Why your child is right to cry at bedtime

Nov
26

Children crying at bedtime can be one of the more frustrating aspects of parenting, at least for me. A child who refuses to got to bed while mommy and daddy themselves are over tired is a recipe for an evening of grumpiness.

About six months ago I was putting my 2 year old to bed and said to him "It's ok, baby boy, it's just night time. You'll see us in the morning. There's nothing to cry about." 

Shortly thereafter I realized the huge lie that I had just told. We wouldn't see each other in the morning. A small child changes so much, even in a day, that the child that wakes up in the morning is no longer the same one that we put to bed.

I started thinking more about this and further concluded that by the age of 2 we really only have another 550-800 nights or so where he will want or need snuggles at bedtime. 

As adults, we see another night go by and wake up the next morning, never thinking of the change that has happened in our lives; how we have aged, how are children have aged. It's another day, just like yesterday. 

It made me wonder if our children are more in tune with the passing of time that we are. It made me wonder if the child who cries at night knows that they've just lost one more night of snuggles, and only have 549 left. Mommy, Daddy, why am I going to bed - we have so little time left.

Perhaps if we truly understood the passing of time and how little time we have with our babies, and how fast that time goes by, we would be the ones crying at bedtime.

I no longer say "It's OK" or "There's nothing to cry about" when I put my children to bed. That doesn't mean I'm not frustrated when they won't go down to sleep; we all need our mommy and daddy time. However, my frustration is mixed with empathy.

That empathy means I will sing one more song, give one more snuggle, sigh one more exasperated sigh because I know deep down he is right to be sad about bed time.