March 29, 2020

The Bedtime/Bathtime Juggle

In our house we prefer that the kids go to bed on the earlier side (7:00 pm). When there are two adults around, we divide and conquer. When there is one adult, we improvise.

The first time I had to do the bedtime routine alone with both kids was a day I'll never forget. I thought I was in hell. The Baby (“E”) was 2 months old. The toddler (“R”) was 2 years, 5 months old. Not only was he just home from getting shots, but he was starting his colicky period, which meant that from 5:30 pm until late at night he was screaming. R, from 5:30 on, decided she only wants to play with things she shouldn't, like our home electronics system. She was whiny and insolent, a real pain in these last hours of the day. I was about to enter into battle (i.e. Bathtime). I brought E into the bathroom in the Fisher Price Rock n' Play (a godsend) while I gave R a bath. So there I was, trying to bathe R in her Terrible Two state while E was screaming his head off. I decided to give E some Tylenol, so after screaming himself into a stupor, he finally fell asleep so I could focus on finishing R’s bath and get her to bed. (This story has a happy ending due to the Tylenol, the early bedtime, and the wine I drank to help me get to the point where they were both asleep.)

So, step one: poor yourself a glass or two of wine. It's a good way (and one could argue the only way) to keep your sanity.

Step two: Figure out who should go to bed first: the older one or the younger one. If the older one is up later, then she keeps the younger one up and putting him to bed is harder. If she is able to help put him to bed that would be great, but when they are young they can't help at all and end up impeding the bedtime routine. You can try to pacify the older one with the ipad or TV, but that doesn't always work and then you open up a Pandora's Box you never recover from. On the other hand, if the younger one is up later, you can keep him contained in the rock n play, or bassinet, or if they are not yet crawling, they can sit and hang out in the older one's room and go through their bedtime routine first.

This only works if:

a. They are well fed

b. They are beyond the colicky period

c. You have a chill baby who doesn't mind watching and waiting

Step 3: Resolve that this is going to suck but that is will get easier.

And the solution is (drum role please)…put the younger one to bed first and let him cry because he is sad that his meal was cut off too early and he is missing out on the entertainment that the older one provides. Then do your normal bedtime routine with the older one. If the younger one is still crying 20 minutes later after the older one is down, you can go back in and finish his meal or sing him a song to get him back on track. And my best advice is to do this no later than 7pm so you and your mate have time for yourselves and can enjoy another glass before you are woken up at an ungodly hour by one or both of your kids.