Ok here it is. The post you’ve all been waiting for. The secret ingredient. The card up my sleeve. The ace in the hole or hole in one (or whatever that sports cliche is anyway) The hot tamale of mama blog posts: how to keep that little sucker tucked in tight without a fight.
It’s genius I tell you! Pure genius. Stumbled upon by accident and perhaps a little desperation, but genius nonetheless. And yet so very very simple, you probably won’t believe this will work. But it has. Swear. And it’s even worked more than once. As a matter of fact, it’s starting to become my go to tactic, though I dare not attempt it on subsequent nights for fear she might catch on.
Arguably, the biggest obstacle for a running mom is…(drum roll please)…running. Or at least finding the time to do so anyway. For me, with Tiger Baby, age 2 (**GASP** I just realized I should probably be calling her Tiger Toddler now. Oh my word. She’s really baby no more. **SIGH** Where oh where does the time go? But I digress… where were we even? Let’s see here…”with Tiger Baby, age 2”…ahh yes) and the Little Miss, age 4 pushing 5, mostly my running is done on the treadmill at night when they’re asleep. (Why not in the morning you ask? HEY! Leave me and my pillow alone alright ;-) Ok ok…long runs are in the morning, usually, but everything else PM. I don’t know why. It just suites me.)
But nearly as challenging obstacle number 2 for a running mom (and pretty much all moms everywhere for that matter) is staying one step ahead of the game. Because just when you think you’ve got everything figured out is about the time everything is going to change. Your kid learns how to remove his or her own diaper without even removing their clothes; the wall becomes canvas of choice and poop the artistic medium; baby gates turn into tests of climbing prowess; child safety locks impressive feats of strength; couches launching pads for flight; and “slaved over a hot stove” dinner manages to hide itself in all sorts of various locations that do not include your child’s stomach.
In this house, I thought I had a firm handle on bedtime. We had a standard routine. Popsicle, bath, pj’s, brush teeth, brush hair, story, prayer, kiss, squeeze tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite. Worked like a charm, I was merrily on my way, quite frequently off to go run, by 7 or 7:30 at the latest (and yes, you read that right. The routine does generally start with a popsicle and my kiddos are in bed usually by 7:30 at the latest. Popsicle because I’m worn out by the end of the night and I’m not looking for a fight so we start the bedtime routine with a treat. Don’t worry they’re no sugar added and no artificial sweeteners. Early bedtime because my 4 year old hasn’t taken a nap since she was 2 and she’s either toast or EXTREMELY wound up by then, both of which call for sleep. And my 2 year old, who DOES still nap, she doesn’t fight it so she goes to bed then too. She likes a bit of babble time to herself at the end of a long day I do believe.)
But then, the Little Miss found my weakness. She told me one night she was afraid to be upstairs by herself. I didn’t buy it at first. I told her she was fine and headed off to do my thing. She sobbed and by sobbed I mean: Can. Only. Talk. Like. This. In. Between. Sucking. Air. And. Snorting.
Now Little Miss typically doesn’t cry to get her way. We established that pretty early on. If she even starts to go there, I just look at her and say something flatly to the effect of, “Oh are you going to cry? Because you know, if you cry you don’t get what you want. But go ahead and cry if you want. That’s up to you.” Pretty much works every time. She starts laughing instead. So this sobbing was really unlike her. She really seemed scared. Dislike.
So, I stayed with her for a little bit. She told me she just wanted me to stay upstairs. I didn’t have to be in her room or anything just upstairs. So that’s what I did that night. Annnnnnnnnnnnd she got me.
While I fully believe she WAS scared that night, now I’ve got a kid (for the last couple months) who wants me upstairs EVERY night until she falls asleep. If she was like my husband who falls asleep before his head even hits the pillow, no problem. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Which basically means, I’m stuck upstairs twiddling my thumbs until she’s finally out.
Now, I know this is all just a stall tactic now. If I’m upstairs she can, peek in on me in my office (and run like h e double hockey sticks back to bed before I see her as if I can’t hear her feet) or she shout out any number of random questions to me from her room. And I’ve tried any number of ways to combat it:
I mean business: “GET TO BED!” generally accompanied by threats
I’m so weak right now: “If you stay in bed tonight, tomorrow we’ll…” insert any number of promises
I beg for divine intervention: My prayer within her bedtime prayer goes something like this, “…and God please help us stay in bed tonight so we can have a good day at school tomorrow”
I got nothing left: I shut her door. She hates that.
The final straw: I tie her to her bed with her socks. (NOT REALLY!!! I’m kidding. I’M KIDDING!!! Although after the 97 thousandth time she gets out, I may or may not wish she had longer socks ;-)
I give up: I just go to bed. She has no idea what to do with this so she generally just stays in her room and falls asleep. Yes, this is a pretty good strategy too, but it just blows major chunks as far as me getting a single thing done in the PM, although I do score some extra sleep so maybe I shouldn’t complain.
But THE best tactic I’ve found, with no fights, no whining, no tears, no mama being stuck upstairs is this: (OK now this one really deserves a drum roll. If you didn’t do it earlier, please do it now….I’m waiting until you do. Really. Seriously, we could be here all night. Just do it, “dun dah dah duuuuuuun” will work if you can’t do that little tongue rolling thing or you refuse to use your fingers or your hands on a table because it’s late and you might wake someone up. Still no? Ok at least just hear it in your head. We good? Excellent. Thank-you.)
Two books and I run.
That’s it. See, I told you it was simple.
Now, here’s how you do it. Tell your little one, that you will read them one book at bedtime. Then when you finish, tell them you will read them another book when you get done running, doing the dishes, cleaning up, eating dinner or whatever it is you need to go do. BUT, you will only do this IF they stay in bed and are quiet. If they’re noisy or they keep coming out of their room, no book. Let them pick it so you know it’s one they “really really really” want to hear (or a new one would probably work really well to), then go do whatever it is you told them you were going to do.
And the best part of this? Sometimes, I come upstairs and she’s completely out and the night is mine (muh wah ha ha ha). I didn’t plan it that way, but I’ll take it. Even if she’s not asleep when I return, I’m a way happier rejuvenated mama after I’ve run and she gets a much more exciting fun story than she would have pre-run when I’m in read to get through it so I can get on with what I have to do mode.
Will this work with you’re kid? I have no idea. And I’m fully aware that like any mom strategy this one has a limited shelf life and I’ll have to find another probably more sooner than later. But for now, it’s another tool in the belt and right now it’s the best one I’ve got. So use it if you can and if you’ve got a strategy of your own that’s working, spill it mama. We’re all ears…
P.S. I should also mention, the last time I did the 2 Book Tactic with the Little Miss, she seemed extra antsy so I told her what time I would come back to her room. She can’t exactly read time but she knows numbers and likes to watch the clock change. It went like this: I’ll be back a 8 dot dot 1 5. So I guess that’d be 2 Book Tactic with a Clock Option. I also use the Clock Option in the early AM when she gets up waaaaaaaaaay before any normal person (who’s not getting a run in) should and climbs into my bed. “We’ll get up for the day when the clock say 8 dot dot zero zero.” It doesn’t work as well in the morning though. I usually wind up with feet in my face.
P.P.S. DID YOU SEE IT? Best running mom book ever written, (ok maybe the only one, I’m not really sure) is up for grabs. Check out the details here.