Reality Bites – Bedtime

I’ve always find it quite amusing when I hear people talk about the sleeping routines they establish with their babies.  Not because these in themselves are funny, but because the fact is I NEVER had any luck instigating a solid routine with either of my kids.  My babies were firmly in control of the when and how much in the sleeping department and I was totally at their mercy.  I learned soon enough that that was just how it was going to be and I better get used to it.  I guess, given this, it should have come as no surprise when the toddler bedtime battles began.

If someone asks me when my kids go to bed, I say with outward confidence “7.30”.  Now I think it’s time to give you an idea of just what this 7.30pm bedtime actually looks like.

Me: Time to do teeth and hair girls.
Girls: I’m not going first!/Ouch that hurts, stop pulling/THAT’S ENOUGH!………

Me: Go and pick two books each…. NOT LONG ONES.
Girls: How about three?
Me: No, two.
Girls: How about one long one and one short one?
Me: Okay
Me: No I’m not reading four Dr Seuss books, go and pick two others.
Me: Oh God, do we really have to read the Jolly Postman again?  Okay… fine, let’s go.

Reading on Miss Four bed, Miss Two throwing herself backwards off the bed every two minutes, screaming “Stop Talking!”  Miss Four asks forty questions per page, often the same questions every page and often relating to what is about to happen in the story which if she SHUT UP AND LISTENED she would find out without having to ask questions.  I read somewhere that reading twenty minutes a night is really important and so is letting your kids ask questions during the books, but oh my lord does this do my head in.

8.00pm (later if the story time has been particularly arduous)
Me: Okay that’s it.  Time to sleep.
Girls: Can we have two lullabys?
Me: One
Me: Okay fine, two lullabys, then it’s sleeping time, promise?
Girls: Promise
Me : Sing two lullabys (Puff the Magic Dragon and Morningtown Ride, again with Miss Two throwing herself off the bed every two minutes).

Me: Okay now it’s sleeping time.  Lights out, stay in bed.
Girls: NOOOOOO we need a snuggle.
Me: I just gave you a snuggle while we were reading and while we were singing the lullabys.  I’m going. Good night!
Lights get turned off

Me: Fine, be quick.

Me: What are you doing in there?
Miss Four: Nothing (always a worrying answer)
Me: Well, hurry up
Miss Four:  Give me some privacy (if only I could get the same!)
Me: Okay times up, get back to bed.
Miss Four: (coming out of the toilet finally) I need a kiss and cuddle.
Me: Fine, then straight back to bed.

Miss Two: I bumped my head! I bumped my head!
Me: Well if you stayed in bed you wouldn’t be able to bump your head, now go back to bed

Miss Four: We need a drink!
Me: No
Miss Four: We CAN’T sleep unless we get a drink.  We’re thirsty
Miss Two: THIRSTY!!!!!
Me: Fine, one drink, but I’m not leaving the water bottle there (we learnt that the hard way, Miss Two tips it all over her bed thus forcing the lights back on and a bed that needs changing.  Miss Four drinks the whole thing right before finally falling asleep then wets the bed at 3am).  Now you’ve had a drink, a snuggle, a lullaby, it’s time to SLEEP.

Miss Four:  I need the toilet again.
Me: No, you just went.
Miss Four: But I REALLY need the toilet, I just had a big drink.
Me: FINE, you’ve got two minutes.

Miss Four: I’m coming, I’m coming
Miss Four : I need another kiss ad cuddle

Miss Two: I need a tissue.
Me: No
Me: Fine, here’s a tissue, NOW GO BACK TO BED.

Miss Four: Mum, Miss Two’s on my bed!
Me: I’m not coming in, go to sleep!
Miss Four: She’s jumping on my neck!
Me: Go to sleep!
Miss Four: She fell off my bed!
Me: Right if I have to come in here one more time there’s no TV tomorrow.  Miss Two stay in bed!


Me: Aaaah I think they’re finally asleep.
Mr Good: What’s that noise?
He goes to explore….. finds Miss Two in the study, playing Duplos
Mr Good:  Miss Two!  What are you doing?  Go back to bed and stay there!

This goes on…. and on….. and on until far too late, sometimes after 10pm.  Miss Four inevitably crashes earlier than my night owl, Miss Two.  It’s infuriating, it’s exhausting and it’s every night.  I’m hoping four year old kinder four days a week for Miss Four (that’s a lot of fours) will help… just another reason I’ll love kinder.  And then it will just be a battle with a very cheeky Miss Two.  So when I say my kids go to bed at 7.30pm it’s true, they just don’t stay there until much, much later.  And that’s just my reality.

So now please advice, how do I overcome what has become a nightly nightmare?  Does it pass?  Do the nighttime shenanigans ever settle down?  What are your best bedtime tricks?

And finally, Jess had a fabulously funny and relatable list last week, I can’t wait to see what she has on offer this time. Make sure you check it out.


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20 Responses to Reality Bites – Bedtime

  1. Liz says:

    After insisting I (or her father) lie with her every night while she fell asleep for the first 6 years of her life, at 7 she dropped this requirement and now happily reads a chapter or two to herself (or to me) before I turn out the light and she falls asleep. YAY!!!!! My Mr 4 is currently going through the get up 15 times phase. BOOOOOOO. If he gets too annoying with this I admit to lying with him until he falls asleep – usually a quicker process than all the ups and downs…

    • Barbara Good says:

      This comment fills me with all sorts of happiness Liz. Firstly, that it’s not just me with bedtime battles. And secondly that they do eventually get to an age when then just read themselves to sleep with ease. I wish I had the lying with them til they fall asleep option, mine just get more excitable and silly if I stay in there (think it’s because they share a room). I did do that with Miss Four a couple of years ago for many, many months. I agree it’s definitely a quicker process when it works.

  2. skud says:

    Hmm, you mention Miss Two being a nightowl. I’m a nightowl too, by temperament and habit, which is bad when you have a day job. I actually saw a sleep psychologist about it a while ago and found ways to get myself on a bit more of a diurnal track so I could interact with the rest of the world. If your kids are also tired/slow moving in the mornings, I may have some ideas for you (which have worked well when I shared them with a friend with a bit older nightowl kid). But if they are up early too then I have no idea!

    • Barbara Good says:

      Yes, she’s definitely more into late nights and late mornings. She would sleep til well after nine if it wasn’t for her sister coming in and out of the room and household noise in general (not to mention having to be at kinder by 8.30am two mornings a week). And she is horrible in the mornings if she’s been up early after one of her difficult nights – she also wakes up a lot overnight and has nightmares. Her sister is the opposite, jumps out of bed early every morning and is ready to get stuck into the day from that first minute.

  3. I can’t remember now how we eventually got through this stage, but the good news is – it will pass. It takes a while. I think it took a while for ours to finally understand that we were not going to engage with them again after bedtime. We ramped up slowly to bedtime, doing the same thing each night, dinner, playtime, bath, story and bed. We had a few toddler months with the bedtime up and downs, but they did eventually go away. It was maddening while it was happening, I do remember that much.

  4. narf77 says:

    It was SUCH a long time ago and I have most effectively and efficiently blocked it out so I officially “can’t remember” (that’s my story and I am sticking with it for the sake of today’s sanity) I remember being a new mum of baby number 1 and him being awake all night and sleeping all day. I didn’t realise that this wasn’t normal until I took him for his first neonatal visit and by then it had become a habit…a bad habit! I learned to love “The Young and the Restless” that I am sure they put on loop for parents who are forced to stay up all night, every night…it went downhill from there and after 2 more attempts at “normal parenting” and 2 more bolshie kids I just gave up and eventually they sorted themselves out. I find the best way of dealing with it is to put your fingers in your ears and yell out loud “I CAN’T HEAR YOU I CAN’T HEAR YOU I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!” After a few nights they realise that “YOU CAN’T HEAR THEM” and they give up trying to fight over who gets the most of your frazzled end of day attention and once they learn to read themselves, the game is half won (then you just have to confiscate the torch at 12 pm after the teacher sends notes home to ask you why your children are sleeping on the desk through maths 😉 )

    • Barbara Good says:

      I can just imagine how much of the reality of this time is going to be wiped from my memory in a few years time (like the newborn days already, just a fuzzy memory now thank goodness). I shall be employing the fingers in the ears, “I can’t hear you” tactic from now on. Just my style of parenting.

      • narf77 says:

        Glad I could help. Back in my day it was followed by bribes and promises of “you can have icecream for breakfast if you go to bed…” and “I think I can hear Santa with his listening trumpet and he is listening to you guys RIGHT NOW!” (this went from early January onwards and was most effective while the memories of Christmas presents dangled in their minds…) always ready to help a fellow parent survive the apocalypse that is your children’s childhood 😉

      • Barbara Good says:

        Bribery, every mother’s secret weapon yes? I just bribed the kids with fairy floss (I know total sugar + chemicals! Bad mother!!!) to clean up their toys. Now they’re watching TV so they don’t mess it up again. Oh yeah, that’s right, mother of the year award coming my way.

      • narf77 says:

        LOL! As my old gran used to say “Needs must when the devil drives!” and sometimes you just do what you do and bollocks to “good parenting” if it works…it works, and if it works and that means you don’t put your children in the garbage bin on bin day it’s ALL good 😉

  5. renlikesred says:

    J4 is awesome – has always been: stories, bed, sleep. R2 is much more difficult and if the door is not shut he will be up and down all night. Now that they are sharing a room we have to divide and conquer or R will keep J up all night.. J has a story with Hubby on his dad’s bed and falls asleep there then is transferred to his own bed later. R has a story on the couch with me then goes to bed. With the door open at first – this almost never works. The door then gets shut and he often falls asleep carrying on on the floor behind his door. I go in once or twice but tend to ignore a lot of his rot. Some beautiful nights they both fall asleep on the couch after their bath whilst watching the gruffalo or something like that. I must admit though, they’re both rarely ever still awake past 9pm so I really do feel for you. I go mad when it’s much later than 8!

    • Barbara Good says:

      Yes, it’s my second child that seems to cause the catastrophe at bedtime too…. when she was away recently we had no dramas whatsoever! Sadly none of our doors close properly, the curse of a very old house. We have found her in many different rooms, asleep in random places and positions (kneeling on a small wooden chair!) I wish I could say it was earlier than 9, that would give me a whole extra hour or more each night!

  6. renlikesred says:

    As if to prove my point, J fell asleep on the couch tonight at 7.30 and R was still running around up and down at 9pm.!

  7. Oh I can relate. We still have 2 awake although Miss 4 has just started her marathon book and storytelling session with daddy to get her to sleep (she screams “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” and wakes the house if he dares to leave early) and Mr 5 is STILL cleaning up (or meant to be) his toys. Mr 2 actually faceplanted at the table and miraculously transferred to bed although if he stays asleep when Mr 5 goes to bed it will be a miracle. Mummy is close to blowing a gasket and Daddy is gagging for time to veg out. I cannot wait until bedtime gets easier.

    • Barbara Good says:

      I’ve cut our marathon to a half marathon, it HAD to me done. But it’s still long, and ever wanting to be further drawn out. I too am longing for the day this bit gets easier.

  8. belinda says:

    Hi Barbara,

    I too have sleeptime challenges, a bit of a rude shock after our previous 15 min settle time, so please feel reassured that not everyone has angels that drop off the minute someone decides it’s time they go to bed.

    No idea if it would be of any use to you but as I was reviewing toddler taming recently, when we were having a bad day Dr Greens patent rope trick caught my attention. I don’t use it atm cause my boy is still sleeping in a cot thus the status of the door is basically irrelevant right now but with your comment about your inability to close doors I thought it just might be helpful for you.

    What he does is connect a rope to the inside handle of the kids door then run it to the nearest other door and adjust it so that when forced the door will open, so they can see out an assure themselves that overall everything is ok, but only to a width of less that the youngest child’s head so they can’t actually leave the room.

    If you are going to do it I suggest playing around with a couple of other doors to get a feel for how it’s likely to work and how to adjust it as he does have a situation in the book where he personally misjudged the gap needed and they ended up with a stuck head 😦

    Kind Regards

  9. Pingback: The Honesty Column: Mission – Bedtime. Bravery Required. | the stretched imagination

  10. Jess Mc says:

    Tee hee hee, Oh Barbara you do make me laugh. Well, Miss Two made me laugh the loudest with her constant throwing of herself! NEVER! 🙂 I love how narf77 has called it an apocalypse of early childhood. My word that’s what it is. And it’s not fun all the time. And I want some quiet time to myself at night and I don’t get it unless I stay up too late then am too wrecked for the next day and then I’m Grumpy Mum, and then….meh. Cup of tea anyone?

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