Kids hate going to bed. This universal truth of childhood is a real delight for parents everywhere who just want to get their children into their beds (and out of their hair) for a solid night’s sleep.
Once you’ve been at this parenting thing long enough, you start to realize there are definite trends in children’s bedtime excuses. Your kids develop certain bedtime personalities, if you willl, as they attempt to evade sleep just a few minutes (or hours…) longer.
Which breed of bedtime-resister(s) are you raising?
The Denier is the classic bedtime-resister. First of all, it’s not really his bedtime. Clearly, you’ve made a mistake. Plus, you promised him he could stay up late tonight. (Sure, you don’t remember saying this, but you can trust him. He remembers.)
Second, he’s not even tired. He never sleeps. He doesn’t need sleep.
Third, everyone else stays up later than him. The bedtime you’ve set for him is early and ridiculous. No other parent makes their children go to bed at this time. You are the meanest parent ever.
(One of my children is definitely a Denier and we run through most, if not all of these steps nightly.)
The Sudden Snuggler
This breed of bedtime-resister is a master manipulator. The kid who wants little to do with you all day, especially where physical affection is concerned, suddenly wants hugs and kisses.
And more hugs and kisses.
–And damned if you can resist that.
You can’t. Your kid knows it, you know it, your neighbor down the street knows it. Bedtime = successfully delayed again.
The Guilt-Tripper is cut from a very similar cloth as the Sudden Snuggler and manipulation is once again the name of the game.
The Guilt-Tripper has plenty of reasons why he can’t go to bed right now, and they’re all your fault.
“I just want to spend time with you.”
“You were at work all day. You didn’t get to play with me. I missed you.” (This one is the working parent’s kryptonite).
“I like spending time with just you.” (This stick of dynamite is reserved for parents of multiple children, who already feel like they’re failing at juggling everyone’s needs.)
Basically, whatever parenting or life scenario you already feel guilty about, the Guilt-Tripper taps into like a professional and tap-dances his way to a later bedtime.
The Philosopher has questions, oh so many questions! About love, about life, about quantum physics…
Why are we here?
How did we get here?
What would happen if …?
Now don’t you dare try busting out basic, elementary answers in order to get a move on with the bedtime routine. Oh no, that will not suffice for The Philosopher.
She’s prepared 10,000 follow-up questions for her initial queries and “I don’t know” will not be accepted here.
Might as well lie down in her bed and get comfortable, because at this rate, you’ll be falling asleep there before she will.
Even if you do manage to escape from The Philosopher’s bedroom, you’re probably still not done. Once you’re halfway down the stairs and victory is in sight (you can practically taste that glass of wine and see that Netflix binge that awaits you)… she calls you back for another question.
You return to her room, defeated, only to listen to her stutter, “Umm… Umm… Umm…” as she desperately tries to think of one more roadblock to throw between you and your precious alone time.
The Desert Islander
This child may be like a camel during the day, barely drinking anything at all. Come bedtime, however, the Desert Islander transforms into a severely dehydrated creature.
Why is she so incredibly thirsty? Was she stranded on a remote beach in the hot sun all day? Did she take a voyage through a desert wasteland?
Nope, she’s just sipping her way to a bedtime delay.
Bonus? She can now drag out this charade even further in the form of multiple bathroom trips, courtesy of the gallons of water she’s been consuming.
The Super Bleeder
One of my children, who shall remain anonymous, is the king of nosebleeds. He gets them often, but they occur waaaay more at bedtime than at any other time of day.
Why? Because he can’t resist digging around up there with his fingers while he’s bored in his bed. Plus, once the nosebleed kicks into high gear, he gets the added benefit of another 15-20 minutes of mom/dad attention.
If your kid doesn’t get nosebleeds, you may still have a “Super Bleeder” on your hands.
The kid who suddenly has a mystery scratch on their leg that requires your medical attention? Super Bleeder.
The kid with a hangnail in desperate need of a bandaid? Super bleeder.
The kid who was fine all day but now suddenly has a tummy ache? Superbleeder.*
*This one’s a real beeyatch because you can’t ignore a kid who says he might throw up. The one time you put your foot down and call his bluff is the time your kid’s legitimately sick and barfs all over the bedroom carpet.
At bedtime, The Worrier abounds with questions about safety and well-being.
What if there’s a fire?
What if something happens to you?
What if something happens to me?
What if zombies take over the planet and break into our house?
This one’s a real humdinger because you can’t just leave her alone to ponder her questions. You feel too guilty for that. She’s tapped into both your sympathy and panic.
You will now spend the next 30-60 minutes unraveling all of her concerns.
Of course, once you’ve successfully finished all the debunking and reassuring, good luck getting to sleep yourself. The Worrier has successfully tapped into some of your greatest fears as a parent (well, aside from the zombie invasion).
Once you finally get this child to sleep, you’ll be pondering these worst-case scenarios into the wee hours of the morning while you’re spouse sleeps peacefully, snoring solidly beside you.
If this is your life, you’re in great company
If you find yourself dealing with one or more of these Bedtime-Resisters regularly, even nightly, take heart in knowing you’re not alone.
Every night, parents all over the world are gritting their teeth, plastering on a fake smile, and answering the call of duty “just one more time” (and then one more time after that…).
Solidarity fist-bumps to all!