Good night, Sleep tight
Wake up bright in the morning light
To do what's right with all your might.
Sis. C. Hurst
Getting children to bed can often be the biggest challenge of the day! Lord willing, this will be an ever-growing source of ideas about bedtime (and nap time) traditions, strategies, and stories. Please share what has worked (and even what has not worked) in your family by e-mailing us below.
Sis. Lindsay Billington (Ewen Road Ecclesia, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) sent the following e-mail sharing with us how she and her husband make bedtime a nightly spiritual tradition:
My husband (bro Daniel) usually tucks Micah (2 1/2) into bed so that he can enjoy this special time with our son. We get him into his pyjamas downstairs and he gets to choose one story, taking the time to direct him to the Bible stories is an important lesson. Then he goes upstairs yelling "good night, God bless, Love you". Micah climbs into bed and then Daniel will say his good night prayers, always including our hope for the Kingdom to soon come when they will, God willing, play in the streets of Jerusalem. He then sings "Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem" to him and turns out the light. Micah falls to sleep listening to the Shalom BC Choir CD. If perchance he is still awake when the CD ends we can hear his little voice calling out "Ongs, Ease" (songs please).
Elisabeth (6 months) on the other hand fights sleep but after she has had her bedtime bowl of oat cereal, I take her upstairs for a final nurse. Sing hymns (usually "Abide with Me") and then tuck her into her Moses basket. She falls asleep listening to Micah's CD as well.
Having them fall to sleep listening to "Shalom" has been invaluable, especially if we are travelling. We simply take the CD with us and they snuggle down to its familiar songs and go to sleep with nary a peep.
Sis. Kirralie Houghton (Shaftsbury Road Ecclesia, N.S.W., Australia) sent the following e-mail sharing with us how she makes bedtime a nightly spiritual tradition in her family:
I have an 18 month old daughter Phoebe and I love our evening ritual of prayers and hymns. I usually sing hymn 87, "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind", and the song, "As the Deer", often followed by more as the mood takes us.
Phoebe hums along too and then snuggles in and falls asleep. This is a valuable spiritual time for us both.
I picked up the idea when in India at the Children's home in Moinabad where it is a way of life for the children to sing hymns each evening.
Sis. Annette Haltom (East Michigan Ecclesia, U.S.A.) sent this tender and touching bedtime story to share with all of us. It reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: "Drink fully of the cup while it is still in your hand!"
"Shhh!" I say. "Shhh!" echoes my 2-year-old shadow. We're playing one of her favorite games. Each night, when the noisy garage-door opener signals Daddy is home, Celeste calls out, "Hide! Hide!" She and I rush to one of those painfully obvious hiding places that no one but a munchkin would use. We hunker down and wait, shushing each other, until Daddy comes to find us.
Sometimes the battle cry "Hide! Hide!" is sounded at the most inopportune times -- in the middle of fixing dinner or seconds after I've answered the phone -- but I never ignore it. I know it won't be long before she'll lose interest or decide she's too big for the game, and she'll forget all about it. But how long will it be before I hear the garage door go up without feeling the urge to crawl under the curtains or duck behind a stuffed bear? Also, I doubt I'll ever be able to drive past a McDonald's without thinking of "die-dies," her word for her beloved French fries. Sooner or later, someone is going to correct her, or she'll hear it on her own and the word will finally click. And yet another piece of her babyhood will be gone forever.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm being silly for trying to savor each thing for as long as I can. But it's passing so fast. It seems each day we're celebrating yet another new achievement. Yet they're achievements that mean she needs us less and less. (The potty thing? That one, I'll celebrate with no tears in my eyes. There will be a genuine victory dance.) The others, though, are tough. Celeste seems to instinctively sense her Mommy's many weaknesses, and doesn't hesitate to use them against me.
Each night, when dreaded Bedtime rolls around, and we've worked our way through all the rituals and the light is shut off, her game begins:"Brush teeth?" she will ask. Celeste is not into dental hygiene. She usually meets a tooth brush with a tightly clamped little mouth. But if it means getting out of bed for a few minutes, she's an enthusiastic brusher.
Back in bed, with the light shut off, she'll say, "I eat now." Celeste is not big on consumption of food. One of the most commonly spoken phrases in our house is, "Do you think she had enough to eat today?" So when my little air plant asks to be fed, she knows I'd be hard pressed to refuse.
After she has bitten holes in a slice or two of bologna or made dough balls out of bread, I redeposit her into bed and shut off the light (which probably looks like a strobe light to our neighbors). "I potty now," the little manipulator says. I'm sure if I could see her face in the dark, she'd be wearing a wry grin, knowing she hit a home run with that request.
So after a long and almost always unfruitful time of watching her sit, happily kicking her legs and tearing off tiny pieces of toilet paper, I carry my peanut back to her bedroom. I feel certain there is nothing she could ask for that would grant her yet another stay.
She is quiet until she hears my hand on the doorknob. "Rocky baby?" she asks. I feel an instant lump in my throat. She doesn't let me do rocky baby very much anymore. She's already decided it's for "wittle babies." So, oh yes, she's hit another home run.
At this rate, she's giving Sosa and McGuire a run for the record. Once again, I take her from her bed, along with her beloved stuffed possum. We cross the dark room to the old oak rocking chair. She lays her head on my shoulder, her sweet-smelling hair in my face, and we rock until her little body goes limp.
She's had her victory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .And I've had mine.
Sis. Anita Lausch (Victoria Ecclesia, B.C., Canada) sent the following excellent tip that works well for her in getting her daughter to sleep at night:
"My daughter doesn't like to go to sleep unless someone is in the room with her and I always had trouble finding time to do my daily readings. My solution... I now do the readings in her room while she is falling asleep! We both get what we need to finish off the day!"
Sis. Janette Davis (Wichita Falls Ecclesia, Texas) always played a tape of hymns from the time her twin girls were little for nap time and bedtime. Often, just turning on the familiar tape would settle the girls down to sleep. The tape would come in handy when traveling (when broken routines and unfamiliar beds make bedtime difficult.) The familiar bedtime music calmed the girls by supplying a part of their comfortable home routine. (L.C.)
Sis. Debi Wilhoit (Royal Oak Ecclesia, Michigan) always places comfort as a high priority for all her children. Her children's beds have the softest of mattress waffle pads, fluffy warm comforters and pillows, and the all important "softy." This "softy" is simply a square of silky soft material that soothed and comforted each child when they were young. Whenever I would baby-sit Debi's toddlers, I was amazed how just placing the "softy" near the child's cheek quickly relaxed them. L.C.
Many sisters I know practice the "tucking in" bedtime routine. This is a wonderful quiet time to spend with each child. A time to "speak comfortably" to them, to reassure them of God's love and watchfulness, to reaffirm to them your unconditional love. When my children were older, say seven years old and up we often closed the "tucking in" routine by reciting together Psalm 67. The children loved it and would often start the reciting all on their own. I just started out by reciting it to them and after a few weeks they quickly picked it up. The list in Phil. 4:8, "Whatsoever things are pure. . . ." and the list of the fruit of the spirit in Gal. 5: 22 are great too. The more often you repeat the same passage, the dearer it becomes as a family tradition. L.C.
My daughter, Sis. Angela Drake (Westerly Ecclesia, Rhode Island) is collecting spiritual articles, songs and stories in a notebook that will be useful to her when she and her husband, Bro. Darren, start their family, Lord willing. She feels the spiritual preparation is every bit as important as the preparing for pregnancy, childbirth and baby care. She has a list of hymns and songs to memorize so that they will be ready on her lips as lullabies. L.C.
Sis. Sharon Glumac (Houston Ecclesia, Texas) has worked out a system where her three school age children (ages 6 to 10) automatically lay down (with a blanket and pillow under the pews) and go to sleep right after the opening hymn and prayer at Wednesday night Bible class. This way, she and her husband, Bro. Ed, never have to miss Bible class or rush away quickly right after class is over to get the kids to bed. L.C.
In my family, we worked out the "late bedtime on Bible Class night" problem this way: When my kids got home from school on Wednesday afternoons, they went straight to bed and slept until right before supper. This worked very well for our family so that the school routine did not interfere with the more important support of the Wednesday night Bible class. L.C.
I am all for rocking a child to sleep. Forget what you have heard about spoiling a baby. That is impossible! You cannot spoil a baby under two. Teach your baby from the start that when he needs you, you will come. When he needs your comfort and love, he will have it. I love that old saying: "Rock babies till they fall to sleep and then kiss them till they wake up!" Even children over the age of two should be rocked and cuddled with a bedtime story and/or a lullaby every chance you get, until they no longer fit on your lap! (And that time comes all too soon!) Don't let the perpetual, never-ending housework keep you from the precious quiet time of cuddling and comforting your child with a soothing rocking. It is a double blessing you owe both to your child and yourself. I've seen many a weary mother rock her own self to sleep in addition to her child. Sleep on dear little mother, you need your rest too! L.C.
What is a mother to a child?
"She is their food and their bed and the extra blanket when it grows cold in the night; she is their warmth and their health and their shelter."
Please e-mail us below if you have a bedtime/nap time story, strategy or tradition you would like to share.
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