10 Thoughts Parents Have When Their Kid Won’t Go To Sleep

10 Thoughts Parents Have When Their Kid Won't Go To Sleep

You know those bedtimes – the ones that never seem to end?

The ones that make you question every decision you have ever made as a parent.

They usually follow a particularly long day – the sort of day where your patience has been pushed to its limits.

10 Thoughts All Parents Have When Their Kid Won’t Go To Sleep

You know the kind of day. One where you find yourself hiding in the bathroom binge eating chocolate biscuits just to get two minutes’ peace.

Or the type of day where you ask yourself how early is too early for wine.

If you’ve been wondering, since lunchtime, whether it’s nearly bedtime yet, then you can almost guarantee bedtime will be a drawn out and painful affair.

The more you want bedtime to come, the less likely it will happen easily.

On the days when you’re winning at parenting, your kid can’t fall asleep fast enough.

But on the days when you’re not at your parenting best, your child seems determined not to let the day end.

Sound familiar? Here are 10 thoughts all parents have when their child just won’t go to sleep:

#1: Everything Is Going According To Plan

Well, I don’t want to be smug but I’m pretty sure this bedtime is going to go down in the history books as The Best Bedtime Ever.

This kid has been fed, bathed, changed and read to. And it’s not even time for sleep yet. Now we can lie here and have a nice cuddle before she falls asleep in my arms.

I really am an amazing parent. Maybe I should write a book about it! I bet there are loads of parents who would benefit from knowing my secrets. This very moment, with us right here, snuggled up together before the world’s best bedtime could be the perfect cover image for the book.

#2: Oh Crap

Things seem to have taken a turn for the worse. She had a sip of water and then immediately turned into Never Go To Sleep Girl – the worst-ever superhero, who’s also at least part-gremlin.

Well, she must be! How else could one drop of water turn my nearly asleep child into this? It’s clearly not going to be bedtime anytime soon.

Great! Because I only have a bazillion things to do this evening before I fall into my nightly TV coma.

#3: The Answer’s No

No, you can’t have another story. Not even one. Not even that one.

No, you can’t possibly be hungry. You can’t have any milk right now.

No, we can’t play fairies. We can’t ring grandma. No, daddy isn’t doing bedtime tonight.

Please lie down in bed with me now. Take Minion off my head, I don’t want him there. Don’t try to lie on top of me. Stop licking my arm. Put your pyjama bottoms back on, please.

#4: For The Love Of God, Shush!

Dear wind/neighbours/cat/husband, do you have any idea how utterly hard bedtime is tonight? Just be quiet!  Every time I manage to convince her to lie down and settle, you howl/slam a door/meow/stomp up the stairs.

I might look calm and collected, but you should know I’m very close to attacking you. I have been awake for three years now, without a break. Trust me when I say you don’t want to mess with me.

I haven’t had any wine, I’ve consumed my weight in coffee today, and I am already seeing red. One more noise and I’ll explode.

#5: Why Am I Always On Bedtime Duty?

We are both parents, and equally responsible for creating this gremlin-child hybrid. So why am I always the one stuck on bedtime duty? Why must I be the one who suffers?

I bet he’s just sitting on the sofa staring at his phone. Probably enjoying his solitude so much he keeps stomping up and down the stairs to wake her up on purpose, so he can spend more time doing nothing.

Well, that’s it. I quit. This is definitely my last bedtime. Ever. From now on, he can do it. And while he’s trying, I’m going to cartwheel and zoom around the house while wearing a hat with bells on it. See how he likes it.

#6: I Deserve All The Wine

He better not have had any wine. That wine is mine. I earned it through the soul-crushing labour of getting this child to bed.

Obviously, I’m not doing a very good job. Because now she’s sitting on the windowsill waving at people walking by. But the wine is still mine. Every last drop.

Maybe I’d have let him have a little – a whole glass even – if he hadn’t woken her up by clomping his big feet up the stairs. Not now though. No. It’s all mine.

And there’d better be a glass of it already poured by the time I get downstairs. If I ever get downstairs.

#7: Try To Keep Calm

Off the top of my head, a little list of things I want to do right now: bang my head against the wall, scream into a pillow, sob loudly, move out, and run away. Maybe it’s time for another deep breath. One… Two… Three…

#8: WOOOO HOOOO, I Did It!

I can’t believe it! She’s asleep! It only took 30 minutes longer than planned. That’s a total of one hour of bedtime hell. But that’s fine. It doesn’t matter any more.

I am free. I’m going to bolt out of here, go downstairs, and cry into my wine.

I can’t wait. I am a free woman with a new found respect for joy and happiness. Heck, maybe I’ll let him have a glass of wine, after all. It’s not his fault the stairs are creaky. Off I go towards freedom.


It’s like a bad joke. This happens every night. Those stupidly loud mattress springs might as well shout SHE’S LEAVING, YOU’RE BEING ABANDONED every time I try to leave the room.

Has she seen me? Can I army crawl out of here? Nope, obviously not. Of course I’ll come back to bed and cuddle you… I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.

We need to buy a new mattress. And soundproofing for this room. Maybe some earplugs for her while she sleeps. Maybe a nanny who can be in charge of bedtime. And more wine; we definitely need more wine.

#10: Huh? Oh Man, I Missed My Evening Again

How long have I been asleep? Oh god, an hour! It is actually nearly my bedtime now. This happens every night, too. I spend my entire evening putting her to bed and then eventually give in and just fall asleep in her bed.

It’s a wonder I’m still married, or have any friends. I spend every evening squashed up in this single bed with the gremlin. Ah, look – she’s not a gremlin anymore. See how perfect she is when she’s asleep.

God, no… I nearly woke her. That would have been terrible. Asleep is lovely, awake is not. Well, not at this time anyway. I should go downstairs now and start my evening.

Hmmm, but it’s so nice and warm being snuggled up with her, and she smells so lovely. I might wait here – just for a few more minutes…

When I wake up I’m going to read Toddler Bedtime Battles – 8 Tips To Avoid Bedtime Stress for some pointers.

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Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.

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