I love nighttime. Nighttime means sleep. I enjoy sleep. (I know, I’m really unique.) I can’t wait to get to sleep. Sitting at my desk all day I daydream about snuggling under my covers and just drifting off to blissful sleep. I crave it. What I don’t crave is the chaos involved in getting there. Chaos is even too nice a word. What’s more hectic than chaos? Whatever it is describes my house at bedtime.
Last night I had a revelation. The word-more-hectic-than-chaos is all my fault. (Isn’t everything the mother’s fault?) Because I’m so anxious to get in my bed, I get snappy at the kids when they don’t move fast enough (with Bud that’s EVERYTHING he does. He’s much like the Coyote when he runs off a cliff. His legs are still moving a mile a minute but he doesn’t actually GO anywhere.) I get all riled up and it puts everyone in a bad mood. Instead of taking the time to help the kids get their PJ’s on I yell at them when they don’t do it fast enough
for my liking. (They are almost 6 and almost 3, why
can’t they be responsible enough to get themselves ready for bed yet, is that
so unreasonable?) (That was sarcasm by the way.) I try to brush my teeth while Bud
brushes his. I yell at him for getting toothpaste all over. I get mad because Babe
won’t sit still for me to brush hers. Then I get on edge when they come out of
their rooms a bazillion times to ask a question/get a drink/make us go into the
bathroom with them because they are afraid to go by themselves. Now, those
stalling tactics I’m sure are the same in every house. The part that is my
fault is my reaction. I start by getting on edge. Then it morphs into frustration.
Then it becomes anger. Then it’s an explosion! GO THE F*CK TO SLEEP. (Ok, so I
don’t actually curse at my kids but I can’t be held responsible for what I think
in my head).
Last night I was able to identify the real issue. I think I was scrambling to get to bed (besides the sleep part) because I needed the alone time. I need the quiet and the me-time. So I tried something different. I helped the kids get their PJ’s on. I helped Bud get the toothpaste on his brush. I talked with Babe while I was brushing her teeth so I could keep her attention. I realize none of these things are new to the parenting realm. I realize I’m not going to get a book deal based on my amazing revelations in to the way kids work. But it’s so easy to forget how to
manipulate get the
best behavior out of your kids when you are so focused on something else, on
yourself. I’m not saying the night was perfect. Babe still did her nightly
cruise around the top floor of our house while the rest of tried to sleep, she
still kicked us in the face and wedged her way in between me and my husband.
The difference was I lowered my expectations for bedtime. I slowed it down and focused
on them. Once they were tucked in their beds I got my alone time in the
bathroom brushing my teeth, putting on my pajamas. I had a few minutes of quiet
all to myself. Just a few minutes. It was enough. I came to bed smiling rather
than stomping. I still longed for sleep but I was able to fall asleep without a
scowl on my face. Without the weight of feeling like a bad mother. I felt
This was only one night. The true measure will be next week, next month. Can I keep sight of my behavior and check myself when I find the frustration coming? I hope so. Now I’m looking forward to those few minutes of quiet. Just a few minutes.