Surviving Bedtime

Sixteen castaways strategizing their way to a million-dollar payday was must-see television at my house every week.

But before my husband and I could watch the popular television program where 16 people claw and fight their way to a million dollars, we had to survive bedtime.

My oldest daughter is just now starting to understand the concept of time with mixed results. My other three children think only two times are important -- morning time and eating time. Appointments, deadlines and bedtimes are beyond their comprehension. So much so that any urgency on my part seems to make my children move even slower.

At no time is this more poignant than at bedtime, which begins with the announcement, "Time for bed."

Convincing children it's bedtime despite the daylight pouring in their windows isn't an easy task. The 3-year-old believes any light in the sky means it is "morning time." The darkest shades and curtains do little to diminish the tempting summer sun from sneaking into their bedrooms.

To help prove it's bedtime, my husband and I showed them the clock. The two oldest could recognize the number eight without a problem. Who knew we were just creating a new problem? Just days later at 7:57 p.m., I announced bedtime. Immediately arguments broke out. We have to wait until exactly 8:00 p.m. on the clock before my children will move a single muscle toward the bathroom and ultimately the bedroom.

Well that tactic didn't work, but what if I get them into their pajamas earlier? I quickly formed an unbreakable alliance with my spouse and we were ready for the next night's bedtime challenge. At 7:30 p.m., I announced it was time to get pajamas on. Protests rose immediately.

"We don't want to go to bed," moaned one. "It's not our bedtime yet," whined another. I was armed. I handed two pairs of pajamas to my spouse as we pushed aside the protests. "We didn't say anything about going to bed," I pointed out. "We just said it was time to get pajamas on."

I sounded suspiciously like Richard from the original Survivor show when he was asked about the alliances being formed at tribal council. "Alliance? What alliance?"

As the clock ticked closer to 8 p.m., I encouraged each of the children to go to the bathroom. When the clock hit 8 p.m. I was ready. I raced to put all four children in their respective beds. I kissed lips and tucked covers. I had done it! They were all in bed and on their way to sleep land.

As I sat down on the couch next to my husband with a tired plop, I heard it -- the unmistakable sound of a door opening. Two kids quickly made their appearance in the living room with requests for drinks, additional bathroom trips, discussions of upcoming birthdays and present suggestions. The nearest birthday was six months away.

Once more I put the children to bed as they whisper promises about immediately falling to sleep into my ear. The minute my back was turned, they started plotting my demise. How could they get around Mommy to convince Daddy that it really isn't bedtime? Could they break the alliance?

Dad may have been the weak link, but he wouldn't let them stay up either. Of course, they would have had a stronger case if they wouldn't talk so much when the show was on. It gets hard to hear the whispered plotting on the TV when two children are dancing and singing.

The alliance remains, at least until the next tribal council.