Sleep, Glorious Sleep
February 8, 2006
The topic Carmen and I chose for this Wednesday is sleep. How much, how often, and how the heck do you make the kids do it.
It’s one of the first things people ask you about when you have a baby, “Is he sleeping through the night?”, “How many naps does he take?” (My babies missed the memo that they are supposed to nap at all.) There are books upon books devoted to helping your child go to sleep, and there are zealots on all sides. People no longer ask me if my youngest sleeps through the night, I think that they probably assume he does at 13 months old. But he doesn’t. In fact he wakes up at least twice to nurse and cuddle.
Eventually he will sleep through the night without me. They all have.
I have just entered the previously uncharted territory of having children old enough to stay up at night as late as Rob and I do. Last night at 11:00pm I went into my 8 and 9 yr olds bedroom where they were wide awake playing a game. I jokingly asked them if they wanted to come tuck me and their father into bed. But really, it feels like it is coming to that. Gone are the days of having wild sex on the dining room table. Okay, there never were those days to begin with, but the possibility was there.
At 11:30, when Rob and I were still awake reading, we began to hear a loud thump thump thump noise. Rob went to investigate and they were practicing doing handstands against the wall.
Typical, I am afraid.
Sleep is one of the areas of parenting where I feel like I have slacked off over the years. My older children were great sleepers when they were little. We had elaborate bed time routines that involved lots of time, rituals, and bargaining. I just don’t have the time or the inclination for that any more. I used to brag about what wonderful sleepers my children were and silently take credit for it as an indication of my stellar parenting skills. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Our bedtime routine now begins around 7:30ish when I begin telling people to go brush their teeth. My 5 and 6 yr old sons will brush their own teeth and then come to me for inspection. Sometimes they pass, sometimes they fail and must rebrush, sometimes I think they forgot where their teeth are located and I will brush for them. I send them upstairs to put their pajamas on and to come back down. Usually at this time I am finishing cleaning up the kitchen and the 1 and 2 yr olds are doing their best to tear every last item out of the cabinets that they can get their hands on.
My 8, 9, and 11 year olds take turns going to brush their teeth. Everyone likes to brush their teeth in one particular bathroom downstairs and it is considered a punishment worse than death to have to brush your teeth next to a sibling.
Then at 8:00 I announce that it is bedtime and everyone should get their act together and head upstairs. And here is when any semblance of routine falls apart.
I walk upstairs and go into my 5 and 6 yr olds bedroom. I tuck them, find their leap pads, books, leapsters, what ever else the need in their beds with them, turn on their nightlight. Sing twinkle twinkle little star and usually one other holiday appropriate song. I leave their room and say goodnight. I usually say “See you in the morning.” Which is funny because I’ll see them several times before then and eventually I will end up saying, “I don’t want to see you until the morning.”
I go into the bedrooms of my older children and usually talk with them for a few minutes, ask them what novels they are working on reading, briefly discuss plans for the next day, kiss them goodnight and leave the room. They will all come downstairs at various points during the night, mostly to talk with Rob or share some fascinating tidbit they just read. Last night at 10:00pm they were practicing their batting swings in the tv room with Rob, until I finally I yelled, “What the hell?!?” They will get into their pajamas on their own and turn off their lights when they are sleepy.
Bedtime at our house doesn’t mean you have to go to sleep, you should (mostly) be in your own bedroom and doing something quiet, preferably reading.
My youngest two children will go to sleep anytime between 8:30 and 10:00 depending on what kind of naps they took, or didn’t take, during the day. It honestly doesn’t bother me since we get to spend some time focused just on the two of them. Every few days, when I know that the two little ones will go to sleep early, I let one of the boys stay up late with me and play a game alone, just the two of us.
I feel like their lack of early bedtimes, the constant in and out of their beds, and not going to sleep right away, should bother me a lot more than it actually does. But like with everything else in this parenting gig, I feel like there are enough things that do bother me, to worry about the things that don’t. I have also discovered that the very things that make me bat shit crazy, don’t bother other people in the slightest and vice versa.
(Completely unrelated, when I did the blogger spell check it suggested the word beating in place of bedtime. Too funny)
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