What It Feels Like to Put Kids to Bed at Night

Putting kids to bed feels a lot like punching yourself in the face while watching Annie — in the end all you have is a massive headache and unruly children mocking you.

Anyone who is a parent knows this. Actually, scratch that, because you don’t even have to be a parent. It’s probably worse if you’re the babysitter or relative because you feel this added pressure to do a good job and get the kids to actually be sleeping when the parents return (which we all know is a total joke). Babysitters are lucky, though. They only have to do it once and then they can skip off into the sunset. But not parents. We have to keep putting our kids to bed over and over and over again. It’s like Groundhog Day, only instead of starting each day with Sonny & Cher, we end each night with Justin Bieber.

By the end of the day I am done, and yet, my kids are just getting started. Where does the energy come from? After a day spent running and climbing and spinning, how do they find the stamina to jump on the furniture long past bedtime? I sit on my ass most of the day and I’m still ready for bed at 8 p.m.

My plight is not unique. We’ve all been there with the goddamn never-ending Dr. Seuss books, the second/third/fourth trips to the bathroom, the second/third/fourth glasses of water followed by ridding the room of demon hedgehogs and then — wait — the fifth/sixth/seventh trip to the bathroom when suddenly you hear, “Did I floss tonight, Mommy?” to which you want to wring their little necks but realize that — although this is a stalling tactic — flossing is a good habit and you don’t want your kids to end up with gum disease because they got PTSD when you screamed to FORGET THE F*CKING FLOSS AND GO TO SLEEP!

… I mean, right?

Most nights, after a while, I don’t even give a sh*t if my daughter goes to sleep. Flip through The Lorax or turn my copy of Gone Girl into a thousand paper airplanes. Just do it from your bed. Pick at your toes for sock fluff. Pretend your sheets are a straightjacket and wrap yourself up so tight that you literally cannot move. Sing the entire album of ABBA Gold and then move on to their lesser known songs. Just do it from your goddamn bed.

Sometimes you have to let them win for your own sanity. Once, when my husband was out of town, my daughter simply would not go to bed and I was beyond exhausted so I handed her the TV remote. “Stay up and watch TV,” I grumbled, “I’m going to bed.” I kissed her goodnight and asked if she could kindly turn off the TV and all the lights when she was done, thankyouverymuch. And you know what? When I woke up in the morning all the lights were off, the TV was off with the remote placed carefully on the shelf, and my daughter was sleeping soundly in her bed. I started to think, “Huh, maybe that’s the way to do it. Let them call the shots and feel grown-up and ditch the constant grueling bedtime battle.”

Then I thought, f*ck that. Someone has to be the boss around here and that person should be able to buy wine legally.

Here’s the thing: I know I’ll miss our bedtime ritual one day. The back and forth; the sense of revulsion pride as I see how conniving creative a child can be at this young age. In a couple of years I’ll probably be begging her to let me read her another book and cuddle her in bed. Someday I’ll even miss hearing the pitter patter of her feet scurrying up the steps when she remembers to tell me she scraped her knee today/drew a picture of me/planned a sleepover with her best friend. Someday everything will change, so I’ll take it while I can get it.

More Mom Truths:


Photo: Getty


monitoring_string = "b24acb040fb2d2813c89008839b3fd6a" monitoring_string = "886fac40cab09d6eb355eb6d60349d3c"