Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Releasing the Pressure Valve

Our son (3.5) loves to play the bedtime game, you know the one where the kid comes up with all these wonderful reasons why he should keep getting out of bed. It can be so exhausting sometimes to deal with and so hard for us to hear him still up an hour after we've said our last goodnight. We want him to get a good night's sleep, not spend half the night fighting sleep.

About a month ago we tried out a technique from the Simplicity Parenting book called "releasing the pressure valve." The author talked about how kids have all this built up emotional energy and that they need outlets throughout the day to let it out. They need space to connect and share, to feel loved and cared for. This made sense to me because sometimes at night I go to bed dog tired but then find that I can't fall asleep until I share my thoughts and emotions from the day with my hubby.

So we started a little impromptu sharing game during our family dinner. We ask 3-4 questions and each person gets a turn to answer. "What was your favorite thing today? "What was your hardest thing about today?" "Did something frustrate you today?" "What are you excited about tomorrow?" Everyone is included and my son makes sure that even our 20 month old's day is interpreted since she can't yet speak up for herself.

If we don't share at dinner time then I make a point to ask these questions at bedtime. I honestly didn't know if we'd see the results that the author suggested, but I have been pleasantly surprised. Our son loves this game, so much that he even asked us these questions one night when we were eating dinner at another family's house. (The family doesn't speak English so he couldn't really play the game with them).

We found that after we created a purposeful space for sharing and connecting about our day, the post-bedtime craziness has become almost non-existent. There's no more hour long procrastination after we've tucked him in. Now he falls asleep much easier and it has made us much happier parents. I also enjoy the space we are creating to connect emotionally as a family, to stop for a minute to be introspective together, and to know the good and the bad from each other's day so that we know better how to care for and pray for one another.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ...But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.". Gal 6:12, 24b-26

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