Depending on the time of year the evening bed-time routine with our two kids is varied. During the school year we eat dinner at 6pm, clean up the kitchen, and then herd the two kids upstairs for baths. It’s the last push to finish the long race of our day. My husband and I are exhausted and the kids are too. The conversation around getting the kids ready for bed goes something like this:
“ Quick, jump in the shower, make sure you rinse your hair well, wash all your bits and pieces, ok, now get out, ok, no wait, hold on, let’s brush your teeth…stop chasing your sister around. PLEASE go put on your pajamas. No, stop it, it’s not ok to do the butt-booty dance thing in your sisters face. No Ruby, you have a vagina, not a penis. CAN EVERYONE LISTEN TO ME AND GET READY FOR BED?”
My husband and I usually take one kid each and read them stories. If time allows we try and get Henry to practice his reading (he’s 7) and then we will read him something out of a chapter book. Ruby requires several stories and then one of us has to lie on the floor next to her toddler bed and hold her hand until she falls asleep. At that point we have to army crawl out her room so as not wake her. Afterwards my husband and I collapse onto the couch and manage to eke out one episode of something on Netflix before passing out too.
Part of me relishes the sweet smell of their freshly shampooed hair and their night time snuggles and Lord knows I beat myself up repeatedly about how I should savor every moment…but the other part of me just wishes they’d “go the f*ck to sleep.”
Since its been the summer, our bed-time routine is supposed to be less rushed…there is no school for which to wake up in the early morning, no late night sports games to rush home from. Bed times are supposed to be later in the summer time. The livin should be easy. I find myself still rushing thru the routine. I am so rushed that the one sacred ritual of putting my children to sleep has been compromised: The bed-time story.
Since my children were babies we have read to them every single night. If Henry misbehaves before bed he is denied a bed time story and it’s the only consequence that truly upsets him. Going to bed without stories?! Worst. Punishment. Ever. At least in his eyes. I’ve noticed this past summer that I have rushed thru almost every story. I have gotten to the point where I am actually turning the page before I even finish the words on the previous page. All I want to do is finish the book, army crawl out of the room, pour myself a glass of wine, and binge watch episodes of Dexter. And I feel horrible about it. I need to do something different here.
I suppose the first step in making a change is admitting you have a problem. Right ? My kids don’t deserve to lose out on quality nighttime reading and routines because I am in need of a break. Right? On the other hand, don’t I deserve to have a break in the evenings? Can’t I read my own books at night? You know, just a few hours of time to myself without having to help anyone else. Seven years into this parenting thing, and three and half years as a stay at home parent and I still haven’t figured out balancing my own needs with the kids needs.