8 Reasons Why Kids Insist They Should Be Allowed To Stay Up Late

Bedtime routines with young children can be one of the most frustrating things as a parent. Couple a rough bedtime with the fact that it is the last thing you do with your child before they fall asleep, and, if you’re like me, you go to bed feeling full of guilt, regret, and failure.

Kids are pretty smart and they know when they have an edge over you – like the fact that they can make you feel guilty about being a miserable failure as a parent. So for me, this means that bedtime can be an absolute disaster.

Reese, our 7-year-old, is a pro at finding ways to extend bedtime, so I thought I’d share a few of her finest tricks, in hopes that it helps you be prepared for what you might encounter. In return, I hope you’ll share a few with me that aren’t covered here. We need to help each other!

1. I want to show you something

Oh sure, there’s nothing that makes more sense after you’ve been tucked in, read a book, and then kissed goodnight, than to hop up out of bed to show me one of your toys. This isn’t one of Reese’s most-used tactics, but she brings it out every couple weeks – and lays it on thick.

Fortunately, I am able to disarm this attack fairly easily by reminding her that it would be “impossible” for me to tuck her in again if she were to get up now. Maybe that’s mean, but… sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

But she’s getting smarter, and has taken to asking ME to go over and get the toy. Strangely, my bad back always seems to be “acting up” around this time, and I simply can’t move from my spot at that time…

2. I need to do something

I love that Reese has taken an active interest in knowing what day it is, how many days until the weekend, what holidays are coming up, etc. She especially likes to mark off the day on the calendar before going to bed so she can visualize exactly where we are in the month. But if she forgets to mark off the day, it’s simply the end of the world if she doesn’t go mark it off immediately.

I find it hard to deny this one, as I love that she’s learning and trying to understand time. So I usually let her go do it. Even if it means I have to use a little “daddy magic” to get her tucked back in.

Recently, after she’d been tucked in, she threw off the covers and said, “Hey Dad, do you want to see how high I can jump?”

Why the hell not?

3. I’m scared

I feel pretty lucky that I haven’t had to have the, “There are no monsters in your closet,” talk with Reese. That’s not to say she’s not afraid of anything, but her fears come more out of reality than they do fantasy.

We’ve noticed that while she doesn’t like cartoons that depict monsters, most of her moments of being scared come when she senses someone is in “real” danger. Whether it’s someone on TV who is lost, seeing a puppy all by itself on the side of the road, or reading a story about someone who is sad, she’s very concerned that people are physically AND emotionally ok. And I love that.

So while I haven’t had to check for monsters under the bed or in the closet, occasionally I do have to reassure her that the puppy we saw on the side of the road is probably just fine.

4. I gotta go potty

This one drives me nuts. Whether it’s Reese or Macy, both of them use this one strategically. Even if they just went potty five minutes earlier, on the worst and most difficult nights they pull this one out of their back pocket – and it drives me up a wall.

What is it about kids’ bladders that makes it possible for them to pee for what seems like 10 minutes, only to apparently need to rush back to the bathroom five minutes later? I would say this is 100% a tactic to avoid going to bed, but they legitimately DO go potty that second time. So what gives?

5. I want another book/tell me a story

There are few things I am more proud of than the recurring bedtime storyline I created about a chicken named Cuckoo and her four little chicks: Squeaky, Slippery, Slimey, and Soapy. It’s absolutely awful and 100% made up on the spot, but the girls love it.

Cuckoo’s chicks do nothing but make huge messes, get into all sorts of trouble, and cause all kinds of chaos for her. It’s become part of our routine that after Reese reads me a book, I tell her a “Cuckoo story.” I love doing this! The problem comes when she asks for another one. And when I say no, you would think I’d just told her that she could never have chocolate again.

She gets pouty, grunts and rolls over in her bed. She pulls the covers over her head, and won’t respond when I say, “Good night, I love you.” I can’t stand it! I know that this in itself is a tactic, but in these moments I feel like I’ve failed her. Would it have hurt to have told one more short story? Am I telling her “no” because she needs to go to sleep or because I’m tired of parenting for the day?

Don’t tell Kristi, but I’m totally a sucker. Not every night, but every once in a while I will attempt to smooth things over with her (because I can’t stand sending her to bed that way). I don’t usually tell her another story, because I really don’t want to reward that attitude. But rather than just letting her be, I try very hard to make her laugh or smile and ensure that we end the night on good terms.

6. Tell me about yourself

This one is tough. Every once in a while she wants to know more about me. Never during the day. Not while we’re gathered around the dinner table. It’s almost exclusively after we’ve read books, done a Cuckoo story, and tucked her in. She’ll usually have been lying there quietly for a minute, and then out of the blue she’ll ask, “How did you and mom meet?”

That’s a pretty big question for a 7-year-old to ask, let alone be thinking about. And as much as I believe she’s just grasping at anything she can to stay awake, I love that she wants to know. So usually I’ll humor her and give her some details.

There are nights, though, where I am a total jerk and snap at her that it’s too late to be asking questions like that (as if she knows what kinds of questions are ok to ask at what times of day). And I hate that. Learn from my mistakes.

7. I forgot to tell you <insert random story here>

This is probably the most common post-tucking in “emergency” I get out of Reese. It usually comes in the form of a very excited question.

“Hey Dad, I forgot to tell you something amazing that happened today, do you want to hear?”

I’m not sure how you’re supposed to say “No,” there, so I usually give a big sigh and cave. One of these days I’ll learn to not be such a jerk…

It’s usually something that is actually fairly interesting, and almost every time I get mad at myself for being so frustrated with her. It’s often in these moments of nearly-asleep-but-still-awake clarity that she finally relaxes her body enough to remember some of the details of her day. I’m trying to stay tuned to that and make sure I’m ready for it. These moments really help us to bond.

8. Real Life

This one is the hardest. As many of you may know, Reese’s left hand wasn’t fully developed at birth, so she has three fingers on that hand. It’s stunningly beautiful, but she’s incredibly sensitive about it at times (but surprisingly, not all that often). She won’t say much about it for weeks, and then all of a sudden, as she’s laying in bed about to doze off, she’ll sit up, look at me with tears in her eyes, and start crying about how she wishes she had 10 fingers.


I don’t even know how to begin thinking about the best way to respond. Obviously this is a delicate subject, and I can understand her sadness. I try to reassure her that God gave her eight amazing fingers for a reason, and someday she’s going to learn why and feel blessed. But of course, that’s hard to understand and appreciate at 7 years old.

It’s on nights like these that I just hold her. Who cares what time it is? Who cares if she threw a fit earlier in the day? This is real, and she needs me. Being there for her is what I do best, and I will never deny her that.


So this is definitely not an exhaustive list of excuses kids give for wanting to stay up late, but these are certainly the ones I experience most often. How about you? What other brilliant ways do kids have to avoid going to bed? Seriously, I need to know so I can be prepared for them.

So please, leave a comment below, click one of the buttons to share this post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or email it to a friend. While we may all be miserable failures as parents, there’s no reason we can’t try to help each other be a little bit better each day.

Awesome Halloween Costumes for Kids

Halloween! I’m not much for dressing up, but I love watching my kids get excited. Over the last week I spent some time thinking about some of the great children’s costumes I’ve seen throughout the years. Our girls have almost always wanted to go as some sort of fairy or princess, so we’ve been able to supply everything they needed from our dress-up box. But I’ve come across a few costumes over the years I would have loved to have tried.

I’ll share pictures of our girls in their final Halloween costumes later, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at a few of the best children’s Halloween costume ideas I’ve seen lately.

 Ketchup Packet


The brilliant thing about this costume, is that depending on what your child eats earlier in the day, you may actually be able to unintentionally simulate what it looks like when these packets break open… I know, I know… gross…

Turkey Baby

turkey baby

This one feels really mean, but it’s so damn cute!


Popcorn baby! A functional AND cute costume for you and your baby.

Popcorn is already one of the best treats, why not shove your baby in there, too? This is smart, though. It’s creative, cute, AND functional. Your entire costume is designed so that you don’t have to keep track of your baby. She’s always RIGHT THERE. Brilliant.

Subway Baby

I really can't think of a cuter baby Halloween costume.

I will admit I don’t know if I’m posting pictures in such a way that will make the original creators upset, but no more-so than with this one. I can’t find a website where this image originated, so I’m simply using the link I found when doing a search for it on Google. I saw this costume years ago and loved it. I always wanted to use it on Macy, but… well… I’m too lazy.

Napolean Dynamite

Napolean Dynamite. Every kids dream Halloween costume... right?

Both my kids, as young as they are, have seen the movie Napolean Dynamite. Macy saw it on our shelf when she was two and insisted we put it in. There’s nothing bad in it, so we figured why not? So now they have some context, maybe it’s time they walk a mile in Napolean’s moon boots?

Grandma Toddler

Dressing up like grandma has never looked so young!

It’s not ok to mock grandma… unless you look this cute doing it!

Baby Taco

Don't let that taco crawl away!

This one is awesome for your crawler. It’s super cute and is amazingly funny. And with the recent release of the taco emoji, it’s even more relevant!


Halloween costumes can be a family affair.

I know I said I don’t like dressing up, but this is a tasty treat I could probably get in the spirit for. [Image originated from here.]

Headless Man

There's no way this Headless Man costume ever loses ANY costume contest.

I don’t know what else to say about this. This is simply awesome. Pick a costume contest. Any costume contest. Enter. Enjoy the prize, because there’s no way this costume loses!

Happy Halloween!

The Kindness Of A Stranger

Sometimes you just have to get lucky.

That’s what happened last night when putting Reese and Macy to bed. Normally both our kids end up in the bathroom at the same time, vying for sink real estate and debating (fighting over) who the stool belongs to, and it creates a lot of unnecessary chaos heading into bedtime. Usually, both kids are already whining about the fact that they have to get ready for bed, and then once Reese (7) starts holding her ground on the stool and at the sink, and not letting Macy (3) have access to the sink to brush her teeth, all hell breaks loose. Someone starts whining, someone starts being snotty, someone cries… and that’s just Kristi and me. But the story is the same for the two girls, and this is all over something neither of them really wants to do anyway.

Normally I get super frustrated when this happens. I wonder, “Why do you have to be so whiny at bedtime?” Sometimes I even whine about it. Ok, I whine about it almost every time. And all that does is make it worse, and it probably gets the kids more riled up, too.

But last night my wife and I got lucky. Or maybe it was a happy accident. It worked out so that only one of them was in the bathroom at a time. So while one was in there going potty and brushing their teeth, the other one was putting on their pajamas. Then they switched. It wasn’t on purpose (unless my wife is even more of a genius than I already think she is and she’s just been holding out on me), but it was brilliant. Why didn’t we think of this simple little procedure sooner? There was no whining, no crying, and no yelling. And the girls did great, too!

Evenings have long been the most difficult time in our house. Whether it’s this chaotic pre-bedtime routine, or one of the girls simply refusing to settle down and go to sleep, Kristi and I are flat exhausted by the time the girls go to bed. I’ve managed to convince myself that I should stay awake a couple extra hours after they go to bed, but my wife is usually so wiped she goes straight to bed. Bedtime is a battle, as any parent knows.

So here’s today’s lesson.

If you ever bump into a young family at a park, or at dinner, or in the mall, and the parent(s) look worn down, like maybe they haven’t changed clothes in a couple days, and the kids are all wound up running around like crazy… take a moment to acknowledge those parents. Tell them they’re doing a great job. Tell them to hang in there. I know from experience that this helps, and it goes a long way.

A few months ago, while still living in Sugar Land, I wasn’t necessarily as exhausted as normal, but was still worn out. On this particular Saturday I took Macy out to lunch – just the two of us. And let me tell you, as far as dates go, she’s a talker. Much like her older sister, silence is apparently like a green vegetable (so it’s something to fight off, tooth and nail). So we were sitting at our table, she was chattering away, and I was in a good enough mood that I was playing along and having fun with her. She was talking about the people she saw, some of the funny clothes and hats she saw, and I’m pretty sure there was some rambling about Minnie Mouse in there somewhere.

Anyway, I was having a good time, indulging in her questions, tickling her, playing little games, etc. An older lady came over to us, and she had apparently been watching us for a while. She leaned over and said, “You are such a good dad. You’re doing a great job with that little girl.” I barely knew what to say, but I stammered out a, “Thank you so much,” before she walked away. That near-tear-inducing compliment was exactly what I needed after a rough week at work and a restless night’s sleep. The kindness of a stranger can make all the difference.

So be that stranger.

I know from experience that offering kind words to others not only helps them feel better, but it also helps you feel better.

I used to start every day by sending an email to a friend, co-worker, family member, or whatever saying how much I appreciated them, or telling them “thank you” for their help on a project. It wasn’t forced, and it can’t be if it’s going to work. It must be genuine and real. You hear a lot of people talking about gratitude journals, which I wholeheartedly believe in as well, but this is just a slight tweak to that idea. Instead of keeping things you’re grateful for locked up in a journal, you’re sharing them with the world (or at least that person). It feels great!

Sure there were still be bad days. You can’t fix a terrible work environment simply by being nice. You can’t erase a rough night with the kids simply by saying what you’re grateful for. But you can get your day started on the right foot, especially if you know you have a long, difficult, or frustrating day ahead of you. Telling someone “thank you” can put a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your heart that will help get you through.

This website is still young, but as you can see I will likely weave parenting advice/stories together with work stories, as they very much go hand-in-hand. Work life affects your ability to be a good parent, and struggling at home absolutely makes work more difficult. So if you take anything away from this post, try to find any way possible to bring a little peace to bedtime, and compliment at least one person every day.

So hang in there, we’ve all been through a lot. But together, we can get through this. There may be no such thing as a perfect parent, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find some success and start stringing together small victories here and there.

And if all else fails, if you feel like you’re doing everything wrong and failing miserably, find someone who IS doing it well, and let them know. It just might make their day – and yours.

5 Tips For Working Out As A Parent

Get up at 5:30. Work a full day. Ride the bus home. Give the kids a hug. Set the table. Eat dinner. Play with the kids. Have a famous (infamous?) Armstrong dance party. Go through the bedtime routine. Pray that this is an easy night. Kids finally fall asleep. Then…. it’s 9:00 (or later, on a bad night) and I have to make some decisions. Do I head downstairs and plop on the couch to watch some TV and finally unwind from the day? Do I play some video games to escape for a while? Do I do some writing to chase my creative outlet? Or do I somehow muster the energy, after being awake, moving, working, and parenting for the last 16 hours, to work out?

I think that’s one of the things that non-parents don’t understand. Once you build your life around your children, it becomes harder and harder to make time for yourself. We all know we NEED to, but in the scenario I described at the beginning of this post, when would you suggest I workout? There are two obvious choices: either in the evening after 9 PM, or get up earlier. But neither of those are ideal, so what’s a parent to do?

I’m finding it very difficult to keep this article from being a total whine-fest, and I’d like to try to offer some words of encouragement to other parents who are struggling to find balance. I wish I had an easy, fool-proof answer for you, but I don’t. I’m not claiming to be an expert here, and I certainly don’t follow the advice I’m about to give you as well as I should. But this post will serve as a lesson for both you and me, as I’m formulating these ideas on the go, and I can’t wait to try to implement them.

1. Get up earlier.

I’m absolutely not a morning person, but the fact that my alarm goes off every morning at 5:30 sort of makes it important that I be somewhat of a morning person. I’d love to say that I rise and shine and show the sun how to do it, but that’s simply not true. I drag myself into the shower, fumble around trying to find something to wear, and am lucky if I’ve remembered to grab my bus pass before heading out.

Are you like me? Does the thought of getting up even a half hour earlier make you sick? Try doing what I did for a while – slowly start getting up earlier. If you normally get up at 6 and want to get up 30 minutes earlier to workout, instead of setting your alarm for 5:30, set it for 5:55 for a week. Then 5:50 for a week. And so on. You may not get much (if any) working out done in that extra 5-10 minutes at first, but you’ll slowly start helping your body to adapt to waking up earlier. Eventually it will get easier.

Of course, going to bed earlier goes hand-in-hand with getting up earlier, as regardless of your schedule, you DO need sleep. But if you’re like me, the evenings are your chance to relax and unwind, so that’s hard to give up. But again, try to slowly phase it down a little. Normally go to bed at 11:30? Try 11:25 for a week. Then 11:20. And so on. I can’t guarantee you’ll ever love giving up your “me” time, but at least it won’t happen all at once.

2. Build in exercise throughout your day.

When I lived in Pullman I spent the better part of my last year there walking to work. I only lived a mile away, and it felt really good to spend 20 minutes starting my day with fresh air. But now that I live on the other side of the state, I live 20 miles away, so I’ve lost that ability. So instead, I am now trying to incorporate walking into my daily routine at work.

It helps that I have a boss who will allow this, and if your supervisor isn’t cool like mine, this may not work, but give this a shot: walking meetings. I proposed the idea to her a few weeks ago, and she loved it. Ever since then we’ve taken to spending an hour every Tuesday walking together to discuss projects, brainstorm, talk out ideas, and just chat. It’s done wonders for our relationship, and it helps make sure I get in at least an hour of some sort of cardio – even if it isn’t very intense. In fact, I asked her that it NOT be.

I sweat a lot, so my number one concern about doing anything that resembles exercise at work is being all sweaty and nasty the rest of the day. So when I proposed the idea to her, I specifically made mention of the fact that I’d need it to be at my slower pace. I didn’t spell out exactly how gross I am (although I’m sure she figured that out a couple of weeks earlier, after we practically ran across campus to make it to a meeting on time – I literally told her to go on without me because I was completely gassed).

Anyway, even if you can’t run, jog, power walk, or use an actual workout machine, try to fit in some walking. Steve Jobs used to take walks to help his mind relax and to work through problems, and I find it really works. So I’ve taken to walking as often as I can at lunch, too. Again, nothing intense, I just make sure I get out and get moving. Every little bit helps.

3. Late night exercise.

This is where most of my actual exercise has been happening lately. It’s certainly not ideal, but sometimes it just has to work. What I do, is when I get home from work, I change into my workout clothes almost immediately. That way I’m ready to go when the time comes. I then spend a few hours playing and hanging out with my kids, eating dinner, doing dishes, and any other household things that may need to be done before bedtime. Then, as soon as the kids are asleep, I head outside. It’s usually somewhere between 8:30 and 9, depending on how rough bedtime was, and on the more difficult nights, it’s 9:30 (and I’m not going to lie, on those nights, I often talk myself out of going because I’m exhausted).

Once I’m out the door I’m good to go. It’s actually getting outside that is the hard part. But once I hit the street and have my music started, it’s on. It’s been so long since I worked out religiously that I can’t go as long or hard as I should, but at this point, even 20 minutes is a million times better than nothing. The downside to this schedule is that once I return home, I’m hot, sweaty, and amped up, and there’s no way I’m going to bed anytime soon. This creates a problem, considering I have to get up at 5:30. Still, hopefully it will work for you.

4. Take advantage of work facilities.

Something I haven’t done because it’s never been available to me, is showering at work. Some companies provide showers for their employees, and if you happen to work in a place like this, use that to your advantage! Maybe this means you walk, jog, or bike to work. Maybe it means you go for a run on your lunch break. Or maybe you hit a local gym in the morning. If I had a shower in my building I would absolutely do this. Personally, I would probably go for a run around campus and then take a shower to clean up. Like I said earlier, the worst part about exercising at work is the sweatiness that persists once I return to my desk. So this would solve that problem perfectly.

5. Exercise with your kids.

Look, I get it, taking your kids on an exercise jog or bike ride with you can be incredibly frustrating. They don’t go as fast as you want, they stop to pick flowers every two minutes, and they’re ready to turn back home within about five minutes. One solution to this is to walk to your nearest park and let them play while you run laps around it. Sure, maybe you’ll be “that guy/girl”, but hey, those other parents can laugh and sip their lattes all day long, but at least you’re taking action.

I also know that younger kids will want you to play with them, thus ruining your plans to workout. My advice? Play with them. There’s a couple reasons why this isn’t a big deal. First of all, there are more important things in life than tight abs. And secondly, playing with your kids can actually be a good calorie burner. Maybe it won’t be the same as wind sprints between the picnic table and tire swing, but it’s better than just sitting and watching.

So if you take anything away from this, don’t worry about how long or hard you workout. Fit in what you can when you can. And again, no I am not an expert. Look at me and you’ll instantly know that. But the good thing about me is that I’ll never claim to be better than you at anything, including parenting, working out, and math. We’re in this together, and we need to help each other.

So with that in mind, what other suggestions for working out do you have? When do you squeeze it in as a busy parent? What are some of the frustrations you’ve experienced? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s help each other grow stronger.

Let’s Be Miserable Failures Together

In an attempt to tackle one of life’s greatest challenges (parenting), I’m beginning a new section on this website. No, I don’t claim to be an expert parent, or even a good one, but I hope to impart the lessons I’ve learned (and continue learning) to other young parents. Hopefully you will learn a little bit from my mistakes, failures, and occasional successes.

But more importantly, I hope my children will one day look back at this and realize I really was trying. They may go through their teens hating me, but Reese and Macy, maybe you’re reading this in your college dorm room, mad at me because I wouldn’t send you any more money (let’s face it, I honestly probably DON’T have any extra money to send you), and realize that all those times you thought I was being mean or wasn’t being fair or was just plain dumb, that I was actually trying my hardest to be a good parent to you.

Anyway, I’ll kick this section off in style soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share an article I wrote for GameSkinny a couple years ago.  I carry a lot of guilt as a parent, and reading this article often brings me back to reality. I get so caught up in my own problems that I am often not nearly as loving and caring as I should be towards my family. Bedtime is still a struggle, as Reese (now 7) and Macy (3) simply love being awake too much. I find myself repeatedly in the same situation I was at the time of writing that article, and I snap at them. Why? Why do I continue doing this when I know it doesn’t help, when I know all they want is to spend a few more minutes with me, and when I know that these precious moments are all too fleeting?

I don’t have a good answer, and so I continue to go to bed nearly every night feeling like I’ve let them down.

That’s no way to live, and I hope these posts will offer comfort to anyone else out there who struggles with trying to live up to the ideals of the perfect parent. We all have those friends on Facebook who make it seem like their lives are perfect. They give off the impression that their babies are literally angels God sent from above who sleep through the night, never cry, and come out wiping their own asses. Everywhere you look there are depictions of seemingly perfect parents. I’d love to say, “Trust me, their life isn’t perfect,” but I honestly don’t know that for sure. My best words of encouragement to anyone else suffering from this is to realize that for every “perfect” parent out there, there are 100 “miserable failures” like you and me. Don’t get bogged down in trying to be like someone else. Just look inside yourself and do the best you can. If you’ve made it this far in this article, you care. You care enough to do better, and just realizing that is an amazing first step.

So hopefully this new section of my website is not a complete failure, like my parenting skills. But if you’re a miserable failure like me, you can help me succeed. Help me be a voice for ALL of us miserable failures by sharing this with your friends, family, and random strangers. And heck, if you do know one of those “perfect” parents on Facebook, send this to them, too. Because chances are, they aren’t perfect, and they’re looking for a little support. Let’s be there for them, and let them know that it’s ok to be a miserable failure.