As a kid, I remember my parents telling me to go to bed, and I’d go upstairs and go to bed. I’m sure my mother would give a different account of the late 70s and early 80s, but I don’t remember a lot of bedtime drama.
The years 2006 – present day, however, will be marked for me by what seems to be the biggest time sucker of all my parenting duties: getting my two children to sleep. As a new parent, I thought we’d find what works, and then, it would always work. Turns out, that’s not the case. Every change in routine, developmental milestone, illness, and vacation has started bedtime back at square one.
What we’ve done:
1) Sat next to them and then gradually moved across the room until we’re out the door and they’re asleep.
2) Sat by the door, directing them to stay in their own beds, until the sun goes down at 10pm most summer nights.
3) Ignored the melee and just listened to the riotous laughter until they both nod off, at about 10pm.
4) Applied a little something called Badger Balm, which includes lavender & menthol, and actually soothes them a little.
We are currently using the divide and conquer approach- the younger one gets to sleep while the older one is taking her bath. When she’s done, she’s got no choice but to be quiet, since her brother is already asleep. When she’s all tucked in, I tell her what time I’m leaving on the digital clock next to her bed. Most nights, it works.
I try to look ahead, and appreciate these evenings when all my children want is me. In ten years, I’ll be the one wanting to hang out in their rooms, and they’ll want to close the door on me. I’ll want to see them tucked in at night, and they’ll be waking me up when they get in so I’ll know they’ve made curfew.
Right now though, I just want to know that I can put the kids to bed and the house will be quiet by the time Raising Hope comes on television. Is that too much to ask?