I wrote the following post in October of 2006 when my children were much younger. If I were able to tell my ‘younger mom self’ anything it would be to Chill Out. The bedtimes become easier, stop the stressing, if they aren’t in bed by 9 pm they will not grow up to become bank robbers because you couldn’t keep a solid bedtime schedule. They will not fall in with the wrong crowd if you can’t wrangle them in bed on time. My boys are teenagers now and all my worries are for not. So– to every mom and dad out there that feels overwhelmed by the bedtime ritual- I have felt your pain— but alas– chill out. The above photo was taken of our boys last summer in Chicago ~~~~comedians- yes, bank robbers- no~~~~
Why is putting children to bed so trying on parents? I remember when I only had one child and bedtime was relatively peaceful. With another child added the more hectic bedtime rituals have become. They make a spitting game out of brushing their teeth and I have lost count of all the ‘illnesses’ my oldest son comes down with once he is in bed. He could run a marathon, play board games, ride his bike till the cows come home but once he settles down and is all covered up that is when he decides he has something in his eye, a sore throat, or remembers he hasn’t had a bowel movement in two days and he thinks something is wrong. Then in the morning when I ask how he feels it is always a blank, “Fine, why?” *sigh*
I have read countless books and articles on this subject, listened to wise older relatives but I am still finding bedtime stressful. The experts say calm down your bedtime ritual by turning off the TV an hour before bedtime. Have them drink a glass of warm milk. Don’t give them anything to eat or drink before bed, which negates giving them warm milk before bedtime.?. Give them a soothing bath. Read a book. Say prayers. Turn on their night light. Check their closet for monsters. Make sure they use the restroom. See that they have their favorite blanket. Convince your children that no one cut the moon in half it is supposed to look that way. Come On People… In the perfect world you may be able to do all these every night, but we do not live in a perfect world.
My question I guess is: when are children expected to go to bed with minimal interference? I know they are only little once and I respect that argument but between cooking, putting up leftovers, dishes, cleaning, sweeping, laundry, checking homework, bills, husbands, dogs, making lunches for the next day and so on. Is it too much to ask for a few nights a week that end in a solitary, “Mom and Dad, I am going to bed now. Goodnight and I love you.” Does this make me a bad Mom? I will admit that I have said to my children on more than one occasion ‘Just go to bed. Not one more word’. They are old enough to brush their teeth by themselves, put their pajamas on and make their bed all by themselves they then should be expected to go to bed at least a few times a week without me pulling my hair out?
Then again I don’t want to complain too much because I know in a few years when they’re teenagers my focus will be ”why aren’t they home in bed yet?” I have talked to countless other families and I know I am not alone in these reactions nor is this the first generation to confront the strife of the terrible catastrophe of bedtime. My grandmother had 7 kids and she still has all of her hair! Now not every night follows this pattern but more times than not this is how it plays out. Please, don’t get the wrong impression I love being a mom, it has many rewards and I truly believe they are a gift from God and I wouldn’t trade motherhood for all the money in the world. But when 9 pm comes and goes and I am trying to convince my oldest son I don’t see anything in his eye, or convincing him his filling in his tooth has not fallen out, or sooth any fears from my youngest he is not hearing noises under his bed while trying to keep him in it, I may get a little testy. I am sure my frustrations are justified. I fear the only solution is age. The older they get the calmer bedtime becomes; at least this is what I am holding on to.
And yes it does get easier- I PROMISE!!!