I just destroyed my chances of winning mother of the year. Again. For the 11th year in a row.
Bed time is a nightmare in our house. It is always at bed time that we question the logic behind having four children. Let me share:
7:00 We always start the bed time routine happily. We bathe our boys. We ask the girls to put their pajamas on and brush their teeth. We pour milk in the boys sippy cups and entertain dreams of cuddling in bed and reading books together.
7:30 The boys and Elena are dressed and upstairs. At this point, Christina is not even upstairs yet. In fact, we have no idea where she is. She is either wandering in the back yard or trying to capture a hissing cat. After all, a hissing cat just needs to be hugged more, then it will be happy, right? We find her and once again ask her to get ready for bed.
7:45 Micah usually passes out once he touches his bed. So much for reading a book. Isaiah is playing with a train in the hallway. Elena is quietly reading a book in her bed. Christina is MIA. Mark or I start to get impatient. We try not to raise our voices at Christina, because she always freaks out.
8:00 Okay, now we’re getting impatient. Micah is asleep and Elena is reading. Now we are putting Isaiah back in bed every five minutes. We are still medium-patient. “Stay in bed, okay?” He stays there for a while, but after a few minutes he starts playing with the train again. Christina is upstairs, but instead of getting dressed, she decides to start poking the once relaxed Elena.
8:15 Screams come from upstairs. We don’t even check to see if someone is bleeding anymore. We used to go see what the drama was about, but it usually goes like this: Christina poked, kissed, or sat on Elena. After 10 minutes of asking her to stop, Elena grabbed a patch of Christina’s hair and started yanking it. Isaiah is still playing with the train. We put him in bed again and begin to threaten him. “If you don’t stay in bed….[insert benign threat here]”
8:30 More screaming. Elena wants to go to bed, but Christina won’t stop tormenting her, so Elena is pulling her hair or sitting on her. Isaiah is out of bed. When we try to put him back, he needs a hug from whichever parent is not upstairs. The parent that is upstairs lets Elena sleep in our bed and threatens to take Christina’s iPod if she doesn’t settle down. Micah is sleeping peacefully.
8:45 Elena, now that she is no longer being tortured, falls asleep. Isaiah now needs more milk. Or has to pee. Or needs a hug. Pick one. At this point, Mark is the only one that goes upstairs because I am downright mad. He is yelling now at Isaiah, “GET IN YOUR… [long pause because Mark really wants to say a swear word, but remembers that the last time he accidentally did, Isaiah used it correctly and frequently for the next 24 hours]…BED!!! Christina is now scared to be by herself because Elena is no longer in the room.
9:00 Christina needs to find the cat so she won’t be alone in bed. She sneaks downstairs. Isaiah is bored with the train and is now sitting on Micah’s head. Micah is sleeping like a baby. First, we drag Isaiah off of poor Micah. Then, we start ranting. Christina begs and pleads for the cat. The cats are hiding. We instead give her Elena. Mark heaves Elena’s sleeping, almost adult sized body back to the girls room. He doesn’t really do it to comfort Christina. He really does it so that we can turn off the lights in the girls’ room and close the door–without Christina complaining. Darkness should make her sleepy–we hope.
9:30 Christina is finally asleep, but Isaiah is still awake. We don’t care anymore. We baby proof upstairs and lock the gate at the top of the stairs. We start to clean the kitchen.
10:00 Isaiah is still awake singing the Polar Express song in the dark by the gate, holding his train. Mark and I are exhausted, but we can’t go to sleep with a wandering toddler. Or could we?
10:30 Somehow Isaiah escapes. We are now laying on the couch, half awake. Isaiah is sitting between us singing his ABCs. We try to get motivated to put him back to bed.
11:00 We put Isaiah to bed and then go straight to bed ourselves. We are exhausted, and we know that we have to get up at 6:45 to start the exhausting morning routine. One of us asks the other one, “Why did we have four kids?”
So, this is our nightly school-night ritual. Today, we decided to try something different: melatonin. It is all natural, right?
I told Elena about melatonin and how it works. She was excited at the possibility of having a happy bed time. She wanted me to give her a dose. I asked why. She told me happily, “Then I can fall asleep if Christina is messing with me no matter what!” I really intended to give it Christina. I wasn’t expecting that response.
7:00 I gave Isaiah a minimal amount. I go to give Christina some, and she says, “Is that your sleep potion? How many days will I be asleep?” I start daydreaming about having a whole day to rest while the kids sleep 48 hours straight.
8:30 All four kids were sleeping and we only had to drug two of them! I don’t even care if I lost my mother of the year award. Tonight was the first peaceful, relaxing evening that we’ve had in a long time. We can power up for the morning ritual… but that’s a story for another post.