For the safety of my children and the preservation of my mental health, I have given up on bedtime routines.
For as long as I can remember of my time as a mother, since my son was born, bedtimes have been the worst. They are fraught with anguish, disagreement over exactly how tired the particular child is and futile attempts to persuade said heathen to just go to sleep already because Mama needs a break.
Whining and fighting and refusal to listen to reason or yelling have been the norms.
As soon as my son got easier, my daughter was born. She gives new meaning to stubbornness and outright ignoring any attempt to bend her to my will.
Somehow we got into a ridiculous routine of stories and snuggling and various feats of mental persuasion and voodoo trickery that had to be performed in a certain order before she would consent to stay in her bed.
Of course, this only worked part of the time, maybe 60 percent. The other times I wouldn’t do something properly so there would be screaming and flailing about and I would lock myself in my own bedroom in hopes that by ignoring her she would eventually tire herself out.
I know that everything got out of hand because I allowed it, but I only allowed it because I was so tired and wanted, just once, to be able to walk downstairs and feel good about how bedtime went. So I went along with the crazy.
My husband, who had bedtime every other night, never encountered these issues. Ask me how I felt about that. Go on. Ask.
So after a particularly bad routine recently, wherein I was kicked in the face by one of my lovely angel children after the other one had worn my patience down to the quick with a refusal to be agreeable about anything, I stomped downstairs announcing loudly to my husband that I was done. Finished. Never again would I be subjected to this torture because I refused to participate in it anymore. No more bedtimes. None. Zero.
It was liberating.
In the time since my stand, I have had to endure minor whining about how Dad’s had too many bedtime turns and now it’s Mama’s turn, but I refuse to be persuaded. I’m not walking up those stairs anymore, kids. As I say to them daily, you are responsible for your own actions and those actions have consequences. You did it. You suffer through the penalties.
Now, obviously this doesn’t mean that I ignore them at bedtime. I’m happy to read them a story downstairs on the couch and give hugs and kisses. But I’m not setting foot into their rooms because that’s how it will start. That’s how they’ll draw me back into their madness and in no time I’ll be performing again in the minor hopes of a smooth transition to sleep.
I figure I’m only helping them out by ensuring they become self-sufficient people.
Tuck yourselves in, kids. I’m out.
*This column was originally published in The News-Enterprise on August 24, 2016.
**Alternate title: Go The Fuck To Sleep