Whenever my kids’ routine changes, all hell breaks loose. Over the holidays, we stayed with my family, and the change (a different house, different beds) made my kids edgy and needy. How’d I handle it? Welp, I basically spent every single night letting my kids come and sleep in the bed with my husband and I. Or I’d sleep with one kid and my husband would sleep with the other. For 10 days we endured this round robin, and by the time we got back home, the kids were totally discombobulated. They expected to sleep in bed with us every night. They were incensed that they should be asked to fall asleep in their own beds and spend the entire night in one place.
That’s just a preface. A scene-setter. See, 90 percent of the time, I am the one who puts the kids to bed. They go to bed at 7 p.m., while my husband often stays at the office until 8 p.m. or goes out for a drink with his colleagues after work. Sure, it makes me jealous that I’m chained to the house and my kids, but I also like being needed by my babies. That’s why, when bedtime rolls around, I sometimes let them browbeat me into complying with their demands. When they beg for an extra book or another song or a back rub, I usually give in. Then I’ll say goodnight and shut the door and see how much time elapses before they come skittering down the hall, telling me they’re scared or they want more water or different pajamas. As annoyed as I get, I also hate to see my kids feeling scared and vulnerable, so I’ll go back in and sit with them a while longer, sometimes crawling into bed and falling asleep with them.
My husband finds this annoying. He says I’m a pushover and I give in too much. That I need to put my foot down in order to establish boundaries. Well, here’s what I had to say to that: Why don’t you come home earlier and put the damn kids to bed yourself if you think you can do so much better?!
Challenge accepted. And I won’t go into detail about the smug look on my husband’s face when he sauntered off the next night to put the kids to bed. And how’d he do? Well, guess what, he f*cked up bedtime just as badly as I do. Ha! Turns out, ruling bedtime with an iron fist doesn’t actually make the kids fall asleep any easier. Booyah!
I’d like to say that I didn’t gloat, but let’s be real. It’s the small victories that get us through the day. The thing is, putting kids to bed is a bitch, and I needed my husband to realize that—that it wasn’t my bedtime skills but the unpredictability of kids that made bedtime difficult.
After that showdown, my husband began to withhold his judgment about how I put the kids to bed. Or so I thought. Then, a couple of nights ago, I was complaining about not being able to remember the last time I got a full night’s sleep. On a regular basis, between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., I hear my name screamed so that I can help someone on the potty, or I wake up to the aftermath of a nightmare and urgent need of cuddles. I swear, it happens every night, and I’m the only one who responds because I’m the one who hears it, while my husband sleeps peacefully beside me. I do it partly as a favor to him. He’s the one who has a grueling nine-to-five, whereas I work part-time and at home. But after hearing my husband’s response to my lack of sleep, “Oh, it’s not that bad. The kids slept through the night on Sunday,” I kind of lost my sh*t. Like, one full night of sleep last Sunday is supposed to make up for all the late nights? Um, hell no, mister.
Once again, my game plan is to give the hubs a taste of his own medicine—or a taste of my medicine, rather. I’ve decided I’m going to kick him in the shin every time the kids wake up in the night. Every complaint. Every night. At least until he apologizes and agrees that I am the queen of the universe. Or something along those lines.