The 5 Stages Of Crazy When Kids Are Up Late

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Last night, my husband and I made the mistake of leaving the house after dinner. For anyone else out there with small children, especially those (like mine) who are somewhat scheduled, you know for sure that leaving the house after dinner is almost always a mistake. I would say, 99.9% of the time.

Let’s just say that, as usual, things didn’t go according to plan and we found ourselves headed home after their bedtime. In other words, we had just created our own mini version of crazy-town. Here are the stages we suffered through…

Stage 1: Maniacal Behavior

This usually happens in the car on the way home. The kids are high energy. Singing, screaming, laughing. Last night? The game was fake crying. That’s what they decided to play in the car on the way home. They would fake cry until we would say, “What’s wrong!?” in true alarm, and then they would die laughing. Everything is peachy and fun while you’re still out. You’re usually smiling sweetly to yourself in the front seat while doing deep breaths to try to block out the shrill cries of delight in the back. After all, they’re having fun, so what’s wrong with that? But, then you walk through that front door, and with undeniable force, you are faced with…

Stage 2: Denial

They know they are going to be forced to bathe, get pajamas on or brush teeth against their will, so they just ignore you and pretend like it isn’t happening. The constant reminders to get undressed, or go potty, or take their shoes off go unnoticed. You feel like freaking out, but you manage to remain calm. You finally try physical force. To combat this, they flop, or go limp so that you have to do all the work to get their tiny bodies undressed. Then they’re completely naked and vulnerable. They realize they’ve lost, so they enter….

Stage 3: Meltdown Mode

They cry at the tiniest thing. You might say something innocent like, “Will you move over here so I can wash your hair?” and they exclaim something that makes no sense like, “But, I’m too itchy!!!” and they sob through the rest of the bath, or teeth brushing, or story time until you finally reach….

Stage 4: Exhaustion

Both you and them. They want it over, and so do you. Unfortunately, they still need fourth meal, or water, or they forgot to do their homework all weekend, or you leave the room and they need a kleenex, or blanket or or or or or or or……!!! You work hard to cater to their every need to avoid more of stage three until they finally enter….

Stage 5: Sleep

They are finally in bed, and you want to cheer, and shout for joy, and possibly watch your favorite TV show, but you realize that the tiny little people sucked every ounce of energy out of you. All you want to do is close your eyes and go to sleep yourself. You resolve to have a social life in 10 years, and vow to never leave the house past 4 p.m. again. You turn to your husband and remark, “Why do we even bother?” not really needing an answer, and, he replies sadly, “I have no idea.”

This story was written by Meredith Ethington of Perfection Pending and the author of Mom Life. Subscribe to our free email newsletter, Living Better—your ultimate guide for actionable insights, evidence backed advice, and captivating personal stories, propelling you forward to living a more fulfilling life.

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