I cannot get through bedtime without losing my temper

(43 Posts)
PolyesterBride Tue 10-Sep-13 21:43:06

I would like to know how other people manage to put children to bed without shouting. I do not seem to be able to manage it.

I have two DDs aged 5 and 3. I have a partner but he works long hours so its usually just me doing bedtime. I also work full time which puts a bit of time pressure on as I end up doing things too late and the girls are always exhausted.

What are other people's routines? We tend to go upstairs, have a bath (sometimes) or get straight into pjs (usually), have stories. DD2 has milk. All of that is mostly fine. The bits I can't manage is getting them to have a wee and brush their teeth. One of them always ends up refusing/whining/tantrumming about it and it always ends in a big argument with threats of god knows what, people being sent to sleep in different rooms, lights out straight after stories followed by more wailing and its just hell.

The other thing I can't do is do any reading practice with DD1. It is impossible to do it because DD2 just interrupts constantly. I end up so grumpy that I snap at DD1 for the slightest mistake. Tonight ended up with reading being abandoned as I tried to put a screaming DD2 downstairs (which didn't work as she kept coming back up). I ranted at both of them about how they make me so miserable.

Basically I am horrible. But I need a better way to do bedtime. Or do other people's children just comply?

Sorry this is so long and dull.

PolyesterBride Wed 11-Sep-13 21:51:59

All good advice, thank you so much.

Hadn't considered the sugar before bed aspect at all but there could well be something in that. DD1 literally does leap about like she's doing some sort of modern dance. And it's true that I need to remember its not their fault I'm tired and stressed. Got to keep a lid on my grumpiness/irritation but its so hard.

I tried a different routine tonight and it worked much better. Divide and conquer! And make them do their teeth before having stories.

Lexiesinclair Wed 11-Sep-13 16:34:11

I can cope with the bedtime messing about much better when I'm not hungry. I have a snack now when the DCs eat their tea and it really helps. If my blood sugar is low I'm irritable and have zero patience.

Lovemyfamily Wed 11-Sep-13 16:25:51

I'd suggest putting your younger one to bed at 7:30 and the older child at 8:30,,,I'm guessing the older child is at school?? taking them both up at 7pm is far to early especially if dinner finishes roughly at 6:30, that way your kids may not play up at bedtime as they may feel that playing up is a way to get your time for a little longer. With you working all day then coming home for six then getting them to bed for seven is probably why they may be playing up. After dinner you could sit and read with your oldest and invite your youngest to join in that way she at 3 does not feel like mummy isn't showing all the attention to the older child! Hence the child playing up? Make the older child's reading, your time together that you miss out on during the day. Playing them off one another is a bad idea, it is only going to make things worse as both children will start to begin to fight for your attention and it will also become a game of competition,
If your youngest does not behave whilst reading,if joining in does not work? Then a colouring book and some pencils on the living room carpet whilst you both sit on the couch can be fun for her whilst you read, and give the odd ‘that looks fab' whilst still reading with your oldest. your all in the same room and she may not feel pushed to one side,? and after reading with the oldest child take a book and read with the youngest also for ten min or so and she may start to behave as she knows that her turn with mummy will come after her big sister, and every now and then change it so the youngest one is first and the oldest is second.
When does your partner return home after work,?
My DH is in for nine at night when he comes in the ‘house duties' tired or not are shared letting us both get time together for an hour or so before bed!
It's difficult I know and sometimes I'm far to tired to be bothered most every night but my tiredness and stress is not my kids fault and I try to remind myself of that every day and it helps me keep my ‘cool' at times were I could just scream and run out the door!

oscarwilde Wed 11-Sep-13 13:35:45

Home made flapjacks at dinner time??? grin Good god woman - do you have a death wish? grin I love a good flapjack but you might as well be giving them icecream there is so much sugar in them.

Lots of good suggestions here. I'd alternate bath and cooking nights so you do a quick meal on the evenings when they need to be getting in the bath licketysplit. I still do daily baths as the toddler is just too grimy but I've started washing hair every other night rather than every night and that's been a big timesaver. If you've got two heads to wash and dry it can take an age. If you can alternate bath night - then bathe on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. If everyone starts the week smelling nice with clean hair and your DH does his share on the weekend, it makes it a lot easier.

Do what works for your kids. 10 mins of TV before bed won't kill them if that's what motivates them. Switch it on in another room so they can hear it but not see it and if they miss the start 3 nights in a row, they won't be long getting the idea. Or at least DD1 will as she'll at least understand the concept of time.

Fancy toothbrushes (flashing lights, characters, vibrating whatever) are good as well as the - wow - look at all those raisins stuck at the back type of conversation. Definitely wash teeth in the bath, and get the small one out first.

Otherwise - we've all been guilty of the shouting at the end of the day. Certainly I am sad I do think that getting snappy at your child for making mistakes in her reading is not on though. She'll hate reading, see it as a chore to be gotten through (since you clearly do on those evenings) and frankly what's the point if neither of you are getting anything out of it. Learn to bite your tongue, eat something when you get in too so you are not running on empty (maybe a flapjack ?grin). Me - I often have a non-alcoholic beer, weirdly it takes the edge off while not taking the edge off. Odd that.

DD2 is definitely old enough to learn to hold her tongue - maybe set it up so that her big sister is reading her a story? Can you take them both to the library and get new books regularly so they are more interested in each other's books? Perhaps - one story each and then a short chapter or story from you with their lights turned down low?

gourd Wed 11-Sep-13 13:24:34

Aw this is so true! With ours (DD will be 3YO on Thursday) it's the needing to go to the toilet after shower and bedtime story (immediately before bed) then again five minutes latrer after goign to bed, and then again another five minutes after that (nappy off each time and back on again). Bedtime routine akes 50-60 minutes most nights. If we try to hurry the faffing with taking off clothes (taken off in certain order and folded etc), tooth brushing/rinsing/spitting, or showering/playing with bowl of water and bath toys in shower then we get screamed at and things thrown which just prolongs it even further. I dont mind any of that too much, but the needing to wee several times after being put to bed is insufferable. Usually it's more eye rolling and sighing and finger drumming on my part than shouting but I do find it extremely wearing, especially as I know I have so many things still to do and just want to get on so i can get to sit down with a warm drink before I got to bed... doesnt always happen though and then i cant sleep as I've not relaxed and have been on my feet since teatime... Yes I feel your pain! I do not have any answers though. I think I just have to accept that bedtime routine does take an hour...

survivingthechildren Wed 11-Sep-13 11:26:02

Have had another thought, could you do teeth before bath/stories? That way you only have to take them to the toilet, may reduce friction!

survivingthechildren Wed 11-Sep-13 11:23:02

Ah don't fret PolyesterBride. We're all guilty of yelling at times.

I second what has already been said. Why not DD1 to play a quite game whilst you do stories with DD2. Then you can settle DD2 and then do teeth, wee, and reading with DD1.

You can make it a big deal with DD1 of it being a big girl's thing, "special time with mummy". Hopefully the extra attention will nix any problems teeth/wee refusal.

HPsauceonbaconbuttiesmmm Wed 11-Sep-13 10:31:03

DS 3.3 till grumps a bit over teeth brushing but what helped get over the meltdowns was buying him an electric toothbrush like this. Also, I imaginative play with it so mr. Toothbrush gets very excited about finding bits of the food he's just eaten, complete with silly voice. Also we tried several different toothpastes, some kids love the strawberry ones.

One of my best parenting purchases has been 3 of these sand timers. We have 3, 5 and 10 mins. I use them as a visual warning of how much tv time is left, how much time in the bath, when we have to be dressed by, and as a game of can we tidy the toys up before the timer runs out... Would something like that help?

For the weeing you can get balls to go in the loo for fun target practice for boys, not sure if it would work for girls though.

What a friend with DDs did was to go upstairs and say that the tv would stay on til 7, anyone dressed, teeth brushed and been to the loo in time can go back down to watch. Could you try something like that, then take dd2 upstairs for a quick 5 min story and leave with something like a tranquil turtle on (DS adores this), then back down to dd1 to do 15 min reading practice before she creeps in like a big girl. Stair gate on bedroom if you think dd2 may try to escape.

bigkidsdidit Wed 11-Sep-13 09:10:02

I was going to say separate bed times. I would bath both and both Ito pyjamas, then DD1 downstairs while you put the 3yo to bed. She gets to stay up late as special older daughter privilege. Thn you two snuggle on sofa and chat and do reading, nd she sneaks into bedroom quietly half an hour later.

This only works if the younger one would go to bed fairly rapidly mind you!

TiredyCustards Wed 11-Sep-13 09:09:23

I would do bedtime like this:

Dd1 in the bath - dd2 wee + teeth
Dd2 in the bath with dd1 - clean both
Dd1 out of the bath - pjs, teeth, wee.
Dd2 out of the bath - pjs.
Stories with dd2 while dd1 plays/does a puzzle etc, dd2in bed
Reading with dd1 in your room, then bed for dd1

I see the bath as more of a child container than an extrachore!

Wishihadabs Wed 11-Sep-13 07:30:04

sorry mad multiple posts on train !

Wishihadabs Wed 11-Sep-13 07:29:00

Btw 5 year old can definitely be left alone whilst putting 3yo to bed. My priorities in your situation would be
1) Reading with 5 yo (3 nights per week say Mon, Wed, Fri+ one weekend day)
2) Bed for 3yo 730 (Bath on Tuesdays and Thursdays only when no reading + one weekend day)

May I suggest put 5yo into 3yo bath water with top up and bubbles whilst putting 3yo down. On the other reading nights 1/2 hrs DVD for doing reading nicely whilst putting 3yo down. Then 1/2 hour with 5yo.

I have been there (got through the door 545-615) only difference is they had a hot snack at childcare at 445 so gave them only cold snack at home. TBH rarely gave 3yo anything else.

Meglet Wed 11-Sep-13 07:21:50

Neither can I, and I'm a routine queen. By that time 7pm, I'm hungry and am desperate to get them asleep so I can crack on with things and get dinner in me.

Wishihadabs Wed 11-Sep-13 07:19:28

Btw 5 year old can definitely be left alone whilst putting 3yo to bed. My priorities in your situation would be
1) Reading with 5 yo (3 nights per week say Mon, Wed, Fri+ one weekend day)
2) Bed for 3yo 730 (Bath on Tuesdays and Thursdays only when no reading + one weekend day)

May I suggest put 5yo into 3yo bath water with top up and bubbles whilst putting 3yo down. On the other reading nights 1/2 hrs DVD for doing reading nicely whilst putting 3yo down. Then 1/2 hour with 5yo.

I have been there (got through the door 545-615) only difference is they had a hot snack at childcare at 445 so gave them only cold snack at home. TBH rarely gave 3yo anything else.

PolyesterBride Wed 11-Sep-13 07:13:48

Hm hadn't thought about dinner giving them loads of running around energy. Maybe it's the homemade flapjacks that cause my 5 year old to practise keeping from the bed to the floor when she's supposed to be sleeping!

Wishihadabs Wed 11-Sep-13 07:08:15

Good luck OP. I know this is Mumsnet heresy but what about a snacky thing as soon as they get in or infront of the box? Or do they have a cold lunch ? 630 tea seems very late for a 3yo most of whom will still be needing 12 hours at night I suspect its giving her loads more energy to run about (especially all that fruit). So tea at 6. Reading 630-7. Upstairs at 7 and lights out 730 3yo 8pm 5yo. 8:05 wine or brew.

PolyesterBride Tue 10-Sep-13 23:38:17

Ok I will try separate bedtimes! I'm sure it will be calmer that way even if it takes a bit longer. The reason I've been doing them together is to avoid leaving one alone while I'm with the other. But I can try at least.

Can't do dinner any quicker though - it really is max 25 mind cooking or preparing.

Thanks all for suggestions

TVTonight Tue 10-Sep-13 23:38:13

I have a not quite six year old, and just four twins. They sleep in the same room.

I agree have food prepared the night before will take a lot of pressure off you.
With reading I would say either sit the 3 yr old on your knee- with offer that they can read afterwards, or perhaps get younger in bed first. Would older lie quietly on bed/downstairs whilst dd2 is got sleeping.

For teeth- I use an electric toothbrush and pretend I'm the dentist. Toilet immediately after teeth.

eddiemairswife Tue 10-Sep-13 23:01:53

I would certainly recommend putting the younger to bed first. It makes the older one feel a bit special. I have never understood why people put all their children to bed at the same time.

anonymum11 Tue 10-Sep-13 22:41:19

I've struggled too and we've only got one DD, now 4 yrs old. The best advice I've been given is to keep speaking in a calm voice, even when they're misbehaving. If I start sounding stressed she gets more stressed and we wind each other up.

Spongingbobsunderpants Tue 10-Sep-13 22:39:23

Where are they when you pick them up? Can you arrange for them to have tea a bit earlier or a hot meal at lunch and then just picky bits for tea?

I get in from work around 5.45pm and luckily they will have eaten before I get there (have live out nanny) but I still always make them a meal the night before to heat up for either lunch or tea, and the other meal will usually be sandwiches or pitta with fillings and some fruit/yoghurt. It's sometimes a pain in the arse cooking their food the night before especially when Dh and i want to cook a separate spicier dish, but at least I know they are getting something nutritious but quick and easy the next day. Could you organise it like this - that they have hot meal either made by you the day before to just heat up or easy to prepare cold meals?

I've just started staggering bedtimes when it's not bath night (really can't be arsed doing two separate bath times!) and take dd2 up around 6.30pm for age appropriate stories rather than superhero ones which ds1 loves. ds1 follows around 7pm and both are usually down (if not asleep) be 7.30pm.

It's not perfect by any means but it's better than it used to be (involving snatching, competitive crying, fighting and ruined storytimes)

Numberlock Tue 10-Sep-13 22:23:59

Make tea the night before or batch cook at weekends. So tea takes only as long as microwave or the time it takes the rice or pasta to cook.

Parmarella Tue 10-Sep-13 22:20:12

it is tough at that ages, but gets better!

I used to divide and conquer, so let 3 yr old watch TV (no i-pads 5 years ago!) and sit with 5 yr old to read. Naturally, the 3 yr old is jealous of the attention so would also get a "fair" share of time where we read together.

The whole old quality time thing, both should have a bit of your undivided attention every evening..it is important to them, after that they will calm a bit.

I used to put youngest to bed first, and then older one once youngest is asleep. My 2-3 yr old yongest needed a special routine with me singing the same song every night, three times, then 10 kisses, then night night! then light out whilst I sing his special song one more time. Shortcuts were not allowed. the older one loved the important privilege of staying up a bit longer and went to bed quitely as a mouse when his time wwas up (they shared a room) and we would have a whisper and a cuddle...shhhh, then bed.

You will have to find a routine hat suits all of you. I found at that age kids demand a pretty much fixed routine. The later it got and the more tired they got, the harder bed time would be.

summermakesmesneeze Tue 10-Sep-13 22:15:16

Perhaps if you're having a night where you're in a little earlier, or if what you're cooking allows you to be out of the kitchen you could try and squeeze some reading practise in? Otherwise there's always the weekend to catch up.

And the fruit- is it a diversion tactic on their part? You could be a little firmer and say 'here is tonight's fruit, once it's gone it's gone' (and then straight upstairs, monkeys!)

Sympathy, getting my DD1 to do anything in a hurry is nigh on impossible.

PolyesterBride Tue 10-Sep-13 22:14:10

I have that book but haven't read it yet. I have also been on a parenting course (hollow laugh) which taught that type of descriptive praise running commentary type thing. Will definitely try to do it much more.

I agree the main problem is time but nothing I can do about that. To get in at 4.30 would mean leaving work at 3.30 which is just impossible. I'm already guiltily sloping off at 4.45 or so. Still I think it could be done if I had a better approach to things. I get really stressed and really short tempered.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

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