By Angeline Ruston 2019-11-25 13:14:08

How naive was I to think that bedtime with kids would be an easy or peaceful experience? The first six weeks with my eldest, was a blur of c-section recovery pain, midnight cluster feeds, nappy changes and 2am meanders (to confirm, she was still breathing). These days our bedtime routine starts promptly at 7pm and ends at...?



"Bedtime! Brush teeth please!” I yell, grabbing my phone, and a bottle of water to prepare for any unexpected putdown trials. The girls grin, showing off their pearly whites for Mumma to administer a final brush.

“Have you chosen your books?” Praying that Isabella choses something other than 'Room on a Broom'.

I love Julia Donaldson, but the same rhymes about witches, cats, frogs and bogs EVERYDAY for the past 4 weeks is a little much. Although it’s much better than ‘Maisy goes on Holiday’, for an entire winter.

First, I cuddle and read to my youngest, in her softly lit bedroom to ward off any hiding, hairy monsters. As the story finishes, I softly kiss her good night, ready for sleep, and…

“Favourite Blankie! Where’s favourite blankie?” Isabella remembers with a sob.

Where is that sad, thread-bare comfort cloth so often dropped on germ infested pavements and dragged through airports, I wonder? S*#!t. Maybe Ayi washed it today?

“Sweetheart,” through gritted teeth, “did you leave blankie anywhere?”

“Yes …” her bottom lip protrudes, “It is in my bicycle basket…” Her chest heaves as the sobbing continues.

My eldest, eavesdropping from her bedroom next door, and desperate for any disruption to her reading homework, shouts out; “I’ll get it…” and scampers off. She returns not only with ‘Favourite Blankie’, but also with Kitty (a fluffy toy with enormously weird eyes), three tiny Peppa Pig Books, a piece of Duplo Lego and my credit card wallet!

“THIS was in Isa’s basket?” I gulp.

Of course it was, I think to myself as I claim back my navy wallet. But, thankfully, all credit cards, reward cards and membership cards seemed to be accounted for. How did I not notice it was missing? Although with WeChat and Alipay, you can go for days without even realising that your precious bank card is being peddled around JinQiao in your daughter’s shopping basket! So we try again, and after much caressing of blankie against her cheek, we turn off Isabella’s bedside light in the hope of easy slumber.

After less than a minute, the silence is shattered, “Mummy, I need the toilet. It’s a poo…” 

Of course it is, I inwardly sigh.

“Ok lovebug, you go to the toilet... I am going to read to Juliette”, I reply.

Juliette, hearing the latest fiasco, yells out, “Mum, do I still get two stories …?”

G*d forbid she loses out on her passionately negotiated, TWO bedtime stories.

“Juju, tonight it’s only one...”

“It is way past your bedtime - it’s nearly midnight!” I answer from the bathroom, stretching the truth only slightly.

“Noooo, it’s not fair...” I can almost feel her entire body stiffen in frustration.

“Sorry, sweetie...” is the only thing I can offer as I am determined to catch at least an episode of something on Netflix.

Back in Isabella’s room, we try again. This time there is loads of tossing and turning. So, I remind her of the fundamentals of sleep, and instruct… “Lie still! Close your eyes! Stop wriggling! Go to sleep!”

After what seems like ages, but probably only ten minutes, her breathing deepens and it is safe to creep out.

As I walk into Juliette’s room, she chuckles like Chucky and hands me her chosen book. It’s my worst! One hundred plus pages of the awfully descriptive, burping and farting, ‘Captain Underpants.’ I literally feel ill….

“We are not reading that entire book. Two chapters…” is my opening offer.

“Six chapters!” Her eyes sparkle, excited at the chance to hone her negotiation skills, “I will be six at my next birthday.”

“No, two!” I bat back.

“Five! I am already five” And the rally is on.

“Three chapters,” I give a little.

“FOUR! Please Mummy. I only get ONE book. It’s Isa’s fault!!”

She goes in for the kill with a sympathy volley, but I am losing my patience.

“Three and that’s final!”


We settle down to read and sitting on the edge of the bed I can see that this child is tired. She should go to sleep quite quickly.

And halfway through that stomach churning piece of literature, I can lean over and switch of the light…

Next, I am being gently woken by my husband. Somehow between turning off the light and turning to leave, I must have laid down… for just a minute …

“Come sweetheart… It’s time for bed.” He says.