Recently, I uttered words that I never thought I would say. Saying them out loud made me immediately fill with momguilt. But after confessing those words in a safe space, an online community filled with amazing moms whom I knew would not judge me, I found out that I am not alone. I also got some great advice, support, and encouragement.
Maybe you too have uttered the words, “I HATE BEDTIME.”
Let me back up. Our oldest daughter will soon be six, we have a three-year-old son, and the baby is 11 weeks old. Since having our third baby, I have been on the STRUGGLE BUS when it comes to bedtime. I know it is “just a phase” and to “enjoy it while you can.”
I KNOW it’s “just a season of life” that will be over much too quickly, and I DO love the reading books, the sleepy snuggles and the endless hugs and kisses. Trust me, I am all about counting my blessings!
But what I do NOT love is feeling like there is only ONE mommy and THREE kids in three separate rooms, all who need me. I do not love feeling guilty and divided and EXHAUSTED for nearly two hours every evening.
My husband is wonderful. When I was pregnant we tried to prepare for this–we established a pretty great bedtime routine of him reading to and putting our boy to bed, and me reading to and putting our oldest to bed.
That worked great until we threw a newborn into the mix. Some nights the baby happens to be sleeping and we can continue this ritual. A lot of nights the baby is awake and I can get away with nursing her in bed while reading to my oldest daughter while my husband is reading to and putting our son to bed. But some nights, like this particular night, everyone was crying (including me) and wanting mommy. Then I just have even MORE mom guilt because I can’t be in three places at once, and it breaks my heart to hear my older two crying for me. Our adjustment to a family of five has gone remarkably smoothly. Except this.
So there I was, after a night of a round of tears from four out of five of us, with my fingers poised in the status update bar in the good ol’ book of faces. Suddenly I knew that I could not ask for advice here because it meant admitting my feelings about bedtime and I did not want to risk being chased down by pitchfork-weilding “friends.” (Not that I think I have any friends that would be purposefully hurtful, but the internet is not a very friendly place these days.)
Thankfully, God pointed me in the direction of the aforementioned online community I am so blessed to be a part of. It happens to be a group of the fabulous writers that contribute beautiful words to Her View From Home. So, while it wasn’t blogging-related, I knew from being in the group for some time that I could ask a momming question without fear of judgement.
You guys, first off, I was blown away by the responses. First came a Hunger Games gif. Then the responses and comments started pouring in, echoing my sentiments. Comments of solidarity and support. So much advice and many suggestions were given, and ZERO judgement. Turns out, I am not the only one who has ever said those three little words!
Secondly, I got so much great advice from the “seasoned” moms of the group for how to adjust our bedtime routine to make it easier on everyone. The best advice given the most in the comments thread though: let the guilt GO.
We implemented some of the advice and we now have the big kids give me and the baby hugs and kisses and then read in their own rooms. I nurse and rock the baby to sleep while daddy reads to and does the bedtime routine (kisses and hugs, prayers) with our son, and then the same with our oldest daughter.
I can already tell you that our evenings have been much more pleasant after making these changes. Having the support and reassurance that it was okay for me to not have to be everywhere at once and be the sole comforter for all three kids has made HUGE impact on my attitude.
But can I tell you a third thing? The whole situation made me come to a sad realization. What kind of a world do we live in where we cannot ask for help for fear of judgement or condemnation?
We hear it all the time now, especially in light of postpartum depression awareness—“Ask for help, reach out for help, etc.” But here I was, needing parenting advice, but literally paralyzed at the thought of asking for help or advice because it meant having to confess I was having a problem that I thought people would be so harsh to me for admitting.
An important lesson I learned is that you never know who else might be struggling with the same problem as you. So while I felt incredibly vulnerable when I hit that “post” key, I ended up not only getting great advice and support, but this group has nearly 500 people in it. So you know that there were a few in the group who did not comment or reply but read all the EXCELLENT comments, advice, and encouragement and used it for themselves too.
It made such a difference to me just to hear that I am not alone. So, bedtime sucked. But thanks to me taking a chance and admitting those words and then receiving KINDNESS and support, our bedtimes are now calmer, smoother, MUCH shorter, and my kids get the best version of me.
I hope this makes you feel encouraged to ask for advice the next time you need it. Because we truly are in this season of life together.