In the last month, bedtime had become a shitsicle of epic proportions.
Screaming, running, crying. And that's just me.
We hadn’t changed a thing. We had always been lax. Although our pushover bedtime routine was a model of what NOT to do, everyone wound up asleep.
Our kids took long naps beginning at about 2 pm. Sometimes they woke up at 5, 6 pm even. We’d eat, then give them a bath at around 7.45ish, followed by getting into pjs, nighttime hygienic rituals and a few stories. They were generally out by 9.
Hubby and I could have some combination of watching a show, spending time together and getting some work done.
But in the last weeks of October, things began to unravel. Bathed and in their jammies, instead of calming the #$%@ down, my kids began tearing through the house like a medieval mob chasing the village leper. If their dad offered to help them do anything they refused him almost violently (not half as satisfying as one might think). With mischievous grins, my darlings unleashed a litany of ludicrous complaints and requests. They needed more water. The water wasn’t cold enough. They were plagued by painful legs, throats and bellies. They needed different loveys, more hugs, kisses, songs, rocking and more time from the parent who charged with tucking them in.
The sweet, loving and efficient bedtime I had envisioned as treasured part of parenting, had not only run past me, but had hocked a fat loogie in my face. I felt both persecuted and like a craptacular parent as impatient to the point of desperation, I muttered f-bombs in rapid fire. Brush your $#%&ing teeth. Pick a $#%&ing book. Lie the $#%& down. Nurturing mom, I was not.
I was a maniac prison warden.
It had to end.
I consulted a sleep guru book – the one written by someone whose name plus “ize” had come to be (mistakenly and unfortunately) synonymous with undergoing the excruciating, yet in the end, can-I-get-an-Amen rewarding process of letting your kid drown in his own tears so you could at long last get some decent sleep.
He drove his point home that as benevolent as we fancied ourselves, we were not in control. Far from it. In fact, we were being played like a Casio at a low-end cocktail party.
We needed to refuse to let them choose which parent did what, to stop being their personal snack and beverage carts, and at all costs, without locking her in, prevent Child A from leaving her room.
We needed to stop being our kids' bitch.
Our new plan was to:
• Get pajamas on, teeth brushed, hair braided and stories read in less than 30 minutes.
• Provide a small amount of water.
• Refuse to provide snacks of any kind.
• Treat children in their rooms like intruders trying to gain entry to our home. Hold the door closed if necessary. Then move to gates, as many as necessary, perhaps fastened to the doorframe. Stop at nothing including installing invisible fencing or building a scaled down model of the former Berlin Wall.
• If any child did escape the confines of his bedroom, he or she would calmly and rationally, be placed back in bed as many times as necessary.
• If none of this should work, drink more wine, eat more fat-ass-comfort food and pray to the God of Difficult Stages that this hell would soon end.
None of it did work. At all. After refusing to give snacks to Child A because of this child's failure to eat dinner, one night I played tug-of-war with Child A's bedroom doorknob. After giving that up, Child A left the bedroom 10 times. Yet another Bedtime Fail.
Then finally we went to the star chart thing. If they stayed in their beds at bedtime they'd get a star. Five stars equalled a treat. And just to help things along, we took away their fave stuffed animals. They would have to stay in bed quietly for 10 minutes to earn them back.
And just like that, Bedtime Hell became weaker and weaker and then a memory. It was over. The star chart rocked! And just when we thought things couldn't get any better, it happened.
The end of Daylight Savings Time. The kids were out cold by 9 p.m., which was early for us.
This fabulosity lasted for one week, before the bedtime shitsicle returned. In full force.
There is not enough wine in the world for this. HELP!