Bedtime – it’s the ultimate parenting challenge. And, on REALLY tough days, you watch the clock, willing it to tick round to bedtime and the prospect of being able to slump on the sofa… without little people.
Bath time, story, a kiss goodnight and your little one snuggles up for a good night’s sleep.
Chances are you’re faced with one – or all – of these questions or demands instead.
I need a drink/banana/one more hug ...
There’s always one more thing that they URGENTLY need before they can go to sleep.
Should you pander to their needs?
Anything for a quiet life!
Where is he? Why can you NEVER find him at bedtime? Chances are he’s in the oven of the wooden toy kitchen or the dog’s bed. He’s NEVER in the actual bed. Cue a twenty-minute desperate hunt that reminds you of John Buckingham’s ‘The Blanket.’
Will you promise not to die before I'm really old?
Oh, good God. They always choose bedtime to ask the most serious questions and the ones that you feel you can’t dismiss …
Before you know it, you’re in an existential debate about bodies and souls and burials vs. cremations. HELP!
I really want to tell you about my worry in class today ...
They’ve been cheery as chips since they got home and bouncing about like Tiger but then they want to open up.
You settle down, ready to soothe away their worries and it turns out they really wanted to tell you a long, convoluted tale about how Evie and Oliver found a squashed worm at playtime and showed it to everyone on the carpet when the teacher wasn’t looking.
Hmmm … serious stuff!
My tummy/toenail/left elbow hurts
Funny how bedtime is the time when hitherto-unmentioned aches and pains begin to surface.
Half and hour ago they were playing with ducks in the bath; now they’re groaning about a pain so agonizing they can’t possibly nod off.
As you consider ignoring it, the mummy guilt kicks in and you start googling NHS Choices on your phone.
But I'm lonely! I want to sleep in your bed
Garghgh … you’ve been dreaming of star-fishing in your own bed ALL day. But should you cave in, just to carve out some evening me-time?
You know if you do, they’ll always want to sleep in your bed …
And so begin the negotiations/reasoning/bribery to get them to settle and sleep right there in their own, lonely old bed.
I think I could sleep here if you read me just ONE more story ...
But you’ve already had three!
OK, go on then.
No! Not THAT one – it’s as long as War and Peace!
I just need another wee
What?! You had one in the bath and one just before bed. How can you need another one?
But what if they wet the bed?
Off to the bathroom we traipse.
I'm scared. I think there's a monster under my bed.
There’s no reassuring them and they insist you check.
Here’s where monster spray comes in handy.
It's too dark/light/cold/hot ...
Do they really need perfect climatic conditions to drift off?
You switch on night lights/drape a towel over the curtains/add a blanket/take off a blanket in an attempt to create the perfect equilibrium.
Botanical gardens take less management!