Bedtime: Heaven or Hell?


Once upon a time, bedtime routines used to be my favourite part of the day. That was when there was just Matthew to read and sing to, pray and cuddle with. These days, bedtime is just getting ridiculously painful and difficult.

I’m actually blogging just to retreat into some writing space, to reclaim a bit of the sanity I feel I’ve lost with each passing night.

If this is what it’s going to be like for the next half year, so be it. I can accept that. But I can’t help thinking there must be a better way.

The other reason for writing? Well, for better or for worse, these episodes would be another “one of those things” to remember (and perhaps miss?) in future. Right? Right?

For now, I am at a complete loss as to what to do! HELP!

So here’s our bedtime routine:

Emma and I will retreat to the bedroom first, where I nurse her, and read a little to her (she tries to eat every book I introduce to her) before Matthew comes to join us.

As Matthew finishes his last bottle of milk, I try to read to both – usually Emma still tries to chew off at least one corner of the book, while Matthew tries to pull the book towards him…

When he finishes his milk, I leave Emma to her toys while I bring Matt to brush his teeth.

Then we all regather on our bed and I try to read one more story to them, before we pray and bless one another. Well, Emma ain’t up to blessing anyone so she’s the main recipient of all our blessings, including Matthew’s, who goes up to her and pokes her forehead with his thumb as he declares, “Gawd bless you EM-ma!”

Here’s when it starts to break down.

As I put Emma to sleep on her bed, I ask Matthew to read by himself, or play by himself. I know, I know, it’s unreasonable to expect a two-and-a-half year old to be by himself, and it pains me to do that, but Emma falls asleep rather quickly and all I need is for him to be quiet for like, 10 minutes.

But of course, that is not possible, right?

As always, just as Emma is falling asleep, Matt decides to jump around, make noise or talk really loudly. And then she jolts awake. After a lot of threats, coercion, pleading, somehow or other, he will decide he’s had enough fun with me, and does pipe down enough for me to put the little girl to sleep.

Then I can join the boy, and tell him more bedtime stories (with subjects never being anything other than buses, trains or wheel loaders). Eventually, he does sleep. Of course.

It sounds feasible right?

Well, it’s NOT.

Every night, I’m going out of my mind making both of them sleep. I have prayed to high heaven, and asked Mother Mary to please help since she must have experienced Jesus at His worst too. Most times, I feel this need to scream out loud or cry, but since I can’t do that, all that results is either my blood boiling or my blood pressure rising.

Logic tells me I can do two things:

1) Separate them, with the helper putting one to sleep: But I don’t want to do that because I feel it will cost me my relationship with the baby I don’t get to put to sleep? Correct? No?

2) Stagger their bedtimes, with one sleeping first: But I don’t want to do that because then they won’t get to enjoy their downtime together, with Mummy telling them stories, singing lullabies to both of them together, praying together? Right? No?

So I wonder, am I trying to just get my way or is it that the goal (to have them enjoy bedtime with me and with each other) is right, but I simply need to persevere through this period? Are pictures of contented babies lying in their mother’s arms simply make-believe? Is it really impossible for a toddler and a baby to be put to bed at the same time? And if I sacrifice this experience now, when should I reinstate it… and will that time be too late for them to respect the other’s presence in their private space?

In the last two-and-a-half years of my motherhood, I’ve learnt that determination is key to making things work. I’m sure I can muster that as I have done so far, but I wish I knew which is the correct direction to head!


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