It’s just amazing to me. We can have the most enjoyable, busy day, full of physical activities, 10 solid hours of fun and action, but when it rolls around to bedtime, all of a sudden our nice kids vanish and *poof* it’s the whiny can-I-have’s that show up.
Honestly, it’s the main time that I feel completely inadequate as a Dad and think about just throwing in the proverbial towel and going back to a bachelor existence, fatherhood be damned.
To be honest, the 8yo is a breeze: even if she can’t sleep, you can at least reason with her and she can sit quietly and read a book for 10 minutes, if need be. The 1yo is even easier, too: Mom lays down with her and within 5-10 minutes, she’s usually out — more or less — for the night.
But it’s our 5yo boy who is just hell on wheels when it comes to bedtimes. He’s in this extremely whiny phase right now, and a typical dialog goes like this:
G-: Can we read another book?
me: No, we’re done with books for now. It’s time for sleep.
G-: (very whiny, crying voice) You sssaaiiiddd we could read another book.
me: No I didn’t. We can read the other book in the morning. It’s time for bed now.
G-: (gasps, starts to lose it) I wanna read the book….
me: (contemplates duct tape, soundproof rooms, and the sheer luxury of getting in a car and driving off, music blaring from every window> Honey, it’s really time to sleep. C’mon, I’ll tell you a story
G-: (full out crying) I … want … the … book
me: (cracking knuckles, repeating “hitting doesn’t work” mantra, taking deep, calming breaths) Shhhhhh…. you’ll wake the baby…
and round and round it goes. It’s 10x worse with Linda, for reasons that neither of us fully understand, but man alive, bedtime can just suck beyond belief. And it’s always been pretty tough with this fella, regardless of what we’ve tried, while we don’t recall it ever being so terrible with A-, our 8yo, when she was younger.
Is it a boy thing?
We have found that it’s very time-sensitive, at least. If we can be done with dinner by 6pm and in bed by 6.30pm or so, then there’s at least a reasonable chance that the whiny attack will only last a few minutes and then we’ll have peace and quiet. Tonight we didn’t get to bed until 7.30pm and it was just not a pretty site. Finally at 9pm, G- and I went out for a quiet walk for 30 minutes or so, because it was pretty darn clear he wasn’t going to sleep and discussion was becoming more and more the verbal equivalent of banging our heads against the wall. Not fun.
From all that I hear, the “family bed” (aka cosleeping) has the unfortunate side effect of making bedtime more difficult, not less difficult, even though that’s completely counterintuitive to me. I mean, if I was 5 and was afraid of bedtime and/or dreams and/or just couldn’t let go of the day, I’d think that knowing I was going to be in the same room as my parents would be calming and reassuring, wouldn’t you?
And, yes, we have bedtime routines, we try to slow things down, we get everyone in bed and read a chapter from a quiet book, etc etc. But all seemingly to no avail.
We don’t regret our decision almost nine years ago to have the family bed — and the sleepy grins and cuddles of the morning are some of my favorite times of day, but I swear, I’m ready to throw in the towel after a night like tonight, a night where we can’t but help feeling like helpless victims of some midget tyrant holding whiny crying as his tool of blackmail over us…
Help! How do you handle bedtime? What works for you?