Bedtime Stalling.


My children are my life, my world, my loves, my everything.

However, when bedtime rolls around I am a woman with tunnel vision. I focus on the couch, or more specifically, on the time my bum will hit it. I know the battle to get there will be hard won, but I’m committed. All that lies between me and the TV is three children, teeth brushing, pyjama-putting-on, story reading, and kissing goodnight. Child’s Play (2) or that’s the theory. The reality is it’s more like Mission: Impossible.

They use every plan in the book to get out of going to bed, to eke more minutes or seconds. Discarded clothes are sniffed slowly before being placed near the laundry basket (you thought I was going to say in it didn’t you ? I wish).

Every delaying tactic they can think of is deployed, they go into slow motion. Despite my asking since school time how their day was and getting monosyllabic answers suddenly there are stories that just have to be told. They become great storytellers and I hear of stickers won, changes to school seating plans and the Gossip (Girl) on who was put in “Safe Play” in the yard at lunchtime. Their energy increases as they enthusiastically recount, vying with each other to take turns to tell me about their days, Distracting me with information, they know that information is power and they withhold it until they needed to use it. Frank Underwood would be proud.

Eventually, what seems like hours later, they’re all looking angelic in their pjs in their own beds and I skip lightly down the stairs (often tripping over shoes and dinosaurs) with my destination firmly in view. Here I come couch.

Then, something horrible, and entirely predictable happens. They start the bedtime battles(tar galactica).They fight the sleep. They disagree with even the concept of going to bed. My couch, my safe haven becomes a no-man’s-land.

It’ll start with a bit of noise upstairs. The boys, play-fighting, which often at Turbo FAST speed converts into SCREAMing. Inevitably there will be call from the top of the stairs and they deploy their usual bedtime stalling tactics. I’m outnumbered.

Checking out the bunks


The Kids’ Guide to Bedtime Stalling

The Heartbreak Kid
“I just need a hug”. “I want to tell you I  love you sooooo much” “I missed you when I was upstairs” “I thought you might be lonely downstairs by yourself”.  Effectiveness level for staying up: 5/10 but only for the length of the hug. Less likely to be met with cross tone of voice

Prison Break
This involves a toddler and a cot, and a look of glee possibly accompanied by a loud thud or a bump on the head.
Effectiveness level for staying up: 4/10 but this one is pretty effective if you want to launch a campaign for moving to a big-girl-bed.

The sleepwalker arrives in, looks around the room, mumbles something incoherent and walks out again, Not necessarily stalling as not awake, but scary. Usually responds to direction or being lead back to bed. Effectiveness level for staying up: 1/10 but you don’t even notice that you’re up.

The Very Hungry (or Thirsty) Caterpillar
Someone is (or claims to be hungry) and seeks food. No chance. A drink of water is then suggested and gratefully accepted. Effectiveness level for staying up: 2/10

The Wee Man
“I did a poo”  if nappied or pull-upped (no they are not words), “I need a wee” if trained. Gets short shrift around here.
Do the job and get back into bed.

The Fear
“I’m scared”. This is a classic, parents don’t want to send a scared child back to bed. Hearing noises, being scared of monsters, animals, even “bold dragons” can all be used .They’ll stay with you or let you stay up and hug you. Effectiveness level for staying up: 7/10 if you can keep it believable.

House MD
These are risky and should only be tried in emergencies. Like, when you really really, really don’t want to go to bed. Harder to plan, often unplanned, but they usually result in a very, very long extension. If you have a real illness it’s low risk but you won’t really feel the benefit of it, but you will probably get Calpol and a hug.

For a physical injury there’s much higher risk of pain involved and you’ll need to weigh that up before executing this plan. A well timed injury can result in HOURS of  staying up – sometimes until the next day if the doctor on the telephone tells your mum that you need to go to the hospital doctor because your brother hit you. A bead up the nose only gets you to the local doctor which will only get you about two hours of staying up but it doesn’t hurt as much as your brother whacking you with a book. Our experts in the field have tested these methods.

Effectiveness level for staying up: 10/10 but might not be worth the pain.

What’s your kids’ favourite?


This post contains the titles of some programmes and films currently streaming on Netflix. Did you find them ? Hint: They’re in bold.

This post was written for the Neflix Five More Minutes Challenge for Stream Team Members to mark the launch of five minute episodes of Dinotrux on Netflix. It took considerably longer than five minutes to write though, not that you’d think it 🙂

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Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and received a Netflix subscription and an Apple TV in return for posting Netflix updates and reviews, however, all opinions are my own, and I already had a personal subscription before joining the Stream Team.

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