A couple of weeks ago we had a difficult bedtime. It’s not the first time, especially in recent weeks, and no doubt it won’t be the last. The kids were tired and getting tetchy with one another. I was tired and tetchy too. The kids were arguing over everything, fighting over anything and I ended up shouting. Again. There were tears.
We all ended up going upstairs for bedtime feeling grumpy, sad with the situation and generally unhappy. Deflated, I sat on the floor of my youngest son’s room, book open, ready to read.
Looking at the three of them and particularly addressing the older two who had started squabbling again, I said: “You know, this has always been one of my favourite times of the day. I absolutely love story time but this…” I gestured at their squabbling “this is making me not want to do it anymore.
“You know we won’t get to do today again? One day you’ll be too old for this and it won’t happen anymore.”
They both stopped what they were doing. “What do you mean?” asked my eldest son.
“Well, you won’t want to hear the same stories as the smaller ones, you’ll want to read your own books. And a few more years than that you’ll want to be out with your friends rather than in with us.
“Even older again, when the three of you are grown up, maybe with children of your own, you’ll look back at this time and wish you hadn’t spent so much of your time arguing and fighting and instead wishing you’d enjoyed the time we had together.”
To my daughter I told her: “Your brother will be a teenager in a few years time and he won’t be interested in playing games then so make the most of it whilst he does now.”
To the eldest I reminded: “It might wind you up that she copies you but in a couple of years she’ll want to do her own thing and won’t want to copy or follow you around anymore and you’ll miss it.”
Then to the pair of them I highlighted: “He might be little but your little brother is learning so much from the pair of you; he’s watching you both all the time and he is picking up and copying your behaviour so if you don’t share, he won’t either.”
Now, I’m not going to pretend that everything became sweetness and light after that talk because I would be lying (they still squabble and bicker!)! However, it did still strike a chord and it made us all, myself included, more mindful of the special time that is story time.
And since last week, we’ve added a little extra too – we now take some time after reading our stories to listen to one another as we describe something that has happened in our day that has made us happy – even the littlest gets involved when it’s his turn!
Life really is short and it’s so important we enjoy all the small things now because one day we’ll look back and realise that they were really the big things 💜