Before I had kids I had no idea that putting children to bed was so exhausting. I pictured a calm evening routine full of cuddles and a few bedtime stories. I thought parents just kissed the kids goodnight and left the room with their sanity in tact. Now that I'm a parent, I know that most nights are closer to some sort of hostage-negotiation situation. “What are your demands?” I ask as I head downstairs for yet another glass of water. "Please, go to sleep!" I loudly beg as my husband somehow sleeps peacefully in our bedroom, unbothered. I've often asked myself why I don't let my husband help with bedtime. At first, I thought it was because I'm such a control freak about how things get done in our home. Then I wondered if maybe because of his early work schedule I felt obligated to let him sleep. All the Saturday mornings he thoughtfully lets me sleep in are definitely part of the reason, but it's deeper than that. The reason I handle bedtime alone is simple — it's because I want to. As stressful as it can be some nights, I still want to be the one to do it. I don’t let my husband handle bedtime because as daunting as it can be, I love it.
Every night, bedtime goes one of two ways: peaceful or chaotic. With three kids ages 6, 4, and 9 months old, trying to get them all to bed at the same time is challenging, to say the least. We start our nightly routine with kisses for Daddy and a trip to the potty. Then it's on to teeth brushing and bedtime stories. Some nights they listen to each word intently and some nights they ask me 14 questions about each and every page. After that's done, we pray together, cuddle for a bit, and I turn out the lights. I then proceed to leave the boy’s room to put my baby to sleep. But that’s when things get tricky.
Maybe I should just go get my husband to help, I think to myself. But I don't.
After the boys are down, I rock my daughter and feed her a nighttime bottle in the room next door. I usually can hear the boys giggling and playing in their beds, but I sing lullabies to my daughter and pretend I can't hear the boys causing havoc. Once she miraculously falls asleep, I lay her down in her crib and head back to the boy's room to access the damage. On the rare occasion that I walk back in to sleeping kids, I stare at their sweet faces and marvel at how quiet my house is. Job well done, I think to myself.
Other nights, I head back in the boys room for a chaotic interrogation. They plead for colder water, a quick snack, or they ask me to explain the meaning of life. They ask me, "why the sky is blue?" and "how do birds fly?" and, "how many days are left until Christmas?" I stare at the door and wonder if they'll ever go to sleep. Finally, when I work up the courage to leave the room again, cries of, "Mommy, I need more water!" echo through the hall as I tip-toe away. Thanks to their crying, the boys typically wake up their sister, and the whole process begins again. Maybe I should just go and get my husband to help, I think to myself. But I don't.
He's even offered to handle bedtime on nights I feel like I'm losing my mind. But the problem is I'm stubborn and I don't always let him help me. If I'm honest, I don't want him to.
My husband is a wonderful father. He comes home from a day of work ready to play with our kids, and they all light up when he walks through the door. So do I. I'm somewhat old fashioned and traditional when it comes to being a wife and partner and while I may complain about it at times, I was fortunate enough to choose to stay home. I take care of the kids, the house, and my husband. I handle the chores, shopping, school, meals, and most other home-related things. He constantly praises and appreciates what I do, which makes it much easier to be a stay-at-home mom. I feel valued in our partnership.
My husband is also awesome at helping me. He's always willing to chip in with whatever I need. If I'm losing it after a difficult parenting moment, he offers to take over so I can take a relaxing bubble bath. If I'm busy with after-school homework, he's offers to pick up takeout. He's even offered to handle bedtime on nights I feel like I'm losing my mind. But the problem is I'm stubborn and I don't always let him help me. If I'm honest, I don't want him to.
What’s funny about bedtime is that I expect it to be a wild event, yet am still somehow shocked each time it is. I wander back to my room afterwards like I've just survived a shark attack. I climb in my bed and stare at the door wondering if a child will pop in soon, asking for another glass of water. I snuggle up under my covers and start to close my eyes hoping to get a good night’s rest, but knowing I may get a night-time visitor. And even when I do have a rough night, I still go to bed with that strange feeling only parents understand: I'm exhausted, I'm tired, I'm all out of energy, but I miss my kids. Yep, even when they drive me nuts I still miss them when they’re gone or asleep.
There are so many things my kids prefer my husband for. Daddy is the preferred choice for playtime, video games, sports, knowledge of all things boy, and much, much more. Bedtime, on the other hand, is mine. It's the one task they want me to do.
Most of all, I like being the one to tuck in my little babies. Even on the nights that leave me exhausted, I'm still grateful for the task. I want my children to grow up and remember the bedtime stories, the cuddles, and the laughs we had together. There are so many things my kids prefer my husband for. Daddy is the preferred choice for playtime, video games, sports, knowledge of all things boy, and much, much more. Bedtime, on the other hand, is mine. It's the one task they want me to do.
One day when my kids are grown they'll no longer ask me for another bedtime story. They won’t come to me pondering the meaning of life. They won’t hold my hand and ask me to pray for them to have good dreams. They won’t ask me for one more goodnight kiss or one more cuddle. So while my children are little, I want to enjoy every moment. Before my kids outgrow the need to be tucked in, I want to be the one to tuck them in. My husband will get plenty of parental privileges that will strictly be in his wheelhouse, but for now bedtime is my nightly activity. Yes, some nights make me stress out and beg for mercy, but by the end of the night it also gives me the greatest joy. It’s a difficult task, but it’s also a privilege, and honestly it’s one I don't think I could live without. I don’t let my husband handle bedtime because, frankly, I want it all to myself.