This Era Of Bedtime Is So Glorious

There’s a glorious time in every parent’s life when those post-bedtime hours are useful bliss. For me, I would use that magical time to catch up on chores, like folding the laundry or running the dishwasher. Other nights, I’d use it to chill, whether by journaling or bingeing a new show. It was about unwinding. What could be better than that?

But lately, bedtimes have shifted in my house. It seems like every time I tuck my kids in for the night, they suddenly want to give me a play-by-play of every single thing that happened since I sent them off to school. And I’ve got to say, while I loved the “me” time the younger years’ bedtime provided, this quality time is exactly what I’ve been holding my breath for.

It starts with tidbits about their days. Who was talking to who, and what they loved (and despised) about class. Nothing earth-shattering, nothing life-changing, just all the mundane details — and I love it.

My oldest is in full-blow tweenager mode. You know, when they communicate in grunts, heavy sighs, and eye rolls. So I was pleasantly surprised the night she was getting ready for bed and asked if we could talk real quick. I tried not to make a big deal of it (lest she tell me just to forget it), so I settled onto the edge of her bed, curious about what she had to say. And to my surprise and gratitude, these nighttime conversations have become regular occurrences.

Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of opportunities to chat before the clock strikes bedtime. It was just hard to get much out of her. She’d get home from school, I’d ask how her day was, and nine times out of 10, she’d say, “It was fine, Mom.” When I tried again during dinner, we’d talk about homework, whatever was on the schedule for that week, and of course, anything to do with Taylor Swift, but not a whole lot else.

But it seems like there’s something about the calming quiet and darkness that makes her comfortable enough to spill all the tea. I’ve learned so many things I would have otherwise missed, like how much she misses her best friend who moved away and how excited she is for the upcoming dance. These small moments of vulnerability are a balm that soothes my over-anxious parenting brain. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right with this whole parenting thing.

I was the oldest of four kids, and while my parents made sure I always had everything I needed, we didn’t have quality time like this. Bedtime was short, sweet, and to the point. I went to bed, turned out the lights, and either read or journaled near the crack of light streaming from the hallway through the bottom of my door. Would I have rather talked to my parents about my day? Sometimes. I don’t know how more of these quiet moments would have shaped our relationship differently, but I do know that it works for me and my girls.

I’m choosing to have a different relationship with my kids. No, we aren’t best friends. And no, I don’t expect to be the center of their whole world. What I’m hoping and aiming for are open lines of communication, less apprehension about hard conversations, and a soft place for them to land. These bedtime talks are just one more way to support this choice.

Don’t get me wrong, there are days when it all feels like a little too much. There are days that my patience is thin, and having a conversation right before bed is overstimulating. I’m human and always trying to balance six spinning plates all at the same time.

So yeah, some days I’m irritated and impatient and don’t appreciate these little moments for what they are. But I know this bedtime magic is fleeting. These days won’t last forever, and I want to cherish them while my kids still give them to me.

Honestly, raising Gen Alpha has proven to be a WILD ride so far. Yes, things are coming full circle, and I totally get why my mom went gray so soon. I don’t always understand the fascination with social media trends or YouTube shorts. And I definitely need a translator for some of the new acronyms and phrases they’ve been bringing home from school — IYKYK. But what I know is that I love the beauty behind these bedtime conversations, and I’m learning that maybe the key to understanding this generation better is to start by just listening.

Holly Garcia writes about parenting, mental health, and all the lifestyle things. She hails from the Midwest, where she’s raising her daughters and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

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