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Circus in the afternoon, circus at night

At the circus

So our town had a circus/carnival thingy today, the purpose of which was to raise money for math text books for the school. Despite the fact that we’ve already been to one circus this year, and I’m not exactly a lover of this type of thing, I thought we should go. Text books are a nice thing to have, and besides, the boys might enjoy it.

At the circus

Perhaps 4:30 on a Monday afternoon is not an ideal time to attempt a sit-down event such as this. Attention spans (theirs and mine) were not as long as they could have been, and there was just entirely too much fidgeting and roughhousing for my taste. I’m definitely thinking the snow cone was a bad idea.

At the circus

When intermission came, we went out for a stroll around the grounds, rode some rides, played some games, and snuck the heck out of there. I don’t know if the boys realized there was a second half to the show, but they didn’t give me an argument when I suggested we leave. Whew.

At the circus

So that was our afternoon circus. Our evening circus is more of a daily affair. Every night, the boys climb in to bed, wound up and bouncing off the walls. I try to be all sweet, calming, and lovey at bedtime. I give them hugs and kisses, I coo softly at them, I remind them gently that I’d like them to go to sleep quickly and quietly tonight. I’m all about calmness and soothing sounds. Sometimes that works for a while, but most times before I have even left the room, I find myself yelling, “just be quiet, lay down, and GO TO SLEEP!” Not the nicest sendoff for the night, but what am I left with when the sweet and gentle approach is ineffective?

At the circus

Tonight I started what I hoped would be a nice, calming bedtime event: reading a chapter from a classic children’s book. I picked up Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle from the library, and read them the first chapter. Eamonn, who is usually the instigator of bedtime hijinks, surprised me by snuggling into me right away and reading along silently to himself. Upon finishing chapter one, I was hoping they would just melt into their pillows and go to sleep. No such luck. Eamonn was up and bouncing around the room the second I closed the book.

At the circus

Argh! Maybe I need to read more chapters. Maybe they didn’t get enough quiet time to really make a difference. I’m going to explore that idea tomorrow night, (and read until their little eyelids can no longer hold themselves up, darnit!) but in the meantime, if any of you have been there and have a strategy or two for helping energetic children settle down before bed, I’d love to hear them. It’s now two hours since I put them to bed, and I’ve been upstairs to tell them to quit playing games and go to sleep as recently as 10 minutes ago. I hate having to yell at them every night – there has got to be a better way.

Any ideas?  School officially ends on Wednesday, and the start of summer seems like a perfect excuse for rethinking the bedtime routine.

8 thoughts on “Circus in the afternoon, circus at night

  1. Ok..my daughter is going into 2nd grade and we read Mouse on a Motorcycle for bookgroup. That is a hard book to keep attention, my opinion only. But we did read all of The Spiderwick Chronicles. Those books are sooo good! The bonus for you is that the movie comes out, Im sure at the end of summer, or somewhere around there. Try it with them. Reading by flashlight is fun too. I wish you luck girlfriend… the 1st few days of break…you may need it. Kashoan

    See what Kashoan has been blogging about: Please Check Out the View

  2. I often have to go remind Chloe to keep the chatter to a dull roar and she is only talking to herself and her stuffies – and here it is light till 10:30 at night for the next few weeks.

    I am not sure what I can recommend given that she’s often awake in bed when I head to my room 1-2 hours after she does! Sometimes she’s out in 5 minutes but thats unusual.

    See what Elaine has been blogging about: Year of Clay – Pillows for a Small World

  3. Oh man I remember those days. One of my guys has ADD and would literally run in bed. The other one would talk endlessly…eventually they get it. I started out with the sweet approach as well and ended up with “Are you insane! Just go to SLEEEP!!!” It gets better. BTW, totally hooked on your blog.

    See what Kimberly has been blogging about: Dishes For The Sick And Convalescent

  4. Slip them some Benadryl. 🙂

  5. Ah, bedtime. This is a battle we chose to fight when DS was less than a year old (he is now 4 1/2). It was impossible to get him settled at night, so we developed a routine. Now that routine is: bath, PJs, teeth brushed, 3 stories and then a song (Twinkle Twinkle is his fave still!), then lights out. We are very firm but calm about telling him to stay in bed. He may read a few books (in the dark – doesn’t think to turn on the light), but we don’t hear from him after 7pm. I won’t lie – it was a lot of work and required absolute consistency from both parents, but summer seems like the perfect time to start a routine for you! Just think, after the hard work of teaching them the routine and that you mean business, the evenings are YOURS 🙂

    See what MelissaS has been blogging about: We’re In This Together…

  6. Routine is a good starting point. I have twin boys that just turned 17 last week, but I still clearly remember how hard they were to wrangle at bedtime. The cool down has to start an hour before you even begin to tell them it’s time to start to get ready for bed. That means no games, TV, anything that might be at all stimulating. Then you do the bath, story, song, kisses, last cup of water, closet light on, etc. Then you give them a gentle warning that if they don’t stay quiet and go to sleep, that there will be a lost privilege the following day. If they decide that being hooligans is the way to go, then you take away whatever privilege they lost. If you can find one that really matters to them, and is relatively painless to you to enforce, all the better. i always found that these punishments were just as hard for me to enforce as the y were for the boys to endure. I did a lot of yelling before I settled on this. You do want to be sweet. We all want to be the loving, nurturing mommy. But sometimes children are furiously exasperating, and turn the best of us into fishwives. It happens. You know what show is actually pretty useful? Nanny 911. I wish that show had been around when my boys were little! All the drama aside, most of what those nannies say to do is pretty fantastic advice. I just realized that I’m writing ‘War and Peace’ here. Oops!
    Good luck =0)

  7. […] Books & More « Circus in the afternoon, circus at night […]

  8. when we were kids, our routine was to start getting ready for bed with teeth brushing, pajamas before bed but not so early that we played in them (thus associating PJs with sleep and not toys), books read to us, tucked in. Then mom gave us a choice – we could either read in bed for half an hour, or we could go ahead and turn the lights out and sleep. She said that inevitably, we’d choose to read, and fall asleep with the books open in our hands.

    I would guess this routine was successful probably 70% of the time. 😀 But I am a strong believer in associating the bedroom and pajamas with sleeping and sleeping only – we were a “get up and get dressed” family, very little lounging around in PJs all morning, and we played in the playroom (when we had one) or in the den. Once we were old enough to dress ourselves, we were expected to. I don’t know if it’s just my physiology, but even to this day, I reserve the bedroom for bedroom activities, pjs for sleeping – and I’m usually asleep within five minutes of going to bed.

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