Ask any parent what they think about bedtime and you will likely be met with stories of tantrums, drama, and other bullshit. Because bedtime with children is nearly always bullshit. If you’re one of the lucky unicorn parents, whose child goes to bed, stays in bed, and falls asleep without drama, we can’t be friends.
OK, just kidding, we can still be friends, just please don’t tell me about your sleep-loving unicorn baby. The rest of us spend bedtime fighting the good fight, because kids need sleep, and honestly, we have no other choice.
Bedtime is unavoidable, because you can’t just leave kids to their own devices, unless you want to wake up to a house fire. On a good night, I only have to tell my kids, be quiet and go to sleep 23 times. One of them is constantly trying to get out of bed to get a drink or to tell me “one more thing.”
NO! No more things! It is bedtime, and mama needs you to close your eyes and drift the hell off, so I don’t lose my damn mind. Because, let’s be honest, after non-stop kid chaos, post-bedtime is my well-deserved reprieve. It’s a tiny bit of respite before the nonsense starts all over again the next day. Those few hours without the kids allow me time to talk to my spouse (or not talk to him), mindlessly scroll the Internet, or do whatever the hell I want—in silence. Bedtime is upfront bullshit with a big payout, and that’s why my kids have a strict bedtime.
Some might say it’s an early bedtime, because my kids are in bed by 7:30, winding down with a book or a little iPad action. (Don’t come at me with your screen time bullshit, Becky. I’m not here for it.) When 8:00 hits, it’s lights out, and I don’t want to hear your little voices until the morning. If you need a drink, you better get that out of the way by 7:59.
Does this strict bedtime always go as planned? Oh, hell no! But that’s even more reason to start our routine early and stick with a strict lights-out policy by 8 o’clock. The later we start our routine the more drama ensues. There is zero benefit in letting my kids stay up late. I’ve tried it. They don’t sleep in later the next day—they still get up at the ass-crack of dawn to get a jumpstart on their daily mayhem. Oh, and then they’re tired, emotional disasters. Tired, unreasonable, emotional disasters. You only need to survive that once to know what I’m talking about. It is actual hell.
I’m not unreasonably inflexible with this whole strict bedtime thing — there are certain events that require a late bedtime, and I get that. For example, Fourth of July fireworks, vacation, or a fun summer sleepover. But, if we are talking about our normal routine, then yeah, early bedtime it is.
If your kids do their own thing and go to bed when they get tired, that’s cool too. Parenting is a fly-by-the-seat of your pants gig, so doing what works for your family is a win in my book. My kids need to sleep and I need them to not be awake, so I can live my life in peace for at least a few hours a day. The constant screaming and nonstop questions are enough to send a woman over the edge. By 6 p.m., my eye starts twitching anytime someone says Mom.
I need bedtime just as much as they do. I’ll feed them dinner, wash them up, and tuck their little butts in bed as early as I can, because tomorrow morning will be here before we know it.
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