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LovingMyChildren
10-19-2011, 10:51 PM
Hi Folks,

When I worked full time, I was exhausted but not short-tempered at night with the kids. I was just thankful to spend time with them finally. Now that I'm not working and with either two or three of them all day long (DD3 goes to preschool 3 days a week), by the end of the day I'm fried emotionally. I've been on my best behavior trying to get the best out of them all day, and moderating all that comes along with having three kids interacting with each other, and i have little patience left. Of course, they need a lot of patience at night because they're tired too and their little ears are not as receptive to the sounds their parents make (aka instructions and such). So - we end up with a not too pleasant time of it some nights. We have a pretty set routine but it still goes awry.

Do any of you have the same issues? If so, how have you helped to keep yourself calm and cool and collected? I've already tried the nice glass of wine or beer with dinner to take the edge off! :D On the flip side, maybe I need a different evening routine altogether with the kids since this one is not so consistently as smooth as I'd like!

dbmamaz
10-19-2011, 11:06 PM
oh, yours are still so little! we have all sorts of free electronics time as soon as school is over, so i get to NOT LOOK AT THEM OR TALK TO THEM for several hours before bedtime, and only one even needs bedtime intervention. Sorry I cant be more helpful. How much can your husband do?

LovingMyChildren
10-19-2011, 11:19 PM
oh, yours are still so little! Ah, the kind words of recognition and understanding. My DH can help some nights but then he's usually more helpful on the doing stuff side and not as much on the emotional side. He may be the one that cooks the dinner but I'm the one who ends up making 8 trips to the kitchen because something is missing on the table or someone spills or ... Although he wants to be involved, he is often working until 7ish then is not as emotionally present as he is on weekends. He's also not good at taking the lead on weeknights - our roles, very unfortunately, are not as equal with the children even when we're both in the room. I have to ask him to get involved. I feel like like Mrs. Incredible when the kids are fighting at the dinner table and she asks Mr. Incredible to get engaged when things take a turn south. Maybe that conversation needs to happen - it wasn't as big a deal before.

lakshmi
10-20-2011, 01:40 AM
I feel ya sistah. Bedtime has been bad for me for years. My husband was out of town for a good portion of 2008 for culinary school. So it was me. And them. Bedtime was a freakish scary lot at times.

My girls shared a room. We had a routine and I freaked out a bunch. lol. No seriously, I still do sometimes.

I would skip the beer until after bedtime, but then I don't drink so I would have ice cream after they went to bed. The best thing I ever did was make a commitment to bedtime. I did some supernanny technique because mine wouldn't stay in bed. At first it took about 45 minutes of just sitting there. With an 8month old that could be hard. But I knew it was a good 90 minutes. And I just sat and thought about stuff. Telling myself over and over, if I had to, that they were only going to be 3 & 4 for a short time. Only for this moment will they be this needy. And I would breathe deeply and sit.

As they got older and I didn't have to sit so much, I had another routine that I used to let them know that when that was over we were done. They couldn't talk to me afte that. And then I'd freak out. Isn't parenting silly.

CatInTheSun
10-20-2011, 03:06 AM
Guys are a lot like little kids -- need very clear directions. Recently I caught myself getting frustrated that the kiddos left my office in shambles even tho I told them they needed to clean it after they played in there. Then I realized I'd never taught them HOW to clean the room. I showed them and they do MUCH better now.

DHs can be the same way: if you say "I need help with bedtime" or "I need a break" you aren't likely to get much real help. You need to be VERY specific. What helps me keep a good attitude at bedtime is dh is in charge of getting them ready for bed. I send them up. He's in charge of making sure they brush their teeth, keep on task, etc. Then I'm the closer. LOL That gives me maybe 5-10min of downtime before I go and spend the 30min to get them to sleep (mainly it's the toddler). Just that little break has made a huge difference. At other stages what we've done is have dh read stories for 30min before lights out. When dawdling was driving us nuts I'd send them up to get ready for bed 30min early, then they could play up there or come back down after they were ready until it was time for lights out.

When your dh gets home he needs to suck it up and engage with the family for that last hour or so. He's had a long day, but so have you. The trick is figuring out how to give each other a REAL break to recharge, even if it is 10min. Even if dh just roughhouses with the kiddos for 5min while you sip a cup of tea...well, it does wonders. Figure out what you need and then ask for it. Find a way to recharge BEFORE you NEED that break. ;) ETA: oh, and when you find what works remember to let dh know! They need to hear explicitly that stepping in/up made a real difference.

MarkInMD
10-20-2011, 05:25 AM
DHs can be the same way: if you say "I need help with bedtime" or "I need a break" you aren't likely to get much real help. You need to be VERY specific. What helps me keep a good attitude at bedtime is dh is in charge of getting them ready for bed. I send them up. He's in charge of making sure they brush their teeth, keep on task, etc. Then I'm the closer. LOL

As a man, I second this. Anytime DW says to me, "I need help with _____" my answer is, "Okay, what do you want me to do?" The main reason being (in my case) that I want to have a very clear notion of what it is I'm responsible for so I can plan it out and manage the time effectively, even if that's just mentally going through the necessary steps for 10 seconds. So maybe the best thing to do is to have him always be responsible for some aspect of the nighttime routine at around the same time. Make him a specialist. I like being a specialist, myself.

Depending on your kids, though, I'd watch out with the roughhousing. Some kids can come down from it with no problem, but my two? Just winds them up more, which is definitely not what is needed before bed! :)

Sherry
10-20-2011, 06:55 AM
On the evenings that DH is home, I go for a walk after dinner - alone. Some nights it is just 15 minutes, but it gives me a much needed break before starting the bedtime routine. On a good night, DH has supervised teeth brushing and pjs and has them ready for bedtime stories when I get home. Other nights they are rough-housing or playing on dh's IPOD.

On the nights DH works late, I start the bedtime routine early. After stories, the children may read, listen to CDs, or play quietly, but they must stay in their rooms. One of the best things we did was buy each child an inexpensive CD player. Each child selects an audiobook or music to listen to at bedtime.

Shoe
10-20-2011, 08:34 AM
Guys are a lot like little kids -- need very clear directions. Recently I caught myself getting frustrated that the kiddos left my office in shambles even tho I told them they needed to clean it after they played in there. Then I realized I'd never taught them HOW to clean the room. I showed them and they do MUCH better now.

DHs can be the same way: if you say "I need help with bedtime" or "I need a break" you aren't likely to get much real help. You need to be VERY specific. What helps me keep a good attitude at bedtime is dh is in charge of getting them ready for bed. I send them up. He's in charge of making sure they brush their teeth, keep on task, etc. Then I'm the closer. LOL That gives me maybe 5-10min of downtime before I go and spend the 30min to get them to sleep (mainly it's the toddler). Just that little break has made a huge difference. At other stages what we've done is have dh read stories for 30min before lights out. When dawdling was driving us nuts I'd send them up to get ready for bed 30min early, then they could play up there or come back down after they were ready until it was time for lights out.

When your dh gets home he needs to suck it up and engage with the family for that last hour or so. He's had a long day, but so have you. The trick is figuring out how to give each other a REAL break to recharge, even if it is 10min. Even if dh just roughhouses with the kiddos for 5min while you sip a cup of tea...well, it does wonders. Figure out what you need and then ask for it. Find a way to recharge BEFORE you NEED that break. ;) ETA: oh, and when you find what works remember to let dh know! They need to hear explicitly that stepping in/up made a real difference.


As a man, I second this. Anytime DW says to me, "I need help with _____" my answer is, "Okay, what do you want me to do?" The main reason being (in my case) that I want to have a very clear notion of what it is I'm responsible for so I can plan it out and manage the time effectively, even if that's just mentally going through the necessary steps for 10 seconds. So maybe the best thing to do is to have him always be responsible for some aspect of the nighttime routine at around the same time. Make him a specialist. I like being a specialist, myself.

Depending on your kids, though, I'd watch out with the roughhousing. Some kids can come down from it with no problem, but my two? Just winds them up more, which is definitely not what is needed before bed! :)

I agree completely with both of these.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
10-20-2011, 08:51 AM
I often find my patience wearing thin at bedtime. The end of the day is in sight and I just want it to be over. I try to use humor to get us through the last few steps of the day--brushing teeth and getting to sleep--as quickly as possible. "Last one in the bathroom is a [insert something gross or silly]!" and then make sure it's me. Feign disappointment. Repeat for getting to bedrooms.

Are you getting enough rest? I have learned that I am short-tempered when I'm tired. I also find that a little mid-afternoon caffeine will get me through the evening better.

Mum
10-20-2011, 09:20 AM
Taking care of children drains your reserves in an entirely different way than work with other grownups.

I have this awesomely bad memory of my own mom (who had FIVE to put to bed) losing it on me one night. I kept getting out of bed until she finally spanked me with a plastic spatula all the way up the stairs. We laugh about that now. After having my own kids, I called her one night and asked her how she managed to only go corporal punishment on me once. LOL

I second Sherry's walk advice. It doesn't have to be a walk, though that's what I do too. Anything that takes you completely out of the environment and gives you a chance to breathe without serving the kids for 15 to 30 mins might help a lot.

Another thing that helps us is a night off. My husband goes out every Tuesday evening. He chose to play darts in a league with his night. I get to go out every Wednesday. I volunteer and then meditate at a Buddhist Ctr. Getting through Mon and Tues night is a lot easier knowing that Wednesday is almost here. Then I just have two more days before the weekend.

Greenmother
10-20-2011, 09:53 AM
Oh yea, Mum! That is an awful lot of togetherness [emphasis on awful]. You need your Mommy-Time. You need some space. I know this makes me a bad mommy, but I put a TV and a DVD player in their room. After 9 pm, unless we are camping or something, they are in their room. They can watch television or movies. But they are in their room getting ready for bed. And I get the rest of the house for the most part, to myself.

I tell them straight up: I love you guys, but I need mommy time. Go to your rooms. Play with toys, read books, watch television. Whatever--but let me have my space.

Accidental Homeschooler
10-20-2011, 10:02 AM
I agree with previous posters' suggestions of a walk after dinner or just leaving for a bit. I like to go to the library. It is so quiet there (avoid the kids section!). Sometimes I just use that time to get groceries, not really fun but it gets me out of the house.

Avalon
10-20-2011, 10:27 AM
I used to tell the kids a little joke about how they had to be in their beds (lights out, storytime over, etc) by 9pm because that's when Mommy turns into a witch. I could be quite funny about it, with descriptions of my long nose and wart on my chin and green skin. They knew it was a joke, but they also knew that I absolutely meant it. By 9pm, I was completely FRIED and useless to anyone. I could usually keep it together until then.

My dh also worked long hours for several years. Now that I don't need him as much, he's coming home earlier. Go figure, eh? My coping strategies included doing stuff when I had the energy for it: so supper was simple, pjs and teeth happened earlier, baths don't need to happen very often. All that was left was story time, and I wasn't afraid to use the television when necessary. I decided that any potential damage to their little brains was easily outweighed by the increase in their safety from a deranged Mommy!

Whenever possible, I would run errands in the evening if dh was home. Just leaving the house to pick up milk, go to the bank, get a new library book, and occasionally stop at Starbucks would do wonders for me. For a while, some friends and I had a regular Wednesday night coffee date, which was wonderful to look forward to.

Amanadoo
10-20-2011, 10:37 AM
We used to have unbelievably bad bedtimes here! And it was all me; I was so frustrated and drained.

I NEED time to myself. And by that, I don't mean time with my husband...or a trip to the mall, surrounded by people...I want to be in MY OWN HOUSE, alone. And I need it every day. I had to make the commitment to do it...

...Which means, for me, that I have to get up at 5am, before the kids are up. I have to do it. Every day. Or I am *done* by bedtime. My husband gets all bent out of shape because now when he's home, and has a day off, he wants me to stay up late watching movies with him. But it works.

The other thing is that I have done away with cleaning up before bed time. It was just too much. It's easy at our new house, because I can just close the door on their mess and send them off to their spotless bedroom. At our last house, however, I was just wracked with guilt, putting them down in a room strewn with mess everywhere. That guilt was preferable to yelling at my kids because they were dawdling and//or whiny over picking stuff up and bringing them into the 'misery loves company' fold out of concentrated frustration.

So my advice is to look at your routine and see if you can skip something, or change something. It isn't *just* bedtime that affects bedtime! There may be something you can think of from any point in the day that will make bedtime go more smoothly for you. Good luck!

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
10-20-2011, 10:46 AM
I used to tell the kids a little joke about how they had to be in their beds (lights out, storytime over, etc) by 9pm because that's when Mommy turns into a witch. I could be quite funny about it, with descriptions of my long nose and wart on my chin and green skin. They knew it was a joke, but they also knew that I absolutely meant it. By 9pm, I was completely FRIED and useless to anyone. I could usually keep it together until then.

I am stealing this! I may even have to pick up a gruesome rubber witch mask to add to the fun.

dragonfly
10-20-2011, 12:53 PM
Guys are a lot like little kids -- need very clear directions.

This. And lots of repetition. A reminder every night that you need his help (with the same thing) again.

I've never had three kids to wrangle, but there were still some times...sigh...I found that if I could manage 15-20 minutes of alone time, preferably something sensory-depriving, like a bath, a walk or sit outside in the dark, or in the bedroom, door locked, pillow over head, that would be enough.

Jilly
10-20-2011, 01:56 PM
I have been a single parent since my kids were little, and bedtimes used to be so hard for me because I was so emotionally and physically drained by the end of the day. Looking back, I am not even sure how I got through those early years. I did walk my kids every night before bed to tire them up, and then I would read to them in bed for a half hour or so. Often I fell asleep with them, as I was so tired.

LovingMyChildren
10-22-2011, 07:52 PM
Thanks all! I'm going to try to work out some new routines to help the bedtime but I like the overarching theme of me time and earlier in the day affects the bedtime part. I'm not good at me-time at all. I felt like staying at home with the kids was such a guilty pleasure after working more than full-time their entire lives, I never added that into the new lifestyle. I didn't do it before because I either worked or was with the kids. Work, in my mind, was me time. And, yes, it is quite different being at work and being drained in that way than being drained from the kids. I know they will grow up quickly and I just want to be with them so much - but the toll it's taking is clearly too high if I'm scary deranged freaky mom after 8pm. And, also, I'm definitely not getting enough sleep. I'm sure that is part of it! The 8-month old has cut 3 teeth in 9 weeks and only sleeps about 2 1/2 hours at a time at night before waking to feed. Been like that for 9 weeks. So - lots of things to keep me optimistic that this is only temporary. Now - to brainstorm me-time activities. :) Of course, this will include a nice talk with the husband and specifics! Thanks for the suggestions guys and gals!

coloradoalice
10-22-2011, 10:20 PM
Early bedtime has saved my sanity since the kids were little. If they are not out of my care by 8pm it just gets to be too much. Sometimes we let them stay up later but they have to be on their beds quietly reading. Mama needs her quiet time, yes she does.

KristinK
10-23-2011, 09:30 PM
oh Elizabeth I totally feel for you. I am solo-parenting past bedtime for all my 4 kids and it is SO freaking hard. I hate bedtime. Actually right now it's not even terrible, but we have had many many many rounds of really bad bedtimes. Me yelling, kids crying. sigh. It's so hard to stay sane when you just want them in.bed.NOW.

Have you seen/heard the youtube of Samuel L.Jackson reading a fantastic little book called "Go the F*** to Sleep"?? LOL. I hear that in my head these days when I'm up with my littlest...who is 15 months and STILL up every 2freakinghours).

So many good suggestions here. Definately give DH jobs to do if he's around. If he's not, then definately go with early bedtime. Gives you more time before you know you're going to lose it ;) I used to start bedtime at 5:30pm. yep. DD5 and DD3 could still benefit from a 6pm lights-out, but it rarely happens. I only do baths once or twice per week, since doing it nightly was just getting so stressful. Things also go better here if I remember to make it a game - my 3yr old is very resistent, but if I excitedly say "hey! I wonder which of us will take more steps to get to bed?!" she laughs and jumps up and starts counting her way there. Of course once IN bed she tries to stall again, but I try to come up with new little games ("i'm going to leave and come back in 5 minutes...see if you can pretend you're sleeping well enough to fool me!", etc). That works far better than me yelling and then putting the offender behind the baby gate in a downstairs room...but it's still so hard to come up with games when you're exhausted at the end of the day.

I hope your nights improve. And I hope the little one cuts those teeth and starts sleeping better. Sleep deprivation sucks.

LovingMyChildren
10-28-2011, 11:30 PM
Thanks Kristin! Teeth number 4 and 5 are almost breaking through now so it won't be good on that front for a few more weeks. (wish there was a vampire smiley face as his upper canine teeth are the ones coming through) Hubby was on a business trip the past two days and I was on my own. Every time he goes away, I am reminded that I really have to hand it to single parents - I'm fortunate to have him around most nights for whatever it is that he does even if it's not much. In that way, I am super lucky if it's anything at all!

My oldest didn't sleep through the night until she was almost 4, and was up every 2-4 hours until she was 2. Middle was a bit better but not much and still wakes up most nights once for a hug. I'm not sure this little one will be better but we'll see. I'm not putting money on it though!

I also try to do the games - but my own sense of humor and creativity is pretty slim at that time of day and the girls are onto my usual tricks. "mooooom. We shouldn't race to see who can get in bed fastest. That's NOT a fun game." "but mom, you want us to play nice together. We ARE PLAYING nice together. Why should we stop now? I've been up later than this before...." hehe. Oldest is quite the logical one. Starting at 5 or 6 might be an interesting idea - but it'd mean I had to have dinner ready before 7:eek: