I am open to any idea, short of duct tape and Valium, which will get my children to stay in bed after I call "lights out."
I've tried everything -- begging, bribing, threatening- all to the same end. I've even read books the experts recommend and set up a bedtime routine. You name it.
And, I'm really getting desperate.
My motivation is completely selfish. By completely, I mean 100 percent.
Yes, I know children need a good night sleep -- school performance can suffer, their attitudes can suffer, memory and retention can suffer. Blah, blah, blah.
I'll be more concerned about those things when they don't follow three hours of school with a hearty lunch and a two-hour nap.
Right now, I'm concerned about my own mental health.
I need "me" time. I need moments of silence. I need time to sneak the snack I wouldn't allow them to have.
I need a bath.
That's really the crux of the situation. Showers aren't easy, nor are they safe when you've got a broken foot. So, I'm relegated to baths. I have two shots at a bath -- I can take one before the girls go to bed, which means a family bath, or I can take one after they go to bed. With my girls' recent sleeping habits, that means about 11 p.m. An 11 p.m. bath means I'm safe from falling, but not from drowning in my sleep.
Needless to say, that means a lot of family baths.
That's not very productive.
All the girls want to do in the tub is play doctor. Evidently all it takes to become a surgeon is a washcloth, a wagon and a toy that has long hair.
Looking straight into my eyes with her nose nearly touching mine, 4-year-old Nikki says "It OK, mommy. It will be all better."
"It" happens to be my shoulder that wasn't good in the first place.
She smoothes the washcloth over my shoulder and uses the wagon to pour water on top of that. Then, she pulls it off (fast like a Band-Aid) and brushes the "wound" with doll hair.
"See, mom, din't hurt."
Same process with my elbows, hands and knees. I'm healed in less time than it takes to shave.
Speaking of shaving -- that's something they also want to participate in, too. They can draw pictures in the shaving cream, but that's where I draw the line. No way in this lifetime will I let them handle the razor. Not on my legs, at least, and definitely not when their idea of a cure-all is dirty water and green mermaid hair.
Are you seeing my dilemma here?
It all hinges on who's adhering to bedtime. And in my house, that's no one.
The girls don't seem to be suffering, but I am certainly showing signs of sleep-deprivation.
OK, I lied. I am open to suggestions that involve duct tape and Valium. The girls might yell a lot, but I won't hear them through the Valium.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.