“Tell Me All the Things I’ve Done Today,” Ensign, Jan. 1984, 67
What child, eager to delay “lights out;” doesn’t suddenly become a captive listener at bedtime?
The careful parent who has reserved a little precious energy, can spin golden moments from lights out to slumber. That last bit of time at the close of the day can be cultivated to leaving little minds dancing with lovely memories of the day behind and confident anticipation of the one ahead.
“Tell me all the things I’ve done today” has become our children’s favorite 8:00 P.M. byword. With each child, we review the events of the day, looking for opportunities to praise kindnesses and to recognize well-made choices, to share disappointments and to rethink decisions. Bedtime is a sweet time to lovingly suggest alternatives to misbehavior and to secure pledges for improvement. With daddy holding her little hand and whispering in the glow of a nightlight, our three-year-old resolves with seriousness and dedication to try harder to keep her pants dry.
Even the youngest children delight in their own bedtime routines. Our two-year-old happily closes her eyes when she feels sure we’ve successfully exhausted the list of all the people who love her. We hope the long list reminds her of the security of her spot among family members at home and gives her a notion of the affection felt for her by loved ones far away. When we complete the list with Heavenly Father and Jesus, she knows that her sphere of association is caring and broad: here at home, 700 miles from here, and even in heaven.
Bedtime can also be a calm, unhurried time to lie beside a thoughtful child and ponder the glorious promises of the gospel. Often our six-year-old lets her mind wander and pricks a willing ear with questions like: “What will I do when I live in Heaven?” “What does it look like there?” “Tell me who I’ll see.” After patient answers, she closes her eyes, her head filled with promises of eternity. (Her perplexed parents head for the scriptures.) Older children can also learn to cherish these moments when they are encouraged to read at bedtime. Substitute a bedside light and a good book for what might have been thirty minutes of torture for a young insomniac and thirty minutes of frustration for a spent parent.
Bedtime should be the best time. Those quiet moments at the close of noisy days can be rich opportunities to recall beauty, share disappointment, correct confusion, reaffirm affection, and tuck little ones cozily between blankets of security and peace. Kathy Clayton, Irvine, California