On the perfect put-down, and the perspective of a child-free friend
Story of my life.
It made me realise I have to expect less from bedtime.
Our toddler only falls asleep after 1 or 1.5 hours so I’d better get used to it and value that time.
On the “asking how you’re gonna die and doing a cartwheel” situation, my child recently proclaimed that when I die she will be getting a cat. She can’t have one when I’m alive because I’m allergic, so I guess the solution is waiting for me to die, not moving out? And in regards to bedtimes, you might (or might not) resonate with this one I wrote recently about low sleep needs and temperament and how differences in kids impact parent sleep and wellbeing https://open.substack.com/pub/annacusack/p/your-low-sleep-needs-kid-is-not-broken?r=2altgb&utm_medium=ios&utm_campaign=post
Very nice piece! I like the reflections about friendships. And I want to share this:
“When we die will there still be people? Does life ever stop?” asks Lorenzo one night before bedtime. These nocturnal chats are the best part of my day; when Lorenzo announces, “I want to go to sleep with papá”.
I wrote this a few months ago in a piece where I also quoted Italian author Natalia Ginzburg: “But that was the best time of my life, and only now that it has gone from me forever — only now do I realise it”
I’m sorry, but I have to testify:
I used to think bed time would be this serene, narcotic drift into unconsciousness with soft story time candle light and pentatonic-lyre lullaby snuggles with each child.
The reality is I have to not lose my cool as my kid excitedly runs in from the bathroom, teeth neither flossed nor brushed, nude and still no pajamas, to show me how clean her gluteal cleft is after she wiped all by herself. All the while, her older sister is disrobing and morphing into a sybarite princess with her dress-up paraphernalia. I either fall asleep in their room before they do (and while chaos reigns), or my wife gives in and lays on the floor between their beds for two hours until they finally fall asleep. All other methods have failed. Bedtime rhythms just never held.
@kevin what a beautiful post, it tapped into all the feels for me. Bedtimes are beautifully chaotic at our house. So many waters needed, books read, escorting them back to their room, lying with them, running around naked. I know I'll miss the dance when the kids are older because I'll selectively remember the good--like their little feet running up and down the hallway after bath time, cuddling with them as they nod off, singing songs and conversations that are the become the foundations of who they grow into.
There also the times like last night, when I am sick tired, and just want to read a book and sip tea, but my kid decides to go poo in the bath tub and wants 50 books read that I have already read 100s of times....ahhhhhhh. lol
I loved how you waved in the counterfactual life lived without kids into this post. I have only recently found the space to start building back non parent adult relationships. We had one non parent couple that was great with our kids, but sadly they moved away. I really valued that relationship and saw the joy that it brought to our kids
This is so lovely. Bedtime was much on my mind this week as I was working on a story called "An Ode to Sleep." My kids are now 12 and 8, and the bedtime routine has gotten much shorter -- in fact, my 12yo routinely now stays up later than I do. I once dreamed of a day without an elaborate bedtime routine, but now I'm giving myself space to cherish this end-of-the-day time with my son. In only a few short years, he'll be too old for me to read aloud to him and too cool to cuddle. Soon I'll no longer be putting either of them to bed, but rather willing myself to stay awake to ensure they make their curfews. Ah, the long days and short years...
Stan and Jan Berenstein nailed with their classic "The Bedtime Battle." I've had some lovely moments recently reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my 4-yr-old and 7-yr-old at bedtime. They get sliced apples to munch on for a couple of chapters, and typically this leads to simpler rituals afterward. It can be exhausting to have to run through a separate routine with each child. Although my 7-yr-old still makes me sit at the foot of her bed for a few minutes (10-15 min) while she goes to sleep. I suspect this is one of those things we'll miss later on.
Really feeling the split from child free friends right now, and also realizing all those easy recoveries from sleepless nights in my twenties were evolutionarily designed for early parenthood...oops.
thanks for this, Kevin.
As a parent who’s going through this phase in life, it’s like I wrote it myself!
Somehow I've managed to convince my 3 year old that bedtime is a race. We have to get him undressed, in the bath, washed, tooth brushed, out of the bath, dried, in pyjamas, and on the sofa to read his books AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. It works maybe 75% of the time - but it leads to him being wired in bed and summons us back in 3 or 4 times as he calms down. But I'll still take the win...
Reading this brought back memories of when our kids were younger. Fortunately, in my limited experience, bed times become easier as kids grow up.
Oof, brutal but beautiful. I'll be joining you in these struggles in about 4-5 weeks, Kevin!
I wish the articles weren't paywalled, but I enjoyed your blog today! As a parent of kids in or approaching double-digit ages, tucking in and other bedtime needs last far longer than I ever anticipated. And the kids are still in and out of my bed a few times a week at the beginning of the night. It's ok though. It's sad to think, "will this snuggle time be the last one they seek?" as they grow. And it makes those moments all the sweeter, even if it is exhausting when they are 2.