Friday, June 20, 2014

Bedtime Stories And Checking Out

Confession time: Up until two weeks ago, I had not been reading books to my kids since the move. Ugh, I feel horrible about it. When we moved just over two months ago, life got crazy to say the least. There was a lot of adjusting on our part, the kids had actual live TV to watch for the first time and were hooked, we were busy, and to be honest... I was just so exhausted. Heck, I'm still exhausted but it's getting better.

In this day and age, everyone is so connected and plugged in. I admit I struggle with that... A lot. I have friends all over the world not to mention a husband too so my phone and internet is about the only way I stay in contact with them. Being at home with the kids 24/7, I crave that adult interaction. With everything so portable now, it makes it easy to "check in" real quick; too easy.

I found myself checking in more than I should. A few minutes here and there mostly while nursing Noah or after the kids' bedtime turned into checking while the kids played, were entertained, during commercial breaks, and more. It was distracting me from what was most important and right in front of me. My kids. I would get frustrated because I was trying to comment on a blog or Facebook post and they were pulling me away with their "I wants and I needs". It was always "Hold on a mintue while I finish."

Don't get me wrong, I don't neglect them at all; their needs were met and attended to. My mind was just not focused on the moment. It was off somewhere else thinking about what so and so had posted that day, or the blog post left half read or written, the tv show I wanted to watch, or wondering when Gabe's phone call was coming. I was distracted by what was out there on the web or tv, plain and simple. Distracted. I was constantly "checked in" whether a computer, tv, or phone was in front of me or not. My mind was there.

Something had to change. I was feeling stressed out and unhappy. So I sat down and thought. And thought. And thought some more. Soul searching if you will. The answer didn't necessarily come to me at that moment but I knew something had to change. But what?

Bedtime has been a struggle since the day we moved. For one, driving cross country and through three times zones started us off on a bad foot. Add in living with grandparents, a daddy overseas, different house, different beds, different life, and you have a recipe for disaster. I dreaded bedtime. Dreaded it. I usually just couldn't wait to get it over with. I tried to rush it because I knew we were going to spend the next hour playing the 'get back to bed game'.

Then one night, I don't know why, but as I was getting the kids ready for bed, I told them they could pick out some books to read. They happily obliged and we all gather on the bed cuddled close while I read their books. Noah even sat with us for a while and then got up and played nearby with his own book. After reading, we were all in pleasant moods as I put the kids to bed and headed downstairs.

And you know what? They stayed in bed! Neither Alena nor Christian got up and they were asleep within a few minutes. Hmm. Come the next night and we read stories like the previous day. Bless me, they did it again! I was baffled. The only thing that had changed was taking 15 minutes to read some bedtime stories. I was still rushing them and had to constantly be on them to stay focused while getting ready for bed. But we weren't immediately heading to bed afterward feeling frustrated because now we were taking a little time to relax and calm down before settling in bed.

Sure, there have been a few nights where they have gotten out of bed and had to be put back but nothing like before. Reading bedtime stories has helped my sanity. I'm less "checked in" and more focused on the important stuff. Even if it is just for the hour I'm getting the kids ready and put to bed, it's a start. Here's to keeping the ball rolling and continuously easy bedtimes.

Have any of you made a small change that had a big impact?

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