Mar 242014


I let Craig handle last night’s round of “Whack-a- Mole” (bedtime) and settled into the couch at 7:45. It’s like my victory lap –  that couch settling.

Day is done, gone the son, gone the girls and the the fights and the whiiiiines. All is calm- Bravo ooooon- sleep is nigh….

One of the myriad problems with this parenting gig is that they save the hardest part for last. BEDTIME. Bedtime should be in the morning – when we’re fresh and kind and sweet –  and decent parenting still seems like a very real possibility. But no, the hardest parts – dinner and baths and bedtime – arrive at the end of the day- when we have nothing left. When the truth is, we are counting the minutes. Counting the moments until no one is the boss of us anymore. Until we can sink into that couch, book, internet, or glass of wine – whatever our victory lap includes.

It doesn’t help that in our mommy minds, we have this idea that bedtime is supposed to be the most peaceful, loving time of day. That we are supposed to send our lovies off to dream land with songs, stories, soft, sweet voices and strokes of their cherubic heads. Sometimes bedtime happens this way for us. Not often.

Each of our kids gets a story at bedtime. They never pick a good one, they pick the longest one.

And the little one wants to “help read” her book. So, let’s see. It takes her about six minutes to sound out each word, and so if the book is one hundred words, well, I don’t specialize in math but I am telling you that I am stuck in that room FOREVER. It feels like I will be reading that book with Amma until I die. And I know I’m supposed to be SUPPORTING her reading. I mean it’s good – this is good stuff, this wanting to read. I was a reading teacher, I know this is GOOD stuff about which I am supposed to be EXCITED. But for me, exhaustion trumps excitement every single time. And I can’t help but notice that the ONLY TIME SHE CARES THIS MUCH ABOUT READING IT HERSELF IS AT BEDTIME. When she can hold me hostage and stay up six minutes later with every sounded-out-word.  And so while I’m supposed to be thinking sweet thoughts, all I can think is: OH MY GOD. I AM GOING TO DIE. I AM GOING TO JUMP RIGHT OUT OF MY SKIN. YOU SUCK AT READING. YOU SUCK YOU SUCK YOU SUCK. PLEASE GOD. PLEASE MAKE THIS BOOK..just..just …DISAPPEAR so I can take my victory lap. I DESERVE MY VICTORY LAP! 

But No. Nope. No help from above. So it goes on. And on.  “S….o…….soooooooooo  t-h- e….tuuuuu—-huuuuuu—-eeeeeeeeee?” says Amma. I am held hostage for forty five minutes. When she is finally done. I decide that after that debacle there is NO WAY that the Universe also expects me to sing the “song” that is also part of her “bedtime routine.” I say goodnight and pray she’ll forget.

But they never forget. They PRETEND to forget ONLY so that they have another excuse to pop out of their rooms and remind you of what you forgot.

So three minutes later, when I think I’m in the clear, here comes my littlest mole. “You forgot my song,” she says. And I stare at her for a long second and admit to myself two things.

1. She is unbelievably cute and precious and one day I will miss these visits, especially when she starts  sneaking out of her room to party with her friends instead of to find me to sing to her.

2. Doesn’t matter. I’m going to lose it.

And so I sing her song. But I sing it like an insane person. Eyes wide, teeth clenched, just a little too loud. No sweetness. Like a robot. “You. Are. My. Sun. SHINE. My. Only. Sun. SHINE. I sing it like there are implied curse words between every lyric.

And then. Then I am done. It is time. I am a Freedom Fighter and I have fought long and hard for my OWN FREEDOM and it is here. Now is the time I raise my mommy arms in the air and breathe deeply and eat cookies alone. My hand is on the child’s door knob. I can see I can feel I can hear I can TASTE those couch cushions. And then. Amma speaks again. I freeze.

Mooooooommy. Tell me about God.


WHY DOES EVERY KID BECOME A FREAKING THEOLOGIAN AND NATURALIST AND INQUIRING MIND ABOUT WORLD ISSUES AT BEDTIME????  I THINK WE KNOW WHY. Oh, yes. I think we know why. Because there is a secret right of passage we don’t know about. When they are babies, some older kid at the playground sneaks a book into their strollers called “BEDTIME HOSTAGE QUESTIONS: A Treasury of Inquiries Yo Mama Will Feel Too Guilty Not To Answer.” On the back cover it reads: “Guaranteed to buy you 10 extra minutes each night or your money back.”

But I know the drill. I KNOW THIS DRILL. AND I LOVE GOD, SURE. I love teaching kids about God- I’m a freaking Sunday School teacher for Christ’s sake (literally). BUT GOD LOVES ME, TOO. AND GOD WANTS ME ON THE COUCH NOW SO EVERYONE IN MY HOUSE CAN LIVE TO DIE ANOTHER DAY.

And so I look back at Amma and say-“Honey, I’d love to talk to you about God. If you are still interested tomorrow during YOUR TV TIME WE WILL CHAT. HOW ‘BOUT THAT?”  ON YOUR TIME, SISTER. Ba- BAM. HOW YOU LIKE ME, NOW- AMMA????

She gets it. She finally goes to sleep. They know when mommy’s done. When I start gesturing like a cage fighter instead of a mama, they know it’s time. It’s not pretty, but it’s effective. I am Glinda the Good Witch until 7:45 and then at 7:46 it’s nothing but green faces, warts, cackles, and threats. And often that’s the best I can do.

So last night as I waited for Craig to whack the last mole –  I half listened to the bedroom doors re-open and the typical mole-y excuses –  “I can’t sleep because my elbow hurts!” “I need ICE COLD water, not reg-a-lar water” “My closet doors are open.” There’s an elephant shadow on my window.”  Whack- Whack-Whack- Whack.  Nothing new. The moles are not too creative tonight, I thought .  But then – I hear a door open and one appears to say to poor Craig- mallet in hand- sitting against the wall in the hallway – “I can’t sleep because my finger smells because I keep scratching my bottom.”

Hmm. Not bad, I thought, and I giggled, because it’s funny when it’s not your turn. Craig says, “Okay. Go wash your hand.” I hear the water run, hallway waddling, child returns to her room. Two minutes later, door re-opens, child-mole re-appears. “My finger still….” “GO WASH YOUR HAND AGAIN,” Craig says with that very even, controlled tone that indicates the Whack -a-Mole machine is about to BUST. Water starts, child- mole slowly creeps back to her room. A minute later, door re-opens. Mole child says, “My finger still…” THEN STOP SCRATCHING YOUR BUTT. AND STOP SMELLING YOUR FINGER! OR PUT IT UNDER YOUR PILLOW. HOLD YOUR BREATH. WHATEVER IT TAKES. JUST GO. TO. SLEEP!

Mole child gets it. She is out of quarters. Daddy’s broke. Machine is done for the day.

No more doors open.

Craig comes downstairs.

He joins me with tea and House of Cards for our victory lap. He’s asleep within ten minutes.

All Moles Wacked. Me and my cookies and quiet. Glinda is back.

Carry On, Warriors.

The Worst Bedtime Family in the History of the Whole Entire Universe

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  127 Responses to “Whack-A-Mole”

  1. My daughters are 32 and 37 and have their own dear little moles but still I am laughing and laughing out loud and with tears rolling down my cheeks. Thank you.

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  3. I cannot laugh, because I can only deeply empathize with considering this is nearly exactly my life of a night. My husband just told me the other day he thinks he is going to lose my mind. And, our song is You Are My Sunshine, too, so I could 100% relate to that part. I don’t think that song was written to be sung the way I sing it at times. Mole whackers unite!

  4. This absolutely had me on the floor, laughing out loud. Then, sadly, it had me almost crying, due to the fact that it emphasizes how lonely it feels at times to be a single parent.

    Yes, I’m glad for my “alone time”. Yes, I’m blessed to have a great career. Yes, my daughter is amazing. Yes, it is a gift to have peace in my home, rather than an abusive and almost tyrannical spouse sucking the air out of my day.

    But man, sometimes just knowing someone is there, present, in the house and you are not alone. Sometimes that would be just enough so the camaraderie would be implicit. So it didn’t feel like I was fighting the battle alone. So that someone, at the very least, would laugh at my jokes.

    I am blessed and fortunate to have my lovely mini me, and I take none of that for granted. Thanks for the enormous laugh, G.

  5. Best bedtime story ever! Xoxo

  6. Oh my gosh. So funny!! SO funny. I wish I could say I can’t relate…but I think we all can, either with you and Craig or with the kids. :)

  7. Oh, I ache for you in these struggles, and it is noble for you to try to find the humor, but I fear in your own whiiiing, you are revealing you must be the model for the very behavior you disdain in your children. Your attitude is going to lay the groundwork for your missing the very best days of your children’s lives, to say nothing of their most vulnerable time of each day.

    Instead of complaining about the role you have chosen, the role you have been blessed to fill, why not ask yourself how you could climb above your own sins to address theirs. When they are stalling to garner your attention, ask yourself what is the most important message you have for them in life? If it is really, “Leave me alone and let me have a life,” then tell them that and leave the room.

    I doubt that is what you want them to remember about you though. I doubt that you want them to turn out with that perspective on life. If they do, they will be a curse to you in your old age. How do you want them to interact with your grandchildren some day? You are impatient to do your own thing, especially when you’re tired. Is that the way you want them to behave? Maybe they already conduct themselves in the early parts of the day.

    Let’s first get above the selfishness. Why do they EACH get to choose a story each night? SelfLESSness says we’ll all read the same story tonight and like it. That’s how you model for them the way you want them to think and to act. Selflessness also says Mommy needs a night with no story for anyone.
    Wisdom says, “Mommy will let you read every other page tonight.
    Wisdom says if you read to Mommy in the morning then you can read to Mommy tonight. No reading when I’m energized = no reading when I’m tired.

    I have more to say, but I fear you’ve already stopped reading and I am probably wasting my time. My prayer for you today, the first request I have of my God is that you will stop letting your children run your home. Love them into selfLESSness. Enjoy your few short years with them. It will all be over before you know it.

    You can change, you know. Change yourself, then watch your children change.

    • Relax! This was hilarious. Don’t be mean and critical. Just laugh! Bravo, Glennon!

    • Wow! How can you see down here from all the way up on that high horse?

      • :) I was just trying to get close enough to be heard. At least you heard. Just because she is funny, doesn’t make her thinking healthy.

    • Karen, while my reaction to this post was to laugh out loud, to see how similarly we all struggle with our own limits by virtue of being human, this comment made me sad for you. Not because I accuse you of anything, but because in appearing to be motivated by love, what it made me do was wonder how hard I suspect you must be on yourself, to be so hard on others.

      We are all, after all, in the midst of our own battles, whether seen or unseen, and my prayer is that you find the joy, the humor, and the humanity in your own. God speed.

      • Dear one,
        While I think it is spiritually healthy to be able to laugh at ourselves and even with our children, it is not wise to tear down our own houses by disdaining the behavior of our children all the while letting ourselves off the hook, especially when both are done so publicly. Also, it is one thing to have this kind of attitude and behavior in your own home; it is quite another to drag others down with you…and encourage them to think it is funny. The minute I find my sin funny, I’m in trouble.
        A heart motivated by love will sometimes speak tough words. If I’m not as tough on myself, you should should pray for me.

  8. Brilliant – could be my house most any night!

  9. Thanks! Laughing (and knowing that you’re not alone) makes parenting much easier to bear.
    I am sitting in my kitchen looking at a star chart which features a little doodle of my five year old in bed smiling (and not yelling). There are not many stars… I share your pain.

    (My twelve year old is much more likely to ‘remember’ a school assignment that’s due tomorrow than complain about the smell of her fingers, but the whack-a-mole metaphor holds)

  10. You are not the worst by far, but we laughed in sympathy. Right now, 2 hours past “bedtime” our 5 year old son is in the bath still…. with our dog… playing with the dog toys and laughing up a storm. I do not anticipate a good end to this…

    good luck!


  11. Oh, boy….this is what I have to look forward to? I’m so thankful that (right now) my toddler doesn’t fight or stall bedtime…….Thanks so much for the great post. I literally laughed out loud and almost woke a sleeping newborn! :-)

  12. Love all your stories and posts, but this one makes me feel so much less alone in the world of bedtime rituals! Thank you.

  13. Ha! That was a great read. It is amazing how having kids binds parents from all different backgrounds and lifestyles together!

    Looking forward to following this blog.



  14. It is always so refreshing to hear that we as moms are not alone. Not every day will be fairy tale days with birds chirping and skipping through the daisies with our children! Some times we just need to whack-a-mole!!! Really needed this humor this morning. Thank you!

  15. I really needed this today! Thanks for sharing! I laughed so hard I cried!

  16. This started off me day in the exact right way. With laughter. I have raised 6 kids (now ages 16-29) and I KNEW that EVERYONE who said “Enjoy every minute when they are little! They grow up SO fast!” was LYING. Straight up LYING. My kids would never grow up. I would be doing that exact bedtime routine forever. I would grow old while participating in the 4 hour bedtime “routine”. Those people that “reminded” me that they grow up fast, the crazy ones who were LYING to me just to chuckle behind my back…..they were actually right. Which is so annoying!
    Thanks for the bedtime routine reminder. I gave my 16 year old an extra hug before she left for school- just to appreciate her needy, independent, emotionally unstable state of growth. This too will pass quickly.

  17. That just about sums it up perfectly!

  18. Best article I’ve read on the reality of parenting. Funny and true. Im past this stage with my kids, but the article brought me right back!! I’m pre-ordering her book. I know I will love it!

  19. This is hysterical!!! I laughed till I cried!!!! It’s been awhile but the memories are still fresh! Keep up the good fight, Mama!!!!

  20. Oh my gosh. I have been using Whack a mole as an analogy for so long! It made me laugh hard to see you using it too!! Tonight I yelled “Oh my gosh it’s 8:20!” in a tone that should only be used for phrases of import like “The president’s been shot!”. It was because indeed they were running circles around me like 3000 ants instead of just 3. Why do they start feeling all the hurting areas and scrapes and bruises RIGHT at bedtime. SRSLY? You have totally nailed the whole situation!

  21. Funniest thing I’ve read in ages! Thanks for the reassurance of normalcy! GREAT writing.

  22. Love this, you cracked me up. We go through this every night with our 4 year old. His go-to line to start it off is “I’m still super duper scared that I’m gonna dream about something scary.” After we convince him that he’ll most likely have good dreams (there are no guarantees in life, kid), he’ll come back out for water, or God forbid to poop. Pooping is another 15 -20 minutes gone from your evening.

  23. HAHAHAHAHA! So true. I hate bedtime. Everyone screaming. Not pretty. We may be the worst in the universe, though.

  24. Yes. By 7:46, I don’t know why they keep coming out. Why do they want to see me? I’m crazy and mean. If they were sane, they’d barricade themselves in each night.

    And it’s lovely to know that I’m not the only one blasting through bedtime songs while thinking, “Why do you hate me? Because the only reason you would go to bed like this is because you hate me. Me, who fed and clothed and cared for you all day. You hate me.”

  25. I related to every word of your post! And laughed! SO pleased to learn that I was not the only one who changed from Glinda to the Wicked Witch when the sun went down! Bedtime was the worst! But at some point in the craziness of those endless days, months, years, I read an article that actually turned things around in our home. It stated that kids hate the FINALITY of bedtime. It said to put them to bed with whatever rituals you have in place, then say, “I will be back in one minute to check on you.” Then make sure that in exactly one minute, you quietly pop back in, gently pat them on the back, and say “I will be back in 3 minutes to check on you”. So I did this- I let them know I would be checking on them (extending the minutes each time). It worked!! They were asleep by the 3rd visit! They no longer felt a need to keep getting up because I kept showing up. They were comforted knowing that our “goodnight” was not final. And they loved it! So much, in fact, that even as they got older, as they went off to bed, their last words would be, “Check on me!”

  26. A to the MEN, sister!! This could be the theme song for life’s continual bedtime routine soundtrack.

  27. I just wrote about this a couple of days ago and called it “Someone find me a tranquilizer gun,” because sometimes it feels like that’s the only possible thing that would work. My boys can find ANY excuse to get out of bed. So glad I’m not alone. BUT I’m impressed you can get them to bed by 7:45. We’re lucky if it’s 8:45!

  28. OMG this had me busting up – I do mean that, full on laughing out loud nodding my head cracking up totally relating and appreciating EVERY.SINGLE.WORD you wrote!! Are you in my house at bedtime??? Oh I so love this post!

  29. I am still giggling at this post, and I read it 10 minutes ago! I’m gonna have to read it to that green faced lady that comes around our house cackling every night about eight o’clock. I think she’s going to like it!

  30. Thank you for this, I laughed so hard I cried. One of my friends used to call bedtime “happy hour” b/c it no one is ever happy and it always lasts more than an hour.

  31. Haha. I thought I was the only person who referred to certain days (kinda like the one I am having now) as “whack-a-mole.” As soon as you have one thing quashed, something else pops up :)

  32. I totally relate, 100%… down to the kid with the smelly finger, sigh.

  33. Truer words were never written! My kids are 19 & 21 & I will NEVER forget how guilty I would feel: peeking on my sweet sleeping angels after the wrestling we would do about bed time….Sweet Jesus would they NEVER go to sleep, and then they did & I felt like a monster. Spoiler alert: I don’t think either of them remember how aweful I was and they’re ‘fairly’ well adjusted today.

  34. G,

    You are not the worst bedtime family in the history of the whole entire universe! We’re the same way! Every. Single. Night. I thought I was reading a story about myself and my kids there for moment. Truth Tellers unite!

    – Erin

  35. On the more difficult days.. when I need to remind myself to just BREATHE a lot more often than should be necessary.. I come here to take a break. And you never fail to make me smile and relax. You are helping me stay sane – THANK YOU.

  36. Good god that was funny! Same deal here and frankly I’ve wondered not just why my kids always pick the crap books for bedtime but why I have them in the first place.
    I’m pretty sure that wine was invented for the reasons you’ve articulated. Drink up!

  37. This is the funniest post that I have ever read. Ever. Thank you so much!

  38. This is hysterical. My Whack-a-mole comes in the morning getting 5 kids ready for school. It’s more like herding cats to get their stuff, eat breakfast, brush teeth etc. “my feet hurt”, “I can’t walk”, “my tummy hurts”, “I’m cold” or the million distractions that occur on the way to the bathroom to brush teeth: toys, coloring books, the wrapper on the floor. If they don’t wanna its amazing the power they have to swerve around the destination. Seriously, this isn’t a new set of things I’m springing on them, we have been doing this for at least months for my kindergartners and years for my middle schooler.

  39. I cut and paste this into a word document so I can read it again later. Probably several times. Quit wasting your obvious talent on the internet and write a book already!

  40. Love it! Thanks for being real. My kids, even as teenagers know that 9:25 pm nice and happy mommy goes away – so unless you want the “other” mom get all your talking and questions in prior to that time! :-)

  41. SO can relate. I was so upset by the dynamic that I now tell the girls (who are in the same room, so it’s easier for us. Seriously. They’re in the same room because it’s easier for me at bedtime. And laundry putting-away. Not because they want to or we need the room.) that I now tell them “I’m giving you my very last smile of the day!” snuggle, snuggle, snuggle, kiss, kiss, kiss. “Love you, love you, love you. Buh-Bye!”

    And the next time I have to go in the room, it’s business-Mama. No smiles, no kisses, no talking. All questions are written down matter-of-factly on the pad next to the bed for the next day’s TV-time discussion. (Which doesn’t happen– go figure.)

    My girls (5 and 3) are healthily concerned by this all-business-no-smiles-Mama. They stay in bed until the approved waking time because that’s how long it takes me to get my smiles back. The flip side to this– I have to actually smile when I get up in the morning. Before coffee. But for the relative ease at bedtime, I’ll take it.

    Also, I bathe them before dinner instead of right before the rest of the night because I couldn’t handle all of the STUFF and TO-DOs at bedtime.

    I know no one asked for advice, but I so rarely have something that works that I wanted to share the LOVE. I use all of your experiences all of the time!


    • Awesome, Beth! THANK YOU! xo

    • LOVE the business-mommy idea!!! And writing down questions to be answered in the morning! Really lets your girls know their day is over without it being reduced to yelling and threatening and growling… and regretting……

  42. We were so poor at whack a mole that we hired a professional parent coach. Our 3 year old daughter would at times still be awake screaming and crying for “one more book!!!!” kicking her door until 11:30. I thought I would lose my mind. She helped us to become just average like everyone else here. We have heard the, “my finger smells like poop,” excuse before along with many others, but my fav is my son’s, “I got to tell you a question,” followed by his, ” ummmmm…” When he is actually out of ideas. It is cute, but can be exhausting after a full day. My husband doesn’t understand how I start to lose my patience at times with my sighs every time I have to go back in AGAIN when I just want to do my own lap of victory. He just sees it as cute. I like the idea of getting a journal and writing down some of these things to appreciate later, given that it’s not so appreciated at this time:). So nice to know I am not the only one! Thank you for sharing!!!

  43. Laughed until I cried. I needed this tonight (this morning? I can’t even tell anymore).

  44. Glennon Melton Saves My Sanity, again.

    Good morning, warriors:)


  45. Hilarious! Dead on.

  46. For Sure!!!

  47. Reading this as my three year old is sprawled over me and half the laptop. Only way I could get him to bed. You are so right–bedtime should be in the morning!!

  48. Nailed it! Bedtime is my least favorite part of the day… and yet, sometimes the best part because OMG, it’s over and we all survived another day! Wine?

  49. Tonight, my 11 year old said “You SUCK as a parent. All my friends think you suck. And I think you suck”. This is the exact same child whose church youth group leader thinks he’s the coolest thing since sliced bread. The same kid who is kind to his friends, loving to his grandparents, and asks to cuddle with me at least twice a week. And I know I shouldn’t take it personally….but after fifteen hours of taking care of everyone else, and giving all I can give to this world in which I live, hearing my son scream “you SUCK” stabs me square in the heart.
    Flash forward an hour and this same kid is mumbling an apology, telling me I don’t suck, and asking when he can have his xbox back….
    Parenting is not for sissies. Carry on.

    • You do NOT suck. YOU ROCK! Yes, carry on indeed. Hugs and love to you Mommy Amy. I’m only two years into the parenting thing (my son is two!) and those years terrify me. Hang in there. He loves you! xoxo

    • Hang in there Mama. Best response I ever heard came from a friend of mine and I’ve used it myself – “I love you very much but I don’t like the way you’re behaving.” (variations as needed).

    • Oh, girl. You do NOT suck. HE SUCKS. (Okay, not really, but it feels like someone should say it on your behalf, just to clear the air. :) )

      Have an extra glass of wine / cup of coffee today.

  50. This is absolutely hysterical and makes me feel slightly less guilty for my reaction to tonight’s bedtime shenanigans.

  51. I was laughing out loud throughout so many parts of this because this sounds just like my house!! I only have two moles to whack right now, but a third is on the way. And I am also a reading teacher and a Sunday School teacher, but my patience is shot by the end of the day (and those couch cushions are singing their siren song) so I love reading this so very much. And the last part about the finger…that is GOLD! Thanks, Glennon!!

  52. This has got to be the funniest and most home-hitting post I’ve read in a LONG time! You totally NAILED it. And no, you’re SO not alone G. We are the same way!!! We can hear those stealthy feet down the wooden stairs, even when others can’t. And they wonder out loud how we knew a child was about to appear… Only a parent truly knows. :) And to make our lives more interesting, our 3 angelic darling girlies are in the same room, to bug each other with their antics which is simply more fuel to the bedtime fire. xoxo

  53. Ha!! This one made me laugh. :) I remember, boy do I remember!! I used to feel that guilt big time too. We had a few wonderful nights but mostly I remember falling asleep as I read the books! I DO NOT want to go back. Loving the,”I wonder what the boys are doing tonight” stage.

  54. I know it can be difficult & trying when the kiddos are little, but they grow up before you know it. How I wish I could go back just one night and live it again. The story, the questions, the song…. Just one night, that’s all I ask for. I am blessed that I was able to experience and it’s all tucked away in my mind, but just one night……………..sigh….(with a smile). Happy memories.

    • Luane,
      Know EXACTLY how you feel. Just ONE day…it is my constant fantasy as these days fly by…

    • Luane, I try to remind myself of this. Then, I realize that I haven’t slept through the night in five years, my short-term memory is shot and I’m barely surviving. Re-living one of these nights will probably be more appealing in the future when I’ve actually rested. Still, every day I’m doing my best to carry on like a warrior! :)

    • Yes….one night to go back and experience it again…and then come back to reality and two adults…but there would be more stories and more appreciating the child…if I could go back…

  55. Holy cry…This is so wonderfully, perfectly spot on…my husband and I have been giggling about this post all morning. Thanks for saying this out loud. We have a 10yo boy who already has his doctorate in this line of study. Graduated with honors.

    We are not alone.

  56. Bedtime theologians – perfect!
    “If a bad guy got in a wreck and they gave his heart to someone else, would it make that person mean?”
    “How do bad guys stay up late enough to steal a car?”
    “Why do good guys [super heroes] wear masks and bad guys don’t?”
    “When granddaddy died, did his heart go to San Francisco?”
    “Do policemen eat green beans?”
    “When I go to sleep and you’re by yourself, do you get scared a bad guy will come in?”
    “Girls don’t have penises, they just have butts.”

    • Your kids are fabulous! I’m sure you are laughing all the time…secretly, of course…..!

    • Ha!! Our two kids know the “have to poop,” is the golden trump card to getting us upstairs! That one we hear often from our 3 and 6 year olds! At least we are not alone:)

  57. YES!YES!YES! This is pure GENIUS & PERFECTION! I am doubled over, and crying from laughter. I feel VERY lucky that Hunnie handles this routine more days per week than I do!!!!

  58. My little (mostly-lovable) Max has figured out that if he doesn’t eat at dinner time ( tummy owies and such) then as soon as we give the 5 minute warning ” In 5 minutes it’s time for Stories and Teeth”……in his sweetest voice..”Mom, can I have triangle toast please?” It’s just regular toast cut in can only be triangles…and he knows. HE KNOWS!?!?! that I will not let him go to bed hungry..for now.. Thank you for this honest post. It was well timed for us over here under his Majesty’s control..xoxo

  59. More people need to say this stuff. Exactly this stuff!

  60. Oh my gosh–perfect! It’s like some little switch flips when they turn 2 (my son is just over 2) and somehow, out of no where, he knows how to stall like a champion. Total professional, and I just couldn’t figure out how he knew how. Someone must have slipped him that book when I wasn’t looking. Thank you for helping me feel a little less crazy at bedtime.

  61. This is amazing! You are amazing! I always feel awful about dreading bedtime so it is great to know I’m not a horrible mama after all. ; )

    By the way, you posted about an article about the “Asked and Answered” approach and it SO works! I use it often at bedtime. BAM!

  62. I know what you mean, but not with my own children (I have none). My twin sister used to, every night before bed, insist that we hug her. Insist. I HATED IT. HATED HATED HATED. I was so annoyed that she always needed a hug, almost every night up through the time she was 18.
    But she was murdered at 18. December 9, 2007.
    I laughed at this post and then I cried because I remembered how much I used to hate those hugs… and how much now I would do ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING to get them back. I wish more than anything I could feel Stephanie hug me again; she always used to wear this nasty red velour hoodie to bed, and I can just feel the crushed velour against my arms. The sweat-softened fabric a testament to how it was loved. I hated the hug and I hated that hoodie with a passion, but now I’m crying because I desperately wish for just once more. One more hug from my twin in that nasty red hoodie… just one more.

    • I’m so sorry. I know the memories of those hugs don’t make up for the inability to hug now. I’m sorry.

    • Just prayed for you, Laurie. So sorry for your pain.

    • Laurie…she is hugging you right now. She will always be with you…she will never leave you. Just because you thought it was a pain that she wanted hugs all the time doesn’t mean that she didn’t know how much you loved her. My daughter is like this too… Wanting hugs that I sometimes don’t want to give. I will try to remember to appreciate each and every one…for you and your sister and for myself and my daughter. Life is precious and fleeting…we need to remember that. She loved you and you loved her…she knows that.

  63. hilarious…we’ve all been there

  64. Thank goodness I’m not the only one…

  65. Yes. Yes. And Omg yes. All of it. Times 2. I’ve always asked why bedtime has to be at the end of the day when my patience tank is on empty. Not a good design. We’ve started bathing/showering/pjs before dinner so that there is less to tackle afterwards. Sigh.

  66. i laughed so hard I almost wet myself – thanks so much. mine is 10 and still plays these games!!!!!!!

  67. HAHAHAHA! This is SO true. My 11-year-old has a bedtime routine that she has to say to every person at least once before she brushes her teeth, (“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite, sweet dreams, I love you, good night”) and then she does all of the things she was supposed to do earlier in the day, and then if we remind her that she still hasn’t brushed her teeth, she has to say the routine again, and then whether she brushes her teeth or we give up and let them rot, she has to say it again, and then she needs a drink of water, and she says it again, and then she has to come back out because she has to have two hugs from EVERYONE every night, and she says it again. And by that time, by the time she gets to “I love you” for the 47th time, I want to scream, “I KNOW YOU LOVE ME! I GET IT! GO TO SLEEP BEFORE I COMMIT MURDER!” but instead I say “I love you, too,” through gritted teeth and resentfully check the time to see that she’s 30 minutes past her bedtime. And then she goes to bed, and I feel guilty for not wanting to hear “I love you” one. more. time. And so the next night, I am resolved to be patient, and it happens all over again…

  68. I am here to say you are NOT the worst bedtime family. We have 5 precious angels to put to bed and for some reason, no matter how hard we try we CANNOT get them all to bed by 9. They are supposed to be in bed reading from 830-9 but they stall so much they NEVER read, just dick around for that half hr. After the lights are finally out the girls carry on in their shared room and the boys carry on in their shared room and my only daughter that has her own room continually comes out to “tell me something” about 12 times in an hr! If there was an award for worst bedtime family, we would definitely win the prize!

  69. Oh my word. I have lived this. Many, many times. Right down to the song. I sing the same one to my girls. And they NEVER forget. They always remember after I have been settled on the couch for about 10 minutes. Then the call. “You forgot to sing the sunshine song!” Grumble, grumble, grumble.

  70. God must train our babies before we get them. How else would they try ALL the same tricks?! The “stinky finger” is hilarious! It hasn’t happened yet, but now I’m on guard. Ice cold water vs. regular water is our most frequently used. Yep…we are all in this together. Thanks for the reminder!

  71. PERFECT! And I needed that, my little, almost 3, and he’s already perfected it, I’ve been debating if I’ve done something “wrong”, as a new mom, I guess it’s what you do! Thank You! Oh and can’t wait for the 4 month old to be part of this routine, he’s pretty good now, but I know his day will come too! THANK YOU!!

  72. I remember hearing a Bill Cosby comedy set once. He was told by his parents that if he got out of bed he would be bitten by some sort of animal (maybe a spider) and he would swell up and die until morning.
    There were a few evenings I thought to employ that story……

  73. I have a notebook where I write their questions about life, the universe and everything to answer in the morning – stopped that in it’s tracks. 1 – they can only write down one per night so they want to make it good, I allow follow up questions when answering but a single question at bedtime. 2 – they want to have a good question so they often spend time thinking about what question they’re going to ask during the day and if they have a lot of questions in one day, we’ll have a good dinner conversation. 3 – it gives them time to think about the answer for themselves and I always ask what they think the answer is before answering b/c often the question they asked, isn’t always the question they really meant to ask. 4 – it gives me time to think about age appropriate ways of answering some of the tougher ones – I can look up facts, I can sugar coat or gloss over when necessary and it’s not an off-the-cuff answer. I learned this from teaching. My students had good questions but often off topic so I’d write the off topic ones down and answer them in the last few minutes of class on Fridays! It was a great way to end the week!

    • Wow. Love this idea… thank you so much for sharing. Just to be clear, you write down the questions any time they have them? And then discuss over dinner, or they pick one to discuss at bedtime?

    • GENIUS!! I love this approach for many reasons! Not only does it make bedtime more efficient… but it makes for good conversation the next day. I also love that they have time to reflect before hearing our answer/perspective. Finally… having record of their curiosity is priceless!!! Thank you so much for sharing this!!


  75. My kids are young adults now, but when they were little and we took our week long beach trip with all the cousins each summer, my SIL would run around the house each evening and turn forward all clocks in the house so the kids would think it was time for bed an hour earlier than it really was! Then the adults would finally have a chance to relax with a glass of wine or games or fall asleep on the couch. We actually did this for several years!! LOL We finally told the kids when they were teenagers that we did that and they’ve never let us forget it! Hang it there!

  76. OMG YES!!!! Every night is Whack A Mole night in our house! We have a 5 year old and 4 year old twins and it starts with WWF cage fighting and segues into Whack A Mole – every damn night! I work full time and only get 2 1/2 hours with my kids every night but less than 2 hours in I’m done, I am ready for my victory lap. I love them all so much and feel horrible that my wicked witch comes out when we are doing the bedtime routine but I just can’t take it. My husband has had to be away on business for the last few months and it seems like the delays and getting out of bed will never end. The other night I put the 5 year old back in bed 3 times, and the 4 year old 5 TIMES! Between 3 and 5 AM no less! I’m so exhausted all the time and pray for it to end all the while knowing I’ll miss the snuggles and hugs and kisses when it does. Motherhood – the hardest job ever!

  77. This is the funniest thing I’ve ever read! It’s so, so true. Best post ever!

  78. Here’s something for all you mamas of littles to look forward to: My older daughter, now 14, was the champion of all bedtime stallers. Putting that girl to bed was like running a marathon. Times 10.
    Recently she has started babysitting her younger sister (age 8) when her dad and I go out for an occasional evening “date”. (Yes! That’s a thing! One day you will get to do that again, too!) I can’t tell you how amusing it is to come home after a relaxing evening out and hear my big girl complain, “It took, like, 45 minutes to get Sister to go to sleep! She kept making excuses to get up! It was AWFUL!!!!” My response? “Well, sweet girl, she learned from the best!”
    The degree to which I’m savoring that karma may be just a little wrong! 😉

  79. Smm….ii…, gr…in….ing.., ll…auuu…gh….ing…, pause: looking at you Glennon for encouragement that I’m reading well) , nn..oodd…ing…, c..rr…yy…ing…, h..uuu… my k..nnn….eees… (why does nees start with a “k” G), and remembering this strategy from both my little moles! You are such a gifted writer …you can paint a picture like no other! Luckily the dad in my burrow was a gifted writer as well, so on the nights I had listened with my last ear drum he would switch it out and TELL them a story he made up on the spot Usually short :) and then I would come in to sing….I’d managed a few sips of wine by that point! Ahhhh… the good times!!!!!! Thanks for the memories this morning. :)

  80. When I became a mother my much older and infinitely wiser cousin told me “I am a good mother until 7pm, they get that much. After that I become an actively bad mother and they go to bed. No. Matter. What.” She also told me “Little people, little problems.” in an attempt to give me perspective on those life battles in the early years. This one was not so effective as I was stuck in the saga of years of minimal sleep.

  81. Sweet cheese and bacon Lennon. This. Was. Amazing. I laughed my way through the entire thing. And then I read it to my husband. We have 5 children that range in age from 7 all the way to 6 weeks. I totally agree. Bedtime should be at the beginning of the day. Anything else is just cruel and unusual punishment. Love love love this.

  82. This all rings way-too-true! I can’t believe how much of a struggle it is, and my kids are BIGGER! The 14-year-old hears “time to get ready for bed” and immediately digs into the couch with, “But I’m cuddling with my puppy!” Sigh. And I still sit with each of them for “quiet time,” which I try hard to cherish because I know it won’t be much longer (right? please? please someone tell me it won’t be much longer?) but when the 11-year-old starts with the Deep Thoughts I just want to smother him with his pillow pet because I’m FINISHED. I hate losing it at bedtime, and of course I feel guilty, so thanks as always, Glennon & Monkees, for helping me feel like less of a Monster Mother.

  83. Spot on! You truly hit the “mole” on the head. Four kids here: 14, 12, 9 and 6. The teen and tween just want to sneak off with phones at bedtime and have to be corralled back to leave them behind. The little ones run around and jump on the bed just when we think they have gone off to read and be peaceful. “AYFKM?!” crosses my mind dozens of times a night. (And that pains the Sunday School teacher in me, too. 😉 Sometimes I go into the laundry room and turn on the dryer even though it is empty, so I have an “excuse” not to hear them.

    You made me laugh until I cried. And I needed both. You words are a Blessing to me every day. You understand my world and you remind me to laugh. As a mom; as a Warrior, I need your voice. We all do. Thank you so much for all that you do. Happy Victory Lap to you every night(mine includes Bravo as well. THANK YOU ANDY COHEN!) , whenever you finally get to it! ♡♡

  84. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for putting the angst of bedtime into words… thank you for finding the humor in the madness of how I feel at night… and thank you for brightening my morning after a very rough start!

  85. Yep, pretty sure my kids got that book when they were little. The oldest one was so chatty sometimes we had to use a code word. Whenever she asked one too many “whys” at an inconvenient time we said “grass”. That meant no more questions would be answered at that time. It was hard to stick to sometimes (after repeating grass several times), but they learned that “grass” meant end of conversation. We also had a calming time after bath called the family snuggle. We would get in bed and watch a show we could all tolerate like Full House or Dr. Quinn. If they got out of the bed, they had to go to their own. Then we had a quick story and put on a tape of bedtime songs. Of course this didnt always work and bedtimes were not something we really looked forward to, but it worked pretty well! I really feel for single parents or even ones always in charge of bedtime. It is hard. Of course, this coming from a Mom whose youngest didnt sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch until she was almost 2. But she went to bed very easily:)

  86. Omg!! I’m crying… it has been awhile since I’ve had bed time with little ones. My oldest is 24, the youngest 16. But I remember these days all too well… love the whack-a-mole analogy!

  87. This is me every single night. I am the goddess of all that is mother-ly patience and love until 9am, I mean, until about 4pm, and then my head starts imploding inch by inch. There have been days when I’ve had the moles in bed by 6:30 because it was already dark and OH MY GOD with the questions.
    The guilt is almost unbearable, but not so much that I can keep them up longer. Thank you for telling me I am not the only one!

    ps. my favorite one is, ” Mommy, I have a cough (fake cough, fake cough). I need some elderberry syrup because it tastes like candy….”

  88. Thank you for lifting YEARS of guilt off of my shoulders!! I used to sit IN the door way of my daughters room…with sleepy time music playing, on a step up stool, with a wooden spoon in my hand (Woody) to help assist in the falling asleep bedtime hell!! I was a single mom at the time and bedtime was torture!!! I usually caved and let them sleep wth me but then the bed placement drama would insue and I would end up in the middle. A 3 year old on one side and an 7 year old on the other. Most times the three year old would either fall out of the bed OR wet it!! I would lay there and pray hard for patience and peace.
    Now those two girls are 20 and 16! I would love to have a sleep over now!! In my King size bed …enough room for all!! It’s a tough season the early bedtime years but wow…how miss those sleepovers now!

  89. Laughing and my kids are asking why I’m laughing. Every blessed night.

  90. I LOVE this! Thank you for being so honest. When our kids were little it was crazy and some nights I would come downstairs and feel guilty that it wasn’t calm and peaceful. My kids are 13, 11 and11 now and it still isn’t calm most nights. If we say good night to them downstairs and send them upstairs then someone chooses to go poop ( and lock the door) in the bathroom where the toothbrushes are (not the two other bathrooms) and the other two are yelling and banging on the door. Or they are hopping around to each other’s rooms, or complaining that someone hasn’t brushed their teeth,or showing up back downstairs to get a glass of water, ask another question, put something in their backpack, etc. Bedtime still isn’t as smooth as I would like! Glad to know we’re not alone. : )

  91. This

  92. If you never write another thing in your life all is forgiven, this was/is the best piece I’ve read on children at bedtime. Nailed it! Thank you for the laughs and that vivid memory. Whack -a-mole. Brilliant.

  93. Oooh, this could get even more fun when theology enters the picture. Or you could have just handed her a children’s Bible and a flashlight.

    We went through a version of this with our “only,” but she was a little older. Pretty sure it was payback from my own mom, who probably called and told her to do it to get back at me.

    I definitely have memories of this from a generation earlier, when upstairs we had three boys in one bedroom and three girls in the other, although I do *not* recall any cases of finger-smelling, which made me gag the first time I read this and still does.

    Wait until you get to *actual* fun stuff, like when your kid sets the bedroom curtain on fire (the culprit in this case being my brother). It wasn’t arson, which I guess is a plus, but still….

  94. This is pure gold. Also, I’m sending this to my husband. He is also a pro whack-a-moler…a skill of his for which I am eternally grateful.

  95. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. I so wish I’d had this to read when my kids were little and dragging my soul through the mud!

  96. My kids are 9 and 11 and i still HATE bedtime. I turn into the wicked withch for sure. ugh! My 11 year old is great, but the 9 year old is still hanging on and trying to make me insane, for sure! thanks for the laugh G!

  97. I thought I was the only one who sang, You are my sunshine” just that way. I really did think it was JUST me… and I felt so horrible. Oh dear, I laughed out loud until the tears came on that one. This is exactly why I love you, Glennon– your honesty makes me feel so normal and so much less-alone! Wow. Powerful stuff, and hilarious, too! THANK YOU, as ever <3

  98. Oh this makes me laugh! And relate!! And LAUGH!!!

  99. this is the truth! I love the idea of telling them you’ll do whatever they’re asking at TV time tomorrow. Brilliant.

    Last night my two year old had these reasons why she couldn’t go to sleep:

    “I need cheese so it can go in my belly so I can have energy…

    “We were being so silly – there’s no water in the humidifier…

    “I can’t see my spinny skirt!”

    Points for creativity I guess by OMG!

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