Children and Nighttime Don’t Mix


In the middle of the night I hear his feet hit the floor. A light sleeper, I always know the minute one of my boys awakens. My brain reaches a state of semi-consciousness. My body goes into possum mode, hoping to fake slumber in case the door opens. Maybe, just maybe, my son will have mercy on me and choose to not wake me. He’ll look at me and think, “Oh, she looks so peaceful. I know she’s so tired. I’ll just let her rest.” Who am I kidding? What kid ever, anywhere, has had those thoughts?

I’m the sucker and they know it. They know not to bother their dad. Their greatest hope of getting what they want lies with me at three in the morning.

My foot hurts, will you rub it? (You can insert various other body parts here.)

Can you sing me one more song?

My eyes are itching.

You forgot my prayer. Oh, you didn’t? Can you say one more?

Help, I wet the bed!

My tummy feels sick.

Can I have another hug and kiss?

I threw up (double groan, although this one’s quite legit).

My nose is stuffy.

I’m too hot, too cold (just right, but I’m going to lie just so I can wake you up).

There’s a bug in my room.

I need more light. It’s too dark.

You didn’t check on me.

I need a drink of water.

I need to go to the bathroom.

And, my favorite, “I can’t sleep.” Well, thank you for allowing me to join your pain.

There seems to be no end in sight to the reasons for a child to get out of bed. When does this madness cease?

Really, the routine of getting them in bed in the first place is enough to drive even the most patient parent right over the edge of sanity. Those little boogers possess mad negotiating and filibuster-like skills. What should take 5 minutes evolves into at least 30 or more.

Son number one currently must be read to, have the night light turned on, closet doors closed, a bottle of ice water, alarm set, book on CD turned on, and the nest must be properly formed before the overhead light goes off. A mere kiss will not do. We do a head butt, hug, kiss, high five, and knuckles with a one, two, three, pow to finish off the spectacle.

Son number two must have a bottle of water, two songs: You Are My Sunshine and Bye Oh Baby, a specific prayer to ward off bad dreams, two night lights on, a book on CD started, and a hug and kiss. Yoggie must without fail be in the bed. Many nights we have searched the house over for that little critter, only because I know his presence at least increases the chance of a full night’s sleep for me.

I keep wondering when I will regularly sleep through the night again. When I will put them to bed and they will stay there without fail. But now that I inch toward those days, my body and its hormones begin to betray me. Insomnia periodically rears its ugly head in this 40-year-old body. Hot flashes awaken me and mock my slumber.

And as soon as I conquer this phase of my life, my boys will be teenagers and I will find myself waiting up at night to be sure they arrive home safely.

No one warned me of this aspect of parenting. It’s too late to cry foul. If you have children who never get up, I don’t want to hear about it. The rest of us will comfort each other and wallow in our perceived misery. Because, yes, I am well aware things could be much worse, but I would be more likely to believe that if I wasn’t so sleep deprived. (I exaggerate here…I really do know my experience could be worse.)

Oh, and one word of warning. If your child wants a loft bed, don’t do it. Changing the sheets on one of those beasts in the middle of the night compares to performing an advanced gymnastics routine; balancing on a ladder while ripping sheets off of the bed when your head feels groggy is not a road you want to travel.

All of this is just a little too fresh, and I’d like to end here so you can all cheer and feel justified in your disgust over your torment if you share this problem. But, my husband won’t let me. He insists I stick with my theme and find beauty in this nightly chaos.

So, here is the truth. Our souls long for others to accept and need us. We crave unconditional love. Parenting should epitomize this kind of love. All of these excuses/reasons for showing up at our bedside are mostly cries for reminders of our acceptance or demonstrations of our value to our children. And let’s face it, sometimes they are just acting like stinkers. But, I would take a million partially sleepless nights for the privilege of mothering these two precious boys. For all of the drain, I receive multiple times the joy.

I can only imagine how I would feel if my heart cries reached God in the middle of the night only to be met with a grumble, a groan, and a “go back to sleep.” Whatever problem we have or mess we’ve made, God will be there anxiously waiting without fail. Now that is something you can find true rest in!

So what is a delay tactic your child uses? Do you have a “getter-upper?” How do you cope? Did you do this to your parents as a kid? Tell me your stories.


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11 thoughts on “Children and Nighttime Don’t Mix

  1. Oh, Amy, I can so relate! As a child, I used to climb into bed with my parents without them even realizing it. Eventually, they locked their door, and I would sleep curled up outside their door just so they could trip over me in the morning! Two of my children had constant nightmares when they were young, and I groggily would put them back to bed with a mumbled prayer and kiss. Just the other night, Maddie came in to tell me she couldn’t sleep to which I replied, “Great, now I can’t either! Thanks!” I love how you relate this topic to a God who never sleeps and isn’t bothered by all our cries for help in the middle of the night!

    Oh, and the bedtime routines ad nauseam? Don’t even get me started! I hate bedtime…

  2. Obviously, I’m not a parent, but I remember well being a child. There is just something so comforting about momma’s bed. I remember crawling in bed with her time and time again growing up. I also remember waking my mom up at 3am to tell her I got a speeding ticket. Some things just can’t wait until morning 🙂

    I will tell you, though, that to this day my mom says she still sleeps the best when both cameron and I are home and under her roof. I guess it never really goes away 🙂

  3. Boy can I ever relate! With a 6-week-old, a barely 2-year-old and a barely 4-year-old it’s amazing we get any sleep at all. Our 2yo didn’t sleep through the night until she was 15 months old, and that was only because I turned the monitor off! I hadn’t slept in over 2 years and I’d just had it! Grayson, the 4yo, has perfected what we call “whack-a-mole”–he’s up and down at least 5 times every night before bed. What we thought was a fantastic idea of going ahead and buying 2 twin beds for his new room (so that eventually baby Silas could join him in the room) has ended up being my hubby’s makeshift bed for the nights that Grayson can’t sleep. Silver lining in that is that I only have to share my bed with our newborn on those nights! haha

    I’m always reminded and comforted that I’m not alone in this battle when I hear the lyrics from Laura Story’s “Blessings”: “What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near? What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?” I hear that song and it brings me to my knees… How lucky are we to have these little, healthy blessings. I’ll take the thousand sleepless nights just to know I have them near.

  4. Soren hasn’t slept all night in over a month… I’ve lost track at this point. Right now he is waking at some point after I go to bed (last night it was 12:00- i think I had managed to get to bed around 11:30.) and he easily rocks back to sleep, but pops up the second I lay him back down, so we have a 30-45 minute routine of rocking, laying him back down, him waking up, sitting back down in his room but leaving him in the crib and he MIGHT go back to sleep, only to wake again the second I even try to stand up to leave the room. Usually I just end up bringing him back to bed with us, and then he sleeps like a log while John and I are up getting ready for work at 6.

    In the midst of the sleeplessness I try to remember that he won’t always be little enough to rock to sleep, and what a sweet bonding time it is. If I can get over my frustration and remember, I also use that time to pray for him- but let’s be honest- usually I am just falling asleep.

    • You’re doing better than I did, Heather. It wasn’t until I had Austin that I even attempted to use those nighttime escapades to pray for my boys. The first 6 months of Joshua’s life are practically a blur. I was so tired!

  5. Oh this story is SO MUCH like my story with my 3 kids! You hit it right on! I don’t think I have had a full nights sleep in probably 10 years. I know I’m a grumbler in the middle of the night when they wake me. My 4yr old daughter came in and said “Mommy I just wanted to tell you I love you. Will you come sleep with me”? Very sweet to hear
    but not at 3:30 in the morning. However
    now that she has a twin size bed it is easier for me to sleep with her. I do wonder myself when will this stop part of me wanted to and part of me doesn’t

    • I keep telling myself one of these days I’ll miss the nightly visits. They only need us for so long. Austin came in last night and said his legs needed stretched out…they’re too short. Sigh. So glad he loves to be close to me, just wish it could be during waking hours.

  6. Pingback: For Armpits Only | Middle of the Mess

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