Dads out there, do you do the bedtime routine, or is it your wife who does it in your family? For us it’s me nearly all the time, and I’ll tell you why I love it. Hopefully I’ll sell it well enough that you’ll be super keen to do the same for your kids. (or at least vie for an equal share of bedtime)
It started with reading stories before bed. My 3-year old daughter has always been an interactive type, and we found that her having a story before bed was a really good wind-down time for her. She’s the kind of person that can’t just immediately switch off, she really likes to be able to have a bit of chill time with one of us before going to sleep. And oh boy, did routine help us with this! Trying to just dump her in her bed and say “night night” was like leaving a dog in charge of looking after a schmackos factory and expecting it all to be intact when you returned. Just not going to happen.
After we had been reading before bed for a while, we discovered (via my in laws singing to her at bedtime a few times) that she responded well to songs. It was then I remembered my older brother’s great advice for putting his kids to sleep when they awoke at night — that hymns work really well!
So I thought, I may as well try to learn my theology better by picking some decent hymns to commit to memory, and also to teach my little girl. I’m up to a repertoire of about 5 songs currently:
- Be thou my vision (this is always the last one I sing, probably her favourite overall)
- Rock of Ages (I like the tune by Ruth Buchanan best)
- All Glory be to Christ by King’s Kaleidoscope (to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, another favourite of hers)
- Before the Throne
- Night Time’s Lullaby (written by my Dad — so you probably won’t know)
I’ve been singing to her before bed for well over a year now, with no regrets. In fact, I love it! I’m not a great singer, but being there and watching your child fall asleep as you’re singing “Be Thou My Vision” is incredibly precious. In fact, nowadays if we’re leaving somewhere late and she needs to go to sleep in the car, I’ll just sing through those 5 songs, and 95% of the time she will be asleep before I make it through them.
When I was away on a work trip recently, she was having trouble getting to sleep, and I sung to her over the phone and it calmed her down enough that she could go to sleep.
It’s not just about getting her to sleep either. I know she doesn’t understand all the words yet, and won’t for a while, but there’s something so special about having your 2-year old (at the time I started this) sing along with hymns praising God at the end of the day.
If you want to be a Dad that points your kids to Jesus — keep thinking of ways you can teach them, encourage them and love them. For me, singing hymns of praise just before she sleeps is one way I’ve tried to help my 3-year old. Why not give it a go with your kids?