1. Begin The Countdown to Bedtime warnings at 15 minute intervals at least 2 hours before you actually want them in bed.
2. Tell them10x each to use the toilet, wash their hands and faces, brush teeth, get PJs on.
3. Threaten to cancel/throw away something—anything—fun if they don’t get in the bathroom RIGHT NOW to use the toilet, wash their hands and faces, brush teeth, get PJs on.
4. While they paint the bathroom in toothpaste and spit, search house for the cherished toys they MUST have in bed in order to sleep, for it is guaranteed each one has been removed from the sacred spots in their bedrooms and are in different corners of different floors of the house.
5. Herd kids to their bedrooms.
6. Watch kids jump on the beds, playing a risky game of Dangerously Uncoordinated at Nighttime Chase.
7. Tell them to JUST CALM DOWN FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS DECENT in the voice that makes the I’m Serious vein bulge in your neck.
8. Hustle the kids into Big Kid’s room.
9. Listen to Big Kid read a book while batting away Little Kid’s constant interruptions with a number of eyebrow-centric threatening looks of deflection.
10. When done, tuck him in and watch Little Kid tackle Big Kid to kiss him good night, despite his protests, riling him up until he accidentally knocks Little Kid off the bed, who starts crying due to minor head injury that is probably fake.
11. Physically remove Little Kid from the floor beneath Big Kid’s bed.
12. Blow kisses and I Love Yous to Big Kid, ignoring that he’s pretending to wipe them off, then carry sobbing Little Kid under one arm while closing the door with the other.
13. Go to Little Kid’s room.
14. Fantasize about long hot showers while she spends 14 minutes deciding between two boring and terrible books you both have memorized.
15. Cram yourself into a tiny spot on the bed between a Pillow Pet and a stuffed bunny the size of a Great Dane to read a book in your Sweet Bedtime Voice while getting interrupted twice per page with random observations/questions about life in an attempt to delay the inevitable.
16. Close the book and ask Little Kid to get under the covers.
17. Feel the breeze as Little Kid dashes out of the room in a blur to the bathroom for a cup of water.
18. Take deep, cleansing breaths as you hear the water splashing out of the tiny paper cup onto the hall floor as Little Kid walks back to her room.
19. See Little Kid realize once she arrives in the bedroom doorway that all of her water is now gone, and intercept her attempt to get more water by getting it yerdamnself.
20. Tuck her back into bed.
21. Cover your ears when she starts her nightly sonic boom of squeals that you forgot to check all the nightlights, then walk around the bedroom with her behind you to closely confirm that each of the seventeen nightlights are, in fact, in working order.
22. Tell her to get back into bed in the required nest she created with pillows and various toys.
23. Give kisses and hugs to her.
24. Give kisses and hugs to various toys around her room.
25. Shut off the light. (Finally.)
26. Hear your name cried out the moment you close the door.
27. Listen to her explain that she is pretty sure she forgot to kiss her other parent, then say admit “Oh yeah, right” when you remind her that she already did so four times.
28. Re-do the kisses and hugs to both her and her various toys.
29. Close the door more quickly this time.
30. When you are in the bathroom sitting on the toilet with the shower running, hear quiet knocking on the door.
31. Listen to Little Kid explain through the space below the door that she’s scared of the dark/not tired/doesn’t see her favorite bear in the bed.
32. Walk her back to her room wearing a towel and a look of hopelessness.
33. Kindly point out that the nightlights are bright enough to give her a tan/she’s been awake for 14 hours/the bear was next to her the whole time.
34. Get her back in bed-nest.
35. Trust your gut when she begins weeping that she really REALLY needs to poop RIGHT NOW.
36. Follow her to the bathroom where she immediately poops something a carbo-loading lumberjack would be impressed with.
37. Toss her back into bed (with love).
38. As adoringly as possible (and through gritted teeth) say, “I LOVE YOU GOODNIGHT” and run the hell outta there.
39. Gobble up the kisses she blows at you, blow some back, close the door one last time and enjoy the silence as she rolls over, satisfied that she has tortured you enough for one day.