*This post first appeared on Her View From Home
BEDTIME ROUTINES AREN'T JUST FOR BABIES...
I love my kids, but by bedtime, I’m just exhausted. At 8pm, my patience shuts off. It’s like I have some sort of glitch in my parenting code, or maybe I just missed the patience upgrade with each kid or something?
So when I have to jump through so many drinks-of-water hoops, tickle hoops, tuck-in hoops, bedtime-song hoops, pee-pee hoops, and brush-your-freaking-teeth-already hoops, I feel that if they don’t get away from me as soon as possible, I’m going to jump through the I’ve-lost-my-mind hoop and escape into a dimension where only brownies, beaches, and books exist.
But that’s not reality! (Oh how I wish it was sometimes though—minus the losing my mind hoop). The reality is that parenting doesn’t stop at 8pm. And even though some of the hoops I jump through annoy me, there are four hoops that I would never miss jumping through no matter how tired or impatient I feel…The 4-Questions Hoops.
I started asking my kids these four questions every night and it has changed our relationship. It has brought us closer. It has created a more positive shift in their focus throughout their day and in mine.
1. What was your favorite part about your day? This question allows us to jump through the hoop of positivity together. It helps my children focus on the best parts of their day, and gives us another opportunity to reflect on them, laugh even more about them, and find joy in those special moments one more time before they close their eyes.
2. What was your least favorite part about your day? This question allows us to jump through the hoop of reality together. No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, so it’s great to have the opportunity to be real and talk about those things in their day that didn’t go well—bad choices, disrespect, being irresponsible. This question has allowed for me to model unconditional love and has given me many second-chance teachable moments. Even if I lost my temper the first time around, I have one more chance to walk them through what they should have done differently. It’s great for kids to be reminded that tomorrow is a new day to try again.
3. Do you have any questions about your day? This question allows us to jump through the honesty hoop together. It establishes a habit of always letting them know that they can ask me anything and can trust me to listen and love. It shows them that I’m a “safe” person who isn’t going to judge or get angry or be upset if they want to talk about the tough stuff.
4. How did you show kindness and love today? This question allows us to jump through the integrity hoop together. It encourages them to be kind and loving to others even when no one is watching. It is the most powerful, life-changing question I have asked! My kids have learned just how simple it is and how capable they are of showing kindness and love every single day. When I first started asking this question, my oldest had trouble coming up with an answer, so I would step in to tell what I saw him do--he was thoughtful to take his plate to the sink, he played with his sister nicely, he was responsible to do his homework without being reminded, he washed his hands the first time I asked him to. Creating an awareness of the little ways that he can show kindness and love has empowered him to do even more. Plus, I find myself looking for those positive things that each child does throughout the day so I can share it with them that night. They love hearing all the great things they’ve done. Kindness and love…this is the focus I want my kids to have throughout their day!
The 4-Questions hoops have helped me learn more about my kids: baseball game play-by-plays, storm fears, favorite colors and movies. But I have also taught more to my kids: answering questions about abortion, smoking, appreciating the differences in others and I’ll never forget the night we cried together about a little boy in a wheel chair.
Because of jumping through the 4-Questions hoops of positivity, reality, honesty, and integrity every night, I have laughed louder, cried more, snuggled closer, and taught lessons about life that I would not have had the opportunity to do in the busyness of the day. Dear parent, at bedtime, won’t you join me in fixing that glitch in your parenting code, upgrading your patience level, bending your knees, and jumping through these four extra hoops with me every night too? I promise that these are the hoops you will never regret jumping through for your kids.