In the responses, I read all-too-familiar stories about kids destroying the house while their mom cooks dinner, being little monsters during dinner and transforming into demons at bedtime. I was very comforted by this. It was good to know that the exasperating second half of every day is an experience that I share with moms everywhere.
Mine are angels until I start making dinner, at which point they realize that I am occupied, and they beat on each other like WWE Superstars. I have burned so many dinners because I had to run away from the stove to find out what that thud was and why a kid is crying, or what the screaming is about.
Then there's dinner itself. My 21-month-old signals that she's done by throwing her food. My 4-year-old hates anything that is not from McDonalds or from a box, so she hates most of what I cook and either sits there and whines, refusing to eat, or leaves the table. We avoid fighting about food in our house, but we do demand that she sit with her family, because family meals are important. This means that I do not go one dinner without having to get up 5 or 6 times or without having to yell at someone to sit down or to stop throwing food. I often mutter to my husband, "I hate dinner time."
After all that fun and a bath (which thankfully is one routine that almost always goes well) comes the time of day I hate the most, the time that taxes my patience to its absolute limits every day: bedtime.
My 21-month-old used to be willing to sleep only in our bed. Thankfully around 16 months, we got her to sleep in her own bed, but her bed is still in our room (as her sister's was at the same age). My 4-year-old decided a couple months ago that she's afraid to sleep in her room, and if we try to make her go to sleep in there, it results in endless crying and wailing that we just don't have the energy for at that late hour. So she brings her pillow and blanket into our bed, I lie down next to her, and her little sister gets in her bed. We say our goodnights, we play, we read a story or two, and then we turn the lights off. All this is done while repeatedly telling both not to jump on our bed, to get off of the bed, not to hit each other, and not to spill their sippy cups on our bed. They take a good hour to settle down every night. For the first half hour, they want to play with me or with each other, then for the second half hour, they start to poop out and get tired, and I lie there and play Words With Friends with my husband on my phone or read a book on my Kindle until they are totally out. If I try to leave before they are both totally out, it results in them either waking fully and wanting to play some more or crying and wailing. In short, it's exhausting and frustrating as hell.
I got out of this torturous routine for one night last week, when I was too busy cleaning and baking for my daughter's fourth birthday party to do the hour of bedtime hell. That night, my husband took over and after the usual hour, he came out looking bedraggled, bewildered and completely spent. I looked at him and he said, "That was like trying to escape from a demon baby serpent's lair."
That truly is the most accurate description possible! Me, I had a great time that night mopping the floor, scrubbing toilets and baking cupcakes and a cake. I would take that over putting the kids to bed any time!
What does your kids' bedtime look like? How about dinner? What is your kids' absolute worst time of day?