Yesterday evening, twin #1 (let’s call him Trouble) spent 2 hours bouncing around his and his brother’s beds before going to sleep, which led me to believe that at some point during the day he must have overdosed on Haribo. Unfortunately this made bedtime – that point in the day when despite being at our most exhausted we go through the lengthiest rituals to ensure our children go to sleep happily – even more drawn out than it is normally. You know the calm, quiet run up to bedtime that is recommended in all the childcare books? With dimmed lighting and maybe even some calming music? Our bedtime is nothing like that. Most evenings, it goes something like this.
5.30 – the start of what we call ‘wind down time’. This is when I can be found on the sofa watching In the Night Garden, while the boys carry on wrestling in the other room. I quite enjoy this time.
6.20 – getting children out of the bath, which involves the acting out of the ‘oh no, he’s going down the plughole’ scenario. This started off as a ‘Baywatch’ style piece, with me running slow-motion into the bathroom to pull the eldest boy, in dramatic fashion, from the plughole which was about to swallow him up. He still requests the ‘down the plughole’ sequence, although he has invented a revised version – I am now required to stand next to the bath doing side steps, before saying ‘on the fire engine’ and gently lifting him out of the bath. I am not to mention plugholes. The smaller boys still demand the Baywatch re-enactment. It’s a lot to remember when all you can think about is when you’ll be free to raid the sweet jar.
6.40 – wrestling to get small boys into sleeping bags. Once the first boy is safely in his bag he will make a bid for freedom while I’m trying to sort out the second boy, sprinting (as well as he can in a sleeping bag) along the landing, ending with a dramatic commando style roll into his big brother’s room. This adds some much needed action to proceedings.
6.45 – stories, or rather, I read stories while Trouble and Not-Quite-So-Much-Trouble read their own books and line up toy cars into lengthy traffic jams. I find I am reading Fox’s Socks and Toddle Waddle to myself.
7.00 – Small boys go to bed. Within approximately 2 minutes we will hear a loud crash as Trouble somersaults into his brother’s bed, possibly landing on his head. He will then repeatedly throw all of his brother’s comforters and his blanket out of the bed, leading to at least 5 trips back in from us.
7.05 – Books for the eldest. He might choose a couple of stories, however it is more likely that he will request a detailed run-through of every item in his school book bag, followed by 5 chapters of his encyclopedia and ending with an interrogation on when the Ice Age and, in particular, mammoths will return. I do not have a satisfactory answer to this question.
7.20 – Hide-and-seek. The ‘hiding’ is questionable, since he picks the same place every evening. The seeker, however, still has to ‘search’ every corner of the room before finding him.
7.25 – We have now progressed to eldest boy’s bedroom so it feels like we’re nearly there, but there is one last ritual to go through before saying goodnight, and that’s ‘theatre’. Theatre involves turning down all the lights, and, by the glow of the nightlight, holding hands and skipping round in a circle to music coming from the ‘iPod’ (or musical remote control). Occasionally the skipping is done around a pile of cuddly toys, as if some sort of sacrificial ritual. When the skipping gets too much we do yoga-style balances (still to music of course).
7.35 – Finally, it’s time for bed. And I head downstairs with the knowledge I will be going through the whole two hour ritual again the next night. Then I raid the sweet jar.