Asleep at last.
Welcome to the guide to the controversial subject of bedtime.
Now you might not think this is a particular bone of contention, but there can be few other occasions where you and your parents will disagree quite so often, or so noisily.
So, how do you come out of this process on top? Read on to find out.
Delaying the Inevitable – It comes around every night, bedtime that is, and often it arrives a little too early for your taste. There are still things to do. Food to scavenge and make messes with. Toys to play with. Adults to be fussed over by. So, you need to have a strategy to delay things. You can be as inventive as you like. You can run (or crawl) for it and take refuge under the nearest piece of heavy furniture (providing you can fit). You can resist all attempts to pick you up. This can be achieved in a variety of ways from going rigid in a position that leaves you wedged somewhere to becoming boneless so they can’t get a grip under your arms to pick you up. There are riskier tactics you can adopt, for example reintroducing your dinner to the world, but be prepared for this to backfire since it might just result in an earlier trip up the stairs (if you have them of course).
Transportation – If you are fairly mobile they may allow you to traverse the rougher terrain (such as the aforementioned stairs) by yourself. Don’t forget to stop to check they are following you like a good support team should i.e. one step behind at all times. You may need to check this a dozen times or more. Once each step is good. When you get to the top, be sure to make a beeline for the wrong room. You will get extra points if you zag when they expect you to zig and you get over the threshold. If they choose to carry you up the stairs themselves then you should adopt an appropriately awkward body shape, again, rigid with arms splayed is effective.
Bath Time – Your parents may or may not decide to give you a bath every night. You may have particularly sensitive skin, in which case they might decide to dunk you in soapy water every other day instead. However frequently you go through this process you can treat it as a fun time, where you can splash to your heart’s content (or until your parents run out of their heart’s content) or as an ordeal, in which case you should adopt the standard tactics of screaming until they get you out. At this point you might want to go boneless again, that is if you fancy some extra entertainment, since there is nothing on the planet that is more slippery than a wet baby. Especially if you are trying to lift them from above. The less said about the indignities of having all your bits patted dry before you are shoehorned, still slightly damp (despite their best, and most personal, efforts) into your nightclothes the better.
Teeth (or Tooth) Time – Ah, the cleaning of the teeth, or tooth if you’re still waiting for the rest to come through. Your parents will have several options open to them – what flavour paste they will use to clean your teeth (mint is probably best, bubblegum may seem like an attractive choice but it will only make the switch to grown up toothpaste weirder. All grown up toothpaste is mint.). Now, the implements. You, or rather your teeth, will be cleaned using a foreign object that will be inserted into your mouth, forcibly if necessary. In the early days this might be a clean finger (apparently that’s recommended by the experts), later a cloth and finally a bristly thing on a stick. This all sounds quite brutal but there are ways you can regain control of the situation. You can refuse to open your mouth (parents are surprisingly wary of forcing your mouth open unless they believe you have something interesting in there. Please note that what we see as interesting they see as dangerous.), you can open your mouth long enough to fasten your teeth (or gums) on the object. Be prepared for loud noises if they are at the finger stage (being gummed by a baby can be surprisingly painful).
Story Time – This might be your favourite time of the whole routine. This is a good opportunity to cuddle up nice and warm and comfortable, for you at least. Don’t worry about them being uncomfortable, it’s part of their job description. Alternatively it could be a good opportunity to take some of the shine off those nice clean teeth. Or time to play at climb the parent (some parents make particularly good climbing frames and swings). You may even get a lullaby after the story. Some parents cannot sing, but it’s good manners to ignore this and give them points for trying. Try not to laugh at them if they are too bad. They might not sing to you again which could reduce the entertainment opportunities for later.
Sleeping Time – This is quite possibly the part of the whole bedtime routine where you have complete control, at least until your body takes over, at which point you will fall asleep regardless of what position you might be in. When your parent puts you down with a gentle kiss on your forehead, a good tactic is to lie still for a moment, just long enough for them to believe they have got the timing right for a change, before you sit up and look at them reproachfully. You can add tears and a scrunched up face for extra effect if you want. Your aim is to make them feel guilty for abandoning you in the solitude of your cot whilst the rest of the family, especially older siblings, are likely to be up and still enjoying all the things you have been deprived off, mainly food, toys and free-roaming rights. Lay that guilt on thick. It might not work this time but as the guilt accumulates they might start to reconsider your bedtime schedule.
So, there you have it. The guide to bedtime. Apply the above suggestions diligently and persistently and you will retain the mastery over the end of the day, just as you do during the day.