I want to talk about something that is causing me a great deal of anxiety. It’s something I have to deal with everyday and it’s making me very unhappy. I have no way of avoiding it and I do feel like a problem shared is a problem halved. I know I’m not alone and that there are others in my situation. I’m not sure how I’m going to cope with it anymore so I’m going to talk it out hoping someone out there will help.
The problem is called. BEDTIME.
Not mine now, I could sleep standing up like a horse no bother to me at all. I can sleep on buses and trains and boats and I think I have even slept with my eyes open on an occasion. No the bedtime that I speak of is that of my three adorable children who, when it comes to going to getting them asleep, I like to refer to them as the spawns of Satan.
As a rational adult I cannot come to terms with the fact that at 7, 5 and 3 the children do not realise that every night without fail they have to go to sleep. I try to get across to them that this whole sleeping craic was not my idea. It’s not something I’ve conjured up to wreck their buzz or just be mean. This is a biological necessity. When seven o’ clock arrives it’s like a shock to them that they have to go to sleep. It’s like it’s crept up on them unexpected like a big scary spider and the screams and protests are just as loud as if a big hairy one dropped onto their chubby little faces.
Now before the suggestions come flooding in I have tried many techniques. I have tried staggering the bedtimes starting at 7 with the youngest and working my way up to the eldest. Well sure I was putting children to bed for hours. It was like Groundhog Day from one child to the next, the teeth brushing the story telling the rubbing and me all the while doing my best not to fall asleep with each one. I’d start at 7 and I think I was still at it come half nine on more than one occasion.
I tried the whole bath and bedtime routine. Drops of lavender in the bath and nicely warmed towels all designed to soothe and relax. Well not my three reprobates. The water touched them and like gremlins they came alive. They were drinking the bathwater and splashing each other and wriggling out of my hands like eels as I tried to wrestle them into their pyjamas. It was exhausting.
At the moment I’m at the stage where I’m turning off the electronics a half hour before bedtime to see if it will wind them down and prepare them for sleep. Paired with a story and lots deep breathes I can’t say that it’s getting any better. Macy has to have one story because she’s in a separate room and then to get the boys to agree on a story I’d need to employ a skilled negotiator and all the while I’m deep breathing to stop myself from putting a whole in the wall with my bare hands.
I’m sure it’s the same in every house with young children. But on a serious note I hate putting them to sleep when my last words to them are negative ones spouted out through gritted teeth. Every morning I explain to them how their behaviour was unacceptable the night before and how tonight has to be different and everyday they vow to do better and every day I believe them.
I’m studying at the moment and I need the evenings to get some work done or catch up on the housework and the longer it takes me to get them to bed the less time I have to get the things done that I’ll never have enough time to do anyway.
It’s not all about me despite what you may have heard. The Children need their sleep. I see such a difference in them when they have had a few nights of good quality sleep. It’s when their bodies grow and repair. It’s also the time that their brains organise all their thoughts from the day. Knowing my three the thoughts that they organising is new and inventive ways on how are they going to thwart their mother at bedtime tonight. Is it 7 o clock yet? No? Great because I need time to prepare for tonight’s battle. Wish me luck.