Aren’t kids great at prolonging bedtime? For not having complete control over their bodily functions, they certainly are masterminds of manipulation and cunning. I was shocked at how early my second daughter began honing her abilities to delay being put in her crib.
We have a nightly ritual of reading stories, rocking, and singing our lullaby before Sophie is tucked into her crib, alongside her sidekicks: Night-night Bunny, Fat Cat, and Moose. Lately she has begun exerting her will to avoid succumbing to sleepiness and push back the moment of crib-deposit, and she seems to have a specific strategy in place.
- The first line of defense is always squirming. Physical resistance is terribly annoying, and there’s nothing I like less than trying to rock a writhing baby. (That’s a lie. Everything that pertains to potty-training, reality shows about fishing, and too-small swimsuits are much worse.) The best way to combat this is to do the fake-get-up move. Once she realizes you’re only going to put her in the crib sooner, she settles back down.
- Confirming the location of all her lovies. This is a crucial tactic that borders on being obsessive-compulsive. At this point, Sophie must guarantee that a) all her companions are within grabbing distance, and b) her blankie is tucked adequately around her. “Wear it!” she barks, as I obediently drape her blanket around her back. She makes a self-satisfied noise, and I arrange her animals around her. The moment at which I sit down in the rocker, holding my child, her blanket, and all three “friends”, is one of my least graceful parts of the day. I look ridiculous.
- Listing all members of her extended family. “Papa!” she chirps happily. “Dammy!” (To clarify- this is Grammy. I can see why you might be confused, judging from her past vocabulary exploits.) One must verbally acknowledge each family member, or Sophie becomes enraged. At first I thought I could ignore her chants of, “Daddy! Daddy!” but this only causes her to repeat it more forcefully, “DADDY!” until you acquiesce. “Uh-huh. Daddy. Papa. Izzy.” Sigh.
- Being silly. Sophie has reached the age where she grasps being “funny”, and she has become a bit of a clown, especially at strategic moments. During this stage of stalling, she will often fake burp, or stuff Night-night Bunny down her shirt, punctuated by the announcement, “Funny!”
- Stream of consciousness. This personal favorite of mine involves Sophie lifting her head periodically to point out, “Bears. Two bears. One two.” followed by, “Emma seeping. Michael seeping.” and then adding, “Sophie pooped. Mommy funny. Daddy big.” It’s hard for me to intervene when she goes all Faulkner on me, because I find it very entertaining.
- Increased affection. This is the phase where Sophie begins to kiss me over and over, with her sticky, sweet lips. I can’t resist this. I adore the hugs and kisses, although after the 18th puckery kiss, I’ve got to call it a night.
After all these effective stall tactics, we finally arrive at:
- Surrender. Sophie knows I’m going to win this eventually, so at some point, after exhausting all her tricks, she rests her head on my shoulder, and quietly gives up. This maneuver is most definitely not a guarantee that she won’t resort to screaming hysterically minutes after being placed in her crib… but it’s a start.
Oh, yes. The time when toddlers grasp that the time that one goes to bed can be manipulated.
My son has learned all of these tactics. His most annoying new one is saying, “One more time!” I will start one of his books — we read three or so at bed time — and I won’t even get through more than a page or two, and he’ll start demanding, “One more time! One more time!”
Isn’t it funny how they realize that mommies love bedtime cuddles and this can be used to their advantage?
Sophie does that too- she holds up one finger and says, “Ay muh more, kay?” It is so cute. And yet…
Yes, yes and yes. I even get an added, “I am scared” at out of Lily as a last ditch attempt at getting to come in my bed and play a few more minutes. Trust me I have been there and done that too many nights and have now heard it all!!
Oh yes, my big girl takes manipulation at bedtime to a whole new level…
Can you even stand how totally adorable she is?! Oh my goodness! But yeah, the bedtime stall tactics are the worst.-Ashley
My favorite “stall” is naming her extended family, followed by confirmation of Night-night bunny, Fat Cat (I loved when she says Cat Cat – although maybe she is now saying Fat Cat), and Moose. Can’t wait to see her – and maybe a chance at rocking too.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh gorgeous. Lovely photos and lovely shared moments there. That whole ‘monologuing’ thing they do is hilarious!
Oh I know, the monologue kills me!
I love the part about her learning funny. That is so cute! I love to see my 4yo being funny – it still surprises me – probably because her language and speech is still so limited. I sometimes am shocked that she “gets funny”. So fun to watch that. And her barking out, “Wear it!” made me laugh out loud. Awesome.
The funny thing is my four-year-old still employs many of those tactics. The other day he even told me that bedtime makes him hungry and thirsty. I love your choice of topics, I always think, darn how did I not think of that? That’s such a great choice and your sense of observation is great! You’re always a pleasure to read!
Ah, thanks, my dear! And the stall tactics just get amped up each year- you should hear the crap my almost seven year old pulls- so frustrating!!! I’ll write a post on hers later… 😉
I love #5 ~ going Faulkner… I love your humor. Glad you’re back! And my son has mastered #6. Seems all the “I love you”s and “Will you still be my mom when I’m a dad?”s get pulled out at 7:30pm.
Glad someone got the Faulkner reference! 😉
The picture is such a sweet ending to a hilarious and oh so true post. And the funny thing is your described tactics stay pretty much the same even as they get older. One stall tactic our kids do is the “Give Me A Happy Thought” time. We have to come up with a happy thought that is good enough to help them fall asleep. FYI: “We get to do school tomorrow” does NOT cut it! But they will take a far off vacation, so it’s not too bad.
Thanks for the smiles. I enjoy your writing so much!
Thank you for such a nice compliment! My oldest has pulled a variation of the Happy Thought trick- it’s a lovely idea, in principle, but SO infuriating two minutes after bedtime!!!
Kids know how to get what they want. How did they learn it? Through observation and experimentation. I remember getting to the “You don’t love me if you don’t let me….” stage. I regret it now, remembering all the times I played that card, especially after my mom passed when I was only 13. Still, kids don’t think … they simply use what works. “Sticky kisses”… yep, you’re a mother that loves! 🙂 Great post!
Thanks Rich, and you are so right about the observation and experimentation!
It is amazing how inventive children become at barely 2 years old. Although I am with you, potty training is much worse than a squirming child
Yes, it most certainly is! I’ll add that a urine-soaked squirming child takes the cake…
How cute is she anyway! I can see how you’d fall prey to her charms the first dozen times. The problem with my toddler is the not staying in bed. He’s usually exhausted at bedtime and asking to go night-night (due to the fact that at age 2, he’s decided to give up his nap – grrr), but he wakes up smack in the middle of the night asking for Mommy and Milk and has to bring blankie and Elmo and Lion and the milk into Mommy and Daddy’s bed. Then he drinks loudly and squirms and wiggles and finally falls back to sleep. My problem is that I think he’s so damn cute and sweet (and he’s my youngest) that I give in Every. Time!
This is awesome – I feel that we are heading down this road too. How old is Sophie? How long do I have to wait until this rocket’s into full gear? I too look RIDICULOUS when sitting down with LadyBug in the chair – it is just too much and that is WITHOUT 3 nighttime friends. I guess I have a lot to look forward to!
Sophie is just about 21 months. And she just added a 4th to the entourage…grrr… “Baby Muffin” is now included. I have told her I can only hold 2 at a time, and she seems to accept that!
Toddlers and babies definitely know how to make their parents, or anyone, surrender! I’ve seen my niece, so many times, stick out her tongue (that shows she is plotting something) and will do something. The parents try and stop her from climbing on everything, but then they have to surrender to her determination haha! I think this new generation of kids are more deceptive than we realize!
Oh you wait until they get older…they are masterminds of stalling.
My 4 year old uses the cuddle approach and knows that it makes me melt like buttahhh.
“Time for bed”
“But mom, I want to snuggle.”
Oh you brought back those baby memories.
The stuffed animals are the worst. They need to make up a device that can locate them at all times!
You are SO right. My almost seven year old is quite diabolical in her stall tactics. Much harder to dodge them as they get older… or at least the strategies are more annoying!
Aw, what a perfect ending! My toddler does all of these. Sigh! My favorite is the stream of consciousness. I find it so interesting what is going on in that little head of hers. Of course, adults do it too. We have just learned to keep it in our heads!
I think I have a near-constant internal dialogue/monologue going! AHHH!!!
Aw – I love this one, you! You so perfectly captured the cuteness, the frustration and the absolute amazement at how young our children begin to realize that they are able to manipulate situations to be more to their likings. We’ve just recently begun having to check under the bed, under the dresser, in the closet for “scared” (pron like “xchxchxaaawed” which looks less adorable typed than it sounds) and then tell the light to be nice. (WTF? No clue)
I love number five – it’s like she’s recounting her day. And that photo? EEEEP adorable.
Oh, that sweet baby sleeping soundly! The picture makes my uterus lonely, but the whole spiel about not going to sleep makes me so happy that my kids are past that stage!!!
I know- the old uterus vs. sleep conundrum!
Sleeping late is really one of the hallmarks of childhood. Thanks for sharing!!
Awwww…that pic is delicious!!!
We are slowly approaching the transition to a big girl bed.
And I’m scared shitless.
What will it be like when she has free reign over the place all night long?!?!?!?!
I have been dealing with massive blog issues over the last 10 days that have been all-consuming, and I have missed your blog so much…
I am SO sorry about all your blog issues. That totally blows. And I am going to refrain from sharing my big-girl-bed transition stories about my oldest. I will send wine instead…
I smiled as I read this because I know your pain all too well. This reminded me of some tales I really need to share about my daughter and bedtime! She must sleep with certain stuffed animals, she must have music, she must have the fan at a certain volume so that she can hear the music. She also knows that as long as she keeps moving she won’t succumb to sleep. It makes for some very interesting evenings!
My oldest daughter is just the same! Makes you crazy…
Laughed out loud throughout this post. I already notice Henry doing some of these things. The squirming, the kissing, the turning off the light several hundred times…. and finally, the surrender. Oh, how I adore my sweet love. <3
I know- it is more adorable than annoying at this stage!
It never ends. Never. Ever. Ends. When they are bigger they learn that asking deep emotional questions about life and relationships are the best way to stall bedtime because they know that if Mommy doesn’t adress these questions/concerns she will spend her life feeling guilty and wondering if he will ever be able to have happy healthy relationships when he was raised by a mom who didn’t disucss important topics. These little bastards are smart. Oh, and if that doesn’t work, they spend 37 minutes brushing their teeth and tormenting their brother.
Good times, that bed time, no?
Yes! You are so right. My older daughter’s tactics are even more diabolical… When will it end?
If they gave Oscars to best actors in a bedtime drama, my kid would have a row of golden statuettes. I wish I could say this gets easier … maybe a little. But he’s 7 now and still fights sleep like crazy. “I’m not tired!” he’ll shriek, which naturally is evidence to the contrary. Fortunately, once I get him into bed, he drops off fast. Oh … and our stuffed animal collection that must be in bed is now up to 9. 9!!! Thanks for a great post!
Yes- everything has to be JUST so for my six year old. Her stall tactics post is coming later…
Ha! These are all so true and that picture at the end is so sweet. As the kids get older their tactics get more sophisticated. My 8 year old son often will say, “Can we have a little conversation?” Hard to say to such a polite request and I know the day will come when he will just grunt.
“Can we have a little conversation?” That is so precious. My big girl always brings up her fears just before bed. Without fail. I think this is a universal phenomenon, huh?
Such a sweet photo… love to sneak back in and watch my 3 year old and 10 year old asleep. Conversations with my 3 year old as he starts to fall asleep are the best.
Isn’t that the best?
Oh my gosh, this totally had me cracking up! It wasn’t so much my son that was like this, but my niece. She always wanted to sleep at my house, and the few times she did we had a lot of those tactics played out. She calls me Queenie, and the one we most often repeat is “Queenie, do you know jelly beans are spicy on the inside?” It was about that time that I called her mom to come pick her up!
How did I miss this one? Your little angel is adorable! Toddlers are so smart about stalling, especially with the affection, but they’re so damn cute…