It doesn’t sound like a challenge at all. When I tell childless friends that bedtime for two leaves us all in meltdown they look at me like I’ve just praised Donald Trump for his inspirational Twitter feed.
It doesn’t sound like it would be a trauma. They’re tired right? It’s just bedtime stories and then night night everyone. It’s only two of them. The baby can’t even move around that much yet.
Don’t get me wrong things have got better. When Bubba Two was tiny she screamed throughout bedtime and the rest of the evening. She would alternate between rooting and snuffling angrily for the boob and wailing inconsolably. As this wrestling match went on I would be trying to read poor toddler a story over the noise. Not exactly a relaxing time.
Now it seems to me my two have conspired because the baby is slightly better but the toddler has picked up the slack by being full of beans and stubbornness.
At the moment our bedtime routine looks something like this:
6.15pm. Ask toddler to pick up her toys. “Why?” Because it is bedtime. “Why?” Etc etc.
6.20pm. Tell toddler only children who pick up their toys at night get to go to the playground tomorrow. She makes a half hearted attempt at flinging Lego bricks into the box, then trots over and starts chucking them out again.
6.30pm. Baby is tired and starts making her “I want sleep” noise, which sounds a bit like a creaking door in a haunted house. I give in and tidy away toys vowing to teach toddler the importance of helping out another day.
6.35pm. We head upstairs. Toddler stops on every step where she either lies down and pretends to sleep or sits and demands I sing Twinkle Twinkle.
6.40pm. Bath time. While running the bath toddler has taken all her clothes off and weed on the floor.
6.55pm. Get both kids in pyjamas. Toddler is now running from room to room upstairs and pulling all the toys out the baskets in her room and baby’s room. Then everything goes silent. I find her in the bathroom just as she’s finished pulling all the paper off the loo roll. She’s also emptied a box of tampons onto the floor.
7pm. Bedtime story. Baby repeatedly hits and grabs at the book, making toddler furious at this intrusion into her stuff. Baby then starts crying and I’m skipping pages desperate to reach the end of the story but trying not to make it obvious I’m missing key bits of the plot.
7.05pm. Teeth cleaning. Toddler sticks out her tongue, waves hands around, shakes head and generally does everything to stop me getting the toothbrush in her mouth.
7.10pm. Toddler in bed banging away at the headboard with her feet and singing loudly.
Time to breastfeed baby when there’s no distractions.
7.20pm. Baby put in bed but is going through a clingy phase so needs picking up half a dozen times before she gives in. There’s still noise from toddler’s room so this prolongs the process until they seem to agree with each other that they’re tired and drop off at the same time.
Other parenting challenges that don’t sound hard on paper but are:
Leaving the house.
Toddler will refuse to wear any pair of shoes except the ones that have vanished. Baby will do an epic out-the-nappy s**t just as you’re about to leave.
Driving with children.
Toddler will repeatedly ask where we’re going before demanding a drink and snack then crying when you explain you can’t take your eyes off the road.
Having a night out.
Do I have a late night out knowing it will mean even less sleep plus dealing with two kids while hungover all day or do I get an early night? This actually is a hard decision.
Attending a wedding.
Will baby nap ok when we’re there? Will toddler have a tantrum during the ceremony? Will toddler have enough toys/books to stop her getting bored? Will toddler take a handful of the cake before it’s been cut?
Going for a coffee.
Although this is a short activity someone will have a tantrum, the elderly couple on the table next to you will eyeball you judgementally and you’ll wish you hadn’t bothered.
Anyone else facing these type of challenges? I would love to hear from you.