I came to the conclusion years ago that one of the worst times of my parenting day is bedtime. I’ll just come right out and say it, bedtime with several young children stinks.
A few years ago when my now 5-year-old was sleeping only 2-3 hrs per night and no longer napping during the day, I used to actually get anxious thinking about bedtime.
Now that we are finally past that (thank God) I find myself literally counting the hours until bedtime, not anxiously like I had been, but with a different raw emotion that is just as powerful… with exhaustion.
I am exhausted by the end of the day. My energy tank is on empty, and I’m just put-puttering along, trying my best to keep it together. From the time school pickup happens for my older 2 kids, through get-home-hungriness, through reuniting disagreements between the kids, through supper prep and meal time feeding and clean up, homework struggles, baths, and eventually winding down time… I am on empty and I’m barely holding on by a thread, counting down until I can send everyone to their rooms, tuck them in, say our prayers, and finally waltz back upstairs and pray they decide to sleep instead of make their way back up the stairs and beg for me to come back down and lie down with them until sleep takes over.
As I sit rocking my youngest while he drinks his sippy of water, squirming on my lap, not sure he wants to let sleep win for the night yet, I think about how childless-me dreamt bedtime would go before I had kids.
I didn’t dream it would be this way, this struggle with the little ones to go to sleep all while being completely exhausted myself… and maybe that is why I struggle with bedtime stinking.
I want it to be like my dream… soothing baths with bubbles and rubber duckies, wrapping their little bodies in a warm towel and getting jammies on while singing a song, rocking and reading a book of lullabies, and laying down a sleepy little baby who falls asleep by themselves…
And here lies the reality that can’t be just mine… just as that dream can’t be just mine… the bedtime struggle is real, and it stinks.