them. (That and being so exhausted we could probably sleep standing up.)
The next time your kiddo asks you to lay down with them for a few minutes, maybe go ahead and do it. Being so close to them will remind them that you have time to spare for just the two of you. They’ll know that they are still mama’s (or dad’s) special kid.
I hope you never, ever forget that laying with your child at night will bless you as much as or more than it does them. Adults are always talking about de-stressing and finding their zen. That little kid with the dirty hands and wild hair? That’s a kind of peace you can’t find anywhere else as a parent.
The moral of the story? Stop listening to anyone else about the “right way” to handle bedtime. Do what you know to be right for your situation. You won’t regret how often you did it. You’ll regret how often you didn’t.