As a parent, I'm sure you've all had to suffer through one of those "routine" talks with another parent who is doing everything perfectly. They've gotten their adorable 4-year-old to embrace one of the bedtime routine checklists, complete with happy stickers and smiles. They have researched ways of enticing their child to drift off into a soothing sleep, or to eat their vegetables, or to not throw tantrums in the toy aisle of Target. Whatever they do, you know they're doing it right. Not so with this actress and mom; Jenny Mollen's hilarious bedtime ritual with her 4-year-old son is exactly what most parents really do each night: Just try to get their kids to bed so they can have an hour alone. And she can be my friend any time.
The mother of two boys, 4-year-old Sid and 5-month-old Lazlo with husband Jason Biggs, has a third career beyond acting and writing. She is also just about the realest of the real moms on social media. Famous for her breastfeeding-friendly photos, her pregnant naked bathroom selfies, and just general honesty about motherhood, Mollen is all about transparency in parenting. She's the same way with perhaps the most sensitive parenting subject of young children... sleep. You remember sleep, right? It was that thing you never thought about pre-kids and now fantasize about on the regular.
Mollen is the most recent cover model for Parents Magazine, and penned an essay about one night in January when she and Biggs were trying out a new phase of their oldest son Sid's life; encouraging him to sleep in his awesome "big boy bed" instead of sleeping in his parents' bed. The impetus behind her decision? The Bachelor was premiering that night, and Mollen was desperate to start watching it and live-tweeting it again. She explained in her Parents essay that the bunk bed plan hadn't quite worked out as she had hoped:
A bunk bed would trump my bed because it’s the amalgamation of what kids love: Jungle gyms! Treehouses! Freedom! The good news was that Sid loved his new bunk. The bad news was that he insisted somebody sleep in it with him. Since I’d just had a baby, it was determined that person was Jason.
Mollen decided to give Sid fair warning that his father would be sleeping in his own bed that night instead of in Sid's bunk bed with him. She wrote:
We went through the rest of our nighttime ritual, consisting of three books, two improvised stories, and 17 super-hard kisses on the lips.
She thought all would be well, that she and Biggs would be able to hang out and watch The Bachelor together.
Within an hour, Sid was calling for his father. Mollen's idea? To lie like a blanket and pretend to sleep. The wily 4-year-old didn't fall for it. He appeared naked in his parents' doorway (because obviously) and demanded to know when Biggs would be joining him in bed. His mom brought him to bed, trying to explain that he would be sleeping on his own. Sid's response?
Do you know what mothers do? They sleep in bed with their children.
And so she did. Because sometimes you just give in; I know it's probably not what you're supposed to do, but it's what you actually do. When you're a tired mom, honestly there isn't much you won't do for a good night's sleep. As a mother of four sons who slept in shifts for eight years, I know a little something about not sleeping.
So cheers to Jenny Mollen for not sharing a clever tip with her fans. Instead, she shared a delectable little truth nugget. That most nights, kids win the battle of the beds. And that it's probably/definitely OK in the long run.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.