After The Kids Are Asleep

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Last night my husband and I pretended that we were going to go to sleep before the kids, and they gleefully declared that they would help put us to bed. As we lay on the floor in my son’s room, the two of them danced around us, throwing blankets over our heads, “patting” our backs with the force of an elephant, and screaming loudly at each other about each of their roles in getting us to sleep. For my son, this entailed getting very large and heavy toys from his shelf, like school buses and toolboxes, and dumping them on top of us, presumably assuming these would be akin to cuddly teddy bears or lovies. For my daughter, this entailed trying to get a certain toy to make a certain song that would be our bedtime music, but yelling and “cursing” at its apparent inability to do what she wanted. All of this while they stomped and hopped on top of, around, and between us. The CIA would do well to consider this for a new and unexpected interrogation technique. I guarantee those subjected to it would start talking, fast.

As I was laughing about their ideas of restful bedtime tactics for getting us to sleep, I started thinking about their actual current dreadful bedtime routine, which in our house has become an endless cycle of baths, toys, snacks, tv shows, books, talking, cajoling, door slamming, room swapping, bed hopping, and, eventually, sleeping.

Then it further occurred to me why I feel that I never am able to get anything done. I always hear people using terms like “at night” and “after the kids are asleep.” Apparently people actually do things then. They are watching tv shows that are not cartoons and they are paying bills and packing lunches and cleaning floors. They are making plans and defrosting the next night’s dinner. They are relaxing. They are putting out the trash. They have full lives that occur in the evening hours. For some reason I foolishly continue to say things to myself like that, too: “After the kids are asleep, I’ll…whatever.”

The only problem with this is that the only actual thing I can fill in that blank is “After the kids are asleep I’ll be asleep, too.”

I know this won’t always be the case, but the truth for me right now is that “after the kids are asleep” I am done. Lights out. End of story. So, now, why do I continue to assume otherwise? It only makes me feel like I have failed in some very important way that other parents are most definitely NOT failing at.  I am deciding in this moment to flip this nightly failure on its head.   Rather than plan for things-that-won't-be-done, I will look at the epic rodeo that is the wrangling of my two wild bulls, declare myself awesome at finally getting them tame (aka, asleep), and proudly hang up my hat and close my eyes. I can always do “things” in the morning, after all. As long as I don’t hit snooze on my alarm…

Do you suffer from an "After the kids are asleep I'll.." in your life?  Let 'em go, man.  Let 'em go.   



Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.