Out of Mommy’s Bed!



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    הצלה 1290

    Out of Mommy’s Bed!

    A long workday is behind us and there’s another one coming up. However, the children are still bouncing off the walls, refusing to go to sleep • Should you give into the temptation to make the easiest choice and put the kids to sleep in your bed or let them go to sleep by themselves? • By Beis Moshiach Magazine • Full Article

    Esty Lenchner, Beis Moshiach

    The evening hours. You’re after a long day and you have a very busy night ahead of you, during which there is the task of putting the children to bed.  I turned to counselor Efrat Yogev, who put the whole matter in proper perspective.

    Efrat began by saying that “age makes no difference when it comes to going to sleep. What’s important to remember and implement is my feeling as a mother during this time, and the dynamics at home during the bedtime routine.”

    I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SLEEP

    For many parents, the time for putting the children to bed is perceived as “crisis time.” Hovering over everything is the knowledge that it’s clear to us that the children will not want to go to sleep and they’ll draw out the time like chewing gum. We’re already preparing ourselves that they’ll seek and find all the excuses in the world to avoid going to sleep. This automatically gives reason to think “he definitely won’t want to get into the bath now”, “I don’t even have the strength to ask him to pick up the toys”, “dinner will surely be another nerve-wracking experience”, etc.

    All these and more express how we come in advance with very low expectations for the children’s cooperation, or to the contrary, high expectations for a lack of cooperation. Thus, instead of clearly knowing that it’s nighttime and the children will be going to sleep because they’re tired, it’s clear to us that when the sun sets and it’s time for bed – that’s when the party begins.

    Sounds familiar? Come, let’s make a little order out of this whole subject. How can we explain that when the hour grows late, the children are tired and they want to go to sleep just as we do, yet in many homes, nighttime seems to give them something of a second wind, an extra burst of energy?

    The answer comes in the dynamics between us. What we feel inside (even without words) passes as a clear message to our children – beneath the surface and subconsciously: “It’s clear to me that you don’t want to go to sleep.” They hear this far better that what we imagine, and when it’s clear to us that they aren’t going to cooperate, they meet our expectations (or the lack thereof) and start running wild.

    A LITTLE CROW TOLD ME

    On many occasions, we see parents who clearly believe that they have to put the kids to sleep by sitting near their bed, telling them a story, singing them songs, and holding their hand until they fall asleep (sometimes until we fall asleep with them). However, let’s think for a moment about ourselves: What happens when we are tired and want to go to sleep? We want quiet. We just want to sleep without anyone sitting at our bedside, talking to us, trying to make us drowsy.

    Yet, our perception of this matter is quite different. We have accustomed ourselves that we actively have to put our child to bed because he can’t do it on his own. Still, all he needs is to go to sleep. As parents, if we first are able to realize that the best thing for our child is to go to bed now – he’ll get the message even if we don’t say a word. A kiss, a hug, a ‘good night’, and ‘Shema Yisrael.’ That’s it.

    However, instead of that, we have a little bird telling us: “What a pity. Why do things this way? Letting him fall asleep alone in the dark? Is that the way your mother put you to bed? Don’t you want him to experience a good night’s sleep? Look at your neighbor: She gently puts ten children to bed with a story, whereas you have neither the time nor the desire to sit near two children until they doze off!”

    Well, I’m here to remind you that this little bird is not a dove – it’s a crow. Instead of being a dove, caressing you and saying: “Good for you how you managed the day! How wonderful that you managed to prepare a nourishing dinner for them! How nice that the children got into bed after a good hot shower!”, this crow comes along, pecking away at our conscience and giving us a guilt feeling that our bedtime approach is completely off base.

    If we think for a moment about what we seek to attain through our education, all of us give the same answer – to raise an independent child capable of standing on his own two feet and adapting to various situations.

    If we relate to the whole concept of going to sleep, it’s important to match our expectations as parents to our children’s future. For whom will it be easier in the future – someone who is constantly used to getting help/being put to bed/making the house dark for him/blocking out all noise – or a child who goes to sleep on his own regardless of the prevailing conditions?

    So, who exactly is this crow?

    The inner voice, influenced on the one hand by our surrounding environment, explaining to us how we, as parents, are supposed to act, while on the other hand, there’s my dream as a mother (as it pertains to our discussion – how the process of putting the kids to bed should appear to me).

    CHANGE YOURSELF!

    The way to silence that annoying crow is through my inner work as a mother. When I come to bedtime for the children, after the inner work I did with myself, and I take a different approach, the message will be different as well and the children will be more cooperative.

    All of us, yes all of us, want to bring about change in others (our children/husband/mother-in-law). However, to our great regret, this is not an attainable goal. The only thing that I can change is myself! When I take this different approach, more certain and more calmly, the message is conveyed differently, and the dynamics can change.

    To do this with myself, I have to penetrate a bit deeper into my essence and realize what my place is as a mother. In group activities and individual consultations with parents, I examine the dynamics between the mother and her child. The essential understanding of these dynamics explains to her what she can do to change her part in the dynamics, and then there is a significant relaxation and a better atmosphere at home.

    For example, a mother who still has a hard time during the process of putting her children to sleep and claims that her whole evening goes down the drain, can through a slight change in her line of thinking tell herself:

    “There’s no reason why my children won’t want to go to sleep. They’re just as tired as I am. When I want to go to sleep, I need quiet. The same goes for them. Thus, there is no difference between us.” Automatically, my expectations are that they will want to go to sleep. My message changes, my thinking changes, my conduct changes – and so will the dynamics between us. This is by no means easy work, especially after a tiring day when there are plenty of things to do during the evening… But it’s worth it.

    WHY DO I HAVE TO GO TO BED WHILE HE’S STILL AWAKE?

    In many families, particularly those blessed with many children, there is a wide range of ages. This means that there are older children at home who want to stay awake until 11 p.m., while they have siblings who have to go to bed by seven. They see their older brothers and sisters staying up later and they want the same privilege. So, what do we do?

    First of all, we have to remember that there is no connection between bedtime for the younger children and bedtime for the older ones. The little kids go to sleep earlier because they’re younger, plain and simple. The older children have a different bedtime. As a mother, if I am certain deep down and it’s clear to me that this is the right way to handle the matter, the message passes on the children in a clear manner with no arguments on bedtime for the younger ones.

    When things aren’t so clear to me, the discussions begin. However, when they are clear – the children cooperate. When does the discussion start? When there’s a lot of gray matter, when I personally am not sure what’s right. Yet, when the message is clear to me, it should be clear to them as well. This principle doesn’t just apply to the time for putting our children to bed, rather in connection with all matters of education. When it’s clear to me, it will be clear to them too. Furthermore, when my thoughts are troubling me, and I say to myself: “How can I do this to my little ones? How can I let my older kids go out with their friends while the younger children have to go to bed? How can I let my older child continue to play on the computer and say no when his younger sibling makes a similar request?” – The children have fertile ground for play, causing me to feel guilty and shaking my confidence as a mother.

    When I make order with myself, and I am certain deep inside and certain about what I am saying, this becomes the accepted norm at home.

    QUIET! THE LITTLE ONES ARE SLEEPING!

    Baruch Hashem, the younger children are already in bed. A calmer atmosphere descends over the house. This begs the question: Would it be more proper and appropriate when the children are falling asleep to dim the lights a bit and keep things quiet to create a noise-free sleep-inducing environment?

    In my opinion, it is wrong to compel the whole house to walk on eggshells because there are children who have to go to sleep now. If we adapt that approach, we make our little ones powerless and incompetent, incapable of dealing with noise. As a result, we have to maintain silence and darkness until they fall asleep. In this manner, we keep them from growing, developing, and dealing with problems. Who will have it easier in life – the child for whom the whole house goes quiet or the child who can sleep even when there’s noise? We mustn’t forget that our desire as parents is to enable our child to be capable and adapt at any time and in any place.

    IN SUMMATION

    There’s no difference in the ages of the children regarding when they go to sleep. The significant difference is in the message that I choose to convey to the children. Do I tell them that I’ve already despaired of any chance that they might cooperate and go to sleep on time, or do I give them a message of trust and decisiveness? Every individual, regardless of age, wants to go to sleep when he’s tired. If we adopt this method and act accordingly, bedtime will not turn into a battlefield.

    Efrat Yogev runs an occupational therapy clinic for children and provides guidance for individual parents and couples. To contact her directly, send an e-mail to efratyog@gmail.com

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    The magazine can be obtained in stores around Crown Heights. To purchase a subscription, please go to: bmoshiach.org

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