Putting kids to bed is hard work, but it's not lost time

The Firefly toothbrush company did some research on how much time parents spend on bedtime — and many people are shocked.

It’s no secret that bedtime means chaos for most parents of young children. The lead-up to nighttime quiet tends to be loud, busy, and frazzled, with everyone running around trying to get bodies washed, teeth brushed, pajamas located, and stories read. The grand finale — turning out the light and closing the door — feels like a small victory won by the parent, although it’s often accompanied by a crushing sense of exhaustion, which has the unpleasant consequence of ruining one’s ability to enjoy the rest of the evening.

This bedtime routine, which so many of us parents live on a daily basis, was captured in a rather sad-looking infographic created by the Firefly toothbrush company.

© Firefly via NY Post

Firefly did some research into how much time parents spend every day putting kids to bed (25 minutes), which adds up to 140 hours a week. As the New York Post writes, “The incredible tally means parents put in the equivalent of nearly 18 full work days just trying to get their children in bed for the night with freshly cleaned teeth.”

Being a snazzy themed toothbrush company, Firefly’s motive for the research is, of course, to sell snazzy themed toothbrushes in hopes of speeding along the bedtime routine. It makes sense; my boys would race into the bathroom if it meant using a light saber to clean their teeth.

But it’s the general message of the infographic that intrigues me the most — this idea that spending 18 workdays a year putting kids to bed is somehow a waste.

A bedtime routine should not be seen as lost time. It’s called parenting. Those 25 minutes (which are closer to 45 minutes in my household) are a rare chance to spend one-on-one time with one’s children, especially for parents who work outside the home. When I think of my own family, bedtime is something to look forward to. We talk about the day, discuss relationships, wrestle and tickle on the floor. We tidy the room and fold laundry, getting the kids to help out. And we read, steadily working our way through the glorious literature of childhood. It’s a highlight of my day to relax on the futon in their bedroom, warm bodies cuddled up close, and just be together.

Regular readers will know that I’m a fan of strict schedules, but just because bedtime is set in stone (7 pm!), that doesn’t mean the lead-up cannot be enjoyable. Start earlier, go slower, and stay calmer. Enjoy those minutes that are so fleeting in the big picture.

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