When I try to put my child (who shall remain nameless *cough cough* Copperhead) to bed she is guaranteed to go through five highly emotional stages. They are as follows:
You may recognise that they are also in fact, the five stages of grief. However those with small children know that the emotions fit perfectly within the bed/nap time framework.
Copperhead does not follow a particular pattern and she can easily flit between each stage several times on our much revered journey to Sleepy Land.
Also, for the sake of transparency, let me tell you that the below photo (and the one in the header) is of Little Red. She always manages to sleep quite soundly while her sister has the mother of all meltdowns next to her.
For Mummy fits and giggles, let’s look at the stages more in-depth, shall we? This is also a true guide as to what you can expect and how to successfully put your small child to bed.
Nap time” I gleefully say in a sing song voice.
Little Red follows me dutifully, Copperhead makes her way to the bathroom because SURELY I meant it was bath time instead. After placing LR in her bed, I go to retrieve her sister where she may or may not be playing in Oscar’s litter tray. Mostly I find her next to the bath, waiting with a trapped animal look on her face. She always (ALWAYS) takes the opportunity to cling onto the bath for dear life. To strangers not familiar with what I’m trying to achieve it can look like we’re recreating a flying Superman scene and I’m to be photo-shopped out later. Note to self, must get rid of the blue tiles.
After I manage to prise her chubby little fingers away I pick her up and start making my way across the hall. Here is when stage 2 AKA Anger takes over quickly and violently.
If you have the child in your arms then you’re doing a great job so far!
Apart from the obvious headbutt you are likely to receive, this stage can also include eye gouging, fish-hooking, planking and THE MOTHER OF ALL TANTRUMS. All of which may lead you to think an exorcism is required. Fear not friend, this is the worst stage. After all, a sneaky double nipple tweak can only lead to better things. Unless you’re into that kinda’ thing obviously.
You may want to invest in a mouth guard. Fight human nature and refrain from striking back. Proceed to place your child in their cot/bed.
The puppy eyes may judge you, they may look at you in a way that penetrates your soul. But, don’t give in. IT’S A TRAP!
Step away from the child. Nap time needs to happen.
The crying, oh so much crying.
Tears will roll thick and fast. Your precious child will look at you with an expression that just asks why? What did I ever do to deserve this?
Stay strong my friend. The next stage is near. Leave the room and mentally prepare for a guilt trip as you listen to your child cry their little heart out. You’re not a monster, but your child will be if they don’t get their sleep.
As rare as a unicorn, acceptance rarely comes voluntarily and is instead a by-product of sheer exhaustion. Eventually your child may resign themselves to their fate. They may slump, lie down or even stop resisting the urge to punch you in the face.
You may think you have successfully done the impossible and will be able to leave the bedroom with your spirit in tact. It’s so easy to get lulled into a false sense of security at this stage. Your child knows how to play you. They will not go quietly into that good night and they can be back at the anger stage within a second. A SECOND! *clicks fingers*
Leave quickly or if you have followed my earlier advice DO NOT GO BACK IN THERE!
Worse case scenario you can just pick your battles and let them fall asleep on the couch while seizing your chance to eat as much chocolate as possible. Obviously you will be undoing all of the “best practice” reading you did while you were pregnant but try not to dwell on that! (Read sarcasm). There is no winning formula that works every time and be sure that every parent can relate.
Good luck fellow Sleepy Time warriors!