Sunday, April 13, 2014

Giving In

Last week a friend and favourite blogger of mine wrote about the chaos of her kids bedtime routine.

I really liked this post by The Mother Load Australia, because I related.  Hells yes.

The bedtime routine for the kids in our house?  Well I'm scared to spell it out, lest it seems completely chaotic.  Stupidly chaotic.

For starters it takes two hours.  Yep. Two hours.  That's two hours of intensive, with the kids, guiding them through, not checking emails, not answering the phone, two hours of undistracted attention.

It starts at 6pm in the bathroom.  Teeth.  Toilet.  Okay, everybody into the bedroom.  Pyjamas!  Choose a book (and another!).  Storytime.  Ahh, here the magic slowly starts to unfold, crazy kiddies start to calm down as we read a story, then another (and sometimes another and another after that).

Then I curl up with my son in his bed.  Yep, read another story.  If my older daughter wants to join us, she can.  Otherwise she'll make loom bands (oh yes! loom bands!) on her bed while I read some more and then rub his back off to sleep.

Once he's asleep I curl up with my daughter and it's her turn.  Another story.  A big girl one, like Billie B Brown or Ivy and Bean.  We take turns reading paragraphs.  Then there's more magic, real, precious magic.  

After we read it's lights out and I snuggle with her until she's asleep.  

But in those minutes between lights out and sleep-breathing there is gold-dust and fariy-sprinkles.  For this is when she talks to me and I find out, in the dark of her bedroom and the warmth of her bed, what happens to her those six hours she's been at school.

Oh, I ask her long before that, of course.  I ask her in the car on the way home, I ask her over dinner, I ask her when we are tidying up or just hanging around.  I know better than to ask her when she's watching the telly.  But still the response is the same, one of about three options "I forget", "I don't remember" or "Nothing".

But when she's wound down, and finding an excuse not to go to sleep?  That's when I get the good stuff.  And it's golden, truly golden.

There was a time I would yell and scream and silently curse my kids at bed time.  Just freakin' go to sleep!  In and out of the bedroom I would be pulled as the requests were yelled for water, textas, snacks, toilet, toys.  And each trip getting more and more frustrated (me) and further away from sleep (them).

Then one night I realised - it just dawned on me - they go to sleep at the same time each night, regardless.  Regardless of whether I lose my shit or not, spend time with them or not, pander to their whims or not.  They go to sleep at the same time.  Each night.  Every night.

So I just stopped.  I just stopped being grumpy.  I acquiesced a little more.  I gave in.  Oh yes I did.

And it felt wrong, and counter productive and (to be honest) still a little annoying to be providing bedtime bananas and back rubs and bulldozers, but I was calmer and they were happier and it was nicer.  

And they were still asleep at the same time.

I have this thing, this stubborn thing where I don't like to give in.  If I think I should be saying no to my kids, if I think they are taking advantage of me, or taking the piss, or bending the rules?  I feel like I need to hold firm, to be unbending.  

But what I've found is that I can give in, I can let go.  And when I do sometimes there is an opportunity there for closeness and conversation that there was no room for before.

And that's pretty amazing.

I don't know why I feel like I need to be so rigid - perhaps it was the way my parents were with me and it's just ingrained.  

Or perhaps it's my controlling nature getting it's freak on.  

But what I'm learning more and more is that if I just let go of all that, the kids are alright.  

Better than alright in fact.  Awesome.  And I get to glimpse that awesome that is so often hidden under chores (theirs and mine) and schedules and needing to be somewhere or doing something.

So yeah.  There is a degree of chaos to our bedtimes.  And I won't lie, there are nights I would like to not have to spend two hours reading books and rubbing tiny backs.  

But then I think, in a few short years they won't want me in their beds reading to them and rubbing their backs.

In a few short years those backs will no longer be tiny.  

And I won't get to see their tired eyes drifting into sleep and smell their sweet sleep-breath.  

So I try not to fight it, to try and change it, to try and guide it or even to parent it.

I give in.  

And I just try to enjoy it and hope that it lasts, because really?  I love it.  How could I not.

How does bedtime roll at your place?

Listen to Nilsson The Point Are you Sleeping?

Image Licensed Under Creative Commons


  1. I love your approach to this, OSL. I wish I had some of your patience!!! Sadly, if I lay with my kids they would literally NEVER go to sleep - my two can talk ALL night given the chance (I wonder where they get that from??!!) and it would be me nodding off in their bed well before them! Bravo to you - it's so great when you find a system that works, especially when you get some precious down time with each. xxx

    1. Haha - that's so funny! Why? Because very often I do fall asleep beside them. And also? It is so not a system, just a level of chaos that is easier to give into than to fight against. Did I make it sound like it was a system? Or that it "worked"? Sorry. That's totally my bad. xxx