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My kids are never more interested in quality time than right before bedtime.
Instead of being happy that they want to be with me more, I tend to feel like they are manipulating the situation in order to avoid bed. Maybe your kids are like that too. Maybe you feel like I do. My wife and I got into a discussion about it just the other day and decided that instead of feeling “put out” or “taken advantage of,” we would try to make the most of it, work with it, and turn it into a time of blessing for our family.
To be honest, it was my wife’s idea...she gets all the credit. She launched this concept that our oldest daughter, who craved time with us the most, would start prepping for bed an hour early. Here’s how it would go: For school she needs to read at least 30 minutes at nighttime so we accounted for that, but instead of her going straight to bed after, we decided to follow it with 30 minutes of “Mom and Dad time.” By now the younger one is situated in bed (after dragging her time out with brushing of teeth, stories, reading, prayers and “questions”), so it’s quiet and we can focus on the eldest, making her feel special. The only final challenge was how not to resent this “end of the day date.”
My wife and I both work very hard – she as an incredibly busy stay-at-home mom and I as a pastor of a large, demanding church. By the time it’s 8 p.m., we are winding down really fast. We notice that as our fuses get shorter, our desire to get lost in a TV show gets stronger. The whole concept for us to do another 30 minutes of quality time with one of our kids, after investing in them all day and evening in one way or another, was a tough sell for us...until we made one tweak. We came to the understanding that as long as we didn’t shut down and call the time “ours,” we would be okay. We needed to continue to be “on” in our minds so we could engage in that time with a joyful heart.
Maybe you find yourself wanting to shut the night down early and get some much-needed rest, only to find that your duties as a parent are alive and well in your little ones. Instead of barking, “Go to sleep!” from down the hallway, maybe you can make a few adjustments in your schedule – and in your heart – to turn that time into an opportunity to invest in your children. We have found that although it is an adjustment, it’s well worth the time logged in our child’s heart. I counsel a lot of people who wish they spent more quality time with their children when the kids actually wanted it. My hope is that my children’s hearts are filled to capacity, so that when they don’t want to be with me as much – when they are teenagers – they will have a storehouse full of investment.
Hahn is senior pastor at Bridgeway Christian Church in Rocklin. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.