I’m going to miss bedtime over the next five nights.

It can often times get pretty frustrating. We give the kids an hour of wind-down time starting at 6:30pm to get jammies on and watch a couple of shows as a family. Usually we watch Curious George and one other choice. There is often the battle of calming down after a full day.

But then sometimes they do cute things like set up a back-scratching chain in front of Word World, and I am reminded that this time is so fleeting.

And as hard to settle down as they can be, our three goobers are some of the best snuggly relaxers we could ask for.  While they love being wild, they also love being close and cozy.

And it’s that before-bed time routine I will miss over the next five days because as calming as it is for them, it’s a vital part of my day too. I get to just sit, many times with a child plastered to me, but without work or any other distraction from my day.

Cortney and I take turns putting either the boys to bed or Alice. Two nights of each and then switch. When I put the boys to bed, we cuddle into Eddie’s bottom bunk and read books. Charlie generally chooses a book, then we read Harry Potter after that. And then, even though they are eight and five, they still ask me to lay by them, which means I tuck them both in and then I curl up in Eddie’s bottom bunk next to him until they both drift off to sleep.

Is it necessary? No. But I am almost certain our days of this are numbered and I can’t bear to be the one that ends it.

On my nights with Alice, we cuddle up in the glider in her room while her glow worm, Glowie, plays for 10 minutes. In that time she chats and chats and chats about everything. Sometimes she sings to me. Sometimes I sing to her. I always nuzzle my nose into her hair to sniff in the remnants of baby that are left. After Glowie “goes to sleep,” I tell her “two more minutes means two more songs.” Tonight she picked to sing a made up song of Loo Loo Loo’s and La La La’s followed by “Jesus Loves Me” three times.

Then I pick her up, rub noses Daniel Tiger style and say, “I love you, Alice. God Bless you, Alice.” And she smiles and says, “Love you mommy. God Bless Alice.”

I tell her that her daddy will get her in the morning and to have sweet dreams. She rolls to her side and pushes her glow bear’s tummy on.

Yes, my kids have stall tactics and fight bedtime. Yes, Charlie throws major tantrums about brushing his teeth. Yes, Eddie worries and bites his nails about things when he should be sleeping. Yes, Alice thinks she needs one more drink, one more hug, and one more cuddle with one of her babies. It’s rarely perfect.

But it’s ours.

Stay in Bed, I Said!

Bedtime and Eddie have never been friends.

As a baby, he would not fall asleep unless someone held him or rocked him to sleep.  Even when he had fallen asleep, if you placed him in the crib just so, he would wake up like he had been faking it all along and start screaming his head off.

Cort used to do the “arm check” to see if he was really out. You know, where you lift and arm and if it just limply falls with a thud, he’s out. Put him to bed and back slowly away.

The rule was that if Eddie falls asleep anywhere? That is where he sleeps. And whoever wakes him up gets a punch to the throat by the strung out momma.

Wait. What?

Oh right. Sleep.

Well he does better now.

I mean, we are over three years into this, and we can get him to nap with no fight.  In fact, he asks for it and then stays sleeping for an average of two hours each afternoon. Yes, it’s as glorious as it sounds. I think I may have decided no one living in this house is allowed to NOT nap in the afternoon.

Naps for all! Weeee!

Anyway, night bedtime is the opposite of easy. It is all the swear words rolled into one big ugly mess of blah.

Night bedtime and Eddie are enemies.

We have always had a set routine.  And even though bedtime is not pleasant, if we get off that routine for whatever reason? Bedtime becomes akin to what I imagine hell to be like.

Since he realized he could get up from the big boy bed any old time he pleased (it actually took about a month…I know, right?), he has become the master of excuses.

Seriously. I can’t make this crap up. When he comes upstairs with a new excuse, I could swear he has a team of sitcom writers down there telling him what to do next.  And then I check for video cameras in my living room because…come on with these things:

“Mom. I need sleepy socks on and I can’t do it.”

“Mom. There are weird shadows.”

“Mom. I found this booger.”

“Mom. I peed. Little help?” (said with his pull up in one hand and his balled up jammies in the other…as he stands there nude.)

“Mom. I needed this in bed? That all right?” (said with a pinwheel in one hand and a flashlight in the other.)

“Mom. I had a bad dream.” (even though he has not fallen asleep yet.)

“Mom. I need to stay up for 100 days.”

“Mom. I can’t sleep. I don’t know how.”

“Mom. I pooped in my pull up.”

I swear he does that last one ON PURPOSE just because he gets to stay up longer than if he poops on the can.

Anyway, we couldn’t stand it anymore.  We had to figure out a way for him to say in his dang bed. If for no other reason that bedtime SHOULD NOT TAKE OVER AN HOUR EVERY NIGHT! (yes, that required shouting.)

So what to do, what to do?  We ultimately decided to combine a few of Eddie’s most favorite things: 1) being in charge. 2) charts and stickers and 3) treats.

My kid is such a sell-out for a sticker and some candy.  It would be sad if it wasn’t so awesome.

It goes like this.  If he stays in bed (unless he has to get up to pee or poop), in the morning he gets to put a sticker on the chart.  Once he fills a row (there are boxes in a row, so a week if he plays his cards…er stickers…right), he gets to go out on a “treat date” with either me or Cort.

Not only does he love to stick a sticker on the chart, but he loves counting how many more boxes until the treat.

The first week he went with Cort on some errands and chose a Pez dispenser.

The next week he picked a cookie at the “donut shop” with Cort.

This past week he and I went Christmas shopping and he chose a donut hole at the “donut shop.”

Plus he absolutely LOVES going out with just me or just Cort.  He feels so big and proud.

(also let’s pause for a moment to look at that photo again. I mean, he is the perfect blend of boy and baby right now, right? The lashes and the lingering baby knuckle-dimples? swoon. I love this boy so much.)

The thing that sealed it was we let him be in charge.  If he wants to look at books in his room after we put him to bed, he may. But he needs to turn out the light and go to bed when he is done.

It’s all him.

And he loves it.

Just like potty training, we have to learn to release a bit to him, let him show us how to parent him, and then do our best to guide him.

It hasn’t been perfect.  It still takes a bit some nights.

If he gets himself thinking about something that bothers him, he will turn his light on and sit on his bed crying until I will either rock him or lay in bed with him while he talks it out.

But we are working on it.

What is bedtime like for your kids? Wait…if it’s easy breezy I don’t want to know!  Just kidding…you can tell me. Charlie is super easy…right now. I’m sure he will change that up for me the second Eddie gets easy, right?