Tonight was a bedtime I will always remember. I love my girls but most nights, I am tired, rushed, stressed and I am just going through the motions. I am dragging toward the finish line - two kiddos in bed, quiet, glass of wine in hand, silly reality TV show.
Tonight was different. The windows in our home were open and a cool breeze was coming in. I could see the sun beginning to set behind our house. Brian took the girls outside to play while I cleaned up dinner. He gave them a bath - a job I hand over to him most nights. I caught up on laundry. I even started working on another photo book for my girls. (Click here to enter to win a $60 gift code from Social Print Studio!) I felt accomplished. The girls were done with bath before 7PM. My first thought was "YES! Early bedtime."
Tonight was different. Instead of rushing through 2 books before bed, I let the girls pick 10! Yes, 10 books. The looks on their faces - complete surprise and joy. I felt really happy. I felt blessed. I felt like there was nowhere else I wanted to be. I read the books with full animation. I even made silly animal sounds and the girls were cracking up. I got into it and the energy shifted to the girls moods. They sat and listened. They didn't argue at all. They didn't give us a hard time about going to bed. Yes, they sat and listened to 10 books. They laughed some more. They looked at me with love and happiness. The asked me questions about the books. I answered their questions. We read some more.
Tonight I made them my focus. Out of nowhere I started telling the girls funny stories about when I was a little girl. I told them all about how my sisters and I used to ride our bikes and play in the alley. I told them all about my bedroom when I was a kid. I told them all about how amazing it is that they grew in my bellies. They asked me funny questions about being pregnant. They wanted to know more and more. At one point, Madilyn reached up and kissed my cheek and gave me the biggest hug. Damn. She was so grateful I was there - 100% there.
Tonight was a wake-up call for me. Both of my girls LOVE attention. Love it. They struggle to play alone. They always ask me to play with them. Always. I know some alone time is "good for them" and they totally benefit from playing with other kids and each other without mom, from time to time. Let's be honest though. Playing all day is HARD work as a stay at home mama. It is tedious, mind numbing and let's be real, boring. However, I think I have been trying so hard to teach them to learn how to entertain themselves, that I forgot how much fun it is to pay 100% attention to them. 100%. No phone. No email. No social media. No one else. Just them.
Tonight bedtime took 55 minutes. 55 minutes of uninterrupted time with just me and my girls. No yelling. No fights. Just a lot of attention, love and memories.
Tonight was a bedtime I will always remember.
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Below are 10 of our most favorite books that we read at night before bed:
Lama Lama Red Pajama - This book really helps both of my girls stay in their beds at night. It is all about how Mama has things to do downstairs but that is OK - she is right here! It is so cute and my girls love it. When Madilyn was little, my mom bought this book for us because she always wanted to sneak out of bed and climb into our bed! Now, when they call for us, we say, "What does little llama llama do?" So precious.
Gigi, God's Little Princess books - These books are so adorable and perfect for any family with little girls who want to talk about God and how he makes each of us different and unique. We love all the books in this Treasure Box.
Secrets of the Apple Tree - This book is so fun because it is interactive. You can shine a light throughout the pages to see what is hidden inside. Juliana loves this book and asks for it every night. Plus, it teaches the kids about nature which I love!
Come Rhyme With Me - Madilyn's preschool teacher last year gifted her this book and it is one of our favorites. Juliana pretty much learned her alphabet because we read this book every night and then sing the ABCs. If you are looking for a book to help your kids learn their letters, this is it!
My First Read and Learn Bible - I love this bible for kids because it is quick and easy to read the entire thing in one sitting. This way the kids get an overview of the entire bible before bed. We usually read this last right before prayers.
I Love You Through and Through - I get tears in my eyes even writing about this book. That is how much this one means to me and my girls. I read this all the time to Juliana when she was little and we still read it most nights. I read this so much that I came up with a lullaby inspired by the words of this book. I used to sing it to Juliana when she was up at night. Tears! Love this book. I gift it to new moms all the time.
A Woodland Wedding - This is an early chapter book that Madilyn bought this year at her Kindergarten book fair. The images in this book are so bright and colorful. Absolutely beautiful illustrations and the story is so dear. The story is about a little owl whose teacher gets engaged and the class has to help her get ready for her wedding!
Night-Night Little Pookie - We have been reading this book pretty much every night since Madilyn was an infant. In fact, I need to order a new copy of this book because ours is falling apart!
So Many Feelings: Riley's World Inside Out - This book is based on the movie, Inside Out, and talks about all the different feelings children experience growing up. My 6-year-old loves this book and it has been good reading it at night and talking about different experiences she has at school. We love the book and the movie!
The Berenstain Bears Phonics Fun (My First I Can Read) - I just love the Berenstain Bears because they teach morals and values. We picked up these I Can Read books and Madilyn is learning how to read these on her own. I love it - after school I will catch Madilyn being Juliana's teacher and reading these books to her! We usually have Madilyn read a couple of these to us before bed.
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