Bedtime Isn’t For Everyone
That very word used to send me into a frenzy when I was a child. Are bedtimes necessary?
It’s 11:00 pm and I’m texting with a friend and I state that my 2-year-old daughter was enjoying a piece of a candy apple. In absolute jest, my friend said, “Why is she still up, you’re a horrible mother.”
My friend was TOTALLY joking with me, and I knew that, however, it made me think.
I have had people scold me when I tell them that we don’t do bedtimes. I’ve had them ask what happens when they become adults and they have to get up for work. What happens when they have an appointment they have to keep.
This always makes me laugh…on the inside.
Every single family I have ever met is different from the next family. We all do things in a way that best suits our own unique family’s needs. I do, however, always feel the need to defend our choices, as is the case with many things.
We don’t implement bedtimes for MANY reasons.
For starters, we homeschool. We don’t have the whole morning routine of getting up and off to the bus stop or to get in a car line at public or private school. School isn’t required to start by 7:30 or 8 am every morning. There’s no rushing off to daycare because of the decision that my husband and I made for me to stay home and raise our family.
Early on, we decided that we would co-sleep with our babies, and take advantage of that closeness and wake when they wake. We’ve been very fortunate that all three of our children slept through the night, from the start. (With the exception of night feedings, but again, we chose to breastfeed and that helped us all get meaningful rest.) 10:00 am is when our children would naturally wake. Some days I would sleep until they started to wake, and other times get up hours before they did.
It has always worked for our family.
In addition to the homeschool aspect of our lives, my husband’s career in law enforcement guarantees a crazy schedule. At the beginning of his career, he would work the night shift. This meant that if our children had a typical bedtime, they would rarely get to see their daddy. While he is on a very different schedule all these years later, it’s still rather unpredictable. There are times when our children may go a full 48 hours without seeing their daddy. Thank goodness we’re able to avoid bedtimes and enjoy a candle apple WITH Daddy at 11:00 pm. It’s just necessary.
How Will They Adjust?
As for the folks that claim our children won’t know the struggle of getting up and ready for work in the mornings. Well. Bless their hearts. The world only runs between the hours of dark thirty am and 5 o’clock pm, right? Not at all. There are police officers, emergency room doctors, and nurses, bakers, factory workers, computer engineers, paramedics, 911 operators, taxicab drivers, airplane pilots… the list goes on and on. These people do not work the typical 9-5 job, and I’m sure that they know when they need to sleep.
We do ask that they be in their bedrooms by a certain time, usually by 10 pm, and do whatever they choose as long as they are quiet. They know when they’re tired, and they will get the rest their bodies need. In the unlikely event that they didn’t get enough sleep, they’ll have to deal with being tired. It’s life and it happens even when you do have bedtimes.
When we have events or appointments that require us to be out in the world by 8 AM or whatever time, we use an amazing invention called……………..an alarm clock.
Some would argue that children need a routine and structure.
We have routine, and we have structure. Just as the way we do school may not look like school to some, we are learning. Likewise, just because we don’t have a typical routine or structure that starts at 7 pm, we are structured in our own routines. We enjoy sleeping in until 9 or 10 am, and if we have appointments, we keep them. OR I may schedule them at a time that IS conducive to our family’s needs, if possible.
The point of all of this is to say that we are all unique families. We all have to do what works best for our own needs. That may mean that bedtime routines aren’t what some may expect. That may mean that we learn in a very different way. It could mean that we eat different foods or use unique coping skills when a child has sensory issues.
Now before I start getting comments that aren’t in agreeance with what I am saying, I’ll go ahead and say this. You’re right. You absolutely have to have a bedtime for your children. IF, and only if, that is what works for your family. Children do need sleep. Adults need to sleep too.
So if you call me at 11 pm, and I stop to tend to something with my 15-year-old or my 12-year-old, and maybe even my 2-year-old, it’s because more than likely Daddy had to work special detail and he isn’t home and we’re riding out the storm. Because our kids need to see their daddy too.
What’s your bedtime routine?