'It's the dumbest thing I've ever done'. Every parent needs to know about 'Bedtime Math'.

Every night at around 7pm in households across Australia, parents are preparing to do “the routine”. 

If you don’t have kids, you’re probably staring at that sentence blankly right now. 

If you do have kids, you likely let out an exasperated sigh thinking about the routine you’ve had to do so many times it’s basically muscle memory at this point. 

It’s where you have to perform a series of acts - in the exact same order, with the exact same level of enthusiasm - to convince your child to finally just go the hell to sleep. 

In my household, it’s teeth brushing, then deciding which soft toy needs to be added to my toddler's cot that night, then choosing whether she wants to sleep on her flower pillow or her Bluey pillow, then closing the blinds, then being lifted up to turn out the light herself (we must NEVER do it for her) and then singing two songs of her choosing (adding extra songs to my repertoire was the dumbest thing I've ever done) before she’ll even consider being put down for the night. 

It’s the type of process that would sound insane if you had to explain it to a babysitter. Or, you know, write it down like I am now. 

But somehow, we all ended up here.

This week, a genius TikToker put words around this parenting phenomenon and nothing has ever made such perfect sense to me.  

It’s what he coined “Bedtime Math”. 

Sure, you’ve heard of Girl Math. But Bedtime Math works in a veeeeerrrry different way. 

There is no subtraction. 

There is no division. 


You can nevvver take away a step in the bedtime routine. 

You can only add more habits on top of one another until the performance that you’re doing each night requires an intermission and could easily be nominated for a Tony Award. 

"Bedtime Math starts as a simple equation,” Derek Cahill, who goes by the creator name @boldfam, explained. 

“You lay your kid down, kiss on the forehead, (say) ‘sweet dreams’ and get the f**k out of that bedroom. Where the crazy bedtime math comes in is when you start stacking habits. 

“You go in there one night and you add ‘sleep tiiiight, don’t let the bed bugs bite’. Guess what you’re going to do the next day? You’re going to do that whole song and dance again.” 

“Soon you’re going to be up till 3 in the morning doing the goddamn Macarena for your kid because you don’t know how to shut up. Stop introducing them to bedtime routines, it will never ever end. EVER.” 


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♬ original sound - The BOLD Fam

And the responses from other parents came thick and fast. 

“I rubbed my daughter’s feet one time when she was sick two years ago. Now every night I have to rub her feet,” one person shared. 

“My toddler has a shot of “medicine” (water) every night after stomping around like a dinosaur,” added another.

“I made up a story with a character I stupidly called Bootyface Johnson. He has gone on SO MANY adventures the last two years. I’ve started using movie plots,” added another.  

A quick poll around the Mamamia office made me realise that it’s going on in literally every single household where little ones rule the roost. 


“With my 6-year-old we read a story, then we sing two rounds of a made-up song called ‘I love Leo’ to the tune of ‘I Hear Thunder’ then we tuck him in with his soft toys and say ‘Sweet dreams! See you in the morning! Love you! Good night!’ In that EXACT order. Sounds absolutely nuts when I write it down. There are also a core group of six soft toys that must be assembled,” Laura shared. 

“I made the mistake of offering some toast and a healthy snack platter for 'supper' when my daughter was about six and wouldn't settle...she's now 13 and still requesting supper to get to sleep,” Sunny said. 

“My 5-year-old has a five-step goodnight kiss routine every night. He won't sleep unless we have nose kisses left and right/up and down, eyelash kiss on the cheek, ears pressed together, foreheads pressed together then a good old-fashioned classic goodnight kiss," Michelle shared. 

"My kids insist on doing a special walk with their dad from the living room to their bedrooms every night. My son often gets carried upside down and my daughter often does a pretend parade walk and my husband does a parade trumpet tune with his mouth. They refuse to do the night walks with me, I'm the reader of the bedtime books instead. We have to say things in the same order too! I say 'Goodnight, sweet dreams, I love you' and my daughter says 'have a good sleep, see you in the morning.' There's no variation," Maddie said. 

So there you have it folks, we’re all screwed! 

I'd love to hear about your wild bedtime routine. 

Featured image: Getty