It’s gotten out of hand. And it’s time for me to be a mean mommy (again).

Bedtime around Casa di RPM has usually been a well-organized affair. We have our routine, and we follow it, and it has been good. It has worked.

In the last month or so, it has ceased to work. I’m not sure why, and I’m not really 100% sure what to do.

For the longest time, the girls have gone to bed with books. They like to flip through them after “lights out” (which isn’t really lights out because they use a night light). Lately, they go to bed with 10 books each. And read them to each other.

They have requested that in addition to their night light, another light be left on for them. I have indulged them, but I think that ends tonight.

They used to go to bed with one or two favorite stuffed animals. But lately they have made a point of piling up ALL of their stuffed animals in the bed, usually after I have left the room. (We “store” the stuffed animals in their room, in a bassinet from my husband’s side of the family. He used to actually sleep in it when he was a newborn — my SIL, too.) I hear them scurrying around, getting animals, and then they play with them.

I come upstairs to find Kate neatly lining up her animals along the foot of her bed.

“They are sleepy, mama,” she says, gesturing to her animals, most of whom are lying on their backs. “I not sleepy.”

Or Flora will be buried under a layer of stuffed animals, snoring away despite the fuzz from the horse’s tail that keeps going up her nose.

They come downstairs after I have put them in bed. They ask for drinks or something to eat or one more hug and kiss; they tell me they are scared; they have to go pee; Kate, often, has waited until 9:30 p.m. to poop in her diaper.

It’s driving me bonkers. Not only that, but my children are not getting enough sleep. They don’t conk out until 10 p.m. on some nights, and Dan and I struggle to get them to wake up the next day.

I am going to (try to) lay down the law tonight.

I’ll start by insisting the light go off. (They can turn the light on, which is part of the problem. I don’t want to unplug it because — trust me — Flora will take it upon herself to plug it back in.)

I’ll tell them if they leave the room for any reason (the exception will be to go pee, although I’m not telling them that — they’ll be in the bathroom all night), the gate goes up. At Flora’s request, we have been leaving the gate off the door.

If they come downstairs once, they are going to lose their show before bedtime (the next day).
If they come downstairs again, they are going to lose TV and the night-time treat.
Then the lullaby, then the book, and if it continues, they are going to be going to bed immediately after dinner and bath time.

I need that hour or two after they go to bed: to do dishes, fold laundry, pack lunches, check e-mail, read. Whatever. That is my time. And they are messing with it.

Do your kids get out of bed? What do you do about it? If you have other suggestions for me, I’m open!