“How did bedtime routine become morning routine? What time is it?”

March 14, 2014

Notable Stats

Stall Tactics per Fortnight (STF) – The bag of tricks children dip into when they are trying to avoid bed.  Coughing, Closet Monsters, Itchy Skin, Parched Throat, Malaria are examples.

Delirium Rapidity Increase (DRI) – The exponential speed by which a child is losing all coherent ability as a function of time. The peak value is measured when your child falls asleep while running.

There is something to this birth order concept, although no one can quite pin it totally down. It is notable in our family that with each child, bedtime success has increased. Of course, now seeing it through a five year lens, we started off as far from success as possible. We began with our bedtime skill ranking that was low enough to place us at the Earth’s core farthest from the surface of realistic success. There was nowhere to go but up and the optimist in me decided…success was inevitable.

When our oldest was a baby, he became accustomed to a Broadway play re-enactment every night. There was no drop, plop, and exit that was the rhythm of our now two year old. It began with music, massage, milk, and rocking, softly continued on to singing, hushing sounds, lotion, and patting, then over time we realized that all that was left to do was to hire Bruno Mars for lullabies, the cast from Les Miserables and install a vibrating water bed in his crib.

To this day, he expects a light show and David Copperfield. So I cannot say things have improved. I know as a five year old my Mom crawled out of my room after putting me in my bed so I imagine payback was coming.

Then we recall when our youngest was a newborn.  I had put our oldest two down in the room they shared and our son was off his rocker one day. Screaming, scared, popping up. I was about to do a chill bedtime routine with the baby but before I could get to it, I had to deal with the screaming banshee in the next room.

I was forced to put her down in her crib wide awake and alert to deal with him. I did a couple of minutes of sleep tactics with him then I came back to the baby. She had fallen asleep. What?

If there was ever a moment when parenting felt irrelevant, it was at that moment. She did not need my services to go to sleep. She understood why she had a crib and she valued sleep. If anything, I was messing up her routine.
Of course, having a baby roll like this when it came to sleep did not encourage me to continue to be part of the twelve course meal we called our son’s bedtime. We had to trim and cut, revamp and retool this madness and we are still doing so. Now instead of the shrieking, it is replaced with last minute bedtime conversations about cosmic anomalies or the merits of taxation. I give him credit for knowing how to stall while learning.

My Mom did concede that I was not such a deep and heavy nighttime thinker like my son. I eventually gave up and became a good bedtime routine kid. I had a rack of books behind my head and that did a lot to squash the fear at night.

But if you are not careful, these bedtime routines can drag on for hours. I think the Guinness Book of World Records just noted the last mother that tried to break the previous record for bedtime duration was “found curled up in a ball in the cat’s litter box signing “stay in your bed” repeatedly to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

We all know “One more” leads to eight more and forget about eating dinner after bedtime, you will be taking bites out of your remote by the time a slow bedtime child goes down for the night. Eat early, eat often.

Bedtime is a nebulous term of conspiracy parenting. It has no intrinsic value. We craft this concept so we can finally be exonerated from the crime of wanting our beautiful kids to get out of our face. We know each one has their own internal clock but we also have a “time for an inappropriate mojito” clock that tells their internal clock to go fly a kite.

Sure, they need sleep and we pay dearly when they don’t get enough of it and the more comfortable we make bedtime, the more ravenous they get for more acts to the dog and pony show. The safest place on Earth is probably their bed. It has pillows for goodness sake. But, for some reason, it has an eject spring in the center of it and unless you run your child into the ground (which is an excellent tactic), be prepared for anything.

Let’s say “nighty night” and I hope the bed bugs have sleeping potion in their bites.

- Doug Glanville

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