current bedtime routine

hell's angel

This is our current bedtime routine:

1. We take Buster and Chicken into their bedroom wrapped in towels, fresh from the bath.

2. We put them in diapers and pajamas.

3. We brush their teeth.

4. Once the post-diaper-pajama-and-tooth-brushing sobbing has eased to those sad little hiccups, Ryan says good night to Buster and takes Chicken into our room. I do not say good night to Chicken. There will still be, like, at least 3 more hours of Chicken.

5. Ryan reads stories to Chicken in our bedroom. I read stories to Buster in their bedroom. 

6. I tuck Buster in (to the chair) (not his bed) (because, oh right, my children would rather sleep on a cement floor than on a soft mattress) (no joke, one time Chicken wanted to sleep on the floor, but first: "put pillows under my whole body, Mommy!" You know what? That's a great fucking idea! Pillows under your whole body? Jesus H Christ that sounds comfortable. Perhaps you could even make the pillows like one big rectangular pillow so you could shift around at night and still have something soft under your body! Holy shit, we've got a winner here! Why hasn't anyone ever invented this?!? OH WAIT. SOMEONE DID. His name was Waldrop Q. Sleepnumber, and it's called a fucking mattress) (but seriously I don't care where they sleep as long as they sleep)

7. Ryan leaves Chicken in our bedroom to "wind down." 

8. 30 minutes later, one of us checks to see if Buster is asleep. If he is...

9. I bring Chicken BACK into his room, whispering in the dark to "get in BED and be QUIET and I LOVE YOU but do NOT wake your BROTHER."

10. I sit in the dark, on the floor (because remember? Buster called dibs on the chair) (and toddler beds have a 50-pound weight limit) until Chicken is almost asleep, and then I go over to him, kiss him, and say, "okay, I'm just going to sit in the hall now!" This is a lie. I'm going into the kitchen where I will glare at Ryan over a glass of bourbon and he will wonder if he's safe tonight. (As long as you are useful, you are safe. #putinlife #putinwife)

Steps 1-10 take 4 hours. 

Step 10 alone takes 1.5. 

Think about the last Pixar movie you watched. That's the amount of time either Ryan or I spend sitting in the dark EVERY NIGHT internetting on our phones and hissing "sssshhhht" when Chicken starts throwing books out of bed.

"But mommy I made you a cupcake out of books, so you don't get hungry," he whisper-yells, gesturing at the stack of books topped with a single stuffed frog. 

"That's beautiful. Really. And it looks delicious. Stop it."

Tonight he jumped on his bed, threw open the curtains, and sang, at full Broadway belt, his favorite line from "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor." It's, "put 'im in the scuppers with a hose pipe on 'im."

Make no mistake: We are in the weeds over here.

There are 3 reasons I'm telling you about our secret bedtime shame:

1. Everyone talks about siblings sharing a room like it's baking bread from scratch: sounds intimidating, but oh wow, surprisingly easy! And so much better this way! Plus people think you're superhuman when you tell them, offhand. They're all, "wait, you did what?" 

Truth bomb: siblings sharing a room is NOT EASY. The logistics of coordinating bedtime and wake time alone would make an O'Hare Flight Traffic Controller bahf up his chowdah. (He's from Boston originally.)

If you're struggling with two kids in one bedroom, I wrote this post for you. There's a reason zoos separate the ostriches at night, and it's not because they'll spoon too cozily. Those wild beasts will gouge each other's eyes out and peck each other slowly to death while squawking SUPER LOUD. Our bedtime might not be perfect, but trust me, it's BETTER.

2. There but for the grace of God go you, so save your judgment for Toyota Corolla who takes two spots in the parking lot on Saturday afternoon.

We sleep-trained the shit out of our kids and we were one of the lucky ones because the sleep training wasn't too face-clawingly awful, and it seemed to actually work.

We were so proud of our boys whenever we'd say to a babysitter, "and then you put him down and turn off the lights and leave," and they'd say, "no rocking?" And we'd say, "nope, just put him down, awake, and leave," and they'd be like, "no singing?" And we'd say, "nope, honestly, just put him down, turn off the lights, and leave," and they'd be like, "will he cry?" And we'd be like, "maybe for 10 seconds, but then he'll go right down," and we were fucking right, too.

We didn't do anything wrong. I mean, sure, we did have that second kid. But we didn't spit in the face of an old gypsy woman or pee on the Lincoln memorial on purpose.

We aren't any of the things you might picture when you hear about a mom who takes 4 hours a night to put her kids to bed. We aren't weak or inconsistent. We aren't caving. We aren't spoiling them or coddling them. I'm about to blow your mind right now... NO PARENT is what you picture when you hear about a mom who takes 4 hours a night to put her kids to bed. Shelve your judgment. We're all just trying to survive out here.

Here's what happened: We were doing great, and then Buster climbed out of his crib and sleep imploded. Buster had to learn, before the age of 2, self-control. HA. Chicken had to learn, before the age of 4, how not to murder his brother. HA. The logistics alone made me munt my vegemite, mate. (I'm a big fan of Crocodile Dundee.)

Now, we are digging our way out like Owen Wilson buried alive in the desert with nothing but chopsticks in his mouth in High Noon. Whatever, you know you saw it.

The first weeks were excrutiating, deadening, panic-inducing. We're never going to make it. But we put together a plan, and we put our heads down and kept digging. We're nearing the depth of desert sand where we can begin to wiggle our arms again (yep, still with the High Noon metaphor, don't worry, almost done), and once we get our hands out the rest will be quick and dirty.

This is not how we or any parent wants bedtime to go.

I'm saying this as a former VP of the Rock Star Sleeper's Club, and a new initiate in the Order of Oh God Help Me Please This Can't Be My Life.

3. Someday we will all look back on this and laugh and laugh and laugh and not really remember it that well.

It will be the day our grandson first climbs out of the crib and sleep implodes. On that blessed day we shall mind-beam that scene from High Noon into the home of our darling son, and then, oh, the laughing. Then we'll say, "try giving him some rice cereal before bed," and our children shall know our uselessness and leave us alone and we will DANCE.


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