This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website. This month’s topic is ‘Use Nurturing Touch

Bed time isn’t a quick process at the Pickle Farm.
We parent our children to sleep…. all of them, even the six year olds who don’t necessarily need us to.

For all three kids it seems bed time is the time to catch up on closeness.

As babies they were held and carried and cuddled and breastfed and kissed for most of the day (and much of the night!) and it was easy to meet their need for nurturing touch. But then they grew up and became mobile and busy and now they even go off into the big wide world without us from time to time… and the moments to cuddle and touch have become less frequent. Except at bed time.

To fall asleep Muski (who is almost three) requires someone’s arm.
He likes to hold your hand and rub, touch, feel and snuggle up to your arm. Sometimes it drives me insane. I sit there gritting my teeth as he plays with the loose skin on my elbow, and I wonder why on earth I let him do this. Then I remember his need for touch and closeness… and I remember mine. This is our reconnection time. A time when no matter how tough the day has been, no matter how many melt downs he’s had…. this is the time when none of it matters. It only matters that he is there and I am there and that we are close.

The girls (6 year old twins) don’t ‘need’ me or Daddy at all to fall asleep, but they get one of us anyway. They get a story and then they get a cuddle. Zoe loves to have her feet rubbed and Izzy likes you to ‘dance on her back’ with your fingers. We don’t spend hours doing either, they are just little things that physically reconnect us after a day busy at school or off playing.

Sometimes I am tired. Quite often these days I am tired… or uncomfortable with a baby stuck between my ribs… or just over it all and needing my own space. Sometimes I don’t want to be touched….. but almost always I let it happen anyway, and almost always I am glad of it.

As adults we don’t suddenly grow out of our need for nurturing touch, and I definitely get as good as a give from my children. A little cuddle here, some skin on skin there…. just enough to remind me at the end of each day that I love and am loved.

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Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:

  1. says

    It’s interesting the things that children need to fall asleep.

    I once babysat a girl who would gently rub your face when she was tired and ready to sleep, even mine, though I didn’t know her all that well (family friends, but all the kids were so much younger than me- in this case 12 years – so I didn’t spend much time with them).

    Princess will curl her hair around her fingers when she is tired, or needing comfort. At bedtime we will have tickel games (first thing when we wake up also), and stories, snuggled together on her bed. She has her milk, and after stories we give her a glow bracelet and take turns winding her musical carousel that plays “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. My sister discovered that the music helps her settle into sleep.

  2. Nic says

    Yeah it is interesting how every child has a way to wind down for sleep. With Beren it was an arm as well, he couldn’t fall asleep without lying on one of our arms. But now he doesn’t need us at all.

    Freya its a dummy, one to suck and the other she rubs along her top lip. Sounds crazy but it works for her.

  3. says

    The Girl is now 10 and too big for bedtime cuddles, but there are times when she’ll ask me to read a book to her, or she’ll snuggle in with The Boy and me while I read him a bed-time story. I love it that even at 10 The Girl still loves hugs and seeks them out several times a day.

  4. Maman A Droit says

    I thinks it’s awesome that you make sure to spend that special time at bedtime even with your kids who are old enough they are capable of falling asleep on their own. I still remember my daddy telling me stories before bed when I was that age and thinking it was pretty much the coolest thing ever.