Creative Voices: The Battle for Bedtime

Sometimes, mama just wants the kids to go to bed so she can enjoy a glass of wine and some Netflix! Seriously kids! GO TO BED!!! Here are some tips to make bedtime a breeze so mom can have some much deserved downtime.

Help! My kids drive me crazy at bedtime. 

When 7:30pm hits our household we begin the painful process of bedding three children down for the night. This involves asking, and then asking again, and then asking one more time if they will brush their teeth and get their jammies on. It involves saying, “No now is not the time to show me your interpretive dance routine.” “No you can’t have a giant glass of milk before bedding down in sheets I just washed because of your giant glass of milk before bed last night.” 

Sometimes we dream of what it might be like to give kids a hug and kiss on the forehead, turn out the lights and never hear from them again until 7am. This dream usually surfaces around 9:30pm when we have hit pause on our Netflix show for the billionth time and we are explaining once again why bedtime is not the time to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” at the top of your lungs.

I think I am a decent parent: my kids are loved. They make it to school on time everyday. Most of the time they say thank you and once or twice I have caught them hugging each other, or helping each other out of a tight spot. 

But I can’t get a handle on bedtime to parent my way out of a paper bag. Please tell me this is normal?! I must not be alone – they wrote a whole book about it.

(My kids don’t have monster fears, or anxiety at bedtime … they just really like to stay up late).

Now it is becoming even more important that I get my kids to bed on time. In just 4 days Orange is the New Black releases a new season on Netflix. Yes, how can Mommy and Daddy binge watch a favourite, totally inappropriate for kids to catch even a glimpse of it, TV show if a 3 year old is lurking in the hallway squeaking like a mouse?

So I asked around… help me solve this dilemma.

Try to shift their nightowl tendencies

My friend has early risers, which means she enjoys blissful quiet every night from 7:30pm onward. I.can’t.even.imagine.

It does mean that while I’m slurping my second coffee while hammering out a post, she’s bleary eyed with two little ones jumping around her. But she did suggest I try shifting my kids from sleeping in, and being up late, to getting up earlier. Ok, I’ll give it a shot. Permission to wake my kids at 5am?

Give them a countdown timer

Crystal suggests giving my kids a countdown timer so no one can say bedtime came out of the blue: 30 minute, 15 minute, 5 minute and 2 minute warnings so they can get their sillies out, and go to the bathroom a zillion times. Also, have them do bedtime routines like brushing teeth and getting pajamas on before their countdown starts so that there’s no chance for them to drag their feet and extend bedtime. If they don’t hustle up, it means less free-time for them! 

Take advice from Supernanny: it’s all about the routine

She is a nanny after all, and super. And I have to admit, I watched the show smuggly before becoming a parent. The site does have some helpful tips for setting up a consistent routine, including trying a calming bath, reading a bedtime story and staggering bedtimes for some one-on-one time with each child. Sounds like a long process, but I’ll try it.

Keep calm, and soldier on

Calmness seems to be the name of the game from what I have read online. Sounds reasonable. Calmness should come before the bedtime routine even starts – so they aren’t on devices before bed, they aren’t running around like lunatics but they are lulled into believing their bodies are ready to slow down. This can come from the bedtime routine, including a warm bath and story, but might also come before the routine starts in encouraging quiet activities after suppertime. Loading the dishwasher with me? 

And this also refers to my own calm state. I need to maintain one. Even when I want to blow a gasket I will have to remind myself: be calm, be calm. Because they smell it when you lose control. They hear it and they take advantage of it! 

And when in doubt, ask Brooke

Our friend Brooke of Miss Teen USSR is that friend you need when it comes to coping with the struggles of parenthood. You know the tell it like it is friend who doesn’t mince words. So I had to ask Brooke to weigh in: 

You have to be firm and sometimes an asshole at bedtime. They will bat lashes and hang onto you for “10 more hugs and kisses!” But you must stick with the agreed upon amount of stories, tuck them in tightly, say goodnight, leave the room even if they’re still taking to you and don’t look back. If you look back or even worse, GO BACK, you have lost your power.

So I need to stick to my power. Got it. Get them to shift to sleep earlier, wake earlier. OK. And countdown like no one’s business. Check. 

Orange is the New Black – here I come. 

Do you have tips for helping children transition from awake to asleep, in a timely fashion? Please share here!

Disclaimer: Netflix provides us with free service. Our love of the Netflix Original Series Orange is the New Black is 100% genuine. We will be binge watching it as soon as the kids go to bed, and starting June 17th. This post also contains one affiliate link.

Karen Bannister is a creative mom of 3; a writer, editor and digital publisher. When not writing for the web, she's trying to keep up with her three little ones, enjoying family and outdoor time.

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