My daughter was born hungry, although her appetite waxes and wanes like any other child (or human). She needs a bedtime snack in order to sleep restfully through the night…just like me and her dad! So every night we have a snack. Many parents balk at the idea of a child needing a bedtime snack; they believe children should “fill-up at dinner time.” I disagree, and you can read more about power struggles around eating here. But today I want to talk about why I love bedtime snack.
A couple of nights ago my daughter bounded out of bed and into the kitchen, “mom! I’m hungry!” She used to love a banana before bed, but she’s in an appetite lull and on a fresh banana strike, so we’re navigating new territories in getting her dietary needs met. She danced into the kitchen with a smile on her face, and I asked with a mirrored smile, “what’ll it be, my love?”
I made her some plain goat milk yogurt with chopped frozen banana and honey, then we sat down for a little bedtime “snack and chat,” as I’m learning to lovingly refer to them. I pulled out a piece of scrap paper and a marker while she ate, and asked, “what would you like to do tomorrow?” My daughter has lots of ideas, which seem to multiply as bedtime draws closer (maybe some of you can relate, lol). She came up with some ideas and I wrote them all down:
I was surprised by and curious about her “academic” choices, so we talked about how this plan might look in the morning. I love hearing her talk about wanting to draw pictures and write stories about her favorite subjects (mermaids and dolphins). I love to hear her talking about why she wants to practice math and reading. I love her ideas on creating science experiments all her own (she decided on a science experiment in the morning rather than a treat). I’m mesmerized as she explains what an “Addication” is (it’s a vacation during which we drive around without a GPS until we find a fun place to play) – a little peak at her sense of adventure. I love to watch her scrutinize the pros and cons of a treat in the morning versus the afternoon (“in the morning? at the grocery store? hmmmm, if you’re going to have a coffee treat at the grocery, then I’ll want a treat too”). Not only is this a time for me to meet my daughter’s dietary needs, but it’s also a time to learn about her inner world, to listen and reflect, to be surprised and delighted, to connect with her on a deep, meaningful level over bedtime snack.
I’m not perfect. Sometimes I want to her go back to eating the banana and quickly fall asleep. Sometimes I want her to have fewer ideas at night rather than more. But as I sat beside her the next morning watching her bring her plan into fruition, creating imaginative stories and drawings, and feeling connected and full of gratitude, I knew I wouldn’t change a single one of these moments for all the peace and quiet in the world.
Thank you for being here,
“This is a sailboat of orphans and a captain. It has an endless supply of food, beds, and anchors to keep it in place. They have pets that sleep in their beds, while they stay up all night. And they have a tower to climb if there’s a fire or in case the dolphins try to jump up and hurt them. The sail has different powers; powers to make it midnight or morning, to turn into a dolphin or a bird or a mermaid, or to turn into fire.”