Before I had kids, I thought that bedtime involved a warm beverage, cuddling in a big cozy blanket, reading for a few minutes, and then drifting off to sleep. I was even prepared to share some of that routine with the kids. If you were to see the bedtime routine at our house now, however, it is a lot less warm and cozy and a little more like something out of the exorcist. I think my head actually spun around 180 degrees once. Here’s a little taste of what’s going on in my house at bedtime:
To begin our routine, I shut all of the windows to make sure that our neighbors do not have to bear witness to what is about to go down. Each of my kids takes a shower solo so I have a constant assembly line of butts to wash, faces to clean, and knees to scrub. The assembly line sometimes get stymied because one likes a bath in tepid temperatures, one likes a shower with warm water, and one prefers to shower without any water or soap (Is that even a shower??).
While everyone is in the process of getting clean, I put my 3 year old son on the potty and make him poop on demand. Demand seems like such a harsh word, but that is exactly what I do. I actually sit him on the potty and forcefully tell him if he does not poop in this very instant he will not get steps 7 thru 12 in his precious bedtime routine. While he is screaming that he doesn’t have to poop, my other two children start in on their begging, pleading, whining for Fiber Gummies and Gummy Vitamins (which I hold for ransom to ensure that the bedtime routine runs a little smoother.)
My oldest daughter then throws all of her dirty clothes in a pile next to the hamper in her closet, and then starts trying to smuggle books into her bed so that she can “secretly” read into the wee hours of the morning. My middle daughter drags out a mannequin doll head that she likes to comb obsessively while pretending to read a book to it. My son goes from room to room annoying the mess out of his sisters.
After all of these shenanigans, I brush everyone’s teeth. On a good night, they don’t ask for floss and mouthwash, but on a bad night they request that I brush for 2 minutes (as per the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists) and massage their gums in a circular motion. ARE YOU SERIOUS?!
Once they are all ready for bed (and this whole process can take as little as 20 minutes if Mommy has a headache), they take turns talking on the phone to daddy, who, if I didn’t know better, is probably parked three doors down from our house, listening to talk radio waiting to see the last night light turned on thereby ensuring that the kids are asleep. (At least, that’s what I would do if I had the luxury of working outside the home during bedtime.) Once they profess their undying love for Daddy, they glaringly look at me, hang up the phone, and all hell breaks loose…again. Crying, whining, fighting, peeing, and the occasional, “Mom, I think I left my spelling words for my test tomorrow at school. Can I call a friend?”
As I am writing all of this, the routine really does not sound that bad. But, trust me, to live through it – each and every day — it is that bad. Or maybe it is me? Maybe I am the one that is being bad. Something in me just turns off at night and I find it hard to care about anything other than my peach green tea and my DVR. I have spent countless hours up with the kids nursing, rubbing, hugging, holding, being vomited on, coughed on, pooped on, etc. When night comes around, I feel like that time is mine. I own my night, and no, I don’t want to share it with anyone.
If putting my kids to bed at 6:45 am were an option I would be all over it, bedtime should absolutely be in the morning. Anyone else agree?
- Bedtime Battles – Calming Your Little Ones (untrainedhousewife.com)
- Good Night, Sleep Tight – Bedtime Routines (The Mommy Mindset) (formulamom.com)