Can I Have a Drink of Water? and Other Requests that Make Bedtime Impossible

Image via Katie Hurley

“Stay with me five more minutes, Mommy”, she whispers, as I brush her long, salty, chestnut locks from her cheek. “I just need to hold your hand.”

“I’m here, sweet pea. I’m always here.”

Please don’t hate me for what I’m about to say, although I won’t blame you one bit if you do (I might hate me a little bit, too.) This isn't bragging or perfect parenting or access to some secret book of parenting tricks that you can only find in super exclusive, private Facebook groups (is that a real thing? Don’t answer that.) What I’m about to tell you won’t earn me that imaginary mother of the year award that people joke about when they've had a rough parenting day (although in the interest of self disclosure, my version includes a gold coffee mug with lots of gems – the real ones.) What I’m about to tell you is the result of a decision that I made long ago, before my babies even entered this world (who knew that would take forever and a day?) Are you ready for it?

The decision I made long ago, as I dreamed of finally having a little one in my arms, was that I wouldn't let things like bedtime consume us and drive us into a vortex of negativity. I would avoid that battle, no matter how hard I had to work to find the solutions that worked for us.

I don’t have bedtime battles in my house. You were hoping for something more exciting than that, I can tell. It’s ok. I kind of was, too.

It’s not that bedtime is a breeze every single night. Some nights are better than others, and sometimes the ticking of the clock seems to grow louder with each passing second. But still, there are no battles.

Bedtime can be a source of great stress for families, and for good reason. Some kids struggle to fall asleep independently, even during the school age years. But before you start over-thinking every sleep decision made along the way, let me be the first to assure you: Sleep issues among young children are very common and are not a reflection of your parenting. You … are doing just fine.

And while I could give you a long list of tips and tricks to extinguish those exhausting requests for water, blankets, and extra light, the truth is that it all boils down to three important factors.

What do you think?

Can I Have a Drink of Water? and Other Requests that Make Bedtime Impossible

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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1 comment

  1. cassie says:

    So…our kids like to sleep with us and they are 4 & 6. They have their own rooms and beds and we dont have set rules on who to sleep with or what bed or even the sofa, as daddy prefers the sofa some nights as to not wake us at 4am when he gets up for work. Also, there isnt a set bedtime but its usually around 8-10pm. Where ever they feel comfortable, whether its with us, eachother or by themselves. Its not hurting anything.


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