My Son’s Ridiculous and Long-Winded Bedtime Routine

I’m probably not as much of a disciplinarian with my kids as I should be. While Mummy gets the all the grief for being the bad cop, I’m able to swoop in and play the good cop. I know, I know, it’s not fair. I guess it’s a hangover from being out at work most of the day and Jen actually allowing me to be the good cop so I get to have a few nice hours with the children before they go to bed. This lack of a disciplinarian approach to bedtimes though, has manifested itself into a frankly ridiculous nighttime routine.

Before I get abuse for being too soft though, I should add that my son kind of allows me to do that too. He’s a thoroughly decent bloke as it happens, and doesn’t play up much for me. That said, he is very playful, and his bedtime routine is no different.

Step 1 – Pyjamas

As a sweeping generalisation, boys aren’t interested in clothes and don’t like getting changed. What they are interested in though, is racing and indulging their competitive side. In order to get him in his pyjamas, I also have to ditch the work attire and get changed into my loungewear quick-smart. It’s a race against time to see who gets changed quickest: dad or son? Master or apprentice? Me or…oh, who am I kidding? If I were to try to win, I wouldn’t hear the last of it. Even the Mafia of 1940’s America would wince at the amount of fixed sporting events in our household.

Step 2 – False Lethargy

He’s been bouncing on my head, break-dancing to TV theme tunes, and he’s just won the great pyjama race (for an unprecedented 397th time in a row). You’d expect anybody to be tired, and he certainly looks it. He’s flopped on the sofa, and barely able to open his eyes or speak, let alone move. I take pity on him, picking him up and carrying him up the stairs. Upon entering his room, so as not to disturb him too much, I lay him gently onto his bed.

I may as well be tossing him into a pool of hot Lucozade though, as being upstairs seems to instantly rejuvenate him, and he’s back to being a wild-eyed bobcat.

Step 3 – Storytime

To try to calm everything down, we go straight into a bedtime story. My son normally goes for a cheeky book. Poo in the Zoo is a perennial fave, but for the longest time now, we’ve been reading a book with nary a mention of a bum or trump in sight: The Deep Dark Woods. Curiously though, my son’s only stipulation for this book is that the last two lines be read by both of our belly buttons. So as his belly mimes in a gruff voice “I’ll never go back to the deep dark woods”, mine responds in a mysteriously Essex-sounding accent “nor will I”. Step 3 done.

Step 4 – Teeth-brushing

We both brush our teeth and simultaneously sing along (yep, you’re right, it’s NOT easy) to the Of Montreal banger Brush Brush Brush, or Elmo’s teeth brushing song if we fancy a change.

Step 5 – Don’t Wake Lucy

He always wants one last, quick game before bed, and that game is Don’t Wake Lucy. The eponymous Lucy in question is a stuffed jack russell who hates getting woken up. Two other soft toys sleep nearby that both suffer from chronic flatulence. You can fill in the blanks here. It’s like Buckaroo with farts. We take it in turns for the toys to do progressively noisier bottom burps until Lucy wakes up and goes ballistic. Notably we discovered my son’s gift for onomatopoeia with this game. The best trump sound he’s come up with is a whispered ‘twiff’.

Line up of suspected farters in the ‘Don’t Wake Lucy’ game.

Step 6 – Dream Planting

The final step to ensuring he has a good night’s sleep is to plan what he’s going to dream about. He’ll normally choose from a menu of fast cars, giant robots and pub lunches. The wife has added a neat touch to this: these dreams won’t take if he opens his eyes before morning. Brilliant. With that, I leave the room with my son’s eyes scrunched up tight, determined to dream about dinosaur racing, or whatever he’s into that day.

Step 7 – Recuperate

Open bottle, slump onto sofa, weep silently.


I can’t be the only one who has to go through this ridiculous ceremony, can I? Does your kid have a similarly bizarre routine, or do they go to bed of their own accord like little angels? Let me know below.

In fact, no. Don’t bother telling me your kids go to bed without a fuss. Nobody likes a show-off.


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