Because of Evan’s job and everything with the house and so on, I am solo for bedtime a lot of the time. Not all of the time, and not nearly as much now that we are actually in our house, but sometimes. And for me, since becoming a mom of 2, this has been the most difficult and challenging aspect to conquer. I cannot figure out how to get through the hours from 6-8pm when I’m on my own and come out of it still standing on two feet. Sure, the bedtime crazy hasn’t done me in yet, but I feel like it’s come pretty close some days.
The thing is, the further and further we go, the earlier and earlier Gwen likes to go to bed. So while we seem to be (thankfully) past the time of crazy fussiness in the evening, I’m now facing the challenge of how to get them both in bed at essentially the exact same time. I’ve been trying a variation of different things, mixing up our routine, adjusting the order of things, trying to adjust nap schedules and so on – all in hopes of figuring out a system that will help me get through the evenings without feeling quite as frazzled. All of you experienced moms are probably sitting there laughing at me. Developing a system? Figuring out a routine? Getting through bedtime without being frazzled? Clearly, I’m expecting far too much.
Anyway, over the past 3 something months, I’ve figured out a few things that work and a few that don’t. One thing I’ve had to teach myself is that it’s okay to mix up the routine a bit. Especially with Evalyn. When she was an infant I was a stickler for her evening routine. I was terrified that if I strayed, it would mess up her sleep. Now I laugh at myself for this fear. Girlfriend didn’t sleep through the night until she was a year old. So what exactly was I afraid of messing up??
So now, although I like to keep a semblance of a routine in the evenings, I’ve learned that it’s okay to toss it up a bit. Gwen often (not always) has a good evening nap starting anywhere between 5-6 and ending anywhere between 6-7. These nights are the nights that I don’t struggle as much to get through the bedtime crazy. Obviously. So, on these nights, if Eva needs a bath, I give her one right after supper and then she plays in her PJs until snack/bedtime. There’s no reason why her bath has to be immediately before bedtime like it used to be. This way, by the time Gwen is up, Eva is all ready to go. Just needs a snack. Because of the good nap, too, Gwen is usually happy and okay with being relegated to the play mat while I tuck Eva in. If she’s not pumped, she comes with me into her room and we all do prayers and songs together. Then as soon as Eva’s tucked in, I move on to bath, PJs, nursing and bed for Gwen. Thankfully, she’s chill and loves sleep and even if she naps until 7pm she has no problem being back in bed and asleep by 7:45.
On the evenings that Gwen doesn’t have a good nap? Well, that’s a whole-notha-story! These are the nights that I want to hide under a blanket and let the girls put themselves to bed. Not only does it mean that Gwen is usually fussy but it also means that she’ll be ready for bed earlier – probably RIGHT when Eva is, not 10-15 minutes after like normal. If it is bath night, I have started bathing them together – which makes a huge difference. The set up is not ideal but it works. I stick Gwen’s baby tub IN the big tub, fill it up and also fill up the tub itself with a bit of water for Eva. She doesn’t care if she doesn’t get much water. She just likes being in there with her sister. I make sure to have everyone’s towels, lotions, diapers, PJs and Gwen’s bouncy seat in the room with me before we start since I know I won’t be able to leave the room to attend to one while the other is still in there. I clean Gwen first and then get her out while Evalyn continues to play. I lotion, PJ and bouncy seat her in record time and then move on to washing, drying, loitoning and PJing Eva. These nights get a little hairy as Gwen expects the b00b ASAP after getting her PJs on, so she gets quite cranky in the meantime.
These are the nights when Evalyn’s bedtime gets rushed and frantic, which I hate. But, what can I do? I go back and forth between popping Gwen’s paci in her mouth while she’s screaming her head off and frantically reading a book, saying a prayer and singing one verse of the shortest song I know to Evalyn. Coincidentally, these are also the nights that Eva usually takes forever to fall asleep.
Although I’m sure the day will soon come when I have no choice, I haven’t yet jumped to putting Gwen down before Evalyn. My reason is both selfish and logical. Number one (logical reason), it takes way more effort to put Gwen down. It involves 10-15 minutes of nursing, some cuddling and rocking and so on. Number two (selfish reason), I love this time to be peaceful, quiet and dark – laying in my bed, alone together. Obviously we wouldn’t be able to keep it up that way with the Tasmanian Toddler running around.
Of course, once Gwen drops her evening nap, there’s a good chance she will need to go to bed before 7:45, and so I’ll have to make those adjustments. But for now, 7:45 is a good time. It works for her. It works for Eva. And, it works for me – even if it means I’m sweating and have an accelerated heart beat by the time it’s all done.
So, any tips? Anything you’ve done to help manage the bedtime chaos a little better when you’re solo?