Bedtime? Dreadtime, more like

A typical bedtime recreated in LEGO.

Bedtime is a funny old game isn’t it? Just when you think you’ve nailed it, things contrive to leave you wondering what went wrong. And when I say ‘things’, obviously, I mean ‘children’.

After seven years of battles with an increasing number of small people in our own image, we foolishly believed we had finally sussed it. Bedtimes were, albeit briefly, not a complete nightmare.

We got all three kids not necessarily asleep, but quiet enough to leave to nod off. One of us would get Amelie settled while the other would read with Dylan and Xander before leaving them to it. We’d be downstairs by 7.30ish, making dinner and looking forward to relaxing a little.

Suddenly, however, bedime has changed. At least one of the kids will find some way of extending the whole process and setting the others off. This has coincided with Amelie becoming a lot more conversational so the paranoid side of me thinks that she is now holding meetings with her brothers to determine how best to scupper our plans of having an evening.

I have yet to find a copy of a rota, but am becoming increasingly convinced that there is one somewhere. They do seem to take it in turns to deploy ever-more inventive ways of keeping us upstairs.

To be fair on Dylan, he isn’t responsible for this as much as the other two. This is obviously as they’re sympathetic to the crazy amount of homework he gets though and are giving him time off.

Xander didn’t sleep through the night until he was four so he knows every trick in the book. And it usually starts with a book, as it happens.

Choosing a story. Starting said story. Changing his mind. Taking ages to choose another story. Starting that one. Changing his mind and going back to the fist one. Needing the toilet. An elaborate hug that is probably the cuddling equivalent of a Freemasons’ handshake.

And then there’s Amelie. After being read The Highway Rat plus one or two other titles, she allows us to turn out the light and put on her lullaby night light. It’s at this point that her list of demands begins.

These include, but are not limited to, Bourbon biscuits, a trip to the beach and to watch Doc McStuffins. She also repeatedly asks when we’re next going shopping or to the library and sporadically yells “What the heck?!”

Once all three kids are in their beds and we’ve got to the corridor, they sometimes shout to each other. This usually takes the form of Dylan getting Amelie to repeat silly phrases for his own amusement.

One of us will stealthily creep downstairs to start making dinner while the other stands outside the bedrooms because their selective daytime deafness has suddenly been replaced with bat-like hearing.

After around half an hour, with dinner threatening to burn, said corridor dweller will make good their escape. We have the noisiest stairs ever. Getting down requires a Ministry of Silly Walks style retreat.

We hastily eat our meal and watch a good seven or eight minutes of telly before Amelie decides to kick off. The only way to get her down when this happens is to put her on our bed, lie down either side of her and feign sleep. Nine times out of ten, we fall asleep too.

Man alive.


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