My Dirty Little (Parenting) Secret

October 3, 2018

A miraculous thing happened once school started this year.  It was something I’d been praying for for years.  My husband and I talked about it over and over, we hired specialists, we fought about it, then we resigned ourselves to the fact that even though over couples had it, we were never going to.

But finally, my kids started going to bed at night by 9pm.

That’s right, this is what I’d been praying for.

Friends of mine would say, “Oh my kids are asleep by 7:30” and I would literally smile and think to myself something like FUCK-ME-THATS-NEVER-GOING-TO-HAPPEN-FOR-ME-AND-MY-LIFE-IS-BASICALLY-OVER-UNTIL-MY-KIDS-LEAVE-FOR-COLLEGE.  Something like that.


All summer it was basically “stay late enough at the beach club for my kids to fall asleep in the car” so that I could avoid the whole bedtime routine.  For the most part it worked. (We stayed out pretty late all summer, it was a blast…also, September sucks.) Anyway, I’d given up because after working a sleep counselor (which helped initially) our kids were sucking the life out of us every night at bedtime.  Dylan, my 7 year old son, was always hard to get to sleep ever since we took him out of the crib.  He slept on a cot on the floor of our bedroom for about a year and half, so the fact that we got him into his own bed when we worked with the sleep counselor was pretty magical.

Unfortunately, my kids share a room and a bunk bed situation is what we’ve got going on.  Daphne, 3 years old, is on the bottom while Dylan is on the top.  I even let the kids pick out the bunk bed at Ikea, which is why it doesn’t match the rest of their bedroom furniture.  I tried taking away their screens 90 minutes for bed – which is what sleep specialists recommend.  I tried reading to them, I tried snuggling them, not snuggling them, the chair method, putting them to bed at the same time, at different times, in the same room, in different rooms, I mean, basically I tried everything.  My husband and I gave it everything we had.  And still, no freaking luck.  Bedtime was in some cases taking 2 hours and stretching into 10:30.

How many dishes do you think I want to load into the dishwasher at 10:30? How many loads of laundry do I want to fold? ZERO.

I had nothing left to give.  Forget about actually sitting down to read/watch tv/write/talk to my husband. I was spent, and the only thing I really wanted was comfort Netflix and a jar of Nutella, with a spoon.

When summer was winding down I knew this chaos wasn’t going to work so I decided to come up with my own method.

We gotta have them in their beds by 9. So working backwards:

First, whoever needs a shower gets one.  Sometimes its both kids, sometimes its just one and hopefully it’s zero, because for some odd reason I hate bathing my kids.

Second, they get one show to watch together in my bed.  Their options are Frasier, Friends, Cheers, or Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (click the links for their favorite episodes).  These shows are interesting to them without riling them up (like a kids show would).  I know it’s not perfect parenting, but I was desperate, OK?!  We all have our dirty little (parenting) secrets!

Then its off to their bunks.  Either my husband or I will sit in the room with them until the fall asleep (usually scrolling our phones or maybe reading on my Kindle).  We try not to snuggle Daphne on the lower bunk because it makes Dylan feel major FOMO.  My ego can’t handle getting up on the top bunk and truly feeling my age/weight, so that’s not an option.

Then we pray. Hard.

Somehow, it worked.  My kids were just tired enough at 9 to want to go to bed, even though I was told (and I wanted) the kids to have a super early bedtime.  Most nights I’m outta there by 9:10.  It’s a miracle.

Now maybe it’s because Daphne stopped napping that’s she’s finally fallen in line.  If so, great! There’s gotta be some upside to having her awake all day!

Then I get to decide what to do for another 90 minutes before I try for my own bedtime.  Housework, writing this blog, tv, whatever – its all available to me!

I’ve been struggling with this bedtime nonsense for about 18 months and I think it’s basically broken me.  But now that it’s over, I’m slowly putting myself back together again.  One unloaded dishwasher, folded load of laundry at a time.

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