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more on The Two Most Important Times of Day

February 1, 2020
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Last post, I started, but didn’t finish some thoughts about the two most important times of day for your kids. You can pick it up the first part here: https://homeworkwithst.com/2020/01/31/the-2-most-important-times-of-your-kids-day/

The two most important times of day for your kids are the beginning and the ending of their days. In both cases, you’re the key. Nobody can help them set the tone for a new day or get their heart and mind ready for a night of restful and renewing sleep like you can. But to do this, you have to be intentional.

Like I said in the first post, this begins with an intentional approach to bedtime. Randomly sending kids off to bed when it seems like a good time for it isn’t intentional. It may work out for you, but trust me, you can make it work a lot better for you and them by being intentional.

OK, so what does intentional look like? Routine is the key. Some people (and kids) are wired more for routine than others, but everybody needs some routine in their life. It takes a good bit of decision-making out of play, and sometimes that’s a really good thing. You don’t want your kids to decide every night if they’ll brush their teeth or put on their jammies, or start the process for themselves. Routine actually gives both you and your kids some freedom from making lots of ticky-tack decisions. I’m not a fan of eliminating spontaneity, but I am a fan of routines that help smooth a potentially bumpy section of the family life road.

Talk about it. Call it what it is. Call it your Bedtime Routine. Then lead them in it. If you have the blessing of starting this when they’re crawlers, before they understand very much language, still call it your Bedtime Routine. Eventually, they’ll associate meaning with the words.

If your kids are older, you may have to explain what your Bedtime Routine is, but don’t bother with explaining much about why. Until kids are out of the concrete stages of thinking and into abstract thought, your explanation won’t matter much, so don’t bother. Just tell them that this is what you’ll be doing, and then do it with them. Over time, as the routine gets more and more solidified and locked in, they will need less and less supervision, but at the front end of the learning curve, they’ll need you to help motivate and supervise them. Don’t be an angry cop about it, but make sure they don’t get distracted and off track.

In my opinion, the most important part of this Bedtime Routine happens once they get in bed. Some of the most amazing conversations happen in these few minutes. Once the mechanical parts of the Bedtime Routine are done, and they’re tucked in, unless there’s been some big conflict before, their bodies and minds are beginning to cooperate in a relaxed state.

Leverage this! Patiently and gently (in both the tone of your voice and your body language), review the best parts of their day. Ask them what they liked most about the day. Ask about the specifics you know about their normal day. Then let them talk. If they have only a few words about it, that’s OK.

This is a really good time to read to and with them. If you don’t have a good Bible story book, you need to spend the money and get one. Here’s one I love. You can click on the Amazon link here for it: https://www.amazon.com/Long-Story-Short-Ten-Minute-Devotions/dp/1935273817/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=long+story+short&qid=1580399745&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEzVFBYOEpVM1VTVU9JJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNzc1NTg1M0cxUTRJTDNQVU9RSSZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMDE0MTc0M0g4SlZXSEUxNEhINSZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=

If your kid(s) is/are in preschool, get them their own “Bible.” By this I mean a children’s Bible. I like The Beginner’s Bible. You can click here for it on Amazon (by the way, there are other places to get it, so check on it where you normally buy your books. You do by books, don’t you?…) :https://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Bible-Timeless-Childrens-Stories/dp/031075013X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=beginner%27s+bible&qid=1580399882&sr=8-1

You might be surprised by your how little kids love having their very own Bible. They can’t read it yet, but after you’ve had time to read them some of the stories, they might delight you by retelling the stories, using the pictures to cue them.

Then pray with them. Don’t do long and poetic prayers. Do simple prayers, talking to your Friend, Jesus, and your Loving Father, God. This is maybe the best possible time and way to teach your kids how to pray. Be conversational and simple. At first, you’ll need to show them what praying is like, and then you can invite them to talk to God for themselves. This is one of the most precious (and sometimes hilarious) moments a Christian parent will ever have. Your kids will be both entertaining and inspirational. There’s a good chance you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.

Older kids will probably need less modeling and prompting. You may not need to do a “Praying 101” course for them, the way you will for younger kids. But at first, you will need to lead the way. Pray for them. Pray about the things you know they’re concerned about. Pray for God to work in their lives and give them courage to meet their challenges. Ask them if there are things they want you to pray for. Listen to what they’re asking for in their prayers. When I write “pray for them,” I don’t mean pray instead of them. One of the things you’re doing with this time is giving them a safe place to pray for themselves.

If you can begin this routine when your kids are preschoolers and grade schoolers, when they’re teens, they’ll need almost no supervision. But you being available as they close their day out can still be a rich moment of influence for you. At this point, you need to ask to be invited instead of initiating. So ask. Don’t hover, but ask.

DADS, don’t make the mistake of designating your wife as the bedtime person. She can do it without you. That’s not the point. But if you pass this responsibility off to her, you’re cheating yourself out of some the most beautiful and rich moments you will ever have with your kids. Make it a point to be there for this. Go out of your way to be there. Especially when there are other important things, like Sunday Night, Monday Night and Thursday Night Football, or your favorite TV show that comes on at about their bedtime. Don’t steal these moments from yourself.

I’ve already used up all my word count, so I’ll close. Next time I’ll talk about the other most important time of day, when they get up.

From → Marriage, Parenting

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