Any Mama who has gone through bedtime (especially with a toddler) knows that it is a mental battle. Often times, after bedtime is a Mama’s only chance to get things checked off her never ending to-do list.
You know the scene and maybe have been there before yourself, rushing through bedtime, crossing your fingers as you turn out the light in hopes that you can make it out of the room before the toddler requests start.
You know the ones I am referring to, right? Lay with me, hold my hand, I need a drink, or the absurd I need to eat dinner! Out of your mouth comes “Goodnight, I Love You.” But, on the inside you are saying, “Please stay in bed,” “Please just go to sleep” or maybe a little more desperate without the “Please.”
I have SO been there, and recently tried the “tough love” approach, denying my son’s request to lay with him to go on about my business and my never ending to-do list. This approach ultimately resulted in me spending a large amount of the time returning my baby back to his room after he got out of bed.
I soon found myself feeling ANGRY. Angry at this little boy who just wanted to some loving attention from his Mama. Angry with myself that no matter how hard I tried that to-do list would continue to grow. And, angry that I felt angry.
One particular night during bedtime, my toddler and I switched roles. He became the parent, teaching me a lesson. It took him requesting that I rock him in the chair for me to snap out of the angry cycle. While we sat rocking together, I realized that these moments won’t last forever. Something needed to change. At that moment, it dawned on me. Instead of expecting my 2 1/2 year old to be the one to change his ways, maybe I should be the one to change my ways.
After that night, I shifted my mindset. I have given in to the requests to lay down and hold my little boy’s hand as he drifts off to sleep. As I lay there, instead of thinking about all the things I “should’ be doing, I find myself grateful that I get to be his Mama.
Especially in the world that our children are growing up in these days, knowing that by simply holding his hand or providing a comforting kiss solves my child’s most difficult issues – that is amazing. My only hope is that as he grows older and those difficult issues shift from falling asleep by himself to something more challenging, that my holding his hand will still provide him that same comfort.
Our shift in toddler bedtime routine has also resulted in me having to let go of my expectations of what it means to be a mother with a young child. The housework may go undone longer than expected. And I may go to sleep earlier while laying with him, but I do so knowing that I will be able to get up earlier to tackle my to-do list. Simply changing how we view a situation can make all the difference.
Tonight, when you get that request, I encourage you to lay down with your baby and hold their hand!