I remember when my son was an infant and sleep was always respected. I would nurse or feed him a bottle, then rock him in my arms until he was dreaming sweet baby dreams. Sometimes I would sing, but honestly it was always so easy to get him to shut his eyes and snooze. These days, however, it's like traveling through the seventh circle of hell to get my kid to sleep. I'm not the only one having trouble, right? I was kind of worried I was, so I asked moms to describe the hell that is their kid’s bedtime routine and, for better or worse, it seems like we're all in this together. Sorry, guys, but misery loves company. Apparently.
Once your child hits that damn toddler stage (that is, once they're capable of moving around, asking questions, and becoming defiant), bedtime becomes something of a challenge. Just last night, for example, it took hours to get my son properly situated for bed. There’s bath time, which he doesn’t always want to do, and teeth-brushing, which is hard because he always spits out the damn toothpaste. Then we read a story (or two, or five, because he can be persistent and persuasive all at once). Then he wants to put a toy away he sees in the corner, needs a specific stuffy that’s in the next room, and wants some water.
But wait, what about a song? Or some soft music? And why don’t I just stay next to him until he falls asleep? By the time I want to start my own bedtime routine I’m too exhausted, and usually just pass out with my phone still in my hand. Something's gotta give, my friends, but until I figure out this entire ordeal, I'm going to find some solace in the fact that the following moms have a hellish bedtime routine of their own, too:
“Bedtime routine usually starts with a shower (we don't have bathtubs), which in itself can be challenging. First because [my son] doesn't want to shower, and second because he doesn't want to leave the shower. Then, brushing his teeth, putting on his PJs, saying goodnight to his dad and the dogs, and then bedtime story. He can't sit still for the story most of the time and then I have to practically wrestle him to lay down, keep the covers on, and just relax. Then there’s usually about another 30 minutes of him opening his door and either requesting water, milk, or another snack, wanting to say goodnight to everyone all over again, and now saying that his stomach 'hurts.' Finally, after about the third or fourth attempt of getting out bed, he's tired enough to actually fall asleep.”
“My threenager has recently discovered the art of lying. Everything, from feigning illness and needing one more glass of water to insisting that it's actually morning; you name it and he's said it to get out of going to bed.”
“Oh here we go. So my kid hates bedtime. No matter the routine it is basically always a fight. The routine is usually, bath, brush teeth, potty, books, bed. We alternate nights so each parent takes turn with the routine. Most nights both of us do brush and potty time. Occasionally we do books together and family bedtime. The kicker is that every time we announce bedtime it's met with screaming about not being tired, not wanting to go to bed, bed is dumb, and ends with a race up the stairs. Then there is usually more yelling about brushing teeth. It's f*cking awesome."
“Bedtime routine is bath time, drink warm milk while reading two to three books, brush teeth, then bed. [My daughter] might have to go potty after I've tucked her in, water, hugs etc. Some days she puts up a bigger fight than other days. After I put her in bed she takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to fall asleep.”
“My husband used to tell me that his oldest son was the ultimate hustler when it came to bedtime. Then we had [our daughter]. My husband says she would make big brother proud. She hides. She plays games. She talks. She takes her time picking out a book. She needs a drink. Her belly hurts. She's hungry. She needs to tell me something. She wants daddy to come lay with her. She forgot to go potty. She's amazing.”
“Bedtime is at 8:00 p.m. and has been forever. My 9-year-old son is autistic and runs on a constant sleep deficit because he usually stims for hours and doesn't fall asleep until closer to midnight. [My daughter] is asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow and could sleep through an explosion. [My other daughter] thinks your bedtime is bullsh*t, your rules are bullsh*t, and your face is bullsh*t. They are all awake by 7:00 a.m, without fail.”
“We have five kids. Yep, five. Bedtime currently involves brushing teeth, drinks of water, washing up, and reading a chapter of a book (currently Harry Potter). Then, I snuggle with the 4-year-old and play relaxing music, while the 6-year-old sleeps in the top bunk. Simultaneously, the 11-year-old showers and the 8-year-old reads. We are failing at our attempt to sleep train the baby, and he ends up in bed with us at some point. Right now he is teething and wakes up two to three times a night. We generally have a visit from the 11-year-old insomniac at some point between 10:00 p.m. and 12:00 p.m., which makes couch sex risky, lest we scar her for life, and our 8-year-old has decided that she will no longer sleep in her room, and now sleeps in the nursery. So, yeah, I miss sleep.
And this sounds way more calm than it is. Just imagine five kids saying, ‘No!’ ‘I already brushed them,’ ‘I need a drink of water,’ and ‘I'm not tired,’ on repeat for an hour.”
“My kids have all been awful sleepers. I swear [my daughter] didn't sleep through the night until she was 4-years-old. [My other daughter] does pretty well unless she's anticipating school starting or birthdays or holidays or have a growth spurt. And then [there's the youngest], who usually falls asleep OK, wakes up a couple hours later for four to six hours at a time. But now that her sleep specialist appointment is next month she has been sleeping OK most nights.
The kids both have bunk beds so [my husband] or I can give up if there are too many kids starfishing in our bed. Getting ready for bed is like herding cats. Whiny, whiny cats. Basically, ‘Brush your teeth,’ ‘Did you pee?’ and ‘Go get your pajamas’ forever on repeat.”
“We are currently trying to crib train our 13-month-old (who we’ve co-slept with up until now), and bed train our almost 4-year-old son (who has night terrors and is terrified of sleeping alone). In the same room. So I usually crank up the white noise app on my phone and have the fan on, while nursing the baby, and telling at the 3-year-old to just stay in the bed for five minutes and be quiet. That lasts for about 45 minutes. But somehow they always fall asleep at about the same time. And then I spend 10 minutes (read: years) slowly backing towards the door and turning down the white noise. They still both wake up a lot and they both always end up back in bed with me. It's hell — but it's my hell.I'm way too lazy to take either of them back. I'm sure one day they'll want to sleep in their own beds but its not happening anytime soon.”
“When my son turned 1-year-old it was really easy to get him to sleep. But before he was 1 the only person who could get him to sleep was his dad. If I tried, he would scream for hours.”
“My girls are pretty good about going to bed. My 2-year-old toddler will crawl into bed when she's tired and she's naturally on a schedule. My 1-year-old is a little harder to put down, but just because she won't sleep without nursing. But once she's out, she's out. They're both asleep by 9:30 p.m. or 10:00 p.m.. They've been going to sleep earlier lately which has been nice, but we really don't push it cause we don't have to. Also should mention my 2-year-old hasn't napped in the day since she was one.”
“My son was a damn nightmare. It was at least an hour of him screaming like a Game of Thrones battle scene extra while charging out of his room until he finally passed out. My daughter is sneakier... I swear to God she saves up a day's worth of poop so that she has to go, like, five minutes after we tuck her in."