Getting the kids off to sleep can be a daily battle. Writer Joe McDiarmid charts one joyous night convincing his three to pipe down and shares his secret, Chester-grown weapon. WARNING – things are about to get sweary before they get better…
6:00 pm – I enjoy the last few moments of peace and quiet before I drop the daily bombshell, “It’s bedtime.” Teeth are brushed and stories are selected.
6:15 pm – Why do they always pick the same books? I really don’t give a fuck that the Gruffalo’s favourite food is owl ice-cream.
6:40 pm – This feels more akin to two adults being under siege in Fallujah than putting three kids to bed.
7:10 pm – Why does lying in bed make a child hungry, thirsty or need the bathroom? I’d love someone to tell me to get my head down for fourteen hours. These fuckers don’t know how lucky they have it.
7:11 pm – Did I really just think, “They don’t know how lucky they have it?”….Fuck I’ve turned into my dad.
8:00 pm – I’ve been at this now for two hours; that’s 14 hours over the course of the week, 56 hours a month.
8:30 pm – How can you love something that you spend so much time arguing with? They can sense my change in mood and I’ll end up with little arms around my neck and a kiss on the cheek. The emotionally manipulative little bastards.
8:45 pm – I’m exhausted. I think they like lulling me into a false sense of security; what worked last night is never guaranteed to work the next. I never understood news stories of parents abandoning children but I’m starting to.
9:13 pm – All three are asleep. They look peaceful and cute enough that I can feel the frustration I’ve built up over the last few hours start to dissipate.
Dealing with this every night is fucking draining. I curse every smug parent I’ve met that grinned at me like a moron and said “having kids is the best thing I’ve ever done” or “I never knew who I really was until I had kids” because the reality is it’s not the best thing you’ve ever done, you just need to set your sights higher, and you don’t find out things about yourself by having kids, you become sleep deprived and lose all sense of self trying to placate the tiny Mussolini that is now in a power struggle with you for control of the household.
So on the nights where I cannot stand to even say the name Gruffalo and think The Hungry Caterpillar can just fucking starve, I outsource the job of reading to the kids with help from local primary school teacher Jake Harris and his podcast Story Shed.
There are currently seven stories on Story Shed and they’ve become part of our nightly bedtime routine. The kids aged 5, 4 & 2 all enjoy listening to them. Sure it still takes longer than I would like to get them all to sleep but it’s a good feeling to know that even on the nights when I’m exhausted they’re still getting a more personal bedtime experience. So thank you, Jake. There is a pint here with your name on it whenever you want it.