Ah, the bedtime routine. First of all, why do we call it a bedtime ‘routine’? Sure, I try to keep things consistent, but my kids are bound and determined to shake it up every night. The term should be renamed to something like ‘bedtime attempts’ or ‘bedtime challenge.’ We could have a perfectly lovely day, but as soon as bedtime rolls around let the games begin.
Thankfully, once my boys are asleep, they usually stay asleep. They might get up early, but at least they will sleep through the night. Trust me, I know I am fortunate. It’s the part before they sleep that makes me feel like I am a tri-athlete in training; it takes an exorbitant amount of endurance to get them settled down.
Let’s use this recent night as an example:
JJ didn’t nap during the afternoon. That is my first clue that things are not going to go well. He comes downstairs at 3:30, sits beside me on the couch and says, “How about we just sit here and talk.” I have already been up and down the stairs to his room multiple times and I have hit my limit so he just stays up with me.
After Jett gets up from his nap, we play, make dinner, and play some more. We also take a walk and get plenty of fresh air. Good times!
This leads us to bath time. Once again, Jeff is at work so I have to bathe both boys at the same time. They fight over which bath toys they get to play with. They dump water over each other’s heads. They pee in the water. They drink the dirty pee water. They pinch each other. They squirm away from me as I try to scrub the filth off of them.
Finally, they are both clean-ish and I dry them off. Jett insists on brushing his teeth right after his bath. JJ likes to wait until it’s time to go to bed. I brush Jett’s teeth and go to get the boys dressed. JJ is in his room, balancing precariously on his train table and trying to reach into the top drawer of his dresser. He likes to dress himself, which I encourage, but he knows he is not allowed to get into the dresser this way. After catching him right before he falls, I grab his underwear and pjs and let him do the rest.
I take Jett to his room and grab a diaper. I have to wrestle him down in order to put it on. I forgot to grab his pjs before the wrestling match so I go do that while he runs down the hall. I chase him, wrestle him again, and only get his shirt on before he wriggles away from me again. Screw it. Its summer and he doesn’t need to wear the shorts. On a side note, I could probably be a WWE contender at this point.
Because Jett is getting into JJ’s stuff, we decide to go back downstairs for a snack and a TV show in order to wind down. JJ chooses an apple and Jett has baby apples (also known as grapes but we call them that because he can’t chew through apples very well yet and still wants to have an apple like his brother). Sheriff Callie is their go-to show lately. It’s a cute cartoon and very clean, but I cannot get the theme song out of my head for the life of me. We currently have 19 episodes recorded and I have seen them all 29375 times.
Jett finishes his grapes. JJ decides that he has eaten enough of his apple and gives it to Jett. JJ goes to play for a few minutes but then starts to toss stuff out of the toy box and I have to go calm him down and get him to put the toys away. I turn back to Jett and don’t see the apple anywhere. I ask Jett where it is and he says, “Gone.” I cannot find a remnant of this thing anywhere. I decide this means that my 18-month-old just ate the seeds, core, and stem of an apple for his bedtime snack. Awesome.
While I’m searching for the apple remains (which I don’t find), JJ dumps Legos. Seriously, what is the deal with the Legos!!! I remind him that he needs to pick those up in a few minutes, but he can play for now since I am going to take Jett up to bed. Jett grabs his blanket, which he calls ‘duck.’ It took us forever to figure out what he was saying, but then we realized that the blanket has a little duck on it in the one corner and our dear Jett had been calling it his duck because that was a word he could say. Precious.
So Jett, duck, and I head upstairs and rock in the rocking chair. Jett points to his bookshelf and says, “Book!” I pick one of his favorites – No, David – and begin to read. He grabs the book out of my hands and tries to read himself. “No, no, no, no,” he says on every page. Then he decides he’s had enough of that and gets down off of my lab and runs around his room. I’m not having it, so I pick him up, snuggle him close, and put him in his bed. He sees a play remote in his room and wants to have it. I give it to him because I know that he has no problem playing by himself until he falls asleep.
I go back downstairs and find that the recording of Sheriff Callie has now stopped and American Ninja Warrior is on. Just what my high-energy three-year-old needs to see. He is mesmerized. During the commercial, we clean up the Legos and head upstairs; however, it takes us longer than usual now that he is making an obstacle course out of everything because he wants to be just like the ninja warriors.
We finally make it to the bathroom where he must pee and brush his teeth. Once in his room, I read a few books, sing a few songs, and tuck him in. Again, he asks me a million questions to stall me from leaving. One of them was, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” My response was, “Is this a joke?” As it turns out, he was being completely serious. When you live in the country, you literally see chickens crossing the road and he wanted to know why the chicken that we saw on our walk tonight crossed the road.
I go downstairs and finish folding a load of laundry. I hear a lot of loud noises coming from upstairs so I go do damage control. Right off the bat I see that JJ’s bedroom light is on. His door is still closed, though. I let that go because the noise is actually coming from Jett’s room. He is banging that toy remote against his crib and running it along the bars as if he were in jail. He then throws it across the room. I just let it lie on the floor and kiss him goodnight. I turn the light out in JJ’s room and go back downstairs.
Two minutes later, JJ comes downstairs and says he has to go to the bathroom. He really doesn’t, but he knows this is the only excuse he can give to get out of bed without punishment. Back to bed he goes. Another two minutes pass and he comes back downstairs. This time he tells me that he can’t sleep because he realized that his fingernails are not all the same length and it’s bothering him. I told him that we just cut his nails a few days ago and they are fine. Back to bed. Another two minutes pass and he comes back downstairs for a third time and says he has a secret to tell me. He gets right next to me and whispers in my ear that he needs to go to Jamaica because that is where he can find pants and a khaki shirt to fit him.
I think back on all the things that JJ ate and drank that day and decide that he can’t be drugged, yet that is the only possible explanation for the level of weirdness coming out of his mouth right now. Where does he come up with this stuff??? How does he know about Jamaica??? Doesn’t he know that chambray shirts are in right now and not khaki???
I am laughing too hard to thoroughly discipline him. I take him back up to bed and tell him he better not open that door. He is clear on what punishment awaits him if he disobeys. Thankfully, he listens and does not get out of bed again.
What I need to take to heart is that the bedtime routine is very important work. I am wrapping up our day and making the boys feel safe and secure for the night. As with most things in parenthood, I know my consistency will pay off in the long run. I love that Jett wants his ‘duck’ and then will snuggle on my left shoulder and suck his right thumb while he settles down for bed. I can’t get enough of his sweet little boy smell and his chubby little arms around my neck. I love that JJ just wants me to hang out with him. I know that he is just trying to delay going to bed, but many times we have our best conversations while I’m tucking him in at night. Sometimes I have allowed him to stay up way past his bedtime just because I want to see where his imagination is taking a topic. He is so creative and hilarious! If Jeff is home, he will often come up and see what all the commotion is about because JJ and I are giggling so loudly. The best part is that I will give him a hug and a kiss and head to the door and he’ll say, “Mom, one more thing! I just want to give you another big hug! You’re my girl!” That just can’t be beat.