In a day and age where there is so much to say about kid sleep, I have a truth to share that may be controversial to many parents: I don’t have the “perfect” bedtime for my child. And maybe it’s my personal experience that makes me follow up with saying that sometimes, there is no such thing as “perfect” bedtimes for kids. 

For some parents, as much as we try to implement structure and routines and systems, those things just don’t work as well as we wish they would. I tried starting off with a soothing nighttime routine, and honestly, I kept at it for quite a while. I actually still try to. 

toddler sleeping in bed

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We go for an evening walk after dinner to wind down, come home for bathtime, read a bedtime story and dim the lights to create a bedtime atmosphere. But as “perfect” as this may sound (and as much as it may work for many parents out there) it somehow hasn’t created a perfect bedtime for my son.

It’s like he utterly refuses any sort of structure. He goes for as long as he wants and then drops when he’s tired himself completely out. Sometimes, my efforts to put him to bed actually puts me to sleep—and in moments like these I feel like I’ve failed at yet another thing in motherhood.

Related: Sometimes babies don’t sleep

Admitting the truth about my kid’s bedtime has actually been rather hard for me. I sometimes want so badly to fit in with the moms whose kids sleep throughout the night.

When asked what time my child’s bedtime is, I want to be able to give a consistent “7 p.m.” as my answer. But the reality of our lives is that there is no consistent answer. Some nights he’ll go to sleep at 8 p.m. and be up by 6 in the morning. Other nights, he’ll go down for what I think is bedtime at 7:30 p.m. and then be up at 10 p.m. like there is no tomorrow. 

Maybe one day my child will adopt some “perfect” routine, but today is not that day.

But every night, I am trying my best to be patient and consistent with the routine—as much as he resists it.

For so long, I envied the parents who could get their kids down at a certain time every evening and still have time leftover for themselves before bed. I rarely get that kind of leisure these days, but I’m learning to just take it as it is. I’ve tried Googling sleep training advice. My husband has tried to take over when he gets home from work each evening. I’ve tried reading tips through a baby app. And yet it all still seems to no avail.

Related: Sleep training didn’t work for us, and that’s OK

I’ve been shamed. I’ve been made to feel that maybe his inconsistent bedtime is due to something that I’m doing wrong as a mother. And maybe it is. 

Maybe I am not as good with structure as I’d like to think I am. Maybe I give in too easily when he fights me to stay awake. Maybe I feel defeated too quickly. Maybe there’s a dent in my routine. 

But whatever the reason may be, even if I certainly am to blame, right now I am learning to be OK with my son’s inconsistent bedtime. Because I know that I am trying my best every day. And some days, my best is keeping at it until he gives in and falls asleep in my arms. Other days, it’s letting him run wild around his room until he rubs his sleepy eyes and crawls into his bed.

Maybe one day my child will adopt some “perfect” routine, but today is not that day. It is what it is for now—and that’s completely OK.