We have always been sticklers for early bed for the children, but all the rituals must be properly attended to or disaster would surely befall before morning. In my mind it is Lame Excuse Time. It is not unusual for the huggy child to come to my bedside when I am drifting off and say, “I think we forgot the kiss and the hug,” even though I clearly recall her nearly strangling me earlier. Someone might have a scratchy throat and need a throat drop. The one who chews her fingernails gets painful hangnails that require bandaids so they don’t catch in the covers. Sometimes after bed is when the fear bogeys come out and we need to pray again. The boys are hungry again with frightening predictability. It feels like it can drag on for the longest time, and it makes me so much more tired than I already am.

We have friends who let their children stay up until they drop, then they put them into their beds. “You make it too hard for yourselves,” they say. “We just don’t pick that battle.” I don’t know how long ours would keep going if we let them make their own bedtime, but I value the feeling of everything squared away and everyone tucked in enough to push through the daily dose of small rituals that cannot be ignored.

Today was action packed, with warm sunshine that had the children out shooting targets with homemade bows and arrows, and tea-partying in their play house. They procrastinated on their chore lists because it was “too nice to work”. There were still a lot of things not scratched off the list when supper was over. I had resisted the urge to just do them quickly myself. Instead, I strolled along on Instagram for a while before I balanced the budget with the credit card statement. I too, have my stalling tactics. Then I cleaned the bathroom. The living room wasn’t vacuumed, but the person responsible insisted they would do it just as soon as it gets dark. I can make them feel guilty by picking up the slack, but again I resisted and just stayed in the kitchen, washing the big dishes that didn’t fit into the dishwasher.

After my shower tonight, I saw a text from my husband at work, saying that some friends have overripe produce for our pigs. I went to pick it up, but apparently it had already been cleared away, being so late and all, so I went to the gas station instead and filled up the tank on the Sub. When I got back the smaller boy still had not found his Sunday school book and the middle girl was still playing in the tub with her hair not washed and the small girl was weeping about everything because she was so exceeding tired.

We mired through drinks and teeth brushing and repeated trips to the potty, because “What if I pee myself in the night?” Unfortunately when it was time to crawl in, the bottom bunk needed a complete overhaul because Rita left her bunny on the bed for a few hours while she ran out to play. It is not house-trained and made an astonishingly large puddle that penetrated all the way to the waterproof mattress cover. I told them to strip it and tossed them a clean sheet, then  went to the kitchen to wash the eggs that the late chore-boy had brought in. He finally did his vacuuming, a little apologetically. Ten minutes later the sheet was still not on, because the “corners are impossible” and there were meltdown tears (not mine, theirs) and another potty break.

Tonight the nightlight wouldn’t work and the water bottle was empty and I did not let them listen to My Story Hour because it’s Saturday. The teddies were in the wrong beds and the favorite blankets were in the laundry basket and the hugs got kind of shortened. I wish I knew how to make it all sweetness and light. Sometimes I see those illustrations of a child falling asleep while the parent reads them a story in the serene lamplight and I wonder… Since I am often on my own at night, I could use some tips. Do you make it fun? Have time limits? Discipline dawdling? Please tell me how you do bedtime. I am genuinely interested.

At any rate, we will be delighted to see each other in the morning, all fresh and basking in the new mercies that we count on every day.




12 thoughts on “Stalling

  1. Hahaha! 😂 Some of what you write sounds pretty familiar!
    Here’s how we do it here: I tell the three oldest to go get ready for bed. They say gnite and get drinks and go potty if necessary, then get in bed. #3 is typically the only problem. He is apt to neglect a step. Also, he prefers to sleep in underwear only, so that means I assist him in finding some and he carefully sits on a little strip of carpet and changes into them. He has to change into them because he doesn’t usually wear them in addition to his pants. Except for special occasions also known as Sundays. I’m not quite sure why.
    Anyway, after the first 3 head up, I carry up our precious sweet little #4 and put her in her crib and (usually) humour her requests for this and that about what she wants in her crib or not.
    Then I tuck everybody in, sing a lullaby and tiptoe out. Occasionally #3 is scared, so I pray with him.
    It usually goes pretty smoothly. It actually got somewhat better in some ways after #4 moved in with the others, because it was quite a learning curve for her and the older 3 pretty quickly gathered that they are NOT to do anything that will wake her or papa won’t be happy. 😉

  2. I loved this! I’m a bedtime stickler. Mornings, I struggle with a smooth routine, but evenings I can manage. Mine of course are a lot younger. My boys know that the once I put them to bed that’s it. (There are exceptions….like when the little guy napped too long, etc.) After bath, looking at books (usually with soothing music), bedtime stories and prayer with daddy they get a drink,brush teeth, and go to bed. Then I got to each of them separately and chat for a minutes, let them talk about their day, then bless them and pray for them. And that’s that.(I admit sometime I snuggle one or two) I struggled so much for a long time with such an elaborate bedtime routine, but after countless nights of doing it alone I realized that one on one time made their souls feel content. I love to turn on Seeds family worship lullaby album if they are a little extra restless and need more time to settle down.

    1. Ah, your babies are blessed. When Gabriel is here, he does bedtime and chats with the children. It just goes better all around that way. When I am on my own I often feel so depleted by then, plus I already know all about their day and I tend to neglect that. 😶
      One of the things that makes me a soft touch is how I cannot bear being thirsty in bed, so even if they had drinks, I let them refill bottles. They know just how to work on me. Thankfully it’s not all the excuses every night.

      1. I love how every family is different and every mama has those sweet little things they can’t resist. I learned one of my mom anger triggers was needy people after I turned off the light. So that’s why I draw it out and cover the bases!

  3. Dorcas dear,It did make me feel tired to read this!Many years ago when Freeman and I visited a cousin,we were already in bed when we heard their small children run up the steps and go to bed.We didnt hear another peep from them.It always stayed with me,but I never attained that!I dont have a solution but I think you will be able to think this one out,I wouldnt choose bedtime for visiting and water bottles though!And definitely no hugs after they are in bed.Wait!I dont mean to sound critical,but I can see where there might be a problem for wearing you out.They will do what you allow them to do.

    1. That last sentence is very true, I know. I totally accept your advice. 😊 Being tired is not a good enough excuse for letting things slide, unless you aren’t going to fuss about them, right? I am thinking through this, and hopefully coming up with a better plan.

    2. That last sentence is very true, I know. I totally accept your advice. 😊 Being tired is not a good enough excuse for letting things slide, unless you aren’t going to fuss about them, right? I am thinking through this, and hopefully coming up with a better plan.

  4. Sound so like we have similar challenges at bedtime. I’m often on my own too, and with a first grader who needs her sleep, it can be tricky to get everyone to bed so they get the sleep they need. Right now the baby settled easy, around 7:30 or 8:00. Then I start the first grader on her routine–pajamas, inhaler, teeth brushing. She usually wants a song and sometimes we chat about the day before I tuck her in and kiss her. Then I put the two year old to bed. He’s pretty easy–soother, blanket, songs, closet door closed to keep the ghosties out, bedroom door open, hall light on. Now that I write it all out he sounds high maintenance lol. He just started sleeping with the five year old so we wait until he’s asleep when the five year old goes to bed. This is cool with him–he loves staying up later than the rest. He gets his pajamas on and brushes his teeth, and I tuck him in.

    This doesn’t include multiple requests for drinks, snacks, stories, and moms aching desire for a shower that is getting stronger by the minute and why don’t they just be quiet and go to sleep?!!!

    I guess I really don’t have much advice…just pick your battles and leave the rest. At this stage I’m realizing that it’s not possible for me to reach all my parenting ideals especially when I’m doing it solo, and I’m learning to be okay with that.

    Thanks for sharing. I love reading about your lively family. It sounds to me like you do a great job, and you’ve inspired me often to do better in my own role.

  5. Not so long ago there was a nursling in the mix, and that truly was hair raising at times. 😊 I appreciate your last few paragraphs so much. Still learning to accept grace, not just to get through hard stuff, but to move on in grace when I know I messed up. Good to hear from you!

  6. I’m kind of a ‘mean mom’ when it comes to bedtime! Sometimes I feel bad when I hear other people’s sweet bedtime routines but our kids pretty much say goodnight and crawl in. It does depend on the ages and circumstances, of course. Bedtime has changed a lot since the days when I had a 7, 5, 17 month and newborn and my husband often worked late! Even now, some nights there’s more crawling back out than others but ours know that’s not tolerated very well!

    Something we have done for quite awhile now, is gather together on the living room floor, after everyone is dressed for bed, and chat together and then pray together about certain requests. I think that cuts down on the need for talking, etc after they get in bed. These days my husband is almost always here for bedtime but that’s something I could do even if he wasn’t here.

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