Bedtime routine was a lot simpler when my daughter was younger. Drink milk, shower, brush teeth, get changed, bedtime story, pray together, and then it’s time for bed. Now that she is older, however, the list of things we do at bedtime has grown.
Because Phoebie is now able to think and express herself better, I want to hear from her about her day. Even though I am a stay home mum and presumably have all day with my children, cleaning and cooking take up quite a big part of every day. Also, the frustration of having to deal with the occasional tantrums of fights don’t really give me the right mood to discuss things with my children.
To have a better understanding of what we all go through during the day, a sharing session was added to our bedtime routine. During this sharing session, we take turns to answer three simple questions and wind down as a family. Some days the sharing sessions take longer to finish but it is good to hear from everyone about what happened during the day. HusBenKoh joins us for these sharing sessions whenever he is able to get home before the children’s bedtime, so he also gets to hear about what he missed while he was at work, and the children and I in turn get to hear about his day.
These are the three things that my children and I share about at bedtime:
1. What is your favourite part of today?
For Phoebie, it could be playing with one of her friends or reading a book she likes. For me, it could be enjoying some time alone or seeing the children enjoy the food I cooked for them. For husBenKoh, it could be that he made it home in time to spend some time with the kids before they sleep.
Whatever each of our favourite part of the day is, sharing about this reminds ourselves that no matter how the entire day went, there is something about the day that made us happy, or perhaps happier than other parts of the day. Sometimes, the day goes so well that we each have a few favourites to share about.
Sometimes, I make a conscious effort to share about parts of the day I like that has nothing to do with the children. I want them to know that besides them, there are other things matter to me and make me happy too.
2. What is something you did today that you can improve on?
There are good times and bad times every day, and I ask my children this question because I want them to reflect on their actions. Phoebie is often the last person to answer this because she thinks about what she has done that may have gotten her into trouble. Eventually, she comes with up with things like “I should focus when I am having dinner”, or “I shouldn’t play too rough with Breyen”, or “I should share more”.
Children are not the only ones with things they did that they can improve on. I try to be as honest as possible when it is my turn to share and admit my mistakes to my children. “I should try not to shout so much” or “I can manage my time better” are some things I have shared with my children.
3. What is something you are thankful for?
No matter how good or bad the day went, there is surely something we can appreciate and give thanks for. The answer does not have to be something big. Sometimes I tell my children that I am thankful that I have them in my life, and sometimes I share that I am thankful that we are all safe. Phoebie sometimes shares that she is thankful for a yummy meal, or that she has a younger Brother to love.
Just like the first question, I make a conscious effort to share about things that may not be about the children. I want them to know that there are many different things I appreciate and it is not always about them.
Our bedtime sharing sessions sometimes take longer to finish when we have more things to share about. Nevertheless, I enjoy these sessions because I get to know my children better. I get to know what makes them happy, what they think they can work on and what they appreciate about their day.
At the same time, when husBenKoh and I share as honestly as we can with our children, our children get to know us better too. They learn that Papa and Mama likes certain things, that we also make mistakes that we want to work on, and that there are things we appreciate.
Breyen may be only two years old and may not understand the sharing, but we hope that following his sister’s example, he will learn to verbalise his thoughts and soon join us by sharing more.