Tuesday, May 12, 2009

T-minus 50 Minutes and Counting

Bed time has remained a source of frustration for many years. Ever since we got to having three triumvirates of children, we've tried the stagger step approach. The plan was to have the youngest three bathe, brush teeth, and in bed with a story by eight. The next three would get the same regimen and be nestled in their snug little beds by 8:30. Our three olders would have lights out by nine o'clock.

Like 8-tracks and now cassettes and buying overpriced housing using variable ARM's, it seemed really excellent in theory.

If one can get the plurality sitting down to dinner by six, the bed time aircraft carrier launch sequence starts promptly at seven. It relies heavily on the cooperation of all children for a sustained period of time. It also presupposes dinner is ready and waiting and not in the planning stages at 6:30.

In the world according to Sherry, (which also has her finding an agent, losing 15 pounds and getting a hair cut), at 7 o’clock, two of the oldest three would scoot to the kitchen to get the dishes done, while a midling would clear the table. A second midling would vacuum the floor and wipe down the chairs. The third older and the third midling would assign themselves to me as assistants in getting the trio of youngest ready for bed.

(As long as I'm in this happy rose colored world, I might as well finish the mental fantasy, it's good exercise).

By 8:00 pm, the kitchen would sparkle, and so would the children. The older would help bring the two toddlers to their room and read them a story. The midling would get her clothes so we could start the second round of bedtime preparations. I'd put the baby in his crib and even coo a little lullabye, maybe start his mobile, tuck the corners in of his blanket and kiss his head. No one would come up to me in that quiet moment and say,

"MommomomomomomomomomomomMOM!""Yes?""Um....I...Um...I have a paper to show you and it's good but I need you to sign it and I saw that no one is doing the dishes and you said they were supposed to, but instead they're downstairs watching Batman and I have paper cut."

Back to the fantasy!

It is 8:30. Kisses all around and lights out, (after a brief trip down memory lane to answer a question about what I used to do when I was a kid), and the second group of three is down! It would be beautiful.

The oldest three would come to give hugs/kisses goodnight at around 9, and lobby for extra reading time. "Of course." we'd beam. The kitchen looked great!

My reality is that at 9:30, I'm still resending my toddler daughter to bed. I've discovered my five year old son is downstairs because his older brother is downstairs, and when I mention bed time, suddenly they start cleaning the basement. "Mom, we're busy cleaning."

It's a blatant ploy but I can be bribed. "Well, come up when it's done!"

I'm thinking the task is so huge, they'll prefer bed.
My toddler daughter comes up, her arms filled with shoes that have been abandoned in the TV room. "I'm just putting these things away." The basement is a flurry of activity. One of the kids has turned on the stereo. They’ve brought down the duster, the yellow dish gloves and a whole roll of paper towels. And so I wait.

It's ten o'clock and the vacuum whirrs into life. By 10:25, they come up. They want to go to bed.

The basement is gorgeous.
I feel vague guilt, but looking at a cleaned room assuages it.

Now I don't want to be a bad mother so I'm going to work on giving them the opportunity to try and bribe me while securing for them a good night's sleep. I'll still say and do all the same things, I'm just going to tinker with the process.

Tomorrow, I'm serving dinner at four.

1 comment:

MightyMom said...


oh my goodness! can I be a fly on the wall at your house?? I'll even offer to help bathe hooligans! :-)

so, now, why is this nursery rhyme suddenly stuck in my head?

there was a lovely woman
who lived in a shoe
she had so many children
she didn't know what to do

she lined them all up
in the flower bed
hosed them all down
and sent them to bed!

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