Decompressing the stressful moments in a young family’s day is one of the goals and benefits of No Regrets Parenting. Perhaps no time is more stressful than the minutes leading up to bedtime; these can be chaotic and tense with young kids. The kids are bouncing off the walls, impossible to calm down, hyperkinetic from a full day of action. You’re exhausted and just need the kids in bed, asleep, to regain your mojo (or to go to bed yourself!).
There is lots of advice out there, but little real science, addressing the best ways to calm and quiet the kids before tucking them in. One of my favorite techniques, weather permitting, is a pre-bedtime pajama walk. Not only does it give kids gentle, tranquil moments to decompress from their hyper after-dinner activities, but it also gives parents special moments with their kids that otherwise might have been lost to TV. Or worse – these moments might have been spent yelling and screaming at each other.
The key to pajama walks is the pajamas. Get the kids completely ready for bed—teeth brushed, faces washed, pajamas on. Then put them in their stroller, or on their tricycle, or in their sneakers, and meander slowly around the neighborhood. No snacks en route (their teeth are already brushed!); don’t kick the soccer ball along the way or bring the baseball mitts; postpone animated conversations until tomorrow. These are the mellow moments.
It may take a couple laps, but by the time you arrive back home with your kids, they will be in a fresh-air trance and ready for bed; they may even fall asleep on the way, and just need your tender transfer into the house and under the covers.
And now it’s time to find your mojo again.