Toddlers and bedtimes, don’t really mix. They put it off and find any excuse they can to stay up just five more minutes. It can be so frustrating when they don’t sleep. For some of us, it’s our only alone time during the day. It’s the time we need to stay sane, especially being cooped up inside all day.
Last night, I let Mila stay up way past her bedtime. It wasn’t even the ‘let’s just go lay down’ stay up. She was cleaned up and in her pajamas. We put all her toys away and put the unfolded laundry she threw around today back in the basket. When all of that was done, I asked her if she was ready for bed, which she simply replied, “no.”
I just looked at her and she was so sure of her answer that I complied.
Did I need a break last night? Absolutely. We had a full day and I was mentally exhausted. I needed to continue writing my final papers and fold all the laundry and everything else that had to be cleaned up before the start of today. And just because it’s good for your mental health to have time for yourself.
But her big eyes just stared into mine as she waited for my response. I surprised her with my answer… I asked her what movie she wanted to watch. She finally decided on the live-action Lady and the Tramp, thank you Disney+. I turned it on, she climbed up on the couch, while I went to get snacks… pretzels and Nutella. Both of our favorite snacks, except she’d just prefer to take a big spoon and eat all the Nutella. Somehow she gets it all over her face no matter what; can’t say I blame her though.
Guess what happened next?
We enjoyed the movie, laughed together, and snuggled. I noticed her new words that she picked up and how she is starting to put together more complex sentences. She watched my expressions during certain parts of the movie and mimicked them. When there were sad parts, I saw how she reacted and during the funny parts, I think anyone would smile if they heard the sweet sound of her laugh. When the movie was over, I gave her a drink of water, told her to brush her teeth, and that it was time for bed.
There wasn’t any fight or pouting. She did what I asked of her and was asleep within five or ten minutes. When I went to get up, she didn’t even flinch.
Did I get as much time to myself as I wanted? No, but what I experienced was so much better.
It’s hard being a mom. Sometimes I can get so in the moment of feeling lost or overwhelmed that I don’t realize what the moment is actually about. I got to focus just on Mila and, I guess, the movie, but mainly on her. She got my undivided attention without a craft in front of us or at dinner or any agenda. It was just her and I in our magical moment. I get ahead of myself, a lot, and just being right there with nothing else on my mind was so relaxing. I’ll never get tonight back, but I’m thankful for the way I spent it.
Will her staying up later (on purpose) be an everything occurrence, probably not. She gets grumpy and so do I. Again, we need our time apart because we spend all day, everyday together… not that I’d have it any other way.
What I did learn was the laundry was still waiting for me and will never, ever end in my entire life. The mess was still there, but cleaned up quickly. My papers are still unwritten and if I’m being honest with myself, I probably would have found something else to do anyways.
The reality is there’s no rulebook on parenting. There’s no rulebook on being an adult either. We’re all just making it up as we go and do what’s best for us. There are days we do what we can to get by and others where we have to structure the entire day to get what we need done. One isn’t more right than the other, it’s just how it is.
Our other reality is time isn’t slowing down. Sometimes I look at Mila and can’t believe how grown up she’s gotten, seemingly overnight. I feel like I say this over and over again, but these days don’t last forever. Before I know it, I’m not going to have a toddler that loves to cuddle with me and just wants to see my reaction to Lady and the Tramp. She’s never going to be this little again and as much as I try to make memories. they’ll only be that so soon. No matter how she grows, I hope that radiant smile and booming laughter always stays with her. Deep down, I hope she always wants to share pretzels and Nutella with me while we have a movie night, I’ll keep on letting her pick the movie too.
I let my toddler stay up past her bedtime and it was one of the best nights.