It is the part of the day you've been dreading: Time to put your toddler to bed. Steel yourself, because it is not going to be easy. If you have a toddler who has learned to climb out of his crib, or worse, is already in a big boy bed, this will likely take a while.
1. Per your pediatrician’s, your sleep specialist’s, your Facebook mom group's, and your MIL’s recommendations, complete your toddler’s usual sleep routine (dinner, bath, book, brush teeth).
2. Lead toddler by the hand to his room, give a goodnight kiss, and leave.
3. Before exiting room, field request for one more story. You’re pretty sure all he needs is this one little story, and then he should go right to bed no problem.
4. Uh Oh. You forgot to bring Blankie to the couch for the first installment of story time. Must repeat reading of ALL OF THE BOOKS, but this time, your toddler would like to sit on the “bouncy” part of the couch. Your bad.
5. Refill the bottle of milk for the fifth time that evening.
6. Timidly suggest that you brush toddler’s teeth again. Pretend you were just joking when he screams in protest because you just can’t deal with that level of noise right now.
7. Finish reading all the books.
8. Calmly, and with assurance, lead toddler back to his room, give a goodnight kiss, and leave.
9. Tell him no, he may not watch another episode of Little Einstein.
10. Acquiesce to squeezing into his shoebox-sized bed “for a little while.”
11. Allow toddler to poke and prod at your face while he triumphantly names each body part. Go to happy place as he insists on sticking his fingers in your nostrils and eyes.
12. Brightly announce that it is now time for you to leave the room. Duck to avoid being wacked in the face by toddler’s favorite dolly with the hard plastic head as punishment.
13. Beg and plead for his mercy that he will allow you to leave so you can finally enjoy your dinner in peace, and catch up on some episodes of The Walking Dead that have been sitting in your DVR queue for so long that you are now aware of all of the spoilers.
14. Intermission: Toddler announces he has pooped in his diaper. Begin diaper change, only to realize this was a procrastination strategy. Diaper is basically just a little wet but no signs of poop anywhere.
15. Toddler whines that he needs another bottle. You explain that too much milk will give him a tummy ache and the doctor has specifically told him he can’t have so much milk now that he is a big boy.
16. Dutifully fetch another bottle of milk from the fridge.
17. Exit room while toddler drowsily chugs down milk, and close door, making sure it just the right amount of closed. But not too closed. Or too open. Obviously.
18. Grab cold dinner, sit on floor, commence watching of Walking Dead. Celebrate hard-won alone time now that toddler is tucked away, finally.
19. Curse everything as you notice your toddler emerging from his room, doing what looks like a Charlie-Chaplin-style dance all the way to where you are sitting.
20. Reiterate that no, you are not currently watching an episode of Little Einsteins.
21. Field questions about everything that is on your plate.
22. Attempt to bring him back to his room.
23. Bring him back to his room.
24. Bring him back to his room.
25. Bring him back to his room (repeat 5 more times). Which brings you to step number …
31. Give up, and let him sit on the couch while you watch terrifying footage of people getting eaten alive by zombies and hope that he won’t remember it at all. You’re so tired, and hungry, and you’ve been waiting all day to sit on your ass and vegg out for just a little while. Why can’t he get this in his little toddler head?
32. Enjoy the rest of your meal while toddler seems absorbed in zombie television show and for the first time all day is not requesting things from you that require that you disturb whatever you are doing at the moment.
33. Look over at couch and realize that, miracle of miracles, the toddler has finally tuckered himself out. Either that, or there is a calming, toddler-soothing quality in zombie television that no one is talking about but that all moms need to know, like immediately.
Tell your friends.
ALEXIS BARAD-CUTLER is an essayist who writes candidly and often humorously about the "stuff no one talks about in Mom Group" for sites such as Romper, Well Rounded NY, Mommy Nearest, and other online outlets. You can read more of her work on her website, or you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for all her latest articles.