Well Rounded Birth Prep

Well Rounded Birth Prep

Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In which I admit that bedtime is a total failure at my house.

Go ahead, judge all you want. Provided that you have successfully raised 4 or more young children close in age. If you have done this and lived through it and enjoyed the experience, feel free to post all sorts of advice on how I could be doing this differently. When I only had 1 kid--indeed, even when I had only 2 kids--I did a "good mommy" bedtime routine, as well. It's when you have 3 kids age 3 and under that things begin to get hairy.

I am pregnant with our 5th baby. Our oldest kid is 8 1/2. Bedtime is a disaster at our house. I felt saddened and guilty when I read this "Please, Go to Sleep" NY Times editorial. Bedtime here more closely resembles the one the author so disliked from her own childhood, minus the relaxing glass of wine to reward a harrowed mom at the end of the day. And that was only describing bedtime with ONE child. Try it with 4. And my husband works late frequently and unpredictably, so I never know whether he'll be home at 6 p.m. or at 9 p.m. It's a total crapshoot. He's an involved and loving father--when he's home. Since we have no family support or help, I'm on my own most of the time. I also homeschool our kids, so it's just me and them--24/7/365. Yes, this is a lifestyle choice, and one I'm glad that we made. I'm not trying to complain. I'm just being honest.

By dinnertime every day, I'm exhausted and nearing mommy-burnout stage, wondering what time my hubby will get home that night and whether I should just go ahead and feed the kids without him. After that, whether or not he's home, I'm stick-a-fork-in-me-"done" in terms of mediating the kids' squabbles or dealing with their toys on the floor ("I thought I asked you to pick those up before dinner!") or helping the kid who was roughhousing and bumped his/her head. I don't mean to sound callous. Really, I'm not. I'm a loving, devoted mom who is committed to attachment parenting. I'm also not talking about a newborn here. These are kids ages 2 to 8 who sleep contentedly in their room without me, etc.

A lot of nights, I feed them dinner then tell them, "Good night, go upstairs. Brush your teeth. Brush your sister's teeth. GOOD NIGHT. I LOVE YOU. GO TO BED. GO UPSTAIRS." Then I do not want to see them again until morning. It's somewhere between 8 and 8:30 p.m. when I send them upstairs to manage their own bedtimes. (No, I'm not proud of this. I'm exhausted and cannot do better.) They rumble around up there until 10 p.m. or later many nights. Augh! It's so frustrating! I can't relax or wind down or read anything of substance or even think until they go to SLEEP. And by that time, I'm too fried to care. All I want is to wind down and go to bed myself.

I feel bad that I don't help my kids take a fun bubble bath, then dry them off and dry their hair, then supervise careful teeth brushing and flossing, then read one chapter per night of a sweet and relaxing bedtime story where they all lie cuddled on and around me like a pile of puppies. Sorry, I can't do it. I hope they remember all the good things I do and did, not Mom's failure to do the "right" thing at bedtime. Nobody's perfect, not even perfectionists.


  1. I'm only on my third baby, and bedtime runs this way at our house too. I used to be pretty good at bedtime until the third trimester of my pregnancy with Logan. Now? Now I've been known to let them all fall asleep in front of the TV and then cart them off to bed later.

    But, I think it is good for them, especially as they get older, to learn to help one another and rely on one another as well as they do Mom and Dad. Case in point, my 9yo stepson helps dress Ben (almost 3) and generally keeps a watchful eye out on him when I'm not immediately available.

  2. I'm so glad that you posted this. I always wondered about other homeschooling families and bedtime.

    I think, as homeschoolers, we spend that special time with our children all day long. We read, we play, we do EVERYTHING together. We don't have to do it at 6:00 a.m. though and that is why I don't stress so much over the "bedtime routine."

  3. I too feel like I am "done" by 7 or 8. And I only have 3 and they are bigger. So don't feel bad, you are doing the best you can and that is great!

  4. Thanks for this, Sarah. I loved this post. For so many reasons. I can relate to so, so much of what you relate in it. I think Erin_hsm has a really good point, too: that homeschooling family's special time doesn't have to be crammed into a couple hours at the end of the day---it IS all day. I love "real" blogging. Thanks for doing it. :)


Thank you for taking time to visit my blog. I appreciate your comments.