Did you know that our children’s minds review their day’s events every night? Every night in their beds, they review and contemplate everything that happened that day. Now, you have one of two options as a parent: you can stay up late as your child is processing and talk to him or her, or you can choose a tool called pillow talk.
Pillow talk is a journal passed between the parent and the child. At night, when children are processing the day, they can open up their journals and write down the greatest thing that happened to them, what part of the day was most disappointing, and that sort of thing. Children remember the good, but they also have regrets at the end of the day that they process at night—regrets about poor performance on a test or disappointing behavior or the way they treated someone. They also consider their wounds.
Actually, your children can end up monopolizing your time until the wee hours of the morning if you let them. I have many friends who stay up all night long with their children because that’s when their hearts are most vulnerable and open.
It sounds great in theory, but if you work or homeschool and need to be productive during the day, you cannot function properly without sleep. If you’re married, your husband may want some of your time, too. I believe if you stay up all night, every night, with your kids and make yourself available to them at every beck and call, two things happen: one, you lose intimate time with your spouse; and two, your kids don’t learn to process for themselves and communicate in a healthy way at an appropriate time. Plus, if you’re OCD, you need the time when your children are in bed to reorganize and cleanup for your own sanity the next day.
Rest is an important part of healing, but I also don’t want to miss out on my time with my kiddos. I don’t want to miss out on their sweet, vulnerable hearts at the time when they’re processing. So what do you do? Do you clean and sleep or have late-night talks with your kids?
I personally cannot live without sleep. I’m exhausted by the end of the day. I’m ready for everyone to go to bed. I want to be horizontal. I don’t need to close my eyes, but I need to be horizontal. I found a tool that lets me into my children’s hearts and allows me to sleep: pillow talk. It’s a journal for the kids and me, and it’s a fun game.
I write a note to my child. I write what’s on my heart. I may write about something I’m disappointed about or an apology for some way I behaved towards her. I write about my life, being vulnerable and transparent. It may not even have to do with my child. Then I write some questions, such as, “Is there anything that has been bothering you lately? Is there an area in which I can encourage you more or an area where you’re feeling discouraged?” The answers don’t have to be long; they are meant to help us have useful, quality conversations the next day when we’re awake and alert.
I slip this under my child’s pillow for her to read at night. It gives her something productive to think on and helps steer her thoughts. I may even put in a positive message of encouragement, a Bible verse, or a picture. Sometimes I draw pictures. I’m a horrible artist, but I draw pictures for my children’s entertainment. We sneak the journal beneath each other’s pillows and see if we can get in there without getting caught. It’s a lot of fun.
When it’s under my pillow, I read it and am able to see inside my children’s hearts. The next day, I pull them aside and make sure I have some one-on-one time to discuss what I read. It’s an open door to have healthy conversations with them at a time when we’re all rested.