Time for bed!

I frequently get emails asking me about bedtime and to share my routine. I have resisted mostly because it is chaotic and not very worthy of holding up as some sort of shining example of having it all together.

I am all about bedtime, as in the time my children go to bed, not the time they go to sleep. To me there is a difference. I can’t control their sleep habits, nor do I try. All my children, aside from the youngest two. have reading lights next to their beds. They are allowed to stay up and read quietly on in their beds, play with their Leapsters, or even play a quiet card game with their room mate. Quiet is the keyword for all of these activities.

If they are not quiet I will come upstairs and remind them, or yell at the ceiling downstairs.

As I tell my children, bedtime is not about them, it is about me. At night I need to be off duty and relax without having to attend to the needs of other people. End of the story. Whether or not they are tired doesn’t factor into the equation at all.

My 3 and almost 2 yr olds had been staying up pretty late, past the time that the others went to bed. But I took advantage of the time change to push both of their bedtimes back. My 3 yr old is now going to bed between 7:00 and 7:30, and she is falling asleep almost immediately. She used to spend the 7:00 hour completely would up, running around like lunatic and making her siblings who were trying to relax angry.

I have found that children, generally speaking, act wild and hyper when they are tired. It almost seems counter-intuitive, but sleep seems to beget sleep.

Bedtime is my least favorite time of the day. It is usually chaotic feeling. People are tired and cranky and I don’t have a much left in the way of patience. I really just want everyone to get with the program and shower, brush their teeth and put on their pajamas like they do EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. But yet, every night they act as if they have never brushed their teeth, showered, or worn pajamas. And inevitably I end up yelling at someone for something and then I feel bad, because who wants to end their day on a bad note?

Last night I tried to jot down everything as it happened so that I could “live” blog it. It is pretty much the same every night, just switch the kids and the scenarios around.

Blogging bedtime here:

6:30: dinner is finished and now clean-up begins. The kids are excited to watch a Netflix movie they got so they are motivated. Some nights they are not and getting them to help clean up is more like pulling teeth. I ask people to do various chores.

6:45: They have cleaned up and done everything I have requested of them. They settle onto the couch to watch their movie. Some fighting over who is going to sit where (them), some yelling (me), finally settling on seats and requesting popcorn (agreed).

Serve popcorn. Watch almost 2 yr old throw his all over the room.

7:10: bring two youngest, who are not interested in the movie, upstairs for a quick bath.

carry two wet toddlers wrapped in towels downstairs to get them dressed in their pajamas in front of the warm wood burning stove.

7:22: chase wet naked toddlers around the house

7:25: tickle wet naked toddlers into submission and put their pajamas on them

7:30: Brush the toddler’s teeth

Carry 3 yr old up to bed while she protests mightily that she is NOT tired. Tuck her in, sing a song, arrange the stuffed animals, turn on her fan (for white noise), and leave the room.

7:40: Back downstairs and toss some laundry into the washer (I will discover later that I forgot to turn the washer on), fold some laundry from the dryer.

: movie is over. Send 7yr old upstairs fro a quick shower. Give 10 yr old a broom and ask him to sweep up the tv room since it looks like we popped the popcorn in there without a lid. It is everywhere, thanks to the toddler set.

8:00 tell 9 yr old to go upstairs and get into the shower.

realize 7 yr old is STILL in the shower. Go upstairs and tell him to get out. he tells me, “But I haven’t washed myself yet.” I say, “WHAT have you been doing in there?” He answers, “Pretending I was running in the rain.” I say, “Well, you need to get out now.” One minute with a soapy washcloth and he is done.”

8:15 9 yr old gets into shower. Admonish him to be quick since there is still one more shower to go.

Tell everyone to brush to their teeth.

8:16 Tell everyone to brush their teeth.

8:18 Tell everyone to brush their teeth.

8:20 Tell everyone to go brush their teeth.

: Grab 5 and 7 yr olds. Look them both in the eye. “Have you brushed your teeth?” “No.” “Why not?” Send them upstairs to their bathroom to brush their teeth. Tell them to come back down so I can check them. Say the same to 11 yr old.

8:25 10 yr old has brushed his teeth and comes to me to look at them. Give him the ok and send him off to shower. Tell him to come down and say good night after he is done.

8:27 11 yr old finishes brushing his teeth. We talk about his dental appt and upcoming orthodontia work. He kisses me goodnight and heads up to his room.

8:30 9 yr old comes down dripping wet with pajamas on. “Why are you dripping everywhere?” I ask. “I couldn’t find my towel. It’s ok my pajamas will dry me.” He answers. Ask him to please dry up the puddle he has left on the floor of the kitchen.

8:33 5 and 7 yr olds race downstairs pushing and shoveing each other in an effort to get to me first. Check their teeth. Give them the thumbs up. Kiss them and send them up to bed. tell them I’ll be up in a few minutes to tuck them in.

8:50 Rob arrives home from work and suddenly all the children have scurried out of their rooms like moths to the light. I toss up my hands and sit on the couch with the almost 2 yr old to watch the end of Deal or No Deal.

10 yr old comes downstairs to talk to me. I notice he is still in his clothes. “What happened to the shower?” I ask. “Oh I was cleaning out the closet and I refolded all the towels for you. Then I had to organize my bookshelf. Then I decided to examine each and every Lego that I own…” Ah, the beauty of ADHD. I send him back up with clear instructions to go directly to the shower, or else.

9:00 get the baby his bottle of milk he has been bugging me about. Rob sits down on the couch with his dinner having sent everyone back upstairs to their rooms. Turn on Heros.

bring baby upstairs and put him in his crib. Do our little song and dance routine. Turn off light , turn on fan, shut door.

9:15 Go across hall to room that the 5 and 7yr olds share. Tuck them it their beds. Read them each a Berenstain bear story. Get 5 yr old a glass of water. Say good night and tell them that I am off duty and will not entertain anymore requests until morning.

9:24 Go down hall and remind 9 and 10yr olds of the same thing.

Nearly two hours after the first child went to bed and three hours after the night time routine began, I finally flop down on couch while Rob informs me what I missed on tv.

I won’t see anyone under 7 again until the next morning. The older ones will each wander down a couple times over the next hour to tell me something of earth shattering importance.

Carmen has blogged about this same topic over on her blog today. I haven’t read hers yet, but I am willing to bet her evening routine is way more organized than mine.

17 Responses to “Time for bed!”

  1. Chris Says:

    “I couldn’t find my towel. It’s ok my pajamas will dry me.”

    Sorry, I laughed out loud on that one…

    Mine likes to dry off in our bed. On my side. Nothing like getting into a wet bed.

  2. ephelba Says:

    I’m soooo glad to hear this! Seriously! You have no idea. I have such unrealist expectations of myself sometimes, and reading about someone else sets my perspective straight. Thanks!

  3. Kelly Says:

    This sounds like my house. My son takes FOREVER in the shower. I always wonder what he is doing in there.

    I live for quite time. Now if only I could get my 2 yo in her own bed.

  4. Michelle Says:

    Woohoo! It’s almost exactly my house. every. doggoned. night. for the last 12 years…

    I want to commend your 9 yo. At least he puts on clothes. My 7 yo comes out naked running through the living room and kitchen to get to the laundry room looking for a towel and will stand there dripping forgetting what he’d gone to look for in the first place. Twenty minutes later someone will have to yell at him to find some clothes already. (He’ll be holding a washcloth or pair of underwear in front of himself for modesty’s sake. ROFL!) Of my 5, he’s the biggest challenge in all things routine - “What? It’s time to get dressed/brush teeth/pick up my mess AGAIN? I did that yesterday!”

    On another note, my toddler shouts out “Deal” when he sees Howie Mandel and DH and I are of the opinion that Heroes totally rocks! So cool to know another big family is watching, too.

  5. Wendy Says:

    I like that you tell them that you are off duty until morning. I need to try that, but I dont think it will make much difference to the 9 mos old.

  6. Susan Says:

    “Pretending I was running in the rain” ~ ROFLMAO!!!

    My 11yo takes forever in the shower, too. I can go in there 15 minutes into it and he hasn’t washed one part of his body or shampooed his hair. DRIVES ME NUTS!

    I felt bad; last night, my 7yo was singing some crazy song - LOUDLY - in the tub. Obviously a plea for attention. For some reason, I wasn’t my usual crazed, impatient self, so I sang back, “La Ba Doo Dee Wanna Coocha Hoobee” to her - and then exclaimed, “Oh my GOSH. That is my FAVORITE SONG! How did you know it, too?!” She laughed and laughed, and as I was helping her dry off (otherwise, she puts on her pj’s soaking wet), she said, “I love it when you’re happy, mama. Usually you’re frustrated when I’m in the bath.”

    I felt about an inch high. I have GOT to work on my patience at the bedtime hour!

    Thanks for yet another great post.

  7. Mom on the Gulf Coast Says:

    Save the cheerleader… Save the world. Heros is pretty darn addictive, hope they can keep it up.

    Otherwise, thank you so much for the bedtime routine breakdown, I only have two but it takes 30-40 min to get the 2yo in bed and even then he’s not happy about it. It is very good to know bedtime is chaotic for everyone not just my unorganized butt.

    Also, I too use fans for white noise, initally my husband thought I was weird but he’s gotten used to them, he had too, I wasn’t changing. It’s nice having the fan in our son’s room too so we don’t have to tiptoe around for the rest of the night!


  8. Fairly Odd Mother Says:

    Wow, that sounds pretty organized, all things considered! Loved the wet pajama incident and the running in the shower. Your kids sound awesome.

  9. Heather Says:

    I can’t tell you how hard I laughed at both your 7-year-old not showering and the 9-year-old not drying. Out of total sympathy, I assure you! It’s nice to know we’re not the only ones with these problems.

    Our rule is all children must be in bed by 8pm. Misbehavior can and will result in immediate sleep, and sometimes earlier bedtime. (If you are too tired to behave, you are too tired to read at night!)

  10. clumsyraine Says:

    I had to read the last part twice - you didn’t see anybody UNDER 7 until morning? I would have expected that crowd to be the bad sleeping, up and down’ers, and thought the other half would have had the bedtime thing figured out by then. Shows what I know :)

  11. Rae Says:

    Oh, man, Chris, I totally needed to read this post. I was just thinking about how much I hate doing bedtime, and how I get a little bit frantic because I want the kids to be in bed so badly and then my two year old has to pee one more time and then they need water, but the outside of the sippy cup is wet, so I have to dry it off, and of course they forget how their pyjamas work, just like you said.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  12. Elizabeth Says:

    What is it with seven year old boys and showers? Nathan will stand there for 20 minutes without even getting his hair wet! But heaven forbid I should offer to help him wash his hair, because Mo-o-om, I can do it MYSELF, I’m not a BABY.

  13. Lori Says:

    I like the off-duty thing. My son (only child) was always in bed early when he was younger. Now that he’s 16, it’s harder to explain that I just need a few minutes by myself in the evening to relax and get over the day! I love reading your blog. You make me smile every day!

  14. Nancy Says:

    OH. MY. WORD! It’s nice to hear we’re not the only ones mired in the reminder-cycle of bedtime. I can’t count how many times I’ve barked, “It’s the same EVERY night! How hard can it BE???”

    We’ve even gone so far as to post a sheet in the bathroom and their bedroom with the four points of their “Morning Routine” and “Bedtime Routine” (ala Flylady) that has words AND pictures to follow. Still, they can’t remember what all needs to be done. It’s so frustrating!

    We’ve taken to using a timer in each bathroom to limit shower time, but we often get “But I haven’t washed my hair yet!” when it dings. “Wash your hair FIRST.” is the pre-shower mantra around here.

    I LOVE the off-duty declaration.

  15. Cathy Says:

    If anyone needs a tivo, it’s you, sistah!

  16. Kristi Says:

    I’m sure you’ve heard that old Bill Cosby Himself comedy. The one bit called “The Same Thing Happens Every Night”. Oh yeah, that explains it in detail what bedtime is like. Well, except for the beatings, but you get the drift. I HATE bedtime, but it is the best part of the day when they are all settled down. Usually, my husband is in charge at bedtime because, after all, he needs to spend that time with them, not me who has been with them all day. And we have the same rule-you go to bed at 7:30, whether or not you go to sleep is up to you.

  17. Nickel Says:

    Your kid swept up the popcorn of the 2year old??
    Give that child a hug and kiss from me.