There’s a sweet spot when you’re raising kids. That time when, for just a while, maybe all your kids actually have a bedtime. Not only do they have a bedtime, but they follow it. And not only do they follow it, but they legit stay in their rooms once you put them down.
(It’s OK. Take a break if you have to, I understand. You need a tissue to wipe away the tears? I’m here for you.)
It seems to last such a short time, but it’s infinitely beautiful when it happens.
See, we start off parenthood with these beautiful little bits of human velcro that just never sleep, right? Then, time passes, and they start to sleep (mostly) through the night. They even move to their own rooms! Freedom! you think…right before the next kid comes along.
So now you’ve got a vocal minority who doesn’t like to stay in her bed after prayers, and ends up with any and all manner of issues that only you can fix once the sun goes down. AND you’ve got Human Velcro Part 2 keeping you up all hours. Bedtime-shmedtime, amiright?
Time flies; kids grow. Maybe you even get a little crazy and throw another kid or two into the mix. And slowly but surely, you find that the pipe dream you once had about quiet in the evenings actually becomes a reality.
All of those routines you worked so hard to establish start clicking. You find the right story-drink-teeth-potty combination that keeps your little one happily tucked into his own bed. The big kid can quietly read by lamplight after bedtime prayers. And there it is. Glorious, delightful, relaxing, cherished…
A time to unwind, fill a glass, and watch some TV that is not suitable for children. Time to pull that hidden bag of chocolate off the laundry room shelf and eat it in the wide open spaces of the family room. Time to read an entire page of that book you’ve been working on without being interrupted.
Oh, who am I kidding?
Of course, you’re also finishing the dinner dishes, folding the laundry, paying the bills, packing lunches for the next day, and all of the million other jobs we moms have.
But you’re doing it in peace.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, your kids are tweens and teens and that cushy 8:00 bedtime y’all rocked for years just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Now, it seems, they simply don’t go to bed. Ever. And your treasured downtime flies out the proverbial window.
Now, you’re lucky if the 7th grader goes to bed before 9:00. And that teenager? Dude, there will be nights you go to bed before he does! It’s the weirdest thing! You are the one going to bed (or, ahem, falling asleep on the couch) while your kid is the one burning the midnight oil trying to get a task accomplished before tomorrow’s deadline.
So, as you might imagine, here I sit. At 9:22 on a Tuesday evening. Enjoying the fact that two of my kids have been tucked away cozily for the last half hour or so. Yelling at the 7th grader that he really does need to go to bed…tonight sometime, pleaseandthankyou. And asking the 10th grader if he has any homework he needs to finish. All while the husband “watches” TV through closed eyes accompanied by some minor snoring. And you know what? It’s not so bad. I promise.
All of this to say, as with most things in parenting, we need to find the joy where we can. Let’s just hope that joy is accompanied by some quality rest, too, yeah?