Now you’re messing with a …

Howdy, friends.

You can guess the rest of those lyrics.

I think bedtime is about to get ugly in our house. And by that I mean uglier.

Last night I sat on our bed, basically filled with rage and realizing that it’s been at least two years since I had an evening to myself or with my husband. For the first year of Genevieve’s life, she was a bedtime nightmare. She would cry, or scream, from like 6:30 p.m. until 10 most nights.

We walked, rocked, patted, nursed, ignored, kissed, cuddled, cursed, you name it, we did it.

She grew out of it.

Right about that time, we transitioned Jack to a big boy bed. And ever since then, we’ve been in hell almost every evening from about 7:30 to 10.

I’ve whined about the why before — including the forced naptime at daycare that means he doesn’t want to go to bed. We’re hoping to fix that by enrolling him in preschool in August — a nap-free preschool, which I find more exciting than the fact that it’s also a Spanish-immersion school.

Sure, he’ll be smarter. But more importantly HE’LL GO TO BED ON TIME.

Is it wrong that I am hoping this actually works so I can watch the summer Olympics in peace every night? Priorities, man.

But last night, he was so tired. Exhausted. Daycare said he only slept about a half hour (though I’ll be honest and say I don’t always trust their sleep report). I got Viv into bed, and she was a good girl (for a change).

Then Jack and I did his flashcards — he’s learning sight words and can recognize about 30 now, including and, all, other, away, no and our. My guy.

And then we cuddled to read stories. If he doesn’t nap, I can usually read to him for about 20 minutes and he falls dead asleep. If he did nap, I try to read until he’s super mellow, then let him get himself to sleep.

Philip will sit in his room the entire time.

I hate that. It means we don’t see each other all evening, and it’s just  crappy habit we started that we need to break. What a waste of three hours every night, you know? I have dishes to do. “Mad Men” to watch. A porch to sit on.

I just want him to go to freaking bed.

People tell us to lock his door and let him thrash around until he conks out. Our house is 100 years old, though, and the doors don’t shut right, so that won’t work. I try to give him the freedom to go to bed, but it means I am up and down the stairs 20 times, hissing at him to go back to bed, threatening to spank or take away toys/pool/snack/library/anything.

It isn’t working. It just isn’t.

So I think I might dig out my John Rosemond book and go all traditional on him. Not everyone likes Rosemond. They think he’s too mean or too simple or just out of touch with “today’s” kids. Whatever. I like that he thinks you aren’t going to psychologically damage a kid by teaching them to listen.

Some of his advice, including removing attention for bad behavior, has really worked for us. Jack (like his mama) is a cryer, and likes to cry to get what he wants. We just tell him he can go sit on the stepstool and cry if he needs to, and we ignore him, and it usually works in minutes.

But I’ve avoided pulling a Rosemond for bedtime. I know what he’s going to say. He’s going to advise that we remove everything from his room except a mattress and put things back in when he can listen. Or tell him he has to go straight to bed after dinner every night until he stops misbehaving at bedtime.

Maybe we should wait until after preschool starts. It’s unfair to ask an untired kid to go to bed.

But then I think, that’s where I get into parenting trouble. It isn’t unfair to ask your kid to listen to you. And when I think about it like, oh, he just doesn’t WANT to, that’s when I think I’m turning into some hippy (and I love hippies) mom, when I should be asserting my authority.

Now who’s psychologically damaged?

I can talk myself in and out of just about every bedtime solution.

Plus, let’s face it, doing the right thing is tough. Ugh, I can’t even stand the thought of where I would put everything in his room. And I know that’s why Philip sits there every night. He doesn’t want to run up and down the stairs every 5 minutes. I can’t blame him.

But we need to do something else.

I want my evenings back. I’d like to see my husband. I’d like to enjoy all our flowers on the porch.

I recognize that having kids means you give up a lot. Is asking for an hour in the evening asking too much?

I know, we’re blessed and all that good stuff. But still.

Here’s a really funny photo of the kids eating ice cream. They are so weird.

Happy running.


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14 Responses to Now you’re messing with a …

  1. Kim says:

    I don’t think it is too much to ask to have your evenings. We give our kids all that we have and I think that by 7:30 pm – the night should belong to the parents. Not sure what to tell you, but that is sacred time and I hope you find a way to re-establish that for yourselves. 🙂

    • I know! You are the one who told me that I need to keep bedtime early so I have some time to unwind. How the heck did you keep Cole and Tate in bed? I am not proud of some of my evening parenting, but nothing is working!

  2. Funny stuff. Our oldest is 8 and still rarely sleeps alone. I hate admitting that.

  3. Jamie says:

    Isn’t having little ones a blast? I think when preschool starts he’ll crash right away that helped with our girl this last year sure it made her one grabby girl somedays up until bedtime but If she takes a nap she’ll stay up till 10 or longer and she just sits in her bed and talks and talks and talks. But hey you have to take the good with the bad sometimes. We weren’t blessed with good sleepers if we walk down our creeky hallway there is a 50/50 chance our one year old will wake up and have to rock him back to sleep. Oh well 5 more years of this and maybe we can have lives again for now my TIVO is filling up to fast. Also wanted to say I really enjoy reading your blog.

  4. Tanya(bird) says:

    I think you are completely, utterly justified. I don’t know how you haven’t turned into a psychotic, raving lunatic yet. And I love how you are timing this so that hopefully you can watch the Olympics in peace. 🙂 {{{hugs}}}

  5. Rochelle says:

    This is completely off topic, but I just have to tell you that this morning when I dropped Liam off, Viv gave him the absolute CUTEST (and FLIRTIEST) smile when he came into the gym. She is just freaking adorable!!!

    PS: As a fellow runner, I’ve followed your blog for years (and now I’ve totally outed myself). Keep up the great work!

  6. It is not uncalled for that you expect them to go to bed and early to boot. My kids had a bedtime of 7 every night until school. I cannot tell you how much flack I got for that, but who gives a shit. You know your kids. You know what they need when it comes to sleep. My Tony was a colic nightmare also. When colic was over he still didn’t want to go to bed. We literally worked up to an hour and a half of screaming (at five minute increments) before he’d just go to sleep without crying. By then he was escaping and playing with toys. We would go in and physically put him in bed, without speaking to him in any way. After about a week, he realized he wasn’t getting the attention and he stopped. Though, even at 9, he pops out of bed more than any kid I know. So, am I full of crap? Probably. But I feel your pain, sister.

  7. The photo looks like they are gobbling down their ice cream sandwiches before that little bug on the porch can steal it from them.

    We have a strikingly similar routine that we’ve been trying to break. Katharine usually gets one of us up there until she’s asleep, a routine that was started when she had the side dropped on her crib. I’ve started to tell her that I’ll be back in to check on her in a little bit… otherwise she’s a chatty Kitty. In any case, Katharine usually doesn’t fall asleep until 9:30-10. She wakes around 7 and has a 1.5 hr. nap at montessori. I’ve heard that until they get rid of their naps, this is a pretty popular sleep-wake cycle with this age group. Perhaps he likes wine?!

    And, he might not be getting challenged enough at school right now so he’s got extra mental energy… In any case, the new school will wear him out with new friends, new routines, new languages. 😉 Curious to see what happens for you two in August…

    You two need to have time together to reconnect, be a couple and share your day (or even just veg out together).

  8. Danni says:

    No advice but I think it will take more than making then go to bed to psychologically damage them. Try to put it in perspective and let yourself not worry about it. You need your sanity.

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