Every once in a while I really get something right.
Lately, bedtime had become a frustration for me. Not so much because the kids weren’t getting into bed and going to sleep (I’ve always been blessed with relatively “good” sleepers), but because those darn kids seemed to have a mind of their own and wouldn’t just do what I wanted. Shocking.
The biggest point of contention was bedtime stories. I love reading with the kids, and generally they liked it, too. But they also like to chat and interrupt and ask questions and, and, and…it makes me nuts. I did not think it was possible to have children that were some how absolutely like you and then not like you at all. I remember laying very quietly next to my mother as she read to me each night, sometimes even nodding off to the quiet hum of her voice. This is not how my children work.
So, finally, I decided something needed to be different. We had been doing bedtime stories in my room, cozied up in the big bed, and then transitioning to their own beds afterward, sometimes throwing in brushed teeth if we’d forgotten earlier. Instead, I flipped it around. After a good half an hour or more of no screens, teeth having been brushed, jammies on, potty used, glasses of water fetched and sipped, we began the stories (for Michael: all the dragons; and for Elizabeth: a novel by the Decemberists frontman, Colin Meloy).
It would not be an exaggeration if I told you this has lead to a total 180. Game. Changer.
The bigger story here, however, isn’t how I made a simple change to our bedtime routine. In fact, you may have thought from the start, “Kirsten, why don’t you just read to them in their bedroom rather than have all the fuss around bedtime?” I mean, yeah, hindsight’s 20/20. No, the bigger story is that one small change in life can lead to huge differences.
For much of my life, I’ve always been focused on the big, life-making projects that will make me a whole new person. I’m trying to shed that thought process. There is no one all-encompassing project that is going to make me a better human, or at least, not one that is finite and has an end date. (Maybe life is that all-encompassing project?)
Instead, it’s going to be the little, sometimes easy changes that slowly turn the difficult parts of life in another direction or into another thing. Bedtime stories were becoming a pain in my ass, but I valued them too much to not do them, so I found another way that worked for us. It sort of felt like magic, to be honest. My goal for right now is to find more of those magic moments to help turn other parts of my life right.