The 11 Emotional Stages Of Putting Your Kid To Bed

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Everyone knows being a parent can sometimes be frustrating and exhausting … especially at bedtime. Something that once seemed simple and natural (and blissful) can turn into a dreaded daily occurrence when you have kids.

Parents need to mentally and physically prepare for a flood of emotions each night as they head into the Bedtime Battle. As the mother of a 4-year-old who reacts to “it’s time for bed” with the same disdain and reluctance as if I had said “eat this bowl of rotten worms," I can tell you firsthand that bedtime is rarely quick, painless or easy. May the odds be in your favor.


1. Anticipation

bionda

What non-parents may not know is that we begin to mentally prepare for bedtime hours before the actual time comes. Even though you’ve done it countless times before, it never gets any easier. Thoughts of logistics and strategy fill your head while you subconsciously count down the minutes until the main event.

2. Excitement

bionda

On the outside you keep it casual with talk about what’s for dinner and the latest drama at the playground. But on the inside you are swept up in fantasies about what you will do with your night after your kid goes to sleep. A hot bath with a glass of wine? A “Real Housewives” marathon? Maybe even dive into the bestseller that’s been collecting dust on your night table? The possibilities are endless.

3. Determination

bionda

The process of the bedtime routine requires a lot of pep talks and self-motivation. You need to think like a boxer who is about to enter the ring. “I can do this. I must do this. I was born to do this.” After all, you’re the adult here, right?!

4. Doubt/Disappointment

bionda
OK, so bedtime isn’t going as seamlessly as you’d imagined. Six songs, four books, two stories later, and your kid is still acting like she just chugged a Red Bull. None of the old standby trick are working. Soft background music. Yeah, right. Warm milk? PUH-lease. You fear The Bedtime Dream, which once seemed so certain, will soon be as crushed as the graham crackers stuck between your couch cushions.


5. Desperation

bionda
Desperate times call for desperate measures. To achieve successful bedtime, these measures often include: negotiation, blackmail and, most importantly, bribery. Did you know that 80 percent of large purchases made for children are the result of a desperate parent using any method possible to get his or her kid to go to sleep? There is no factual evidence to back that up, but I’m pretty sure it is frighteningly accurate.

6. Anger

bionda

A point will come when you realize that the bedtime gods are not smiling down on you. You silently debate whether it would be acceptable to send your kid to the dog run to get rid of some energy. You are SO over this whole nightly bedtime fiasco! Your patience has come to an end.

7. Hope

bionda

Then suddenly out of nowhere, when you least expect it, something happens. It may be subtle, like a simple rub of the eyes or even a yawn, but in that one moment you just know. Your kid is getting a little sleepy. It’s only a matter of time.

8. Calm
bionda
This is it. The moment when the stress of bedtime subsides and a calming feeling comes over you. Despite all of the trials and tribulations of the day, you’ve finally made it to the point where you can just look at your child and revel in that special sweet innocence that comes out right before they go to sleep. You exit the room, fingers crossed.

9. Skepticism

bionda

But, wait just a minute! You’ve fallen for this whole “I’m sleepy” thing before. Was that a real yawn? Is this some sort of ploy? You want to believe, but you’ve been down this road before and you just don’t want to get hurt again. You sit like a well trained trained guard dog, listening and waiting outside your kid's door for signs of movement. Are your eyes playing tricks on your or did you just catch a glimpse of a Hello Kitty nightgown? Was that the squeak of a door?? Or the pitter patter of footsteps?! Long after your child has “gone to sleep,” your five senses will be on full alert for signs of an unsuccessful bedtime mission.

10. Joy

bionda
Finally, after a certain amount of time you are finally convinced that your kid is actually sleeping. It has finally happened and now it’s time to celebrate (quietly) like you just won Mega Millions. When you’re a parent, it’s the small victories.

11. Pride
bionda
You did it! Even when it looked like there was no sleep in sight, you stuck with it, you persevered and you succeeded. You are a winner. At least for tonight.


Sleep Number is committed to helping families get their best sleep. Sleep Number understands that well-rested kids feel more confident and do better in school, sports and in life. Learn more about the SleepIQ Kids™ bed, the only bed that grows with them, here.