Most parents agree: bedtime sucks. Here's how I'm changing my mindset about it.

Most parents agree: bedtime sucks. Here's how I'm changing my mindset about it.
  • I'm a mom of three boys: One who's 7 and twins who are 4.

  • Bedtime is the part of the day I dread the most, and I'm not alone.

  • I need to remember that my kids just want an extra minute of cuddling with me.

Bedtime dread must be the most common topic of conversation I have with my friends who are also parents. I have three sons: One who's 7 and twins who are 4, and getting them to bed every night is the most challenging part of my day.

Solo bedtime — if my husband is out — is something I approach with trepidation every time, even though I've done dozens of them alone over the years. And I can't deny that I feel excited if I know I'll be missing bedtime for some reason.

But writing that down here makes me feel quite guilty. Surely, tucking your babies in and kissing them goodnight should be one of the most special things you do as a parent. Why then, do so many of us find this last part of the daily routine so stressful?

I know I'm not alone in the struggle

I take a lot of comfort in knowing that I'm not alone in struggling to get my kids to bed.

The day care or school drop-off in the mornings will often be punctuated with snatched conversations with other parents about the previous evening — what time did your kids go to sleep, who acted like a tiny, drunk dictator, and how many stories did you have to read? The stress of it may still be showing on their faces — often mixed with the apprehension of having to go through it all again that coming evening, and again and again and again.

But I would never want people to think I'm blaming my children for my dislike of bedtimes. There are so many reasons things can go downhill at that time of day: Everyone is tired and grumpy, and my patience is usually wearing thin. Parents may have had a stressful day with no time to unwind before embarking on the bath-and-bed routine with little people who know exactly how to push their buttons. And don't they know how to push those buttons.

My boys are great at telling me they're hungry or thirsty when we're already upstairs putting pajamas on. Or that they've decided they must find a specific soft toy to cuddle up to, usually one they haven't played with for six months. They play hide-and-seek, duck under the bed sheets on the top bunk bed so I can't reach them, and myriad other ways of avoiding doing what I ask.

I try to remember one thing

I've had bedtimes where I've really lost my patience with the poor behavior and lack of listening. Though we always apologize and have lots of hugs before the boys go to sleep, there have been times when I've gone downstairs feeling totally depleted and just sad.

Shouting and crying is not the way I want my day to end with my children. I want there to be stories, snuggles, and maybe a little song from time-to-time. Don't get me wrong, sometimes that does happen — but at least once a week, it can be a total shitshow. There have been times after an especially bad evening when I've wanted to wake my kids up again to give them an extra kiss and reassure them that I love them more than anything else.

The mom guilt is undeniable.

Naheed Ali, a physician and a writer, said a common reason so many parents find this time of day so difficult is that we tend to see bedtime as a "finish line" to get over after a busy day.

"The craving for some solitude, a quiet moment to recoup, or just the simple joy of sinking into a couch without being on active parent-duty can be overwhelmingly enticing," Ali said. If you juxtapose this with the fact that children often use this time to practice their best delay tactics, then this obviously leads to a stressful situation. But our children aren't trying to avoid sleep: A lot of the time they just want one more connection with their parents, one last hit of the love hormone oxytocin before they drift off.

And that is what I must remember. Our young children just want to spend more time with us — and isn't that the best thing a parent can hope for when adolescence will be upon us before we know it? Our children, their activities, and their social lives now dominate our lives so much that when we do have time alone together, I want us to snuggle on the sofa or bed.

Read the original article on Business Insider