It’s weird, taboo, to admit that some days, I have to force myself to cuddle with my kids and listen to them. That I needed to reconnect with them.
We all have different ages we love and those we struggle with. For me, the toddler age has been the worst. At the end of at least 90% of my days, I rush the bedtime routine because by that point, I’m touched-out and ready to have guilt-free me time. But I noticed that in my rush to get away from my kids by the end of the day, my relationship with them suffered. I mean, obviously! How could it not if that was my attitude? And I hated myself for that. I knew I would miss these moments, while they are little, and I needed to do something about it, even if I had hard days. I needed to reconnect.
So I took advice from my sister in law whose kids are now grown. She told me,
“Be willing to listen to your kids when they are ready for bed. I know you are the most tired at bedtime but that is when their defenses are down. Spend time talking with them in their beds.”
So that’s what I’ve done! Every few nights, after the entire bedtime routine is done, after I’ve kissed the kids and put them in their beds, I’ll take turns cuddling with them. For my two year old, this is mostly just letting him fall asleep on me as I rock him, loving every minute of it because these days are almost gone. But for my four year old, we talk. I let her choose the topics and it’s amazing what a child can come up with!
Most nights, she wants to talk about silly things that I have no idea what she means. Sometimes, she gets stuck on a topic for many nights in a row (like birthdays lasted for two weeks straight). But every now and then, she surprises me by what’s on her mind. One night, she asked me why our Earth turns “around and around” the sun. Another night, she wanted to know why her and I don’t have penises like her brother and Daddy. Through these nighttime chats, we’ve broached topics that are sometimes hard to bring up and I’ve been able to normalize the process of coming to me to talk about anything she wants.
Now, not only have I connected more with my kids but I also have hope for their moody teenage years. If my kids see me valuing their thoughts, letting them talk about whatever without guilting them or pressuring them with my own opinions and views, hopefully they will want to open up to me about their struggles, as they get older. When their problems become things I can’t just kiss away or put a Mickey Mouse Band Aid on, I’ll be grateful I took the time now, while they’re little, to truly listen and reconnect every day.