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Dear Scary Mommy,
I am in bedtime hell right now. Let’s be honest, back in PCD – you know Pre-COVID Days – getting my kids to go bed was challenging at best, disastrous at worst, but at least I could count on them to go night-night at a reasonable hour and stay in their own beds all night long. I was able to enjoy some “me time” binging Schitt’s Creek and sipping a glass of Pinot, but now, I’m lucky if I can get my kids in bed before damn near midnight. And then there are the pop-outs throughout the night. No one ever ends up sleeping in their own bed. I’m exhausted AF and if I have to listen to my MIL tell me how my kids “need a schedule” one more time, I’m gonna fucking lose it. HELP!
Wait a minute – have you been spying on my family? Because other than the not-sleeping-in-their-own-beds part, you have described my family’s situation to a T. You are describing damn near all of us, my friend. There’s a reason why the book “Go the Fuck to Sleep” is a wildly popular bestseller.
A few months ago, when things shut down and the world was flipped upside down, it was hard to know all of the ways our lives would be impacted. But now we know – absolutely every fucking thing will be impacted.
My advice to you comes down to two things. First, let go of all expectations and lower your standards. Good, now lower them some more. When we compare our current situation to the ways we were function before in PCD, as you call it, it’s hard not to look at all the ways we aren’t measuring up. We’re edgier with our family. Our kids are getting hours more screen time than we ever would have allowed before. And bedtimes have flown out the window. But you know what? That’s okay. These aren’t normal circumstances and we need to try to stop comparing our current way of life to what it was when things were “normal.”
So bedtime is a little – or a lot later – so what? Maybe that works better with your kids’ natural sleep schedules. In a matter of ten weeks, my 10- and 13-year-old went from a 9:00 bedtime to stumbling into bed around 11 or 12 and sleeping hours later than before. So what? Just because this sleep routine wouldn’t have worked when our lives were consumed with school and sports and activities, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for us now.
Is there a time of night when your kids seem to go to bed more easily? Work with that. Do they need five stories read instead of the usual two? Plan on it. Do they find their way into your room every night? Stop fighting it, and set up a sleeping bag on the floor (or maybe even invest in a bigger bed).
Another piece of advice that I’ve found helpful whenever it comes to kids is: meet them where they are. In other words, stop trying to change them, and follow their lead – within reason, of course. Maybe – once you let go of expectations – you’ll find that the later bedtimes and family bed is actually working for everyone. You can tell your mother-in-law and Karen from the Facebook mom’s group to MYOB whenever they tell you that “kids need a schedule” or pipe in with comments about how “their little angels never get out of bed at night.” Chances your MIL has never had to parent through a global pandemic so her opinion is invalid, and Karen down the street is full of shit anyway.
Bottom line: bedtime is a shitshow under the best of circumstances. And these are not the best of circumstances. Lower your expectations and do what works for your family.