I don't tuck my kids in? Uh, no, no I don't.
This is when most people walk away from me shaking their heads.
I didn't say I don't LOVE my children. I only said I don't tuck them in. On top of that, I think it's a good thing.
Let me explain a bit better so you can rest easy knowing that my children aren't neglected and unloved.
Setting the Scene
It's night. We've had dinner, cleaned up, played, talked, or gone to whatever sport, class, or meeting we have for that night.
It's nearly bedtime. The kids are done. I'm done. Mr. Barlow is done.
What's a parent to do? Send the kids to bed.
Wait... that's IT?
Our bedtime routine
- Put your clothes away (laundry or hang up)
- Put your jammies on
- Brush your teeth
- Wash your face
- Family Scriptures (read 1/2 - 1 chapter together)
- Family Prayer
- Family Hug, followed by individual hugs and kisses for all
- Send them off to bed
Sometimes, *gasp* we just have family prayer and hug and night night. Especially if it's been one of those days.
I won't lie, we've had days where it's just a hug and a send-off.
- We don't have read aloud time.
- We don't talk to each child for 30 minutes.
- We don't grab a pile of books, snuggle under the covers and read to each child until they drift off to sleep.
- We don't make up stories or share stories by their beds.
- We don't lay next to them until they fall asleep.
- We don't rub their backs, put oils on them, rub lotion on them, or sing sweet lullabys to them.
- We don't tuck them in.*
*If one of the kids asks me to tuck them in, I'll happily go up and tuck them in, accompanied with my favorite tucking of the blankets under their little selves while saying, "snug as a bug in a rug." Kiss their sweet faces, turn the lights off, blow them a kiss and say, "sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite."
Fun fact: this phrase stresses my kids out. BED BUGS!?!?!?! AHHHHHHhhhhhh!!!!!
I had a 5 minute conversation calming my kids down after saying that once. Never mind that I'd said it to them multiple times. Perhaps they just never listened. I digress.
What the heck is wrong with me and where is my supermom card so you can take it away??
Listen. I love my children. I love to spend time with them. In fact, I spend ALL day with them.
- We read books together
- We make up stories together
- I share stories from when I was a kid
- We talk in funny voices
- Sing made up songs
- Throw dance parties
- Put on shows
- Go on walks
- and much more
Heck, we homeschool; that should count for something!
The only thing different is it's during the DAY, not at night.
Why it's a good thing
When they were smaller I would sing a special song, talk to them, smooth their foreheads, read books and the whole bedtime showtime that so many parents put on nightly. Guess what?
They didn't go to sleep. They stayed up for hours talking, playing, doing whatever it was that children do when they'd rather do anything except sleep.
When we eliminated all that stuff they went to bed. They went to sleep right when we closed the door.
Not instantaneously, of course. Within minutes though.
They ALL shared a room, too.
Now, we have both girls in one room and the three boys in another. The boys are 9, 6, and 1.5. They all go to bed at the same time and they all go right to sleep.
I have friends that go through a circus performance nightly, are wiped out, and still wind up having their kids climb in bed with them just a few hours later because they can't get to sleep.
To them, I'd love to say, cut out the stuff and just send them to bed. When it's time to sleep, it's time to sleep.
Keep in mind
We do have a no-nonsense approach to parenting though. We use the same principles to have our children sit still and be quiet.
My 20-month-old, son just Friday, sat next to me for 2 hours while his siblings swam in an indoor pool. He didn't whine, didn't cry, didn't make a fuss to get down.
He was content with his drink, one bag of fruit snacks, and his cow.
Oi, this isn't about sitting still.
My point is your kids CAN do it.
My kids aren't super special children. Well, they *are,* but they're not unique in the sense of being able to go to sleep or sit still for a few hours.
Your kids don't need the 2-hour long bedtime routine.
You shouldn't have to say, well, I want my kids in bed by 8, so I'd better start now at 6:30, which means we can't go out and do such and such, and on and on and on with more cutting everything out of your lives.
We put our kids to bed at 8:30. They start getting ready for bed around 8:15.
They do all the stuff they need to do (by themselves), come down, we read scriptures, say prayer, hug and kiss and then they're off to slumber.
What's the point of all this mumbo jumbo?
It's not to say I'm a better parent than you. That's NOT the case.
It's not to say you're doing it all wrong. I may have implied that at one point, actually... but that's no what I was trying to say.
The Real Point
- You don't have to do a big production just because you think that's what makes a good mom or dad.
- You don't have to feel guilty if you skip it or don't want to do it.
- You don't have to feel guilty if you don't do it, or even if you do.
- Simplifying may be what you and your children need.
If bedtime is too long, or too draining, or is a constant battle -- then I'd urge you to simplify and cut back, cut back, cut back.
We don't tuck our kids in and they still know how much we love and cherish them. They go to sleep without any fuss and battle. I then have the chance to end my day with some downtime: I can work, I can be with Mr. Barlow, I can draw and paint. I may even read a book. I can go to sleep early.
For us, it was the best choice.
What do YOU think? Do you do anything that some people would consider shady parenting?