Nightly Postscript: When Bedtime Is Hell

I’m sick of being pissed off at bedtime.

There was a time when I’d tuck the kids into bed and say something like, “I love you more than all the stars in the sky” or “I love you more than all the donuts in the world”. We’d kiss, and they’d go to sleep without another peep.

I really do remember this happening. . . .twice.

Recently, bedtime features one very tired and end-of-rope mama and three not tired, acrobatic kids. I scramble through three stories, reading as fast as I can without sounding like that guy from those 80’s Fed Ex commercials.

Then, I alternately kiss/scold/threaten/”I love you”/sigh/plead/threaten/tuck in/tuck back in/physically lie child down to be tucked in. Some nights this works, and I sit quietly until three children’s breathing slows to the speed of “sleep”.

Other nights (tonight), I tell them I’m “done for the night”, and stomp out of the room to go sulk. They’ll either quiet down and fall asleep on their own, or Fairly Odd Father will use his daddy voice to quiet them down. Or, I’ll hear them goofing around, and I’ll go back into their room and get angry, frustrated and icky.

Then, when I finally go to bed, I think about how if something terrible were to happen in our home that night, the last memory my kids would have of me is of an angry, frustrated and icky mommy. This thought causes me to get out of bed and stop by their room one last time while they sleep. I straighten their pillows, tuck the blankets around their small bodies and kiss their foreheads. Then, before I leave, I whisper that my love for them is bigger than all the stars in the sky.


  1. DaddyClaxton says

    Amen! @daddyclaxton

  2. The other night I was threatening to close the door (strikes fear in the 4 year old, does nothing to the 2 year old) when my two year old looked at me and said, “And lock it like a cage?’

    Miles and miles away with three different kids, I run the same 90 minute gauntlet. We’re human. ((Hugs))

  3. Yes! I know what you mean. I was just thinking tonight how I would like to sit at 8:00 and watch some shows and have been getting way annoyed because they are not sleeping! Then I think the same as you “what if something happens and I got made at them?” This too shall pass…this too shall pass….this too shall pass!

  4. Karen at Pecked by Ducks says

    How did you get into my house and why are you spying on me? Seriously though, why do they get all hyped up the second we hit jammy time? And why, does my most favorite time with them have to be when their breathing has slowed and I can kiss their tiny hands to my heart’s content?

  5. Ugh. It’s awful, isn’t it? I do not fail to go in after she has fallen asleep and kiss her forehead but sometimes I wish it wasn’t preceded by all that whining. From me…

    It’s hard being imperfect.

  6. i just got angry, frustrated and icky with frannie. for 2 and a half hours. and we go to belgium and leave them with grandparents for a week tomorrow. talk about guilt. not to worry, though, she’ll crawl in our bed within a few hours and snuggle in, and all will be well again with us.

  7. SuburbanCorrespondent says

    Get them to bed early, before you get grouchy. Of course, around here, that would be around 5 PM.

  8. AnotherMomCreation says

    I know exactly what you mean… well so far its just 2 kids I have to tuck but truthfully, I am so tired of the bed time routine and the scolding/yelling/threatening/scolding that goes on.
    You’re not alone.
    Here is what I found myself saying tonight “I LOVE YOU, NOW GOT TO BED AND DON’T GET OUT UNLESS ITS AN EMERGENCY!”

    Does that count as not yelling as the last thing before bed? Maybe I should move the I love you to the end, that might alleviate the guilt.

  9. Every.single.night. (almost) Oh, how I understand.

  10. Same here. I keep telling myself it’s essentially my son’s job as a kid to stall bedtime and push his tired mother to come downstairs after all the shenanigans and pour herself a glass of wine, but it rarely helps (although the wine seems to).

  11. Mine are older now…19 and nearly 15, but I still tuck my daughter in…imagine that.

    I would say two things, actually three. One, make sure they have time to wind down from any physical activity, they need to decompress.

    Two, make sure they get a warm/hot shower or bath before bedtime, maybe some warm milk if they like it. No hot chocolate, that is a stimulant.

    Then have a nightly ritual, and if they are still wound up, then have them lie in bed and gently put your hand on them in the middle of their chest and have them regulate their own breathing. Have them slow themsleves down. Breath in through the nose and out through the mouth and make them DEEP breaths.

    The last activity may be new to them and it may take a while for them to get the knack of it, but once they do, it teaches them to calm themselves down and not rely on an outside resource.

    Hope this helps!

  12. Trenches of Mommyhood says

    The same cycle of events occur in the Trenches as well.

    It’s tough.

  13. Same in our household. And if they all did go down quietly, without any fussing for the night – the first thought would be:

    They must be getting sick!

    And then I’d lay awake waiting for the first cough or whine or rush to the toilet…

  14. The nightly postscript is something no one ever tells you about when you sign on to this crazy ride of parenthood.

    I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

  15. This is the primary reason why I accepted a sub-optimal house (albeit in a great neighborhood) when we moved here: each child has its own bedroom. So we have a bedtime routine, and then they are allowed to turn on some music and read for about 10 minutes. Lights out, and they can leave their music on until the end of the CD. I’ve told them, and meant it, that I don’t care if they’re still awake at midnight… as long as they’re in their beds and quiet for the process.

    Of course there’s nights that have me squawking from the couch, “No more calling… go to sleep!” But most of the time it’s a good system. And it only works because they cannot pester each other in the process.

  16. Use to be Alma. says

    I hear ya. It is not unheard of for my eldest to be up to midnight. And I’ve given up the battle — it’s too draining.

  17. Holy Cow! It was like reading about my life! My THREE girls share a bedroom…..and giggle, chattered, sing, even DANCE after they have been “tucked in” for the night! I would love to be able to sit down and actually watch a show from start to finish, or read a book WITHOUT being interupted 19 million times to quiet them down, answer questions, etc etc.

    One day. Maybe.

  18. Fairly Odd Mother says

    Wow. I’m sure that no one wants to be in my ‘club’, but I’m comforted that I’m not the only one going through this crazy ritual every night.

    Thanks for the support and all the great suggestions. One other thing that seems to help a bit is to go out a couple of evenings a week so that you can avoid bedtime all together. So if anyone has a “Very Important Meeting” I should attend one night, please let me know.

  19. OH, I know this song and dance. We still do it nightly. The 2 year old needs a gink, kiss, or hug 100 times. The older 2 need to use the bathroom, want water, or had a bad dream (3 min after going to bed). I think my answer is to go to bed FIRST! Then I will be blissfully unaware

  20. I used to wonder why my sister in law and bro in law were so grumpy at night, then I had kids. Things are very dicey around here at bedtime, too!

  21. Oh, I’m there, sister. Actually, I should say, “I was there,” but thankfully things have calmed down. It still takes me almost an hour to get both kids down, but that’s because we do the bulk of our reading together at bedtime.

    I think what worked for us was positive reinforcement for a positive bedtime, like a star awarded for each night they went to bed without tears or getting up, leading to a treat after they got 10 stars or whatever.

    That being said, I LOVE having slightly older children.

  22. Mason's Mom says

    I can’t tell you how much this post resonates with me. I hate the nights where I lay in bed feeling terrible about how an otherwise wonderful day has ended.

  23. I just saw a book at the library. The title was something like, “The EASY way to get your kids to sleep.” Wouldn’t every parent know that that’s a complete hoax?

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