For the first time since becoming a parent nearly five years ago, I’m making a radical decision about bedtime rituals with my children.
I AM DONE.
It hit me like a life-sized boulder as I was once again DREADING our nighttime routine while cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.
Th emotions came hard and fast as they do every night around 8 pm.
Exhaustion, dread, anger, anxiety — and that feeling that has become so common since becoming a mother — the desperate need to escape. As in, if I don’t get the hell away from my kids and this house, I WILL BLOW.
So what did I do? The same thing I’ve done in the past when I’ve elected to quit taking my medication — caffeine plus alcohol.
That’s right, folks. I reached on in the fridge and grabbed a Micholob Ultra and a Red Bull — mixed those bad boys together and prepared myself for battle.
Then the running began.
I’ve heard that this happens to others, but I can only speak for own experience. When it’s time to sleep, my wild boys don’t collapse from exhaustion. Oh no, they bounce off the walls. They run laps, They leap over the sofa OVER AND OVER.
And they get VERY loud.
I don’t even attempt to stop this craziness anymore. I’m too damn tired.
My four-year-old has been awake since 5:45 this morning and hasn’t stopped. The three-year-old passed out for approximately thirty seconds until his brother smacked him. Nope, no nap for either kid. This mom is WHIPPED.
And did I mention there’s a tropical storm in our area? It has rained all day, and isn’t supposed to let up all week.
That’s right. FIVE straight days of rain and serious little boy energy cooped up in the house.
This mama is edgy!
Back to our bedtime fun.
Once I’m feeling somewhat calm (beer) and alert (caffeine), I tell the kiddos to pick ONE bedtime story each. This has pretty much been our pattern since, well, birth.
Why? Well, because EVERY parenting expert featured in EVERY magazine/book aimed at mothers makes sure we all know that our children’s world most certainly will collapse if they have to go to bed without a story.
Read to your children everyday, say ALL the experts.
I’ve almost finished my drink, consumed for only one reason — to get me through bedtime.
Now the children are running WITH their selected stories.
For the third time, I firmly demand that they get in the bed with their books.
And for the third time, they completely ignore me.
Let me repeat: I AM DONE.
I chug the last of my drink and calmly and authoritatively march to their room and demand that they get in the bed. They do as they’re told and prepare for Mom to read their beloved bedtime stories.
I almost give. I hear the parenting experts in my head: Bedtime rituals give our children security. They need to feel safe before they close their eyes at night.
On and on it goes in my head.
But for now, I choose NOT to listen.
I love my sweet boys more than I can possibly convey, but I told them THREE times to get in the bed, and they flat out did not listen.
I quickly tuck the covers around them, kiss each one and tell him how very much I love him, turn out the lights and walk out of the room.
“You’re not going to read us a story?!!”
I explained my reason, and repeated that I loved them but it was time to sleep.
I suppose they were just wiped out, because they really didn’t complain.
And guess what? It’s not the end of the world.
I’m pretty certain they are not scarred for life.
I think I’ve started my own new ritual — going with my gut and not allowing myself to be pushed around by the plethora of parenting advice out there.
Parenting is NOT easy. And, for me, bedtime is my LEAST favorite time of day. I’m spent and want nothing more than to jump straight in bed.
So, as part of my NEW mental health plan, I will read to my children ONLY if they are bathed, have brushed their teeth, pottied, put on their pjs and are lying in their beds by 8pm. That’s the rule — no exceptions.
I think we will all get along better this way.
This mom really doesn’t want to depend on a nightly MicheloBull to get her through the night.
Mama’s mental health has to be a priority. Perhaps one day, a long, long time from now, my children will thank me.