It’s 2am and I am finally sneaking out of my 2 year old twin’s bedroom. Knowing me, I probably silently cried myself to sleep on their floor while thinking “why won’t they just GO TO SLEEP?!”
This was how a typical bedtime used to go at our house.
My twins were extremely difficult at bedtime. Actually difficult with just sleeping in general. From the time they were born. They had colic and reflux the first four months of their lives. As they grew older, sleeping didn’t come any easier. I felt like we tried everything. Crying it out didn’t work, keeping them in their room didn’t work. They would tear off the duct tape from their light switch and turn it on. Our doors didn’t fit the frames and therefore wouldn’t shut. We tried stacking baby gates to keep them in their room, but they would climb 5 feet high and escape. We tried taking turns laying with them, rubbing their legs, reading, singing, new bath time routines, anything. Absolutely nothing worked. I was miserable. It felt like the average amount of sleep I got during the first 3 years of their life was about 4 hours a night.
One day I was complaining about their lack of sleep to a much wiser woman. She looked me in the eye and unsympathetically said, “Sounds like God has given you an opportunity to pray for your kids.”
I felt so judged. It felt as though she thought I was ungrateful. As though I didn’t pray for my boys enough. I took it as an insult to my spiritual life. An insult to me as a mother. It hurt.
But the more I thought about those words, the more they dug into my heart. I reluctantly decided to humble myself and try it. I actually was determined to just prove this person wrong. To prove that praying during my misery wouldn’t change anything.
What it did change was my heart. And that was enough.
Instead of focusing on all the negatives, the “stop talking, lay down, close your eyes, be still,” I started focusing on all the positives. The “I love when they hold my hand, I saw C give R a kiss tonight,” the “R helped me pick up all his toys tonight, and C grabbed his favorite book and climbed up into my lap to read.” My thoughts slowly started changing. I started praying for them. Praying for the present, hoping for the future, and being thankful for the past. Started praying for my husband as a father and a spouse. Started genuinely praying for myself. Not just my wants but who I wanted to become.
It was amazing. I didn’t mind sitting in the room with them after that. I became thankful for those quiet moments. The moments that I used to just think were a waste of time. And crazy as it sounds, bedtimes slowly started to be easier. It stopped taking so long. Stopped taking so much effort. Became more peaceful.
My last baby has been a great sleeper. I almost feel as though I have missed out on having the same opportunity to pray for him because I have literally spent no extra time sitting with him when he goes to bed. I am having to put more effort into finding free time to spend in prayer for him, and for the other boys now that I’m not spending hours in their bedrooms.
If I had one piece of advice for moms with difficult sleepers, it would be just that. Use that time to pray for your kids.
Look for those moments. Those moments when you feel like you’re just “wasting your time.” You never know what hidden opportunities God is providing you during those quiet moments.