Singing has been a part of our bedtime routine for as long as we’ve had children. It provides a moment to quiet down with one last shared experience for the day. Jessica and I each have our own selection of songs we tend to sing, but they are always slow and calm. Our kids each have their favorites. They make sure to remind us if they sense that we might forget to sing. The evening ritual draws us together, relaxes everyone, and naturally leads to a final kiss and hug.
Last night, our routine was thrown off because we spent the evening with some wonderful out-of-town friends. Bedtime was pushed back, and I was feeling rushed to get kids to sleep; it’s so much harder on them when they don’t get enough of it. As I sat down on SquiggleBug’s bed (she’s 6), before I had a chance to start singing to her, she intoned a song of her own. It was a spur-of-the-moment improvisation, and in her sweet voice she sang about love. Love for her family, for her mommy, for her daddy. It lasted a good 2 minutes, and it calmed me right down. The stress of getting her to bed vanished, the sense of rush disappeared, and I was lulled by her sweet words. It brought us closer together and ended with a hug and a kiss.
There’s a balance to strike between routine and flexibility, and it can be a real challenge for me to find as a parent sometimes. Had I been more strict about holding to our bedtime routine, this tender moment with my 6 yr old could not have happened. Had I not intentionally sat down with her to help her to bed like we do every night, that tender moment could not have happened. Last night was a moment where I found that balance, and it was such a sweet experience.