Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bed Time Blues

I have decided to stop fighting with my kids about bedtime. I've been Sisyphus for far too long here trying to get my kids in bed by 7:30. For anyone who doesn't have children, this seems to be a no-brainer. Right? I mean, who fights with a 3-year old, let alone 2 of them. Just tell them to go to bed! Everyone who has kids has already sighed and poured a drink.

Here's what bedtime looks like for the un-initiated:

6:00pm: children run amok while I try to clean off the table and wrangle leftovers. When I say 'run amok' don't for a minute think I'm exaggerating. I may be prone to hyperbole (what?! I know. me! of all people. stretching the truth for entertainment) but Z actually does "running exercises" after dinner. If C won't join her in her mad dash from the front door, through the dining room, around the kitchen island and back, she just steals "stinky pink" blanket and C is forced to chase behind her crying and screaming for justice.

6:30pm: I inform children it's getting close to bath time and to please start picking up their toys. This causes immediate deafness and the inability to walk or put any toys away. Ever. When I threaten to throw away toys that have been strewn around the floor, I am cursed in secret twin language of 'Diggi'. Don't worry, even if you can't speak Diggi, you know when you've been told off. Much like Italian, there are hand gestures.

7:00pm: The Poseidon Adventure begins. Some of you may call this bath time. Make no mistake, people in the first three rows WILL be getting wet. and not just an errant splash or two. Sometimes whole buckets of water slosh over the side of the tub onto the "bather" I try to save this particular joy for when H is home or grandma's here, but it's summer and we're extra stinky when it's hot out.

7:30pm: Attempt to wrangle wet children out of the tub and into pajamas. Again with the immediate deafness and inability to walk or control any of your limbs. Also, there is the torturing of the cat to be done. No evening is complete without having to pry a retaliating furry blender off of someone's naked back, while someone else is kicking you in the chest to avoid the evil that is pajama pants.

8:00pm: (have you noticed that it's 2 hours since we started?) serve snack of warm (not too hot, not too cold, just right...) chocolate milk and graham crackers. sometimes this also involves a 'story' typically the three little pigs or bears or occasionally Rapunzel but with alternate endings that Daddy made up. Some of which I don't know.

8:15pm: Cajole, beg and finally scream at short people to get up the stairs. This is made more difficult by the aforementioned leg disorder. Then you start again by trying to herd them into the upstairs bathroom to brush the graham cracker crumbs out of their teeth. Eventually you grab them by the forehead and much like the old "flip-top head" toothbrush ads, manage to scrape most of the cookie off.

8:30pm: Finally fling children into beds. Sit on the floor in between two toddler beds and read two stories (as we cannot agree on ONE story, we must each pick our own) frequently stop reading to tell people to get back in bed, move their heads from in front of the book, or answer any myraid of questions about the illustrations.

8:45pm: Turn off light, turn on star-turtle, turn on sound machine and sit on one bed to sing a song. then sit on other child's bed to sing HER song. Give kisses, answer 16 more questions, hear 4 secrets and 1 "serious problem". Turn on ipod lullaby playlist, blow an even number of kisses from the door. attempt to sneak out of bedroom with out letting the cat in. Lock gate at the top of the stairs and trip down the first 3 steps as cat has been waiting for you. maliciously. He has not forgotten who's side you took during the cage match earlier in the dressing portion of your evening.

9:00pm: Fall on bed. Remember laundry. Write list of things you didn't finish doing. pour large glass of wine. fall asleep before you can drink it.

As you can see the entire thing takes me about 3 hours to do on my own. I swear that I am not stretching the times on this at all. So you tell me, save skipping the bath (which I do, quite frequently in the winter) how on earth could I get them in bed any earlier? So I've decided I don't care. what's the difference? they sleep until 8:30 or 9 in the morning and I can get up before them and start whatever I need to get done for the day. But for some reason, i feel like I am falling short in the "getting people to bed at a reasonable hour without screaming" department.

In an unrelated note, Sam the Man just heard H close his car door in the driveway and jumped up to greet him at the door. and possibly rat me out for my poor conduct. He's a vengeful bastard and I even gave him a mouse toy with feathers to play with today. Feathers, for God's sake! It's really not my fault that C threw it somewhere he can't seem to locate. She hides stuff at my mother's house that we're still looking for. She's good at that. But crap at remembering. Which is why I spend an inordinate amount of time scouring the house for Stinky Pink and find her in cookware, my sock drawer, a bin of dress up clothes, on the bookshelf and in my shoe.

And people wonder why I drink.


LauraC said...

Hey I have been reading since you've been back but haven't had time to comment. I feel this pain! It takes me an hour once I get the boys upstairs to get them into bed. Here are some tips that work for us but may not work for you.

1. We do snack time and brush teeth BEFORE bath time. Once we go upstairs, we do not come downstairs. Too much insanity.

2. During clean up, I literally stand over them and give them tasks. When I give them an open-ended task like "clean up" they can not do this without ADD. So I will say - Alex clean up all the cars, Nate clean up all the books. When they start acting ADD, I tell them - pick up this toy.

3. Bathtime I am a meanie. They get one warning for splashing and then they are removed from the tub. Sometimes they scream in protest but 99% of the time, they splash once and then they are done.

4. Bedtime I also a meanie. I'm NOT really mean, I just set strict and firm limits. Each kid gets one book choice. We sit on the floor together to read so they can point to things and talk about the story. Then they get in bed and it's one kiss, one hug, and good bye and quiet time. That's it.

Jon is gone 2-3 nights a week so I've done solo bedtime and bathtime since the boys were about 3 months old. I run a tight ship and stay firm about the routine otherwise it takes too much time and I am exhausted!

Oh and for a little while I went to showers instead bc I could justify that the running water got them just as clean as a bath with soap. Then I would just lay on my bed and listen to them play in the shower. Much harder to splash and go crazy in there.

The Anonymous Platypus said...

my upstairs bathroom is on it's way to becoming bath-friendly and I think you are right that limiting everything to one floor will make a huge difference!

I've read your posts about having the boys shower and it is a fond dream of mine. Every once in a while I can convince them to rinse off under the shower head, but Zoe is still so afraid that I have to hold her hand and Chloe has to show her 50times that it's not scary :)

We have a very set bedtime ritual with one story each and one song each, but you know they always push the limits... last night they just made me laugh with their comical stalling "Mommy, I have somefing really REALLY important to tell you!" "what is it?" "uh, um, uh, I love you?"

I used to do baths every night or every other when they were smaller, but over the winter they had such bad eczema that I decreased frequency. I think I'm just out of practice now :)

Howie works pretty late and usually isn't home until way after bedtime, but at least I can count on him (most of the time) to run the dishwasher or flip over a load of laundry. If I leave a big note. :)