In preparation for our 3rd child, Finn and Stephen started sharing a room. Finn in a bed and Stephen in a crib. A whopping 3 weeks later, Stephen learned to get out of that crib! Thus entered the bedtime battle blues.
Jim Gaffigan says:
“Bedtime makes you realize how completely incapable you are of being in charge of another human being. My children act like they’ve never been to sleep before. ‘Bed? What’s that? No, I’m not doing that.’ They never want to go to bed. This is another thing that I will never have in common with my children. Every morning when I wake up, my first thought is, ‘When can I come back here?’ It’s the carrot that keeps me motivated. Sometimes going to bed feels like the highlight of my day. Ironically, to my children, bedtime is a punishment that violates their basic rights as human beings. Once the lights are out, you can expect at least an hour of inmates clanging their tin cups on the cell bars.”
This became my world. Hands down, it was the worst part of my day. I DREADED it. I tried to get out of it and make Jeff responsible for all bedtimes for the next 18 years. No dice. We tried just letting the boys play, figuring they’d eventually get tired. Nope. Instead, they removed all the clothes from every drawer and pulled out every wet wipe from every container. (They don’t even have toys in their room – can you imagine what they’d do if they had toys to strew about!?) What tipped the scale is that they discovered that they could get the mattress of Stephen’s toddler bed and jump on the rails! Which, of course, broke.
For the next 3 months, I cowered in fear of bedtime. My blood pressure shot up to 220/150. (Not really. Didn’t measure it.) Even at the new house, the battles continued. We tried to exhaust them before bed. We tried putting 1 to bed before the other. We tried everything. It was always, always a fight. And it always took hours. (Or it seemed that way.) And it exhausted me.
Finally, last week, we separated them. The toddler bed finally completely broke. So we headed to the furniture store, and bought a bunk bed for the boys. The kind that can separate into 2 twin beds. We put Finn in with Sammy. We left Stephen in his room alone.
It has been WONDERFUL!!! So wonderful. Without an audience, Stephen no longer tries to entertain someone at bedtime. Without a playmate, Finn falls right to sleep. Sammy sleeps through the night most of the time and the couple of times that he has cried, Finn sleeps right through it.
I no longer fear bedtime. And it’s so incredibly freeing. I have my life and sanity back.