Putting the Kids to Bed When Daddy isn’t Home – The Wry Parent’s Guide

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It’s Time For Bed & Mama Bear is a Lone Wolf

Your spouse isn’t home, there are multiple wild Tasmanian devils circling you in the water. (Note: not an actual analogy – I’m not even sure that Tasmanian devils swim.)

They’ve eaten. 

They’ve played.

They’ve fought.

The moment you’ve been dreading has slowly crept into striking distance, and now the time to attempt to put them to bed has come.

Sure, you could go to Pinterest and find a really cool article to help you through the next 60 minutes. But ultimately, you’ll find yourself clicking through to read something funny instead, like Becca’s article – Sleep When I’m Dead. Which will ultimately make you giggle, but in reality, it was really just a clever way of avoiding your own bedtime battle. 

You gird your loins. Get saddled up. It’s time to put some kids to bed, you’ve totally got this. 

This is set in the somewhat fictional land of Central Standard Time, we’re going to assume a start time of 6:30 pm. Let the fun begin.

6:30 PM

Cheerfully announce it’s time to get ready for bed with the most Mary Poppin’s tone you can muster. Don’t show any sign of fear. They will smell it on you.

One of your older children will sweetly ask “Mom, is it okay if we just watch one more show before we put our pajamas on and brush our teeth?”

Sure, sweetheart. (You built in at least 30 minutes in case of this exact eventuality.)

6:57 PM

Still cheerful, you tell everyone again that it’s now really, actually, time for bed. You really don’t want a fight though, so you reluctantly agree to just one more show. You might be exhausted. You might be a pushover. It’s anyone’s guess.

7:03 PM

Ok, well since it’s mostly just the older kids watching the show, no harm in getting the younger kids ready for bed one at a time. 

“It’ll be easier to manage the chaos if I just do it one kid at a time,” you think to yourself foolishly.

7:17 PM

Gently remind everyone to start getting ready and get their pajamas on and DON’T FORGET TO BRUSH. Then, start getting the two-year-old kickboxer ready for bed and manage to hold his two feisty, kicking feet with just three fingers while changing his diaper, nursing his sister, and catching up on Twitter. (So I like to multitask, what about it?)

7:23 PM

Make up a quick “going to bed” chant and start rallying the troops around it.

Pjs, Pjs, Pjs are the best. Gotta get in bed so my ma can get some rest!”

Remind all of them, again, to brush their teeth. 

7:24 PM

No one moves.

7:25 PM

Accept that you aren’t getting your 7pm-9pm alone time. There will be no wine. No binge watching Psych. No naughty snacks that you can only pull out when no one else is alone. I’m looking at you Oreos. No aimless Pinterest surfing. Allow yourself to take a deep breath before you start to get serious about relocating the children to their room. For real this time. You mean it.

7:30 PM

Decide it’s at least thirty minutes past the time the two year old normally goes to bed, so it’s safe to put him down in the crib. You are still using the crib because it’s a humane version of a cage that he still hasn’t figured out how to get out of. At least one kid will be easy to manage!

7:31 PM

Two year old starts screaming bloody freaking murder as soon as you exit stage left from his room.

You try to soothe him by patting his back, tucking him in, singing all the lullaby songs you can think of, switch over to Metallica, culminating in humming a folk song and crawling out of his room on your hands and knees.

You put your hand in something wet while crawling. Don’t look at it! You don’t want to know.

7:33 PM

Put the other four hooligans in their room and demand lights out and voices off time.

Start reading one of twelve stories, because you have an unrealistic dream that this might actually make them more compliant, and tired.

8:02 PM

Finish reading the stories, remind them to brush their teeth, say the shortest prayer you can muster and head down to sit on the couch.

Finally,” you think. Allowing yourself to believe that you really managed to get them all put down in just over an hour.

You silly, silly person.

8:04 PM

The infant wakes up from her nap and starts wailing, full throttle.

“No, problem, I can nurse and still relax.”

8:06 PM

Kid comes down the stairs – “Mom, I’m starving, can I have a snack?”

Tell him to get back in bed.

8:08 PM

Kid comes down the stairs – “Mom, I’m so thirsty. My throat hurts. My eyes hurt. My knee hurts.”

Remind him that there’s a cup in the bathroom. Use it and get back. In. To. Bed.

You’ll probably say this through gritted teeth. That’s ok.

8:09.47 PM

Kid comes down the stairs – “Mom, I have to pee.”

He knows there’s a toilet up there. HE KNOWS. Tell him that you don’t want to see him another time tonight. Or ELSE.

8:11.12 PM

Kid comes down the stairs – “Mom, I can’t sleep. I think there are tornadoes coming to get us.”

You tell him to recheck his meteorology, you can see all the stars in the sky.

8:13.54 PM

Kid comes down the stairs – “Mom, really, where’s the nearest tornado shelter?”

8:15.02 PM

“Mom – my knee hurts, I think I have Lyme disease.”

8:16.45 PM

“Mom, He hit me!”

8:16.49 PM

“I didn’t hit him! He hit me!”

8:17.09 PM

“Mommy, I don’t want to go to heaven, I’ll miss you too much.”

You might start sobbing, but it won’t be the comment your child just chucked in your lap, it will be the ball of infuriation and exhaustion starting to well up from deep within.

8:19.34 PM

“Mom! I don’t want to flush the upstairs toilet!”

8:21.02 PM

“Mom? Can I have a snack?”

8:21.04 PM

There is a major explosion. Upon further exploration, you discover it was your head.

8:23.24 PM

Decide that at this point, all is basically lost. Call all the kids down to watch a movie. This, you think, this will make them love you and fall asleep.

10:04 PM

Everyone goes to their bed, willingly. Finally. God bless America.

10:26.32 PM

1st Kid comes into your room – “Mom, can I sleep here? I’m scared.”

Too tired to care, you’ll assign him a place on the floor.

10:41.49 PM

2nd kid – the infant – wakes up to nurse, you end up co-sleeping with her for the rest of the night. What’s the point in denying it?

11:13.17 PM

3rd kid sneaks into your room and falls asleep at the foot of your bed. You won’t discover him until some hours later.

11:48.21 PM

4th and 5th kid mysteriously appear in your room. One takes up residence under the desk, the other in the closet. You won’t discover these two until the morning.

1:08 AM

The two-year-old wakes up suddenly and starts to scream until you bring him to bed with you. Now you’ll have to be a wall between the infant and the two-year-old. Prepare for discomfort and kicking.

1:09 AM – 5:58 AM

You will be kicked repeatedly, nurse two more times, and genuinely be unable to determine if you actually slept. At all.

5:59 AM – on the dot


Get out your favorite mug and fill it at least 4 times in a row. 

Please share this on Pinterest and Facebook with all your tired mom friends! XOXO

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  1. Samantha of Mother Haggard says:

    Oh man. That was one wild ride…I’m exhausted just reading it! (And maybe also because bedtime with my own child can often take hours and usually leaves me chanting, “DON’T WAKE UP, DON’T WAKE UP, DON’T WAKE UP” at the baby monitor several times a night.) Truly, there is nothing sadder than believing you have a few consecutive hours of free time ahead of you after bed time, and then slowly coming to the realization that this will not happen.

    Seeing how much I struggle with getting my one child to bed (IMMENSELY. I STRUGGLE IMMENSELY), I cannot fathom how it is possible to lull six children to bed. 10PM movie or not, you are my hero.

    Also, I lost it at “Mommy, I don’t want to go to heaven, I’ll miss you too much.” I bet you could write a book just out of the comments said at bed time.

    1. Oh dear. Just think, right now my husband is gone again and I’m living this over again. I’m actually trying really hard to ignore them and hope that they will spontaneously erupt into sleep, but I think I may have overestimated my bedtime luck… Sigh.

  2. Hood says:

    It’s funny, this sounds like my inner dialogue going to bed. Me talking to myself. Haha but really I can’t imagine wrangling 6 kiddos up to bed. I think I would line them up and tell them I thought I saw a sniffle and give them Benadryl. This is why I don’t have children. You have been blessed with some patience that is very clearly from God.

    1. Aww… first of all, thanks. I am pretty patient, mostly. Sometimes. And that is ALL grace. Promise. Second of all, mommin’ ain’t easy. 🤣

  3. Traci Castro says:

    Brittany, you never fail! Glad to know I’m not alone. I remember a time near the end of my last pregnancy that I literally gave up on bedtime… Paul was on duty every night, and if he wasn’t home, the girls would just crash with me until he got home…I was always so exhausted!

    1. Thank you for reading, Traci, I LOVE making your day a little brighter. It is so hard, I don’t know how single parents do it every. single. night. Or even like in your case. Your sheer exhaustion must have been COMPLETE.

I love reading your comments you beautiful people

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