Parenthood brings a lot of unwanted guilt. Again, why didn’t I read the small print before signing up for this?
Guilt because you’ve lost patience and maybe snapped (okay, yelled) at your child. Guilt because they asked you for a small treat in their lunch box and because it is not treat Friday you had to say no. Guilt because you were just too damn tired to run a bath for four kids so they went to bed with dirt under their fingernails. Guilt because there was only enough milk left for the morning and no was said to a bed time hot chocolate because you really really didn’t want to get in the car and drive to buy more.
Guilt because guilt begets guilt.
Bedtime guilt is one of the bigger ones, I feel. It is the end of the day and energy levels are not so much low as almost completely and utterly depleted. Bedtime becomes a rushed affair. No you may not have something to eat. The toothbrushes are lined up, pyjamas in separate piles and water bottles filled. Rush, rush, rush to get a pyjamas on a child who needs assistance and another who is just so slow it drives you crazy and pushes your patience to the limits. A request for one to wash their face and hands and when they refuse rudely you tussle with giving out to them or suddenly suffering from selective hearing because it’s just not worth a meltdown at 8pm of an evening.
Then there are the shenanigans that happen when they finally troop upstairs.
“I want you to read the bed time story. Daddy can’t do the posh voice for Reginald Rake.”
“I want you to bring me up to bed. I want you to listen to my Two Good Things.”
“I need you to give me a carry. Mine legs are asleep.”
And on it goes.
I honestly believe a decent 10 minutes spent with them at tucking-in time, reaps massive benefits. But sometimes I just don't have the energy and I'll admit these are the nights I take a glass of wine up with me. Arrest me now! But as long as they get their "mammy time" at bedtime, it mostly, usually, sometimes sees them all asleep in about 10 minutes.
Other times one of them will, without fail, reappear in about ten minutes looking for a drink or cream to be rubbed in somewhere or to tell me a fascinating detail about Xbox.
Sometimes the four year old can be heard thundering about as he enjoyed a decadent three hour nap earlier on that day and is wide awake.
But two out of four really do fall asleep in approximately ten minutes and as long as I’ve got my ear phones plugged in and the thundering about isn’t too thundering, I can ignore it all.
But the guilt of it. The guilt gets me every time. I'm at home with my lot all day and I still feel guilty if I don't put them to bed.