Saturday, January 21, 2017

Parenting Failure: Bedtime!!

   I know that you hold me in very high esteem. You look to me because I am a really, really, reallyreally great dad. I seem to have a knack for building train tracks, I have great fart jokes, and posses impeccable style. My kids are lucky to have me.
   Cara is also a decent mom, most of the time.
   So this blog post is hard for me to write. I hate to lower your view of me, but there is one area where we have clearly failed as parents (her more than I): bedtime routines with the toddlers.

   Lincoln rarely is asleep before 9:00. Lincoln often is up near midnight. Lincoln rarely sleeps through the night, waking up because he is hungry, bored, sleepy (seriously) or because he's in the habit of waking up. Wyatt was much the same way when he was 2. I've been a miserable dad for years now. There, I said it.

   I know it's all about routine and discipline. Good parents probably have a system like this:
   * give kid a full, healthy dinner
   * brush the kid's teeth, wash their hands and face, put on their jammies.
   * throw the kid in the crib, turn off the lights. Kid is instantly asleep for 12 hours with no fussing.
   * write blog post that has more than 44 views
   * sleep a long, uninterrupted, dream filled night, waking up refreshed.

This was one of our better family meals. 

   I'm sure that's how it must go for most of you.

   Our routine is much less organized and much more full of me looking at screens. It usually goes like this:

  •    Should be making dinner for kids, but instead am ... um ... let's pretend I am working out.
  •    Serve kids a healthy dinner of jam.
  •    After eating healthy dinner, throw sticky, messy kids in the wash and sticky, messy clothes in the bath. Play on iPad.
  •    Lay in bed with Wyatt. Sing songs, read books (him to me, me to him), pray, call it a night. This is my one act of good parenting all day.
  •    It's 8:34. I know that if I turn out the lights, play with Link a little, and meander towards the bed, he will fall asleep. Instead, I turn on Netflix and he and I settle in for roughly eleven hours of The Office.
  •    It's 9:41. Lincoln is hungry and refusing leftover jam (it's homemade! calm down!). He eats snacks like bananas, applesauce, apples, string cheese, and yogurt. He often brings me the snacks from the fridge himself. This actually happens. He opens the fridge, grabs food, brings it to me.
  •    It's 11:02. I lay down with Lincoln in the spare bed, figuring he might sleep if I am there with him. He spends 28 minutes crawling across my face, leaving and coming back with applesauce pouches, and jumping on the bed. I am tired and trying to fall asleep.
  •    It's 11:56. Lincoln is asleep. Kicking me. I wake up and move to my big-kid bed. Lincoln will wake up at least one time, needing some sort of food.

   It's hard looking over that timeline and having absolutely no idea of where I went wrong. But it's getting old. In fact, the last week or so we've done a good job of wearing the boys out with playing (heading to a high school gym to watch basketball at 5:30 is the frickin' best), stuffing them full, turning off all screens once it gets dark, and putting those kids to sleep hard. It's one of the best things about Cara cutting back her hours at work: we actually have evening time together. Note: that's also one of the worst things. Having the kids sleeping long and well has other advantages too, like funny dream stories:

My mood: frustrated that I'm not doing a better job
Wy's mood: making music on the computer
Link's mood: wants to crawl on mom while she sleeps
Cara's mood: frustrated that I'm not doing a better job
Listening to: Wyatt's take on the music from the Kirby series of video games. (actually not bad)

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