Surely Family Life (and Bedtimes) Shouldn’t be Such A Struggle!

We were doing ok, my two sons, my husband and I. We had our share of struggles. The sibling arguments, the universal family struggles of getting the kids out of the door on time. The dragged-out, seemingly never-ending bedtime battles.

No huge issues. But SURELY family life could be better than mildly (or hugely) irritating?

It was the relentless nature of it, the repeated requests for simple things that I felt we SHOULD have gotten over by now. I mean, they were 3 and 6!

SURELY, they could put their clothes on without me handed them each piece of clothing separately.

SURELY, we could have a weekend cuddle in bed which didn’t result in a sibling meltdown and a heel to someone’s nose!

SURELY, the bedtime routine didn’t need to take SO LONG!


If it was just those low-level irritations maybe I would have shrugged it off and decided it was just how family life was, after all my friends reported similar stories.

But SURELY, I wasn’t supposed to be so filled with anger just trying to get out the door in the morning.

SURELY after all those parenting books I’d read I should be able to feel more generously towards my children as they fell asleep every evening, rather than the stricken feeling of desperation to get downstairs to a cup of tea, or something stronger.

Listening to a Hand in Hand parenting podcast one day, Abigail and Elle described how a child’s natural, biological need for connection, in order to thrive, is being threatened when they go to bed every night.

The never-ending list of things that URGENTLY NEED to be done before sleep is a way of our children signalling to us the emergency state their brain is in, and their desperate response is to stave off the hours of disconnection, even if only for five minutes.

That would explain the begging for a drink of water before bed, the lengthy negotiations for one more story/cuddle/kiss/aeroplane spin (yes honestly!) before I could escape the room.

So I learnt about the Hand in Hand tools, how to do Special Time, (the Hand in Hand way) how to get support for myself through Listening Partnerships, how to play in a way that connects and heals (Play Listening) and how to Set Limits in a new, connecting, healing way and fundamentally how to Stay Listen to my children’s emotions, so they could thrive in life (and go to sleep WAY more easily!)

Sometimes using the tools felt like magic, I would use a tool and BAM! life got instantly easier. Sometimes I would think back to the previous month and realise how things had gently but significantly shifted for us as a family. Now, after using the tools for 6 or 7 years I’m so incredibly grateful I didn’t settle for the status quo, we would have missed out on so much good stuff, and the hard stuff (hard stuff still comes up!) isn’t so scary.

Learning the Hand in Hand tools has revolutionised our family life.

We now have a “Whatever You Do, DON’T Get Into Your PJs” game, for example, which makes all of us roar with genuine laughter, connecting us before the long night ahead.

We have sibling discussions where one sibling will praise the skills and strengths of the other sibling.

We have bedtimes that are full of affection, laughter, peace and contentment.


Hand in Hand parenting has given me good information as to what is going on for my children in those moments. And it’s given me space to offload the frustrations of working hard all day and NEEDING space in the evening, making me lighter when I’m putting the children to bed at night.

And my rage at getting out the door in the morning? I can’t say it NEVER flairs up, but when it does, I know where to go with it, and have the confidence that I’ll figure it out.

Mostly I just enjoy being with my children a whole lot more. Not every minute. But so, so much more!

SURELY that’s got to be worth it.

Get Yourself Parenting Support

If you would like to learn more about parenting by connection, and the Hand in Hand tools that really make that possible, the Starter Class is a great introduction.  You will be in a small group of parents (maximum 6) with time to learn, share and listen.  You will gain understanding, confidence and hope for your family. I have 2 classes starting this April, and more scheduled for June.  Find out more here

Need FREE support? Sign up here for my monthly FREE talks, every first Saturday of the month.  You can also watch previous replays here.

Here’s the Bedtime Podcast I mentioned earlier.