My husband is a man of his word. He says he's going to bed and then he does. It’s magical, really. I say I'm going to bed and then it’s like that dream where I need to run away from the monster, but I’m moving in slow motion like I’m swimming in maple syrup. I say I’m going to bed and my house becomes an obstacle course between me and sleep. Even though we are equal parenting partners in almost every way, our bedtime routines vary wildly.
I suspect most moms know exactly what I’m talking about. We're not gifted with the “going to bed” gene which allows us to make that announcement and then actually go to bed. We say we’re going to bed and then we have to do a few things first. OK, maybe more than a few. Sound familiar?
I say I’m going to bed and then I…
1. Check on the kids. Tuck them in. Pick up the 37 stuffed animals that have fallen off their beds and put them in their appropriate spots.
2. Kiss each child on the forehead. Kiss the younger one again because he feels feverish. Decide he just has too many blankets on him and take one off.
3. Check on the second kid again because he’s talking in his sleep and he might wake up.
4. Hold breath until I’m out of kid range.
5. Feed cat. Let dog outside. Clean up mess in kitchen from kids “making a snack” right before bedtime.
6. Notice kitchen floor needs to be swept. Sweep it. Notice kitchen trash can needs to be emptied. Empty it.
7. Remember I didn’t clean the litterbox this morning, go to laundry room to clean it. See basket of laundry. Decide it’s better to fold it now than to have kids hunting for clothes in the morning. Fold it.
8. Sneak back into the kids’ rooms to put away their laundry. Hold my breath as I put away kids’ clothes.
9. Repeat #1-4 again.
10. Hear dog’s incessant barking, let her in. See that she has muddy paws and chase her around the house to clean them. Then clean up muddy paw prints on floor and couch.
11. Find youngest kid’s favorite stuffed animals shoved down behind couch cushion. Sneak it back upstairs. Hold breath so long I feel like I’m going to pass out.
12. Realize I’m sweating from running all over the house and drink a tall glass of ice water. Remind myself I need to drink more water all day long, not just at bedtime.
13. Brush teeth, wash face. Smell the towel I use to dry my face and decide I need to wash towels.
14. Carry load of towels to laundry room, realize I didn’t clean litter box. Clean litter box. Open washing machine to start towels, see a load that has been sitting there for days. Sniff it, decide it needs to be washed again. Decide I might as well stay up until it finishes so I can start the load of towels. Then I can swap them in the morning and I’ll have two loads of clean laundry when I get home in the afternoon. Win!
15. Go through stack of mail in the kitchen while I’m waiting for washing machine. Pay one bill, read seven sale fliers, remember youngest needs a check for a field trip and it’s due tomorrow. Write check, tuck it in his backpack, toss sale fliers into recycle bin, hunt down a stamp for the bill.
Get into bed. Smile at husband’s sleeping face. Resist urge to smother him.
16. Drink another glass of water and feel virtuous. I’m doing laundry and getting my recommended daily water intake and it feels good to be good!
17. Make a menu for the week. Realize I only have ingredients for one meal. Make a grocery list. Realize I saw at least three coupons for things I need in the sale fliers I put in the recycle bin. Retrieve sales fliers, clip coupons, put grocery list and coupons in purse so I won’t forget it tomorrow.
18. Realize washing machine is done. Swap laundry. Start towels.
19. Try to convince dog she really doesn’t need to go outside again. Fail. Let dog out.
20. Pick up toys in living room and pile them by the couch to be put away when the kids get up in the morning.
21. Almost have a heart attack when I accidentally set off the alarm on the fire truck. Find the switch, turn it off, curse whomever gave it to my kid, realize I bought it, curse myself. Hold my breath the entire time, listening to see if I woke up a kid with the noise.
22. Get into bed. Smile at husband’s sleeping face. Resist urge to smother him. Turn off light, get comfortable.
23. Hear dog barking. Realize I forgot to let dog in. Sigh. Turn on light, get up, let dog in. Lock door. Get back in bed. Get comfortable, wonder why it’s so hot in my bedroom. Debate turning air conditioner down. Decide I’m too tired to get up.
24. Realize I have to pee. Get up, go to the bathroom. Figure that I might as well adjust A/C while I’m up. Hear a crash in the living room and nearly have a heart attack until I realize the dog has found the pile of toys.
25. Relocate toys to the hall closet. Convince dog that no, she does not need to go out for a third time. Climb into bed, turn off light, get comfortable. Take 45 minutes to fall asleep because I’m debating whether I really need to go grocery shopping tomorrow or maybe I can just order Chinese for dinner and put it off until the next day.
26. Wake up after sleeping for one hour because I have to pee. Go to the bathroom. Decide those two big glasses of water were a mistake. Vow to drink water earlier in the day. Move dog off my side of the bed, get back into bed, get comfortable, fall asleep after 20 minutes.
27. Repeat #26 three more times until the alarm goes off at 6:15 a.m. and my husband rolls over, kisses me and says, “Good morning. How did you sleep?” Resist urge to hit him.
28. Get up, go to the bathroom, let dog out and start my day, vowing that tonight I really will go to bed when I say I’m going to bed.