The hour before you put your child to bed is like the final mile in a marathon when you are so close to the finish line, yet depleted of all energy to cross it. Not that I have any clue about marathons. In fact, my phone has been beeping like crazy this week (since I had to start walking the school run) telling me "Well done! 15 minutes of continuous walking." I am sure the phone thinks that it has been stolen!
Anyway, back to bedtimes. I have three lovely boys that turn into hyped up animals in the hour before bedtime. I won't lie, my children sleep quite well in general (minus the odd night when my four-year-old snuggles up to me at 3 AM and I am far too exhausted to carry him back to bed). Yet that hour after dinner when all I want to do is clean the house, and myself, is a waiting game, where time is the slowest it has ever been and drags, because no matter how tired your baby is, you daren't put them to bed even half an hour early in case they mistake this as an invitation to wake bright and early at 4 AM. And then you give your husband that "I told you so" stare because he was sure putting the baby down a little bit earlier would be fine and you knew it wouldn't be.
So it is a haze of Nick Jr., boys squabbling, and dummy hunting. Oh, the dummy hunting! I get my older boys involved as a "fun" game whilst my other half lifts sofas and I scour the car. Then, as the time for bed approaches, I smile and put my littlest one down for the night. I walk very lightly downstairs to my older boys and begin the process of preparing for bedtime all over again!
My four-year-old is usually exhausted from school so doesn't put up much fight at going to bed half an hour after the baby. So we head upstairs, making sure he goes to the toilet first! If we forget, he wakes up in the middle of the night shouting like he's being attacked. You shoot out of bed to find him wriggling around, desperate for a wee but too sleepy to get up, so you have to carry him to the bathroom and back into bed (By this point I am wide awake and struggle to get back to sleep). We read a classic story such as Aliens Love Underpants or The Dinosaur That Pooped The Bed, and we have a big huggle (hug/snuggle) and kiss and he's snoring within minutes.
My ten-year-old, however, is determined to stay up as late as he can get away with. Although I secretly enjoy having that time with my eldest baby watching a movie together (usually one too grown up for his younger brothers), 8:30 PM is my cutoff; I AM DONE! Bedtime for all. After my eldest gets a drink (and searches for that P.E top or toy that he desperately needs for school the next day, at that exact moment) and climbs into bed, then I give him a cuddle and say good night and breathe a sigh of relief that my mumming hours have finished. I can clock off. Unless someone is sick in the night, because you are always on call as a mum.
Being a parent means squeezing all your adult time into the two hours when your child is asleep. I want to have a long, relaxing shower, eat a meal/pudding/biscuit that I don't have to share, do my nails, go and see friends, and spend some time with my hubby watching Netflix! But I am left drained from a whole day of being mum so I usually end up draped over my bed, scrolling through my phone, not achieving any of these things. Instagram has become my latest vice (latecomer, I know). Boomerang?! You are truly loving life when you use boomerang.
So, to all the mums of the world: Enjoy your adult time however you choose, and if you want to—and I know you do—just bloody sleep. Zzz.