I just finished my 2.5 hour fight for bedtime. I now can be alone for the first time since 7 am.
I am exhausted.
I did have an hour where I left the house in tears because I am so exhausted. Tired of the not listening, the backtalk, the fighting, the whining and the constant need for something.
I do not think the way this motherhood thing is going is the way it is supposed to be going. I voice my frustrations to my friends and ask them if they have these issues. They don’t. Their kids are in their rooms, asleep, by 7, 8 or 8:30 every night. No matter what.
Sure, they may have a late night out every once in a while, but then their kids sleep late the next morning or go to bed even earlier the next day.
Mine do not. On the, now rare, occasions that we go out at night, my kids are harder to get to bed and still are up at the crack of dawn.
I am exhausted.
I am not exactly sure what happened.
It used to be just Katie with bedtime issues. We have tried melatonin, going to bed earlier, going to bed later, sitting outside her room hour after hour, and any other piece of advice we could get. For almost 5 years we have dissolved in total frustration every single night of her life.
That alone makes me want to cry in total misery.
But now Sarah has joined in on the game. Once our “easy sleeper”, she has dropped her marathon naps and ease in going to bed at night. There was a time when she would go into her room around 7 and fall asleep on her own.
That has not happened since we moved into this house. So, for a year now, I have been dealing with Katie and Sarah and bedtime. Our routine is shot to heck and they see it coming and the crying starts about an hour before bedtime.
So we moved bedtime to when they started crying, reasoning that they had to be tired at that point if they whined.
That backfired. We fought for 3 hours.
It really is in disaster mode now. Megan hears the ruckus and now she is learning the ways of her sisters.
We start out with good intentions every night. Dinner, bath time, quiet time for 30 minutes – which is so loud I do not know why we call it “quiet time”, and then bed with 3 stories each.
A kiss and a prayer and we leave. We come and sit in the dark living room and make bets as to who will be the first to come out.
And they do come out, time after time after time.
My Pull up is full. I want milk. I want to say I love you. I am scared. My finger hurts.
Any and every excuse in the world is a reason for them to come out.
We remain calm, for about the first 1.5 hours of it, and then, inevitably, the constant getting up and putting them back to bed, not saying a word just to come sit down and wait for them to come out again,wears on us.
And then the threats start. The toy removal. The begging. The sitting with the rubbing their backs hoping they fall asleep, the praying to God that some parenting genius will fall upon us and show us how to do this.
And then… well… tears. Usually on my part. Because the yelling has started, the screaming, and tempers are flaring. And I don’t know what else to do.
This process would wear on anyone at all. And I am NOT a bad mother for having these issues. I know I have made mistakes along the way. An entire book could be written on the reasons I have these issues now.
Milk at bedtime, no real consistent schedule until 6 months ago, giving in too easily because I felt they would only be little once. And I never wanted to look back and say I did not spend enough time with them when they were little.
As I have typed this, Katie has come out 4 more times asking for chocolate milk – which she knows she can not have, and Megan has been screaming “Mama” from her crib.
And I feel awful and tired and exhausted and like I do not have one more ounce of energy to deal with these kids. And if they do not sleep through the night tonight – has never happened – I will have no patience and strength left tomorrow either.
This can not be normal. Every parent can not be dealing with this or no one in their right mind would ever have kids!
This difficult bedtime pattern is starting to affect our family life and it is certainly affecting out marriage.
What do we do now?
Because every night I start out with a positive outlook, and every night I end up in tears.
**Originally Published 5/30/2011**