Not Fair! Bedtime Battles
My checklist for getting ready is simple:
- Get in your PJs
- Go to the bathroom
- Brush your teeth
- Get into your bed
- Go to sleep
The battles start with Step 1. Oftentimes, we’ll tell the kids to get in their PJs before bedtime. This way, when bedtime arrives, we won’t be yelling at them to hurry. However, the kids are never quite ready to start getting ready for sleep. They’ll cry about how early it is, how they can still see the sun (applicable in the summer when the sun seems to set at around midnight), or how they’re in the middle of their TV program.
When they get their PJs, they insist on changing in the living room. Remember that TV program they were watching? That becomes a distraction. Left to their own devices, they’ll sit half undressed watching Dora’s latest attempt to ward off Swiper’s kleptomania.
Finally, with the kids in bed, the time comes for Steps 2 and 3. Go potty and brush your teeth. We have only one bathroom downstairs and it is too small for one person to be performing Step 2 while another person does Step 3. This means that someone needs to go first.
Most times, when it comes to boys, asking “who wants to [INSERT SOMETHING HERE] first?” will result in the boys jockeying to claim the right to be the first. It doesn’t matter if the first and second place both get identical ice cream sandwiches, carbon-copy coins, or twin toys. The goal is to be the first one to get the item or get to do the activity.
Except for bed time.
They never want to be first for bed time.
A few weeks ago, in a fit of cleverness, I devised a system. I told NHL and JSL that we’d go by odd numbered days and even numbered days. Since NHL was our 1st child and the number 1 is odd, NHL has to go first on odd numbered days. Since JSL was our 2nd child and the number 2 is even, he goes first on even numbered days. (I wonder what will happen when NHL realizes that there are more odd numbered days in a year than even numbered ones thanks to 31 day months.)
This seems to work pretty well. They still protest, but I just say “It’s an odd/even day so you go first.” Usually, that will quiet them down.
Now that we’re up to Step 4, things tend to quiet down a bit. JSL needs to say good night to everyone and give them kisses and hugs, NHL is content to just jump into his bed. Battle won? No, just lulling us into a false sense of security.
Now comes time to go to sleep. This is where they pull out the big guns. First, JSL will need a nightly drink of water. (Which must be taken when the lights are out and after he’s laid down to sleep for some reason.) NHL will try to talk to us about his day or some random TV show plot. JSL will claim to have had nightmares (before he actually falls asleep). And so on and so on.
Eventually, the bed time music and dark room turn the tide and the kids lose the bedtime battle. Still, we emerge, not victorious, but frazzled and weary. How many more battles must we wage before they go to bed without complaining?