If you’re anything like me, you’re probably tempted to go big or go home. If I can’t run 5 km, why bother running 2 km? If we can’t go sledding for an hour, why bother bundling the kids up for 10 minutes?
Sometimes it does make sense to conserve our energy and wait until we can invest significant time or resources into an activity or project.
But I think, more often than not, we short-sell the impact of doing “just” a little.
A few minutes of planking each day is better than no planking.
Writing a few sentences a day is better than the 2,000-word tome that never gets written.
Spending 5 minutes at bedtime with the kids is better than skipping it altogether because I don’t have the bandwidth to dedicate 30 minutes to the activity.
This last one really hits home. Because I’m a work-from-home mom (and fit that work in and around being a stay-at-home mom; we have virtually no external childcare aside from public schooling), I’m in a bit of an unusual situation. To my kids, I’m largely there for them at all times. And I see them. A lot. Sometimes too much. When bedtime rolls around, I am usually ready to be done seeing them. But I also feel like they need that time, especially as they get older and have so much to discuss.
There is something sacred about that bedtime ritual, especially when each child gets dedicated one-on-one time.
But long bedtimes – like the ones we used to do when they were little with the baths and the songs and the reading and the rocking – just feel beyond my reach. The kids stay up later, the discussions can be more emotionally exhausting, and I have the accumulated fatigue of almost a decade of health issues.
My solution: I’ve been setting the timer on my watch for 3- or 5-minute increments. Usually I end up staying longer, but that’s the minimum and gives me a set point of escape.
So when the kids ask for a snuggle, I can say yes without feeling like it’s an open-ended, crushing commitment. (I know some parents love bedtime – and it is a magical time of connection – but I’m going to raise my hand real high and say that sometimes bedtime is the absolute hardest time of the day for me because all I want is someone to help me get dressed in cozy jammies, help me brush my teeth, and then tuck me in and sing lullabies while stroking my forehead and telling me that I’m safe and loved and everything is going to be okay.)
Over the last month, I’ve enjoyed the bedtime process more than I have in years. No fighting or whining (mostly). Just short, high-quality bursts of time spent cuddling or listening – making these moments of connection feel extra special and leave us wanting more the next night. In this case, a little has been so much better than nothing and, quite honestly, probably better than a lot.
In fact, a little can be just right.
Anyone else find bedtime with small(ish) kiddos to be exhausting? Any current examples of where you’re committed to doing a “little” and being content with that?