Just by the title of this post, EVERY parent knows what I am talking about. Putting kids to bed, especially if you have several kids, is HARD. It is just plain hard. Don’t worry, this is not a list of steps that you can take to make sure every night is smooth and that your kids don’t get up out of bed, etc., because honestly, I really don’t think that a foolproof method for kids’ bedtime exists. There will always be a night (or maybe every night) that your kids get out of bed, or that they need another glass of water, or they have a meltdown, or that they wet the bed, or that siblings are fighting, and that ALL YOU WANT is some rest and some peace and quiet.
Being a parent is a 24/7/365 job. Your kids need you, especially if they are small. There will always be something unexpected that comes up that you must deal with. You can’t always count on getting that down time that you were hoping for. And believe it or not, that’s ok. Those weary moments of stress are part of being a parent.
For me, it is hard to accept that. I want everything to be “just so.” I am a PLANNER. I am a big time goal setter. I strive for maximum productivity. I also cherish my alone time. I need it. I need quiet at the end of the day. Something about having this type of personality and the interruptions that are included in being a parent just don’t mix.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids more than life itself. I believe in my heart that they are not an interruption; everything else is the interruption from them. They are my legacy. Yet, if I believe that, why do I daily struggle with bedtime? Why do I look forward to it, hoping that it will be easy and quick, and dread it at the same time, knowing that there will be strife? Why do I feel like a fail every time that I try to make bedtime work? Every time that I try a new routine, or that I am more firm or more lenient or whatever? Sometimes I get surprised when there is a night when everyone drifts off without getting up or crying. I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. But those nights are rare.
I want to encourage you if you are in a stage of parenting when you are dealing with this, to just lean in to Christ and rely on him for patience and grace. If you have a routine that works for you, praise God! Keep it as long as it works! But if bed time is wearing you out physically and emotionally, you can choose to give up in a fleshly sense. That could be letting your kids run wild and not requiring them to obey and to respect you. Or, you could turn into a thundering dictator at bed time, which is also counterproductive. Either way, your kids can see that you are out of control. Right now, for me, I must daily choose to lean into Christ at bed time. I am praying constantly, even as I’m putting my kids back into bed, as I’m training them, as I’m sitting down just to get back up again. God, give me grace. God, what are you trying to teach me in this? God, help them to go to sleep. God, help me not to yell. God, help them to learn obedience. God, help me to be consistent. God, please don’t let one wake up the other that I just worked so hard to get to sleep. God, this is hard. God, I’m tired. God, help me.
When I walk in the flesh, it is so easy to complain or to fly off the handle. But when I choose to walk in the Spirit, I can hear God’s voice in the midst of the chaos. Walking by the Spirit doesn’t mean having instantly obedient kids. But it does mean that I will have the exact portion of grace that I need when I need it, and that I will be able to respond to my kids in a way that is of God. It means that he will give me his strength, even when mine is gone. It means that my heart is positioned to hear God’s still small voice in my heart, to experience his blessing in a moment of strife. It means that I am in a spiritual posture to be an agent of change in the spiritual atmosphere of my home.
That is my heart… For my kids to obey, but also to have a home of peace and of worship. To experience God. And if it takes a thousand sleepless nights to teach me to walk by the Spirit in my motherhood, I say yes and Amen. I know whose I am, and I know to whom my kids ultimately belong. And so, I embrace this battle and every battle, walking in the Spirit.