Even as just a little baby she fought sleep. The party girl runs deep in this one, she doesn't want to miss one single moment of living large to sleep. We have established lots of bedtime rituals over the years. As a result, we thought we'd share some with you:
Sing me a song. "Can you sing me a night song please?" she often requests. I love to sing, so this has become my singing-in-the-shower equivalent. I go through repertoires of The Beatles, old lullabies and hymns from my childhood. I often quietly sing long after she has fallen to sleep.
Read me a book. I don't think there is a person on the planet who doesn't love to be read to. I had a friend that read to her son every night well into his teen years. It was a connecting point for both of them and a nighttime ritual they always returned to.
Tell me your three wishes. My kids loved this little game we used to play when I tucked them in. Each person would say their three wishes for the other person for the next day, week or even for their life. It is a nice way to teach kids to think and hold nice intentions for the people they love.
Share a story with me. Storytelling is such a beautiful art. My kids love to hear both make believe stories and stories from my childhood. They listen so intently and ask questions like little sponges. It is a lovely way to connect to the past and share a little more of yourself. You can also tell stories together encouraging creativity.
Play highs and lows to recap your day. Highs and lows are a favorite in our family anytime of the day. Share the best part of the day (high) and the worst part of your day (low) as you are preparing for bed. I often am surprised by their answers. This little game often opens up other important conversations and offers insight on my kid's perceptions about things. It always gets us talking.
What are your bedtime rituals? Is there anything special you do to connect at the end of the day? We would love to know your ideas in the comments.
When my kids were preschoolers, we got through their anxieties with a very hands on approach. We made worry boxes, we crafted bird nests out of blankets and sheets, we sang songs sweetly in the night. Now that they are older, I'm finding their anxious feelings come out in more subtle ways and my old-fashioned methods just won't do. No one is that quick to discuss what's going on, and the differences in personality now are great. One kid will obsess; the other will hibernate. One blows up to blow off steam; the other shuts down or can't stop joking.
I've had to go back to the drawing board. Here's my new back-to-school list of mom-can-do when my kids are showing signs of coming apart at the seams:
Stay Positive. Madeleine repeatedly tells me that my warnings deepen her anxiety. She already can feel the consequences of making the misstep, she does not need me to remind her how much worse things will get if she doesn't get with the program. When I can honestly give her a picture of how good it will be because I know she can course correct, she is much more positive. If I can focus on the strengths she already possesses to address the problem, even better.
Be in it Together. Anxiety deepens when kids feel like they have to do everything on their own. It helps when I say to Carter, "Don't worry, I'll stick with you until I know you can do this on your own." This is especially calming when kids are overwhelmed by the size of the task or the scope of a new responsibility they are trying to master. You can give your kids the full weight of their responsibility without disconnecting from them emotionally. "WE" words really help.
Set Judgment Aside. Do you remember that anxious feeling you used to get as a kid when you knew you had done something wrong, and it was just a matter of time before someone found out? We increase our kids' anxiety when we pile on judgment or make it personal when we can be dispassionate about it and stick to the facts about what happened and how. They already know there's a problem; they don't need to feel like who they are is a problem as well.
Switch it up. I'm learning to break up anxious moments by changing gears and suggesting a new activity we can do together. Right now I've been asking Madeleine to go for an evening walk so we can go to the store and get her favorite Japanese crackers for the next day's lunch. Just being together, joking around is helping her relax and be less intense about her adjustment to middle school. I do the same thing after we've had a big discussion about something where tensions were high. We all need reminders that it's not the end of the world if there are challenges, and we can still enjoy each other's company in the midst of our worries.
How do you light up worry at your house? What's on your list of things you can do when your kids are clearly anxious or stressed?