“Bedtime!” is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of parents all around the world. On a scale of one to ten, it rates an eleven on the “Give Me Strength” index, and can reduce an otherwise highly functioning, perfectly reasonable individual to a blubbering, Bolognese-covered mess. Some even describe the tea-time, bath-time, bed-time routine as “the killing hour”, whilst one friend of mine likes to think that it’s always beer o'clock somewhere in the world.

It is not uncommon for kids to fall out of school exhausted, hungry and grumpy, and then spend the rest of the afternoon in pretty much the same mood. By bedtime, many of them will have become hyperactive, over-emotional and really quite horrid. Some, like my kids, will have become ninjas on speed, throwing themselves at one another and crashing into furniture.

As far as I can see, as soon as the countdown to bedtime begins, many kids become possessed by evil spirits. Their heads spin, their bodies writhe, and they cry uncontrollably as they are coaxed towards their beds. I’ve discovered that the evil can sometimes be tamed with the incantation “if you go to bed now, you can have a …”. But kids are quite wily these days, and want payment up front. Five year olds will usually co-operate for footy cards. My eldest requires cash.

The truth is that bedtime looks pretty hairy wherever it's happening, not just in your house. If you're going to conquer those bedtime demons, you're either going to need to get yourself a good routine, a lot of patience and good humour, or you'd better get yourself a keg of beer and a suitcase of cash.

Happy dreams!

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