Tonight Sawyer went to sleep in his new big bed for the first time! It took him quite a while to fall asleep... I don't think he drifted off until about 9 o'clock (he was in bed before 7:30), but he stayed in bed the whole time all by himself, and now that he's asleep in there, he is so flippin' cute! I want so badly to take a picture of him but I don't dare wake him up. I wish you could see him though. My big little baby all curled up in the corner of a real live twin sized bed! Moments like this just make me want to freeze time for a bit.
Anyway, we'll see how the whole night goes and what ungodly hour he pops out of bed at! Keep your fingers crossed for us!
So coincidentally, Sawyer's milestone bedtime tonight leads me into my Thoughts on Thursday post for this week. (By the way, is no one else joining in on our Thursday conversation starters??? Come on! There's gotta be something you want to open a conversation about or something you want to know other's opinions on that you could take a few minutes to blog about?! Well, at the very least make sure you comment on my thoughts... and Nic has her own thoughts too, so go over there and check it out.)
My topic of choice this week is Bedtime.
Do (did) your kids have bedtimes? Is it early or late or whenever they fall asleep? And am I brave enough to take it a step further... what about the family bed vs. kids in their own beds?
I just have to say I don't understand the no bedtime thing. I'm just going to be blunt and ask do parents really think that it's okay for a small child to still be awake at 10 and 11 p.m.?? Do they really think there is nothing wrong with that?
Disclaimer: When I talk about early childhood and parenting habits, I admit I am no expert and probably very far from it... but having worked in early childhood education for almost 10 years, nannied numerous infants/toddlers, and now having two kids of my own... I am fairly comfortable saying I've seen a thing or two and I know I've had enough varying experiences with all different situations to give at least a half-way educated opinion. HAHA!
**Added Disclaimer: It is late and I am very sleep deprived myself and even as I'm typing I have a million other things running through my head. I'm realizing this is why I haven't been blogging regularly... I have too much all jumbled around in my head to focus on actually writing anything that actually sticks to a point or makes any sense!
Most of the kids I've been involved with have had "normal" bedtimes. I'm categorizing "normal" as anytime between 6:30 and 8:30 considering children 6 months to about 8 years old. The majority of them (and can I say generally the happiest and better behaved children as well) were in bed by 8. But then I would have a two or three year old in my class now and then who, for example, didn't go to bed until usually close to midnight (and then be in my classroom before 7am the next morning, poor thing). This little girl was miserable. She was so obviously overtired and really honestly struggled through her day. I was actually pretty close with the mother and had a few conversations with her about K's bedtime. They always said, "oh, she is just such a night owl... she loves to stay up late, we just can't get her to bed any earlier, she likes to stay up late and sleep in". Yeah, well first of all, she's obviously not sleeping in when you have to be at work by 7am. She's taking four hour naps everyday because she's exhausted. She stays up late because she CAN, and you can't get her to bed because you don't really try.
I babysat little K for 10 days with her older brother and sister while their parents were out of town one summer. K was in bed and asleep every night with me by 9pm. By the time her parents got home, it was closer to 8. And she was noticeably happier and healthier... it was like a completely different child! She was not only sleeping more, but getting much better sleep when she was sleeping. K's mom had often complained about K still waking up and needing to be layed down with to go back to sleep numerous times a day. But after the first few nights of an earlier bedtime with me, K was sleeping soundly all the way till morning. I was kind of bummed as shortly after mom and dad returned home, K was back to her "night owl" ways. And those ways included her crankiness, her touchiness, her short attention span, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
I know part of their "excuse" for keeping her up late was the fact that they both worked full time. I know that tends to be a common denominator with some kids that don't really have bedtimes... the parents don't get to see them all day and they try to squeeze in all that together time at night. Nobody wants to only see their children for just basically 2 hours a day (if you're getting home at 6 and they're going to bed at 8). It feels like you're cheated out of spending time with your kids. But I just have to say, if you're keeping them up for those reasons, you're actually cheating them. It is amazing the number of kids who are sleep deprived in our culture. Did you know that over 20% of kids entering elementary school have serious sleep problems that aren't perceived by either the child or their parents? They are chronically sleep deprived. Some doctors say that almost half of the diagnosed ADHD patients would not need any special medication or treatments if they as their doctors could regulate their sleeping habits.
Honestly, kids need way more sleep than I think most of us are even aware of. And I think most of us are unaware of the difference it makes. Sleep- good quality sleep- is such a foundation for a child's overall health and demeanor it is amazing.
Recently I've met a few more moms with way more flexible (or non-existent) bedtimes than I was previously used to. At times, after putting my own kids to bed for the night, it is almost painful to hang out with these families and watch their toddler grow more and more tired, whining around on the floor at almost 11 o'clock at night rubbing his red and bleary eyes. These different kids on different occasions, while they were very well behaved and content to hang out with the adults, were just so obviously tired to everyone in the room except for the parents. More than one of us would make a comment, 'oh he looks like he's getting tired' or 'look at those tired eyes', which would be either ignored or answered with 'oh, I don't really know why he's being so clingy, he isn't usually ready for bed yet.'
It's kind of hard to stand by and watch that... I just wanted to say "put your kid to bed already, before he falls asleep in the middle of the floor!" Maybe it's just that I made a career of observing kids and my job was to meet their needs...
It just doesn't make sense to me. I'm just amazed at how many more and more families I meet who's kids go to bed at the same time the adults do.
And seriously, all the children's health and happiness aspects aside, what about grown-up time? I would go crazy if my kids and I went to bed at the same time each night. I know I'm with my kids all day, but Ryan's not and he agrees with me... we are usually counting down to the kid's bedtime. To have that close and cuddly routine of our goodnights, and then we can have some adult time to ourselves. And with each other. I just don't think our marriage, or our sanity, would be half as intact as it is if the kids were up until 10 with us each night. You know what I mean?
Alright. This post is completely all over the place and I feel like I'm talking in circles. It's very late and I could go on forever with this topic. Can you tell I value my kids sleep?!!
Anyway, so instead of preaching anymore (haha!) and since I'm too lazy to research anything online right now... I'm just going to end this and say here's my absolute favorite book about all of this. If you are a parent and you haven't read it, you should. I haven't the slightest idea where my book is right now in this sea of boxes we're living in, but if I did you can bet I'd be quoting from it right and left. But I don't, so I won't. But I love that it's not a "how to" book with in your face theories on how to get your child to sleep. It mostly focuses on why they need the sleep they need and the affect their sleep habits have on almost every aspect of their lives. Good stuff to know.
Wow, I almost even forgot to tell you the name of the book. That's how tired I am. I should not be writing right now.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
I'm not even going to touch on co-sleeping or kids being able to put themselves to sleep. Those are whole other subjects in and of themselves. I'll let someone else tackle those.
So back to my original question...
What is bedtime in your house and how do you feel about it?