I’ve written extensively about how my 4.5 year old is a night owl who goes to sleep somewhere between 10-11 most days. That is something we’ve learned to deal with, so I’m now aiming to solve for a related issue.

Bedtime transition is chaos around here, and seemingly getting worse. Because LO is so high energy, we start trying to transition to quiet time and bedtime prep around 8:30. Any mention of PJs elicits a downright tantrum of the “I’m not tired” variety and usually takes a while, with lots of assurances that we aren’t going to bed yet, to get her to change, brush teeth, etc. After which, ironically, she’s happy to get into bed, but the idea of shifting from play mode to bedtime prep mode is a crisis.

Where it gets really bad is if we have to take a shower that day (2-4X/week). The kid generally loves water, but as soon as bath time comes up, it’s kicking, screaming, fighting, you name it. Everything from “I’m not ready for bed” to “I’m afraid of water” to anything she can think of to not take a shower. There is only so much I can compromise on here, since she needs to get washed at some point, but in recent memory we haven’t had one instance of a bath day where it didn’t end in a meltdown from her and eventually me.

I’m struggling with how to respond and deal when this happens. I try to take as calm an approach as possible. We talk about why baths are important for health. We remind her about play time after bath time. We’ve tried to move bathtime up so that it wasn’t associated with bedtime, no luck. We take away play time and reading time, to no effect (nor do we like to.) we tell her that it’s bedtime for us and she can play on her own but she wants us with her, so it becomes a game of slamming doors and fights. It’s bad.

Once we’re past this transition, things are actually fine. She can play quietly for a bit, she’ll have no issue getting into bed to read books and doesn’t even argue about lights out, but this transition, it’s a disaster every damn day, and I can’t figure out what else to try. Would love any tips, because this is becoming exhausting for all of us and I fear I’m going to damage my relationship with my kid if we don’t figure out a more peaceful way to get through this. I know that sounds dramatic but the heaving sobs from both of tonight really underscored how much we’re struggling with this.