A new study from the department of “No Shit, Sherlock” has confirmed that parental stress levels are at peak during dinner, bath, and bedtime. So, good news: if you’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown every night while trying to get pajamas on your squirming toddler — you’re not alone.
An insurance company surveyed over 1,000 parents and found the few hours each evening that contain the feeding/bedtime rituals were the most frustrating part of the day for parents. The Independent analyzed the study and explained, “instructions have to be repeated up to 30 times during the 70 minute evening ordeal, with antics kicking off minutes into meal time.” And look at this gem: “[The study] calculated that parents spend a total of 177 days – almost six months – of their lives feeding and bathing their children, as well as battling to put them to bed before they reach the age of 10.”
That’s a lot of time.
The evening ritual is exhausting: chasing kids around to get their pajamas on and the endless begging for “one more story.” There are some nights when I’m sweating and practically crying trying to get pajama pants on a kicking toddler. That last struggle at the end of your day can feel like a big, fat, fuck you.
That’s why a study like this should bring you some comfort. You’re not a horrible parent. Days are long, kids are hard, and it’s perfectly okay to feel like you’re at the end of your rope after a long day of dealing with work, kids, or both. It’s okay.
It’s also okay to take a step back when you start to feel this way. Let them run around in their rooms for a while. Put them to bed without pajama pants on. Give up and let them play with their toys while you catch up on Scandal or do some deep breathing. A skipped bedtime isn’t the end of the world.
Yes, there are a ton of studies that validate the importance of the bedtime ritual for kids. But you know what else is important? Your sanity. What you should be shooting for with the bedtime ritual is a relaxed, calm ending to both of your days.
Related post: I Hate Putting My Kids to Bed