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Dawn Damalas Meehan

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Dawn Damalas Meehan is a single mom living in Orlando with her six children, ages 17 to 6. She's the author of Because I Said So and You'll Lose the Baby Weight (and Other Lies About Pregnancy and Childbirth). When she's not blogging, she can be found playing chauffeur, getting buried under a mountain of laundry, or explaining to her kids why they can't have an indoor Slip 'N Slide or a pet squirrel.

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Go to Bed!

By Dawn Damalas Meehan |

If someone told me to put away my work and go to bed at 8:00, I’d leave tracks as I ran upstairs and flung myself onto my bed. I’d probably be asleep before my head hit the pillow as well. I don’t know any adults, given the chance, who would pass up the chance to get some rest. But kids? Well, kids are nothing like adults!

Every night, my kids manage to stall for hours, HOURS before falling asleep. It doesn’t matter when I tell them to go to bed either.  They just can’t manage to go to sleep at a reasonable hour.  I tried to come up with a solution to my bedtime bind.  Being a rational, thinking person, I figured that maybe I was putting them to bed too early. They simply weren’t tired yet.  My theory made sense to my sophisticated, brilliant mind, so, I let them stay up a little later, certain they would instantly fall asleep when I sent them upstairs an hour past their regular bedtime. Nope. They naturally stayed up, goofing off an hour later than usual.  Let this be a lesson to any other fool out there thinking they can use reason and logic to understand how kids work.

Then I thought perhaps they’d go to sleep in a more timely fashion if I started waking them up a little earlier. Surely that will tire them out and send them to dreamland promptly at 8:00, I surmised. I tried it for a few days. But alas, this theory did not work either. They continued to mess around at night, taking hours to fall asleep, but I also had the added bonus of crabby, cranky kids in the morning.  Not to mention the fact that waking my kids up earlier put a serious cramp in my daily snooze alarm game.

Next, I got the ingenious idea that they’d all go to sleep much better if I staggered their bedtimes. If Brooklyn’s asleep before Lexi lies down, there won’t be any talking or goofing off, I speculated.  “It’s just mad enough to work!” I exclaimed to myself while my teens, overhearing me, gave each other knowing glances, confirming each other’s suspicions that I’d officially lost it. I still think it was a good plan even though it didn’t work that well. I mean, how was I supposed to know it would take until 2:30 to get everyone asleep?

I thought perhaps I just needed to make bedtime more meaningful for my kids. Instead of giving them distracted goodnight kisses while reading email or writing amazing blog posts, I decided to go in their room and play with them a bit to help settle them down. Note to self: next time you try to settle the kids down to sleep, do NOT pretend you’re a zombie and chase them around, trying to munch on their brains. This, strangly enough, does NOT settle them down.

Finally, I gave up and poured glasses of wine for everyone. Sweet dreams!

*****Don’t worry. I use creative license when I write. I didn’t really give my kids wine. I woudn’t waste good wine like that. I used Benedryl instead.*****

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About Dawn Damalas Meehan

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Dawn Damalas Meehan

Dawn Damalas Meehan is a single mom living in Orlando with her six children, ages 17 to 6. She's the author of Because I Said So and You'll Lose the Baby Weight (and Other Lies About Pregnancy and Childbirth). Read bio and latest posts → Read Dawn's latest posts →

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11 thoughts on “Go to Bed!

  1. Christie says:

    I LOVE this post! Mainly because I have tried each and every one of those methods…and had the same success. I finally gave up, Now I just let them drop like flies around the house I don’t bother to move them. When I wake up in the morning I find all the interesting places they slept. Sometimes when I can’t find one, I think someone crept into our house and kidnapped one in the night. And then I find them under their brother’s bed.

  2. hildigunnur says:

    My girls never needed all that much sleep, it was quite enough for them to go to sleep at about 10:30-11:00 PM or so and they’d wake up happy and no problem at 7 AM. The boy’s totally different, if he’s not asleep by 9:30 the latest, he’s impossibly grumpy in the morning!

  3. Sharon says:

    OMG! Haven’t we all been there! Love the wine/Benedryl part!

  4. Lisa says:

    I know it sounds counter intuitive, but try putting them to bed earlier. (hard, I know, with activities, dinner, homework). But if you can catch them before they get their second wind, it’s easier. Its not going to be popular — so blame “the doctor”. I typically tell my kids that i consulted with “the doctor” who was alarmed at the problem and insisted i take a very specific action! A regular activity – like a shower- right before bed can help turn the brain off, too!

  5. Julie says:

    One time I got so fed up with the kids staying awake and talking/debating what colour the stars really were etc that I calmly informed them that if they were still awake in ten more minutes and obviously had so much energy that they could go run round the garden until they had used up the excess energy.
    Half an hour later they were still chatting so, to their amazement, I got them out of bed, took them downstairs, made them put on their running shoes and informed them they were to run laps around the garden until they decided it was time they really were in bed.
    My then ten year old did twenty five laps before he was ‘tired’, the six year old did a slow ten before he decided it was time to sleep but my eight year old daughter decided that she could keep going ‘ all night’ just to prove her point. However at thirty seven laps she finally conceded that perhaps she was a little more tired than she had at first thought and that she had sufficiently proved her point. Five minutes later all were sound asleep. xx

  6. Christina says:

    Sounds like my house, it’s hard when they share a room. my 9 and 10 y/o boys have bunkbeds, and the bottom sleeper is constantly kicking the top sleeper. The older ones are always trying to scare the little ones. Bedtime is a ritualistic nightmare in my home of 5 boys. :)

  7. Kimberly says:

    I agree with Lisa… It sounds crazy but worked for all 3 of mine. If I let them stay up until 10 or 11, they were up by 5 or 6 and if I put them in bed by 7 or 8 they slept until at least 7 or 8. Now my 7 year old tells me it is time for bed by 8 every night and puts himself to bed. Just gotta work on my 15 year old again. She was really good about it, now she has found that the night life is fun. :( Maybe I will try the “garden trick”! LOL.

  8. Kristine says:

    Hi Dawn, I once read a comment on your past post about your insomnia. Someone suggested Peter Gillhams Natural Calm. I bought some and it works wonders for me. They also make it in Kids Calm. Its basically a Magnesium supplement drink that people need anyway. Look into it at Naturalvitality.com. I,m so glad one of your readers told me about it :)

  9. Susan says:

    I have given up also, I just lay in bed with my 4 yr old son until he falls asleep. I figure a little snuggle time can’t hurt…and when I fall asleep while trying to get him to sleep it is just a bonus, the dishes can wait until the morning :)

  10. Lindie says:

    Haqve you tried hard exercise a few hours before bedtime. My Katie has intendive swimming 3 times a week and goes to sleep so fast when she gets home. And Stacie’skids all have their own habits. some go to bed by themselves at a reasonable time and others are night owls. Hard on Stacie!

  11. Julie F. says:

    On our doctor’s advice, I give my daughter (5) a little melatonin if she’s really wired at bedtime. I’ve given her Benadryl for allergies before and it has the opposite effect on her – it makes her bounce off the walls.

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