Night Terrors: My Once Glorious Bedtime Routine Has Become A Three-Hour Ordeal

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night terrorI used to love putting my kids to bed. My older son, now 6, has always been a wonderful sleeper. No matter how many challenges we’d face in a day, no matter how many tantrums, bedtime was the best – a chance to unwind at the end of a busy day, read a couple of stories, cuddle, talk. The best part? It usually lasted around 20 minutes max.

When son number two came along a few years later, not much changed. In fact, putting him to bed was an absolute pleasure. He’d sit on my lap while I read to him, clutching his little brown doggie and practically flinging himself into his crib just as I was wrapping up.

I remember I once had a friend over with her own little guy. “Wait here for a second,” I told her one evening. “I’m just going to put the baby to bed, I’ll be right back.” I emerged 90 seconds later, and she figured I must’ve forgotten something (bottle, book, doggie?). But, no, I was done for the night. It was a glorious feeling.

Oh, what I wouldn’t do to reclaim my evenings! Gone are the days where my kids would happily fall asleep moments after I left their room. I’d have hours to myself where I could eat, read, watch TV, drink wine, talk on the phone, have friends over and just chill out in total silence. It was blissful.

These days, bedtime is a nightmare. It’s become a long, drawn-out, three-hour ordeal filled with screaming, tears and endless threats. Things have gotten so bad that we recently put a pressure gate on my 3-year-old’s bedroom door. Alert the authorities!

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment things turned to shit, but needless to say I’ve been spending months now figuring out how to get my kids to stay in their room for the night. The truth is, I want my evenings back! I love my kids to death, but there’s nothing like tucking them in at the end of a hectic day, kissing them goodnight, and knowing that the next few hours are yours and yours alone.

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