life Parenting Reading

Small Bits of Joy

March 2, 2022

I only read one book in February. What can I say – it was that kind of month. I am not going to put pressure on myself to finish any specific number of books in 2022; I just want to enjoy reading. I just finished Wintering by Katherine May and can say it was a very apropos for this moment. There are some critiques centered around the author’s privilege (premise: she called in sick from work for quite some time and finally left her job after it sounds like her coworkers picked up her slack for some months). But then again, she did write a fascinating and beautifully-written book. That’s certainly work, right? And, she had what sounds like a very real illness involving cancer and pain.

(I found myself intrigued by the mere fact that she was able to take so much paid sick time — not shockingly, she does not live in the US.)

Things are already looking up a little. I got to chat with my college BFFs last night. I have a fun experience on the calendar for next week (and I just pray that nothing messes it up).

It’s a new month, and I guess despite everything going on in the world, I am feeling slightly better about what March has on offer. Today is a more relaxed day where I can once again catch up on all the (mostly work) things. My kids have been in school sans masks for 3 days now — I will brace myself for the onslaught of URIs that will probably ensue, but right now I feel comfortable with this choice. Any brief excitement about this new development was rapidly tempered by international news, but I think it’s still warranted to appreciate the little things.

Oh! We decided to make March screen free at our house — kids, not adults necessarily — though I will refrain from interacting with my phone or computer for non-essentials when I am with them. I am also on a (somewhat related) CRUSADE to improve bedtime, which I know has been a subject many times before and you are probably all bored of hearing about it.

I truly believe it HAS TO BE possible to get all 3 kids in bed (or reading in bed in A’s case, if she chooses) by 8 pm. Yes, this may change when they are teens – but no one is currently a teen and I just . . . need this to happen. I cannot imagine this policy would cause them harm and if anything, will hopefully help them get better sleep. And I will be happier with some quieter time or time with Josh at the end of the day. Which matters too.

I used a random layout for this week’s goals from a Sprouted tear-off pad – somehow having a different view felt helpful.


  • Reply Jan March 2, 2022 at 11:41 am

    I’ve learned over the years that consistency is the key when it comes to bedtimes (and other kid things) Make a bedtime plan and stick to it. Once kids detect parents wavering, they will push back every single night. It’s exhausting.

  • Reply Janelle March 2, 2022 at 11:44 am

    Is Josh usually home for bedtime? My husband and I usually tackle bedtime together. But it was still so hard. Then we decided to each take a kid (I get the easier one plus our baby who goes to bed later) and it has made so much difference. I’m not really sure why? But teeth-brushing and getting them to pee before bed is easier, and reading to just one kid instead of two is easier as well. Again, not really sure why it’s easier- one on one maybe? I think the little one needs the one on one to stay on task, and to not distract her sister. I thought I’d share just incase it helps you too.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 2, 2022 at 12:02 pm

      Sometimes yes but usually he comes home while I am in the process (7:30 – 8ish) which adds to the inconsistency. I agree sometimes it’s way easier when it’s one parent!

  • Reply RH March 2, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    Only have one kid here so YMMV. We use the same routine with our 8 yo every night of the week. Doesn’t matter if its a school night, weekend, holiday, whatever (routine may change a little if we’re away on a trip). The consistency helps him tremendously! He’s in bed by 8pm although we may read with him until 8:15pm at the latest. The routine has basically been unchanged since he was ~4 yo (he is just more independent now at all the steps).

  • Reply KGC March 2, 2022 at 12:53 pm

    When you figure out the secret for getting everyone in bed by 8, please let me know. I have two that I also try to get in bed by 8 and it fails 95% of the time, no matter how early I start moving them along. I’m starting to think that I need to start the entire process at 7pm every night. With every minute that they are up past 8, my anxiety compounds (which probably says more about me than them).

    It’s not even that I have to go back in a million times after they’re down – it’s things like “I finished the bedtime snack you gave me and I’m still hungry so I need more” (and for an active kid who leans toward skinny, I can’t send him to bed hungry if he’s eaten all his dinner and snack and is still legitimately hungry) or “I know I just brushed my teeth and peed but now I have to go #2” (who says no to that?!?!) and trying to break up the tickle fights with my husband but feeling bad about doing so since he often gets home right before they go to sleep and I’m trying to give them time together.

    So really, just…good luck! Hope something works!

  • Reply Erin March 2, 2022 at 1:05 pm

    Good luck with the bedtime struggles. I truly hate bedtime, it triggers my anxiety like nothing else. I used to feel a lot of pressure for it to be this time of bonding but dreading it seemed like that was counter productive. Now I really try to let the kids handle as much as they are able – my older 2 (10 and 12) do everything on their own and I really am not involved other than reminding them to get started, and telling them to go to bed. It really has been this way with them for several years now. They go to bed at 9 and 9:30 respectively. I would LIKE them to be in their rooms reading a little earlier but that hasn’t really worked out, oh well. My 6 year old goes to bed at 8 and we do still read a book with him and tuck him in but starting to transition to him doing a lot more on his own too.

  • Reply Elisabeth March 2, 2022 at 1:36 pm

    I just could not get in to Wintering. Maybe I should try again, because it has definitely been that sort of season (figuratively and literally – our winter has been terrible this year)?

    I’m loving my Sprouted Planner. It really has been a legitimate joy in my day-to-day life and think it has helped me stay on top of items better this year. I was skeptical about a specific planner being that useful (assuming it would be the same general organizational system as others I have used) – but it really does feel like a cut above (granted I was using DollarStore planners before)!

    Bedtime. Sigh. Actually this is currently much better at our house, but it’s a moving target…

  • Reply Ali March 2, 2022 at 2:10 pm

    If it makes you feel better about implementing your bedtime policy,we actually still put our kids to bed at 7 still. My oldest (a few months younger than A) reads until LATE but he’s in bed by then. I need it for my sanity so I feel you!

  • Reply Sophie March 2, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    Very interested to hear your plan for screen free March and also how it goes. Are the kids on board? Is TV also banned? Have you worked out plans for alternative activities on evenings and weekends? Be great to hear the details. I love the idea but nervous it would end up like a punishment for me with less downtime for the parents.

  • Reply reallifeinutopia March 2, 2022 at 3:08 pm

    Not a bedtime expert and I don’t know how you are during bedtime so not aure if this will help, but I noticed when I am distracted about something, my phone, work, etc., bedtime with the kids goes badly. But if I’m paying full attention, making an effort to make bedtime pleasant, it goes so much better and they actually listen.
    I’m also reading Wintering now. She seemed burned out and had a medical problem. I suppose Americans would call her ability to take a long sick leave privilege… in Western Europe it is a right.

    • Reply Amy March 2, 2022 at 4:25 pm

      Yeah, I’m not really into feeling disdainful toward someone who was sick, needed time off, and was able to get it. The bitterness and jealousy and anger from and on behalf of those who can’t get that is justified, but this author has something we should all have. What’s she supposed to do, suffer in solidarity? Apologize for taking care of her needs? Nah.

  • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly March 2, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    In case it helps, here is our bedtime routine. Kids are 7 and 10. I know it’s harder with a smaller one. The kids are sent upstairs promptly at 7 pm every day (assuming we don’t have an activity that runs later). They shower, put on pajamas, and brush teeth. They use different bathrooms so they can shower at the same time. Sometimes I supervise the younger or keep the older company. After they’re done showering I braid their hair (have to do this for their hair to avoid major tangles). Then we read to them. They know that the faster they are at getting ready the more reading time they have. Reading time ends at 8 pm. Their Remi clocks start playing music at that time so we know. Then they can read in bed until 9 pm but after that it is adult time. I think we have had the same bedtime routine for so long that they don’t question it. I am very firm at 8 pm and that really makes a difference.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns March 2, 2022 at 4:27 pm

    Oof, a screen free month. Wow! I will be curious to see the boundaries around it (does it include tv?) and how the kids handle it! I will be honest and say that screens are saving my life right now… both of our kids have been home sick all week. The 4yo had a stomach bug and spent a good chunk of Mon/Tues in his bedroom on his iPad. I have had to let go of my guilt around – that is not a typical day to be on his iPad that much but I figure when he’s sick, I will do whatever helps us get through the day. The 1yo has a horrible virus that features high fevers, especially at night. Last night his fever was 104.5!! So they’ve both been home with us all week and the 4yo will be home again tomorrow since he still has a fever. We have had the worst fall/winter in terms of health/illnesses. The kids at school have never masked but I think the fact that the general population is out and about more means more viruses circulating. I’m so worn out.

    I hope you find a way to make bedtime better. Things had been going pretty well here until the 4yo shared a room w/ us on vacation and I laid with him while he fell asleep since he was scared of the new room/sleep environment. Now he wants us to stay in his room until he falls asleep. We tried pushing back on this (our previous process was to come and check on him after 10 minutes) but it takes longer to put him to bed when we try to push back so we’ve decided to just stay in his room until he goes to bed and hope that this is not a forever sort of thing. 🙁

    I am glad you liked Wintering. It was a DNF for me. I could not put my finger on what bothered me about the book, but maybe the privilege was part of the problem? I also didn’t care for her tone, like a comment she made early on about being annoyed with her husband for having to leave the park early because he wasn’t feeling well and then it turned out he had a ruptured appendix?? I just… I don’t know… it rubbed me the wrong way.

  • Reply Amy March 2, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    What’s your bedtime routine like? Ours is very short and to-the-point. Brush teeth, wash face, read in bed for 20 minutes (alone or read-aloud) give or take, lights out. It’s intentionally not elaborate and has allowed our kids (7 and almost 10) to be pretty independent. We start the process around 8:15 or so and they’re in bed by about 8:30 most nights. Maybe your move could be a hard stop and you can implement some new routines?

    I have to say (and I don’t mean this in a sanctimonious or out of touch way) that I don’t truly understand how / why so many people struggle so mightily with bedtime. What are the common pain points and how can they be resolved?

    • Reply Michelle March 2, 2022 at 9:56 pm

      I believe it depends on the child really. Personality, age, and neurodiversity. Some things like bedtime take more support from the parent and after a long day at work that can be exhausting especially when it seems to never change. Times that by multiple children to 1 parent and it’s likely overstimulating to Sarah at the end of the day. I say this based off my own experience with my child who likely has ADHD therefore often needs step-by-step support to stay on task through a FAMILIAR, CONSISTENT since toddlerhood, bedtime routine. For my personality type it’s so counterintuitive as I was rule oriented and focused no matter my preference for the task.

      • Reply Amy March 3, 2022 at 6:47 am

        Yeah, I totally get that and that makes sense (I really hope I didn’t sound flippant bc that’s not how I meant my question — genuinely wondering why this seems to be such a theme). Your point about it being counterintuitive to the parent is a good one. The combination of time of day, fatigue all around, the kid needing to do something they don’t want to do, etc all add up.

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