Bedtime. If you have had any involvement in getting kids into bed, you know that this event can make or break you.
Trying to get young children into bed takes planning, persistence, patience and often the promise of a bottle of wine at the other end of the ordeal. Sometimes, just the thought of having to go through the process is enough to make you want to get in your car, reverse like a crazy lady out of the driveway and speed off to the local RSL to watch a Roxette Cover Band because surely, it would be more fun.
Parents, I know you hear me. This is not about children being naughty, or not wanting to spend time with them. It's simply about the time and effort involved here. It's about running a bath and remembering to turn it off before you flood the house. It's about convincing the children to get in; then convincing them to get out. Then realising that no child actually used soap.
It's about putting pyjamas on properly, not wearing them as hats. It's about wet towels on floors and life threatening puddles. It's about brushing teeth. With toothpaste. It's about WHY we go to the toilet before bed. Every freakin' time.
It's about turning off the TV, then turning it back on to ensure unfinished show is recording. It's about all of this while breaking up fights, answering the phone (because who doesn't want telemarketers to call?) and trying, just trying, to not lose your shit. And just when you think it's all over, just as you switch out the lights, one kid announces that they need to wear (currently dirty) sports uniform again the following day because "someone said so".
All of this goes on while you anxiously prepare a mental plan of all the things you have to do once they're finally in bed, a plan that now also includes 38 Facebook posts to determine the validity of the uniform announcement, followed by a panicked and unscheduled washing of the freaking sports uniform.
It is exhausting, but we all do it and over time, we all develop our own routines.
Each night in our house, husband reads with Miss 5 and I read with Master 8. To be fair, this is the calmest part of the bed routine and it's the light at the end of the long, repetitive tunnel. But getting there is so hard that it can be hard to enjoy it.
Master 8 argues relentlessly every night about what we will read. We've attempted many novels together but frankly, he just can't be arsed sticking with it. It's often because he's seen the movies so there's no surprises (Harry Potter) or he just gets bored. And then it's back to Find-a-Words. There's only so many of these I can enjoy in one week.
In October, however, there was a shift in my house. It came in the form of a book.
Admittedly, I built up a little hype at home by announcing to Master 8 that I had pre-ordered a copy of The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race to the End of the World on my kindle for us to read together.
Was it the title of the book or the fact that I would be sharing my beloved Kindle that took his interest? I don't know, but he was dead keen. And on the day the book came out, we settled into bed and began to read.
After an intriguing discussion with him about the length of the prologue (he was impressed by it; I was impressed that he knew what a prologue was) we found ourselves stretching reading time out by a couple of extra minutes.
The following night, I wandered around the house looking for Master 8 at bedtime, only to discover he was in bed, holding my Kindle, waiting for me. I stared at him with caution, asking "Who are you and what have you done with my son?"
The night after that, my husband came into the room to suggest gently to me that our boy needed to sleep now, so engrossed were we in this book. Son and I whined in unison at the unfairness of "book down, lights out".
Soon Master 8 and I were agreeing to go to bed a bit earlier, so we could get a little more story time in. And so, with The Mapmaker Chronicles, bedtime became something that we both looked forward to. For those few weeks, there were no arguments about lights out, because neither of us wanted to stop reading!
Why's it so good? Well for starters, it's not a diary or comic strip style book. Nothing against Diary of a Whimpy Kid or any others like it, it's just that, for me, it was good to enjoy a book with my child without pictures. A nice change of pace.
The story follows Quinn, a boy with an exceptional gift who has been chosen to take part in a race to map the world. It's an adventure story, with plenty of battle scenes, suspense and rich characters you can really fall in love with, along with some you can loathe.
Master 8 liked Quinn "because he was really smart". My favourite character was Zain. I'm not ashamed to say that I suspect I'd fancy him in real life. Just sayin'....
Whilst A.L.Tait's The Mapmaker Chronicles temporarily improved my life, there was one downfall: we finished it. I entered into that phase of grief that follows the completion of a good book, while Master 8 entered into that phase of repetitively asking "when's the next one out?" followed by "I can't wait to see the movie!"
Thank God it's a 3 book series. It's good knowing there's something on the horizon guaranteed to ease the pain of bedtime.
Do you read with your kids? What are you reading?