Bedtime Woes


A woman alone watching TV at night drinking wine and eating popcorn.I love being a mom, but I also love my “me” time if and when I get the opportunity. As moms, we cherish the time we spend with our kids because we know the day will come when we’re maxing out our credit cards on mini-fridges and new laptops for their dorm room.

However, I prefer not to jump years ahead and take it one day at a time. I think that this type of mindset is not only crucial to the well-being of my little ones but to my scattered mommy brain as well.

Kids live in the present moment. They are focused on their first day of summer camp and what kind of popsicles their counselors will have waiting for them upon arrival. The future is something that doesn’t even cross their mind.

Moms also look forward to summer camp, but in a different way. For instance, while my kids are at camp, I see it as an opportunity to get some work done, catch up on emails or schedule those appointments I tend to put off. I postponed my teeth cleaning so often that I needed to develop a believable story to fill the gap (no pun intended).

So there I was, waiting in line for my kids to shuffle to the car with their sticky hands and wet towels in tow. As I gazed through my windshield at the sea of orange t-shirts, I realized I had at least five more minutes of peace and quiet. Rather than savor those short blissful moments, I decided to whip out my i-Cal to find some time where I could knock a few things off my to-do list. I call it the multi-task mom move. That time of day where we get the urge to fill our last few minutes of free time with productivity. It rears its ugly head as soon as we get acquainted with doing nothing and enjoying it.

When you’re a mom, doing anything for yourself becomes a luxury, and you better believe you’ll change your plans at least six times due to a lacrosse game or dance recital. Since personal time can be a rarity, you want to make the most of it.

However, here is where things can get complicated: Take bedtime, for example, that pivotal time when kids should be relaxed and winding down for the night. The keyword is SHOULD. If you’re one of the lucky ones that have achieved this, then I commend you. For those of us who aren’t there yet, the reality of the situation is that bedtime can be an absolute nightmare.

You may be all too familiar with the following scenario. Dinner is over, and you’ve closed up shop for the night (or so you thought – there is always one more round of snacks even after dessert). Screen time has expired more than three times, and so has your patience.

I firmly believe that to give your best, you have to feel your best, but let’s face it, that is way easier to say and much harder to do.

Admittedly, my time begins at 10:30 p.m. after reading two bedtime stories, along with a detailed explanation as to why I’m not reading a third. Let’s not forget the trip to the kitchen for a (second) drink of water. The classic mommy guilt can also cause delays when saying goodnight to our little one(s).

Whether you work outside the home or are busy keeping a fabulous one, there will most likely be that sliver of guilt that keeps you in your kiddo(s) bedroom just a bit longer than you expected. Yet, the same routine plays out night after night. Instead of putting the kids to bed and plopping yourself on the couch to binge-watch your favorite Netflix series, you may spend the remainder of the evening doing laundry or loading the dishwasher with what’s left of the dinner plates.

That is where the need for balance comes into play. Sure, a feeling of accomplishment comes with getting the laundry done. It may also suppress the anxiety that comes with the dreaded hunt for socks and underwear the following morning. If you feel you’re getting to the point of exhaustion and the days seem to run into one another, it may be time to make a change. This can be a chore, but if you start small and give attention to only the necessary things, you can minimize stress and maybe even snag a few extra hours of sleep (cue in the happy sigh).

There are several ways of getting out of your rut and your kids into a practical bedtime routine. The timer on your smartphone will become your best friend. Once dinner has ended and your kids retire to their favorite couch or chair with their device in hand, start the timer on your phone. Be prepared for a bout of whining and excuses to arise when the alert goes off. You may be tempted to reset it for five more minutes, but beware, the longer you procrastinate, the more intense the pushback will be.

Continue this regimen through teeth brushing and bath/shower time as well. Once your little ones are in bed and waiting for their favorite story is when you will begin the countdown to dreamland (literally). If, by chance, you find that your kiddos are not responding to your trusty timer, no problem! White noise is another great way to relax your kids and calm their senses.

If you don’t have a white noise sound machine, there are plenty of videos on YouTube that will deliver hours of free white noise variations. The soothing sounds can help put your kids’ minds and bodies at ease while making it easier to fall asleep. This may take a few tries, but eventually, your little ones will be on a consistent bedtime routine that will bring you some much-deserved quiet time and relaxation.

After you tackle the bedtime woes, you might even have time for that new DIY face mask you’ve been waiting to try before hitting the hay. The possibilities are endless, but at the end of the day, one of the greatest things about being a mom is our dedication and resourcefulness. We can tackle just about anything, and bedtime is no exception!


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