It’s half past seven in the evening. You have done the bath, the story, and the cuddles. You have tucked your little monster in for the night, turned off the light, shut the door, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. You creep downstairs to join your other half for an evening that will involve half watching TV whilst playing a game on your phone (you’re both way too tired for anything more energetic and babysitters cost too much), thinking that the chaos of raising a child is over for another day.
But then you hear it, the pitter-patter (actually, it’s more like a thunder and you have no idea how someone so small can walk so loudly) across the ceiling, the creak of a door being opened, followed by the words, “Mummy, I….”. You know what happens next. Your child has used the 30 seconds since you closed the door to come up with what they believe to be an utterly fool proof reason as to why they cannot possibly go to sleep at this time. Some might be valid, some demonstrate a solid understanding of procrastination well beyond their years, whilst others are simply outrageous beyond measure. Here we celebrate the reasons our children give us for needing to stay up that little bit longer, from the mundane to the magnificent.
1) I need a wee-wee.
A classic favourite. It doesn’t matter if your child went two minutes before you put him to bed, or if he isn’t even fully potty trained yet and still wears nappies at night. Once you began that transition from nappies you gave your child an exquisitely unquestionable reason to get out of bed.
2) I’m hungry.
”Really kid? You ate an adult portion of a roast chicken dinner, followed by rice pudding, followed by a banana just before bath time because you asked for a snack. Do you have hollow legs?”
Then of course, you are faced with a dilemma. Do you take your child at face value and offer them a slice of toast, in the knowledge that growth spurts can cause an unimaginable increase in appetite, or do you call their bluff and send them back to bed, risking a possible meltdown at 2am when they wake up screaming in hunger? There is no right or wrong answer here, just comfort in the knowledge that you are potentially screwed either way.
3) I’ve already slept today.
One for toddlers who have day time naps. With this excuse, you can at least be proud that your young child is capable of logical reasoning and argument. Sadly, pride doesn’t get you the quiet evening you crave.
4) My tummy hurts.
Another dilemma. It could be true; it could be a ruse. Cuddles may help ease symptoms, and you may yet regain that evening of peace. However, it’s best to be prepared for a midnight mop up of your child’s stomach contents, just in case.
5) I didn’t put all my toys away.
On the plus side, your child appreciates the importance of tidying up after themselves. On the down side, you’re now missing “The Great British Bake Off”.
6) It’s still day time outside.
The British summer time is marked by late sunsets and early sunrises. If you are reading this as a mum-to-be or as a first time mum to a young baby, you will quickly learn that blackout blinds are your best friend between March and October. Without one in your child’s room you are condemning yourself to spending six months each year pleading with your child every night at 10am to go to sleep knowing that they will be wide awake in just six hours’ time.
7) I’m scared of the…
Fear amongst pre-school aged children is very typical and in many ways a sign of healthy development as your child’s imagination grows. A night-light or dimmer switch can help, but at some point your child may realise that fear is also a way that they can prolong bedtime. Only you can judge if your child is genuinely afraid or just being a pain, but if they move on from scary monsters and dinosaurs to how “the pillow is scary” or “the carpet looks funny” then you can probably rest assured that putting them back to bed isn’t going to lead to any emotional scaring.
8) I wanted to give you one more kiss.
Aww, that’s sweet. Now get back to bed.
9) I didn’t say goodnight to Nana.
No, you didn’t. Because Nana lives 2000 miles away in a different time zone and you haven’t expressed any interest in talking to her today up until now.
10) I need to tell you something important.
OK, kid, it’s now 10pm, you’ve worn me down and I’ve accepted that the evening is lost once more. So, please, tell me all about how Thomas The Tank Engine helped Percy deliver the mail. It’s fascinating stuff. No, I’m sorry, I don’t know how trains are made; you’ll have to ask your father. Yes, I do like trains. I also like the look of your bed. I’m just going to lie here whilst you tell me all about your favourite toys. Yes, I do have my eyes closed, but I promise Mummy is listening…zzzzz.