Friday, July 5, 2013

The Battle of the Bedtime.

How does bedtime look at your house, oh parents of small children?
Does it look like this?

I really positioned myself badly in this one, didn't I.

And this?

Or does it maaaaaybe look like this? (at least occasionally)

What's up with those people in the last picture?
I don't know them.
When I was a small child, I remember that my parents would become particularly enraged at around 8 pm every evening.
They would give us our baths, help us into our pajamas, comb our hair, and say prayers with us in an efficient manner.
 Beneath this efficiency was a thinly veiled fury.
You see, when you have one child, you can act like Calliou's parents and let that kid take you for a ride for the entire evening, because you still have a sliver of energy left at 7 pm.
I know some of you are glaring at me. I can feel it. But I speak from experience. Trust me on this.
With one, you can take your time more.
"Oh it's time to read Johnny a story! Oh you want another story now Johnny? wellll...oh kaaay buddy."
Suddenly you're reading Johnny his 78th story and now he wants to have an arm wrestling match. Then Johnny wants to build a lego helicopter with you, and it's 10 pm but how can you say no? You feel sorry for the little guy because he's kinda lonely.
After that Johnny wants a three egg omelot with sausage and chopped vegetables and mild cheddar and hey it's practically breakfast time anyway! Up and at em!
When you have more kids, you start looking forward to your childrens' bedtime like a crack addict hyping for his next rock.
It's not because you don't love your kids.
And it's not because you went too far in your wild agenda to overthrow the United Nations and replace every stitch of green on the planet with a set of human eyes.
Remember, naysayers: these kids are gonna be paying your social security, so try not to get yourselves in too much of a huff.
Hold your heads high, families. Ain't no shame in yo game.
It's just because you've been giving even more of yourself all day and NOW YOU ARE DOGASS TIRED. And you would like to chill for awhile and eat a lowfat yogurt in peace.
So my parents would get us ready for bed, kiss us goodnight and assure us of their love, and turn out the lights.
And that is when we would begin destroying their entire evening.
"MAAAAAAH-MEEEEEEEE!!!!!" we would sing in harmony together, sounding eerily like a Children of the Corn choir, "I WANNA DRINK OF WAAAAAAA - TERRRRRRR".
This was a real song that we would sing, which we had invented ourselves in a shared desire for more hydration as well as a sense of community.
Then we would hear my mother call upon the Holy Family for help.
"Jesus Mary and JOSEPH!!!!" she would hiss.
I used to think "Gee whiz. My parents are so mean."
But I get it now.
Every night, after the children have been tucked into bed, after their baths and stories and prayers and repeated hugs and begins. The shout-outs, the cries of adulation.
I want to say to them "Hold up a second. This is not the Grammy's, ok?! You are NOT at a concert."
Then, the requests.
Kid 1: Can I have some water?
Kid 2: yeah I'm thirsty.
Kid 3: I'm firsty too mom.
You walk around with a cup of water, your hand gripping the cup so hard that it's shaking, your teeth clenched. You start feeling like you're carrying a watering can, caring for an entire garden. You walk from bed to bed, watering and watering.
Then you say "That's IT!!!! OKAY?!?!?! THAT'S IT. EVERYone! GO TO BED."
And it is quiet for 30 seconds.
And then: "Mom? I have to pee."
"I have to pee too, Mom."
You call upon the Holy Family. Inside though, in a more prayerful manner, because catechesis was better for you than it was for your parents.
A small voice then says "Can I, too?"
And this is when your rage boils over.
You kick the side of your bed, you bang your head on a door frame, you eat a 12 pack of donuts... whatever it takes to calm yourself down.
The grace of the vocation.

This is what my spiritual director refers to as "Pass Me The Ball."
He is a wise man.
When one spouse is ready to crack, the other one comes along and says "pass me the ball", and they excuse you from your duties and take over for you.
Note: please plan to intervene before blood and donuts come into play.
Another Note: please whisper the words "pass me the ball". Do NOT say them loud enough for the children to hear or they will race out of their rooms with their shinguards on, ready to run  soccer drills through the home.
I once read a book called "The Sleep Lady."
In this book, the author suggests sitting very close to your children as they fall asleep for the first few nights, then moving your chair further away from the bed each night that follows.
Soon you will be out in the hallway. Then a few nights later, downstairs.
The problem with this is that many parents may not be able to stop at sitting in their livingroom or even their front porch.
They would just keep moving their chair.
Out the door. Down the driveway. Down the road. Over to the gas station (why?). To the mall, sitting in their chair at the Gap. Partially immersed in a shallow creek, fishing in their chair.
Everywhere in their chair!!!
 Everywhere but home.
Another happy customer.

Every family is different, and you have to find what will work for yours.
In our family, bedtime is often a true living hell, and my husband and I try to plan accordingly.
It helps when you can mentally prepare yourself by saying the St Michael the Archangel prayer, doing some jumping jacks while chomping on some good quality gum and reminding yourself that, yo... you are going into battle.
You are a soldier. Soldiers must be prepared.
But one night you will be eating your yogurt, chatting with your spouse, when suddenly there might be a very short dinosaur standing at the top of the stairs.
It's your kid in his favorite costume.

For cripes sake, let yourself have a laugh! Because that kid?
That kid is a genius.


  1. Oh, how did you know that this was exactly the boiling issue at our house tonight (and the last few years, to be honest)? I dislike the kids' bedtime so intensely. Though it can be mildly funny to see just what crazy excuses/requests they come up with to attempt to get out of bedtime.
    I really needed this tonight! :)

  2. Awesome. Maybe I just need to order my kids some of those nightcaps.

  3. I had to get up to go pee; you made me laugh so hard! TMI? Sorry. Seriously, though....hilarious!!! The universal hell of bedtime. Which is why we laugh so hard when we listen to Samuel L. Jackson read THAT know the one. Your illustrations are far funnier though. Especially the donut one....

  4. As my favorite blogger would say...LUVZ!!

  5. My 6 y.o. to me the other night, "What is it about eight 'o' clock that makes you so mean, mom?"

  6. Laughed so hard, I was in tears!!!!! Thank you for the laughter!!!!! Needed it after this day with my 5 boys 10 and under....and a girl on the way! Jesus, Mary and Joseph bless us all!!!!! Hahaha!

  7. I just laughed my head's seriously rolling down the front porch....Our bedtime goes like this regularly. If it's not water, it's I can't sleep...well, sure you can't sleep, you've only been in bed for 5 minutes...the pillow is barely warm!

    I needed this laugh! :)

  8. This was great - so funny! We, too, had a water song at bedtime. I can't believe my mom or dad didn't lose it after dealing with all 7 of us all day then listening to that annoying song:) i think i would've thrown the water on us;)

  9. My husband and I were truly LOL-ing as we read this last night. Thanks for the laughs! Please keep blogging--you are so very funny and it's creepy/wonderful how much I can relate to your humor and topics. God bless you and yours!

  10. I. Totally. Get it. That picture, the third one, that was totally my husband this very evening. My 8yo said to me, "Mom, remember that you love me." lol! Good reminder!

  11. OMG...when did you come to my house??? The worst is when hubby is out of town and I have to do bedtime solo. Thank God he doesn't have to travel often.

  12. Tears of laughter streaming down my cheeks! Definitely the hardest, most dreaded (perhaps hated is not too strong a word) time of day around here. So good to know we're not the only ones!!!


  13. Hilarious and so, so true! My kids always want Daddy to put them to bed because he is the nice one... yes, daddy is the nice one because you all know how to play him, this mommy is too smart for you!

  14. As my 6 yo just left the living room, again, (it's 11:30), I needed this. Thank you!

  15. You had me at "brush your damn teeth."

  16. Wish I had someone to say "pass the ball" to.

    1. Oh, my friend. I am so sorry. This comment made me cry! I want you to know that I spent many years wishing I had someone to "pass the ball" to, was so very hard sometimes. I am oing to do a blog post just for you very soon. I am praying for you!!! It's so easy to feel alone, but God is with you.

  17. literally laughed out loud! this is great!

  18. I laughed so hard I'm crying. Excellent post.

  19. My 2 middle boys were champion sleepers, and our oldest is adopted and was past the bedtime struggles when we adopted him at 13. That youngest one though...OH MY GRAVY! Bedtime is 8 and has been for several years. But with a whole family full of older people to care for him, ugh. I can't remember the last time he was tucked in and SLEEPING before 10. This always makes me feel like a total failure as I'm hollering up the stairs, "GO TO BEEEEEEEEEEEED RIGHT NOW!!!" since I've obviously managed to get other children to get to bed on time for years. However, I at the very least, feel like I'm in good company as I grit my teeth and give one more drink, one more bathroom break, read one more story while wishing I was doing anything, ANYthing, ANYTHING other than putting this poor child to bed. One.More.Time.
    Thank you!

  20. You totally nailed it. I LOLed in real life and clapped my hands at various points.

  21. I love it, you made me laugh, even cry! God bless you and me and my husband and all parents!!

  22. Sooooo funny ... and soooo true! Loved the drawings and loved the candid-ness of it all. Glad that other folks had the same struggles as we did. I say 'did' 'cuz our three are now teens & young adult age. The oldest (now 20)is still hard to get to bed (he tends to be a real night owl). But I do remember when he was a little tyke, recently promoted to his "big boy bed" and he kept getting up & coming out after being put to bed. Finally, had to threaten a spanking if he crossed the threshold again. We have a photo of him, pacifier in his mouth, holding his favorite blanket asleep on the floor just inside the threshold of his room. Now I look back at it & laugh but at the time, it was simply a battle of wills. On another occasion, with our middle daughter, when she was about 4 yrs old, she & younger sister were sharing a room ... and we'd go through the bedtime routine including everyone saying prayers & singing a favorite song. Although she wouldn't stop singing ... such a parenting dilemma. Your precious little girl is singing songs from her heart ... it was pure sweetness hearing her but eventually had to threaten discipline unless she stopped so she & sister could actually go to sleep. Thanks so much for the funny account and all the shared comments. Hang in there all you young parents, they do eventually grow up :-)

  23. Oh my goodness. I couldn't stop reading these last night and I was laughing so hard I cried. Thank you, thank you! You are awesome!


  24. Oh thank GOD I am not the only one dealing with this!

  25. AMEN. This was hilarious!! We have 8 kids ranging from 2 mo to almost 16 yrs. Oh, do we know that dance! Heck, there have been a few days where I pass the ball before we even sit down to dinner! lol

  26. Found your blog a couple weeks ago via Jen and I keep coming back to read previous posts when I need a laugh. Tonight, as I read this, I was laughing so loudly with tears running down my face that my husband looked at me like I'd lost my mind! Keep it coming lady, you have a gift!

  27. Dy-ing laughing. So. dang. true. :D

  28. I am in tears just from the 2nd photo. GENIUS! After my night last night, whooooo-boy.

  29. Don't you ever think it will stop when they're a bit older. Our house rules forbids sleepovers because every night is sleepover for mom and dad. Pillow fights, and some other kind if fights, happen most of the nights, and then is the"she has turned off the light before I could finish the chapter", or "get out of my rooooooommmm!!!!" Just when the movie gets interested...and then you think that God made teenage years like that so you won't be so sad when they leave for college. (Actually I'm looking forward to it)

  30. Was rereading a Jen Fulwiler post on menu planning and had to click over. I can't stop laughing. I laughed so hard I cried. Oh, that was great. Thanks!! :) -Anne

  31. Thank you Thank You THANK YOU!!! As a parent, you need to know that you're not alone. That other family's play ring around the rosy at bedtime too - where we end up, nobody knows (until morning). Love that you keep it real!!! Carla

  32. And then they get married and move away with kids of there own. The peace and quiet you so longed for is here but it is lonely and you long for those noisy bedtimes,another drink of water and one more hug. P.s really liked how you kept it real though. Mary

  33. LOL!! My kids are all teens now, so the roles are reversed: I have to wait up for them when I wish I was in bed! When they were little, I always told them that "Mommy is off duty after your bedtime." When someone tried to sneak down for more snuggles, I would give them a time limit, depending on their needs and my patience at that point. When they asked why there was a time limit, I always said "Because Mommy has to be grumpy at night so she can be happy again in the morning." They all thought that was weird, but they never stuck around to see how grumpy I might get!! :)

  34. Funny, and so true... and so sad. Wow, you nailed bedtime for most parents! If I could go back in time, I'd get rid of the TV. Bedtime was rushed and brought about angry feelings in me... because I wanted to watch some stupid TV show or read a book I can't even remember, or because I wasn't getting enough sleep myself. Valuable sharing moments with my children were lost because I was following my parents' example. Parents are so dang TIRED at the end of the day, and it seems as if kids NEVER tire. Advice? Try reading a guided meditation to your children or find a CD to play at bedtime. (Beware: YOU may fall asleep if you're not careful!) Think of it as an investment in your evening and sanity. Sometimes kids just need to feel their parents' loving touch on their face, hand, arm, or gentle pats on the back to help them prepare to sleep. I discovered the guided meditation when my son was in pain from chemo and couldn't stop focusing on the pain. The brain will focus on what's there if there isn't an alternative. Soothe the beast before trying to get it to sleep. No TV before bedtime. No video games. Bedtime rituals with my son ended when he died at age 9 of leukemia. Every once in a while, try to realize that your children are on loan to you. We all belong to God, and no one knows when he'll call us home. Every child is different, but if they keep calling out to you, you need to find the real reason. Is it a bad habit or a need for more attention from you? What is the "language of love" developing in their life? Words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, or physical touch?