Sunday 29 September 2013

#6: Make Bedtime and Morning-Time a Calm and Pleasant Ritual

Number six of the 101 Things to Do for Children is "Make both going to bed and getting up a calm and pleasant ritual."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system first.


Your entire day is filled with calm routine that allows your children the security of knowing exactly what to expect at any given moment, and by after dinner they know that story time and brush-your-teeth time and snack time and potty-break time all lead up to bedtime, and they willingly and lovingly accept it all with great serenity.

In the morning, you cheerily open the door and call out, "Good Morning, Sweetie!" Your child then calmly rolls out of bed and goes to the bathroom on their own and gets dressed without complaint, and they are so cooperative in getting out the door that you actually have time to smile at your coworkers over a fresh cup of coffee (you even had time to make the pot).


You're on maternity leave. Your baby woke up every two hours last night, so you're really tired, and you're hoping like crazy that everyone will sleep in until seven so that you can sneak in a shower, but your baby wakes up at five and will only sleep if he's in bed with you; this means no to the shower, but hey, you get to be horizontal for another couple of hours. Make that one. Hour. You want to cry when you think of what it's going to be like when you go back to work in a month.

You have a poopy diaper to change and a toddler to get on the toilet before he pees his pants, and for some reason, everyone except for you is crying (you're by yourself because your husband works at four in the morning. Lucky bastard) and you don't know why. You want to cry when you think of what it's going to be like when you go back to work in a month.

The rest of your day is not securely filled with routine. You try, but depending on how much sleep you got, and on everyone's mood, you might go for a walk, or colour, or go to Strong Start, or just hang out on the couch and watch TV for a bit before you remember that you're going out for the evening (everyone!) and you're hoping that the diapers are dry by then. Oh, darnit. Apparently you need to do some laundry. . . . You want to cry when you think of what it's going to be like when you go back to work in a month.

Now you're back home and it's an hour before bedtime, but the toddler fell asleep in the car, so you know that when he wakes up it's going to be a disaster. He finally wakes up and he's crying but he can't tell you why, so he goes to bed, and when he wakes up he's so sad and sore, so he gets some ibuprophen, and you offer him a cookie but he doesn't want it, and he's beside himself with--I don't know what this is, actually--and when he finally does come out he's more than happy to play or watch TV for the "Fifteen minutes until bedtime, Buddy." When you say "Five more minutes until bedtime," he says "Okay." Liar.

It's now way past bedtime and the baby's finally done his last pee and poop so you know that he's ready (he's chewing on you; that's a good sign that he wants a bottle). Toddler, though, he doesn't want to brush his teeth (but he does) or go pee (but he does) or go to bed (but he does). As soon as you close his door and get settled with the baby, Toddler has to poop (but he doesn't), and he didn't get a snack and now he wants his cookie; uh, no, you can have some crackers (and he does); afterwards he still wants his cookie. Too late, Bud. You close the door and he has to poop (but he doesn't). Then Daddy has to sleep with him. His crying is keeping up baby, who is screaming in his crib. You want to cry when you think of what it's going to be like when you go back to work in a month.

Finally upon the threat of pain of a sound spanking (empty threat, but don't tell him that), Toddler goes to bed. And, he's sort of quiet. Quiet enough that attempt number two with the baby actually works. But now it's past your husband's bedtime (he gets up at three. Yes, that's A.M.).  You don't even get to watch "adult" TV together. You know, like the Simpsons. So now you're thinking that you're probably not going to get lucky tonight, either. So you sit at your computer and write a blog post, instead. You want to cry when you think of what it's going to be like when you go back to work in a month.

Reality is Improving:

Okay, really, it's not always this bad. When we do have our shit together and we have a nice dinner at home with bath time and story time etc right after, and especially if no one naps past four or five (and especially if the toddler doesn't nap at all), bedtime is easy. Well, easier. It's at least a lot more fun for everyone involved.

I do want to cry sometimes when I think of how it's all going to go down when I'm back at work in a month, but then I think, after a few days of getting up at six so that they can eat breakfast before heading off to daycare at 7:10, they're going to be so freaking tired by the time supper rolls around that they'll be happy to go to bed!

Or, what's going to happen is that because I'm going to have to get up at five, I'm going to have to go to bed at nine in order to be sane and functional. If they're still farting around after 8:30, they're going to have to fend for themselves. Or just stay the hell in bed! Ha. Ha. Ha.

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