There is a period in EVERY day that parents hate. It starts at about 5PM with dinnertime and ends at around 7PM with bedtime (except it never ends at 7PM. NEVER).
The hell of dinnertime starts at about 5.00 PM. This is the time when most of us are cracking open the gin or wine. Checking Facebook every 1-3 minutes through complete and utter boredom. And asking ourselves, ‘Do my kids really need to eat dinner EVERY day?’
It’s not because we’re cliches and we think it’s cool to talk about gin and wine. It’s because that’s what we are actually doing. We need something (anything) to make the next two hours (HA HA) remotely bearable.
It’s like groundhog day. But much, much worse because at least Bill Murray only had himself to think about and he got some sleep at night.
It’s the time when we’re most likely to stick pins in our eyes. Because it isn’t a Pinterest moment, where children eat a variety of coloured foods and jovially chat about their day. It’s a moment where they whine and push white stuff around their plates, the floor and each other whilst we repeat, ‘Eat your dinner. Eat your dinner. Eat your dinner,’ on loop for 45 minutes like robotic idiots.
After which time, we give up completely and scrape all the plates into the bin, pour ourselves another gin and check Facebook. Just in case anything exciting has happened since we checked it 90 seconds ago. (It hasn’t.)
Still, the best is yet to come. Bathtime.
When I first had a baby and possibly even before that, I thought bathtime was lovely. Getting her all clean, that lovely baby smell and putting her in a fresh, white babygro. I might even have used some organic body lotion on her.
Now? With three of the buggers to wash? We have a sort of informal rota, which basically involves me sniffing each of them to see who needs a bath most.
On the odd (frequent) occasion that I can’t remember the last time any of them had a bath, I stick them all in there together, sit next to them on the toilet (lid down) with a gin in a can and yes, you guessed it, check Facebook. Even though there is nothing to check because I’ve checked it every 75 seconds since dinnertime. AND STILL ABSOLUTELY NOTHING NEW HAS HAPPENED.
They flood the bathroom because I’m not paying attention. I shout.
And that sets the tone for bedtime hour.
6-7PM: The Bedtime Hour.
This is the biggest con of ALL time. And CBeebies should be sued.
Because I have NEVER, not once, known The Bedtime Hour to last an hour.
We don’t sit mellowly on the sofa watching Iggle Piggle float on the sea and Upsy Daisy get in and out of bed. We do alternative stuff like object to the pyjamas I’ve chosen. And try and wear completely inappropriate outfits to bed (the other night Godivy went to bed in a ballerina outfit and a fluffy white bear hat) whilst arguing over what to watch on Netflix. (Netflix, you are ruining and saving my life all at once. I hate you.)
About this time, the other half might come in from work. Just as we can’t take another single minute and are prepping the kids for imminent bedtime with a countdown, to minimise the chance of any meltdowns. ‘Five minutes to go, now it’s three. OK you have one more minute.’ (Patronising tone optional.)
‘But, I haven’t seen them!’ the other half will say, in the gleeful manner only parents who haven’t spent 12 hours with their kids can, as they throw them up into the air one by one.
And there, in that one, ‘innocent’ action all your futile wind-down efforts are immediately shot to s***.
And you’re lucky if the kids are in bed by 10.