Bedtime. The time of day that most parents loathe. It doesn’t matter how many times I do it, or how many gin in a cans I consume, nothing makes it bearable. I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to find a way to love it so, amidst the failure of that, I’ve come up with tips on how to at least survive it.
1. Surround yourself with dirty friends. ‘What’s with all the bathing?‘ said my friend on a night out recently (she’d been looking at my Instagram feed). ‘Why do you bath them all so often? You’re just making your life harder.‘ I told her I only bath them every other night and the rest of the time they get a cat’s lick. ‘EVERY OTHER NIGHT? Mine get one twice a week if they’re lucky.’ You only need ONE friend to make this an acceptable proposition. Job done. Congratulations. You’ve just shaved an hour off the bedtime routine.
2. Don’t drink your way through it. I know, I know. You’re surprised by this one, aren’t you? Because up until now I’ve said I’ve been sitting on the toilet (lid down) with a gin in a can. And I have been doing that. Honest. But let me tell you. THAT is just dragging out the pain. Because somewhere between the end of the first can, the bath overflowing and Woody drowning, you think it’s a good idea to have another. Before you know it the whole routine takes an extra 1-4 hours because you lose the will, your momentum and your, erm, sobriety.
3. Never get into a discussion about pyjamas. This will not end well. For anyone. WHY do you care what they wear to bed? If they want to go to bed in fancy dress, so what? If you’ve told them it’s 19C outside and they still want to wear a hooded fleecy onesie, is this YOUR problem? I mean ultimately it will be, yes, because they’ll come back down later in a pool of sweat. But they’re going to find something to come down for anyway, it may as well be that. We’re looking at short term goals here. SHORT TERM GOALS. Getting them to bed the FIRST time as quickly as possible. So you can crack open that gin.
4. Cleaning of the teeth. Every time I take my kids to our childless dentist, she shows me and my kids how to clean their teeth. Apparently, we are to go around the insides, the outsides, the tops and the bottoms… TWICE. Them doing it first. Then me doing it. WHAT? I HAVE THREE KIDS. If I’m doing that twice a day, that’s effectively 12 rounds of brushing teeth. When am I going to find time to have ALL THE FUN asking them to put their shoes on?
5. Ban ALL books with more than five words a page. Spot the Dog is a YES. Charlie and Lola is a NO. As for Enid Blyton. ARE YOU INSANE? The safest thing to do here is throw the offending books away. Otherwise your child will totally find and pick the book with ALL the words in it. I’ve got this down to such a fine art that last night Godivy actually complained about her bedtime book because, somehow a book with lots of words had found its way onto the bookshelf, and it had too much white space on the pages for her liking. Pictures are the key here, people. Pictures.
6. Promise them the world. If your child asks you for a talking unicorn in those precious seconds between finally getting them into bed and you leaving the room, now is not the time for honesty and to break it to them that talking unicorns sadly don’t exist. The answer is, ‘Yes darling. We’ll go to the shops tomorrow and get one. Any colour you like, yes. Of course Daddy won’t mind. Night night. Sleep well.’ THEN YOU MAKE A RUN FOR IT. Got it? You can deal with the fallout tomorrow.
7. NEVER look back. I mean why would you? But if you do and you get lured back in? More fool you. I’m already downstairs necking that gin.