Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bring On the Night

A lot of conversations Kara and I have with other parents are about our nighttime schedule.

The first question we always ask is, "What time do your kids go to bed?" Then we get the answer, and we weep inside with envy.

Here's why:

Just about everyone we know, with kids under age three, put their kids down at 8 PM. 8:30 at the latest.

Why do we weep inside with envy?

Because on any given weeknight, the little one is awake until 9:30 PM.

When people hear this, their reaction is often mild shock... as if we keep the kid up late into the night, playing poker and watching late-night cable.

But no. Trust us, we'd love for the kid to head to bed at 8. And in fact, on weekends, when the little one refuses to take a nap, she'll often conk out somewhere between 8 and 8:15, tiny dark circles dancing under her eyes.

No, our options, as far as bedtime goes, are:

1. Try to put the kid to bed before 9:30. Then get up every five minutes to give mama a hug, go potty, get water, wash our hands, or some other such task that if you say no to, she'll scream, cry, and fight until she's EVEN MORE awake, thereby making bedtime 10 or 10:30 or 11 instead of 9:30.


2. Put the kid to bed at 9:30.

Even that, however, comes with it's own set of troubles.

First, there's the bath. We do one every night, since it's supposed to help calm the kid and, frankly, she's still in diapers and wipes can only take off so much... uh... matter. As it were.

Secondly, we do lotion. Gotta keep the kid moist. Especially now, as it's getting colder and dryer, Mihret tends to get ashy if we don't lotion her up every night.

Third, we put on the pajamas. Sometimes, this is easy. Sometimes, Mihret wants to get down and dance on the floor. Have I mentioned that even if I'm putting her into pajamas at 9 PM, she's often still WIDE AWAKE? No? Because she totally is. She's raring to go.

Then, we're off to mom and dad's bedroom to read stories. We do this for as long as it takes to get to 9:20.

Then we have two options.

1. I take the little one to her room, where she asks to get up to go potty every three minutes, because she's in the middle of potty training and KNOWS we will not deny her. Plus she's figured out how to hold back some widdle, so that she can go over and over again. Six times in one night, even. She's done it.

2. Or, we can flick off all the lights upstairs, and wait for the little one to fall asleep on our bed while the family cuddles. Which is what we do, because this takes a LOT less time, and also, I don't have to sit on the floor for twenty minutes waiting for the wee one to pass out.

This takes about ten minutes, at which point I can put her in her room, turn on her night music, and close the door.

Only this, too, is not the end of the night.

Because, somewhere between 2 and 6 AM, our daughter will wake up, and mosey into our room.

Sometimes, I wake up, and stick her in our bed.

Sometimes, I don't wake up, and still manage to stick her in our bed, allowing me to wake up with a tiny warm spot in my back that doesn't feel Kara-sized.

Now, for the longest time, Kara and I were anti-child-in-bed. And then one day we realized, we could either (wow, check out all these numbered lists!)

1. Bring the little one in our bed and get some sleep.

2. Put Mihret into her own bed, often kicking and screaming, and sit there for an hour, until she falls asleep, and then stumble back to our own bed, and pass out, until an hour later when we either had to get up or, more likely, Mihret would get up again and once again come into our room, so we could lose another hour of sleep trying to get her to go back to bed.

Now, I'm not complaining too hard. At this point, we've at least got a pattern, which is more than some folks got.

But is it so wrong to want that 8 PM bedtime all week? Is it wrong to want to tell the day care to stop making our kid nap?

Because if that's wrong, I don't want to be right some mornings.



tlhp259 said...

Have you ever read Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth? Rebecca suggested it to me when Grantham was about 9 months old and it has been a life saver.

Linda Setzer said...

So the kid doesn't go to bed till 9:30 or 10 or 11 or whatever? Don't sweat it. Take it as a given. You're making yourself and your spouse and the kid hyper and bad things happen when everybody is hyper. So relax, let the flow go, live with it, accept it. In 40 years you're going to wish you had your little one back. Trust me. I've been there.