By the time a child is ten, like mine is, you’re supposed to have a lot of stuff sorted out, right? They can do the basics independently: take care of their own hygiene, pack lunch, tie shoelaces, read and respond to your texts messages for you when you’re driving, order Uber Eats while you dash into the bottle-o on the way home from Friday night sports. The basics.
The stuff that drove you insane on a daily basis when they were younger is supposed to now be a non-issue. Like bed times. There shouldn’t be tantrums. You don’t need to fortify yourself with a large wine at 6pm to prepare for bed-time drama.
And yet, when I saw this meme the other day, I died a little on the inside:
The trouble is, whilst Real American Dadass seems to be a dad to small kids, and he’s not talking about tweens, I could relate to this meme more than I want to admit.
You see, even though we’re supposed to have our bedtime routine together by now, in recent months I’ve found it getting harder. No one told me this would happen. I wasn’t prepared for this. And it’s grossly unfair, because I was seriously seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. One would think that if this kid can have his own Netflix account, he can put himself to bed in a timely manner.
So, what do you do when they are old enough to understand the real meaning behind the bedtime book, Go The F*ck to Sleep? What do you do when you can’t shove (lovingly) a dummy in their mouth?
Well, necessity is the mother of invention, so here are some of my unorthodox bedtime techniques, which will leave you wondering whether I’m a genius, or if you should feel really, really sorry for my kid:
If your kid is a little younger, here’s our podcast helping you to get them to sleep. (Post continues after audio.)
Getting him physically into the bedroom
My secret weapon is horror. I start to tell my kid a scary story in a creepy voice, “One day…there was a house…in the middle of the woods…that all the villagers neverrrrr went near”.
It may possibly scar him for life, but that’s all I sometimes need to say to get him running to his bedroom after refusing to, so quite frankly, it’s worth it.
When I am about to lose my sh*t, I’ll occasionally have the presence of mind to warn my son: “Crazy Mum is coming.” Implied in that is “Run. For. Your. Life.” I use this when he won’t get up from the sofa to go to bed, or on the third or so time he comes creeping down from his bedroom. It’s generally effective, and if Crazy Mum does visit, I find it’s a nice release to get some things off your chest after a long day of parental restraint.
Not for him – lol lol lol – for me. If he’s still whining 30 minutes later that he’s not tired and can’t sleep, I get him to kneel behind me while I sit on his bed, and tell him to rub big, hard circles into my back until he collapses. It stops the cycle of his “I can’t sleep” thoughts, clears his head, physically exhausts him, breaks his spirit a little and relaxes me just enough so that Crazy Mum doesn’t appear.