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Bedtimes? - Page 3

post #41 of 49

OP -- so sorry I simply cannot take the time to read all the responses -- so I may repeat the words/advice of the awesome mamas who've posted before me. (In the end everything is about priorities, isn't it and my priority is to get off this computer very soon and have some quiet time before my wonderful 3-child circus awakens for their day. winky.gif )

 

We've made a huge transition in terms of bedtimes over the last 2 years. 

 

My hubby is also a morning person. He tries ever-so-hard but is still nearly non-functional by 9pm. He helps as best he can but really only wants to be deeply asleep then. That means that what he helps with is done with lots of impatience and grumping. I cannot really criticize him -- he's trying. 

 

What I can do is take as much 'work' away from getting ready to bed after that 9ish timeframe. I've found, for example, that asking everyone to get their jammies on shortly after dinner (or of course after showers/baths if that is on the night's agenda for any of them...) helps immensely.

 

Typically that evening time is their best time with papa, so they usually run upstairs and get into their jammies and are then ready for fun; usually board games or Wii games or family movie time. 

 

Later we ask if anyone wants a snack or drink before 'upstairs time.' At the 'bell' for upstairs time we all head up and the kids get their teeth brushed (this is where things tend to devolve if my hubby is supervising...so I try to make sure that I'm there instead...)

 

(Breaking the 'getting ready for bed' activities into smaller chunks is HUGELY helpful. Otherwise it becomes a time of stress and chaos right when my hubby is least capable of dealing with said chaos.)

 

After teeth have been brushed the boys (12 & 8) head to their bedroom to read, play yu-gi-oh, talk...whatever. They have no bedtime. There is the expectation that they be quiet enough that we can't hear them at the other end of the house.
My daughter (5) usually comes with me and plays on the laptop near me or in the playroom next door for as long as she wants. She normally doesn't play long but the freedom to do so is awesome. When she crawls into bed, she does so willingly and is asleep quickly.

 

My hubby sleeps through 99% of whatever is going on in the evening after the call for teeth brushing. If the boys are loud, I go remind them to quiet down (some of those yu-gi-oh matches get roudy...) As I am more of a night owl, this works well for us. Hubby gets to sleep earlier, mama gets quiet time (I'm usually knitting and watching something on netflix) kids get freedom and their own kind of quiet time to unwind.

 

 

Whether it is turning in 'early' or sleeping in 'late' we have a general principle around here that if ANYONE in the family wants/needs to be asleep the rest of us do our best to respect that and be/play elsewhere quietly. 

 
At least here, and at this moment in time, this works very well for us. 
There is really nothing arbitrary about it -- which is why if probably flows so well -- the kids see the reasoning behind what we are doing and are (usually) pretty content to help it along. 
 
It also helps, probably, that I will insist on 'lights out' if there is fighting or if they do not quiet down after several requests. I observe that if these things are recurring then it would seem that they are more tired than they realize. I've only insisted that they turn the lights out once or twice in the last 2 months (when we moved to a 2 story house) but on those instances they have been asleep within minutes. 
 
So those are the 2 guiding principles:
- if anyone wishes to be asleep, the rest of us should respect and support that;
- everyone can decide for themselves when to go to bed, but must remain mindful of the sleep needs of everyone else in the family...
 
HTH
post #42 of 49
Thread Starter 

Mary3mama, that was a very helpful post.  No need to worry about repeating advice.  Others have suggested something similar, but it is always nice to hear how it works somewhere else.

 

The last real frustration is getting ready for bed.  It evolved the way it did because they have snacks and stories on the couch.  So brush teeth after, and being badly allergic to dust mites, jammies come after as well.  I had to think hard to remember our reasons for doing it the way we do, because, like I posted earlier, I *ran* to get jammies on so I would be back in 2.5 minutes and not miss a minute of Donny shine.gif!  The girls just get sillier and sillier and less and less gets done--  I think because there is nothing left but sleepy time.

 

Right now we are in the heavy process of moving in/moving out--finishing one house, cleaning up another.  We'll stick with what we are doing now and see if we can open things up a bit more when we are settled.

 

The girls just don't get the concept of letting others sleep.  Nighttime is silly time, rough house and good mood time.  It is for galloping around the house and jumping on the couch.  We have a long way to go and a lot to work out before we get to "bedtime anytime". 

post #43 of 49

Hi! I tried the relaxed bedtime! I told DH what Miranda (mostly, and a few others, but the deeper connection was key)..and he simply clicked! He walked some bean bags out to the deck and we watched the stars. We relaxed in NY on a weekend trip. We caught up on movie night. Tonight we watched fireflies and bats! It has been really amazing! The only catch is the 2 year old can get pretty weak, but not always - she is in between naps now days. I must carry a carrier and her blankie at all times. I have felt we needed a down day, and would anyway, but really called the family to stay low key for a whole day of rest and got her to nap. I am not sure about the future but I think the summer is a great plan. It felt obvious to me that life is more fun this way than the other after I made the switch. I am sad that not all of my crafting will be accomplished, but I have noticed that the house is getting cleaner because I am using their awake time to do my "15 mins a day" cleaning, laundry (and sometimes they help), and organizing (for me! crafting, kitchen, not toys). I like this a lot. 

post #44 of 49
Thread Starter 

I feel like I have more time to relax in the evenings.  We are still declaring bedtime, and the girls are tired enough to be ready, but I can see the next transition-- dh and I are plum tired.  He reads the bedtime stories, and he is wiped out in the evenings.  

 

So, I'm starting to let them know if they want bedtime stories, they need to finish up their game, because we are ready for bed!  One day this will not be an order for bedtime, but just a pronouncement of parental retirement (I feel old already-- they are starting to outlast us!)  They spent most of yesterday evening riding their bikes through the paths in the garden and playing on the tree swing.  I was just warm enough for me to plop on a chair and enjoy the down time, but I had just got home from a long day at work, and I was exhausted.

 

Solstice time at the 47th parallel can leave me feeling pretty tired.  I feel like I need to be AWAKE to enjoy the lovely evening as it slowly slides into twilight (which lasts until after 11pm).  MUST BE OUTSIDE--MUST--ENJOY--MUST--STAY--AWAKE!  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

post #45 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

The girls just get sillier and sillier and less and less gets done--  I think because there is nothing left but sleepy time.

 

...

 

The girls just don't get the concept of letting others sleep.  Nighttime is silly time, rough house and good mood time.  It is for galloping around the house and jumping on the couch.  We have a long way to go and a lot to work out before we get to "bedtime anytime". 

 

It sounds like they're manic.  Have you tried moving the whole routine a little earlier?  If you could get them into bed before the over-tired silliness starts, that might make it all go smoother.

post #46 of 49
Thread Starter 

This is excellent in theory, but turns out to not be very practical in our house--any earlier and bedtime would be crammed in right after dinner and activities.

 

Bedtime (storytime) started at 7:00 for the longest time, (including most recently) which meant lights out at about 8:00.  *Usually*.  This made sense when they were littler (bedtime for a while, when dd2 was still needing naps but not taking them, started at 6:30.)  From 6:30 we moved to 6:45 as they aged.  7:30 start time was too late if I was expecting to get up afterward and have a life and 7:00 was right after dinner, so often on the days I was working it was slam dinner down, put the girls to bed.  

 

The real corner I painted myself into was staying with them while they dropped off to sleep-- something that started with dd1, who was very needy from the get-go.  This always took a large chunk of dedicated time.  We did hit a couple of sweet times-- just before dd2 was born, and when dd2 was about 2-4yo (mostly sweet anyway-- I think I am getting a touch of parental amnesia!).  For a a while dd1 would drop off easily and I had large chunks in the evenings.  Then I needed to go back to lying down with her--or decided to since she for she had become a bear during the day and up and down all night.  

 

It helped absolutely.  That lasted more or less for a couple of years, with the girls falling asleep within a reasonable amount of time and not getting back up.  As they aged, the falling asleep took longer and longer and they still weren't ready to give the routine up--and I am not a fighter about this issue.  Pretty soon-- recently--all I had left was a paltry hour to sit comatose on the couch and fume about how crappy bedtime is (and feel like I then had some unwritten obligation to turn my attentions to sex-starved dh.)

 

I don't regret choosing to stay with them while they fell asleep, even though it has caused enormous trouble for me.  It helped sooth the girls into sleep, and we never had troubles with them getting up and down in the evenings or at night.  (Only when I tried to abbreviate the process did we start having trouble again-- and that was resolved when I took more time to get them down.)

 

What I regret the most personally is that I ever felt the need to institute a separate bedtime for dd1.  It was not an organic choice for me, it was an artificial one. In other words, I didn't start the bedtime because I noticed that dd1 operated better with an early and regular sleep time, I started it because I was a firm believer that children *should have those bedtimes*.  The need for a break played a role, for sure, but my intense need for a break was caused in part by always living for my next break, instead of living in the moment--just like at school I obsessed over counting down to that release time, or when the parents would come home and relieve me from my nanny job for the evening.

 

My best, most pleasant evenings were the ones where I was just ready to turn in and go to bed with the girls.  This didn't work on a regular basis because turn-in time was far too early, I sleep like a log in the mornings, and am prone to oversleeping and feeling groggy (not to mention lying awake for hours in the middle of the night.)  But now, dd1's sleep needs are close to my own.  Now was the time to try transitioning to a different routine, and so far it has been successful......

 

.......with a few kinks.  DH and I are getting zero alone time, for one.  But we are exhausted with work, selling one house and getting a new one ready.  We'll revisit that issue when we have any energy left to do more than just prop our feet up and read or snooze--and that we can do in the evenings when the girls are burning up the last bits of energy before bed.

 

I'm getting better about getting up in the mornings.  I had nearly an hour today before dd1 came crawling out of bed.  It just seems to be the sweet time for now.

 

Anyway, sorry for the long post.  I try not to seem contrary and stubborn in regards to everyone's suggestions.  This thread has been enormously helpful for me during this transition time, listening to everyone else's routines and thoughts and sharing our progress.  

post #47 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

Very quick idea. I find I can be relaxed about when bedtime happens so long as my involvement is no longer required. I'm wondering if it might make a difference to insist, not on bedtime, but on them being ready to an extent that your involvement isn't needed?

 

[...]

 

The main thing is that I need a time when I know i am off duty. I really do not like it when I am waking with the kids and going to bed at the same time, I need some time to be an adult and swear and watch unsuitable tv and generally be unsociable and inappropriate for children, and read my book. The thing I find hardest about having kids is probably never being able to give my full attention to things when they are awake, mine are young enough that I still need half an ear out for them unless they are asleep. While I can get a lot done on 70% attention, I just enjoy having an hour or two in the evening when I know I can almost totally switch off.

 

This is our situation too. My children an stay up as late as they like once they don't need my assistance to do their own thing, and even though my eldest is nine yrs old, because there are are four others, the youngest being two yrs old (just turned), the nine yr old doesn't really get to do his own thing when the younger ones are manic with tiredness. My family did two months of no enforcement of bedtimes, after several weeks of easing into it. It never got better; my children do not, and have never slept adequately. I should mention that enforced bedtime doesn't happen for any of them until sometime after two yrs old. 

 

As a point of interest, our diet seems partly to blame for the sleeplessness. We don't eat grain or dairy of any sort and certainly no refined sugars. So, incidentally, we eat a low-carb diet, bu it is incidental. Recently, I discovered that I was experiencing the symptoms of a carb-deficiency specific to women (which looks eerily like my list of hypo-thyroid and adrenal insufficiency lists), so I have been introducing much more carbs to my day (which is a challenge, because I don't crave them and never have). One particular symptoms of having inadequate carbohydrate intake is difficulty falling and staying asleep. I know that my adrenal protocol requires carbs before bed to keep cortisol from spiking and keeping me awake. In the last week, I began to experiment with giving a high carb food at dinner, like sweet potatoes, and the results have been dramatic. On the nights when they have the high-carb side-dish, they sleep sooner, and stay asleep. 

 

My children are built like Greek statues- tall, muscular, and very strong and fit. They do not appear to be deficient in anything (but clearly they have been and have weathered it as well as they could), and certainly most people tend to eat too many carbs, not too few, but I thought I'd share my own experience. Sometimes it just isn't about the will, but the biology. And this is our story, but it could be anything. Too much ammonia load from breathing it in or ingesting it in food products in trace amounts knocks out ornithine in the brain, which prevents natural sleep cycles and can be so bad that sleep is unattainable. I know this from when I was in cllege and had built up a load of ammonia in my brain from using commercial casein paints and solvent-based markers; it was the lump in my breast that brought me to recognising this, as a secondary issue. Both resolved by removing the solvents from my environment as well as temporarily supplementing with ornithine (the college actually banned all solvent use during the time I was away recovering). Ammonia is prevalent in city air (WHO lists it as one of the major components of particulate matter in urban air pollution).

 

Years ago we supplemented with melatonin, but after one of our children stopped breathing (melatonin is antagonistic to cortisol, which keeps the bronchiols open), obviously we stopped. He was on a half-dose for his weight, but that's all it took to knock out his cortisol at night because, like is normal, his cortisol was actually already low for sleep- he didn't need a lowering of cortisol; he needed some evening carbs. I always cringe when people say that melatonin is a safe sleep-aid. It's safe as long as it is correcting a deficiency, but if it's interfering with normal cortisol levels, it can clearly be potentially deadly. My son had to be pumped full of cortisol to bring him back to breathing consistently on his own.

 

So,  I try to remember that sleep issues, like diet related issues, and oftentimes they are the one and the same, are usually multi-tiered and complex. Finding the keystone is such a relief because then so many things beyond just the sleep itself are likewise resolved. So far, for us, it's carbs. We left the city, and ammonia is not likely an issue for us anymore, but there are loads of hormone disrupting substances in the air and food we eat, and hormones determine sleep health and experience.

 

We do bedtimes, and once the children don't need us to tend them, they can stay up as long as they like. I had bedtime enforcement until I was 16 yrs old, and once I didn't, I stayed up too late for a long while, but I was 16 yrs old. It's so different when we're considering young children who still need assistance getting things and for self-care. I must have a few hours without continuous availability, and during the day, that would be a ludicrous desire or expectation, given the needs of my younger children especially.

post #48 of 49

Didnt read the whole thread, bc I dont have time to do right now, so I apologize if I repeat. 

A couple of things have helped us in the bedtime arena, some of which stand out in my head. 

 

Letting go of the "we must be in bed by (blank) or I'll go nuts idea. My kids often play best together at night when they are tired.

 

I have them brush their teeth and go to the bathroom one at a time. Never are they in the bathroom together at night bc they will fight. I know this, so we avoid the issue by separating them to brush (plus I think they do a better job that way.)

 

I have them brush teeth before it's time for bed, like way before. This works for us bc it has taken any resistence out of the "I dont want to brush bc then i have to go to bed." Now, brushing teeth is just that, brushing teeth. 

 

I dont have the energy for the shrieking and fighting at night, so we try to keep it to a dull roar. Our 7 yr old goes to bed best at around 9:30, or she gets really cranky and impossible to get to bed. I don't want the fight, so I have to mentally disengage emotionally so that there is nothing for her to push against. 

 

Our 9 yr old is a night owl, and has a hard time falling asleep, so he stays up later most nights, and often ends up in our room bc he wants someone awake while he's falling asleep, and by the time he is ready for sleep, so am I. For now this works, we have a mattress on our floor, and my husband is really great about abandoning ship and sleeping in a different room/bed as needed. On a late night, I'll often just bring everyone in with me and he crashes in a kid's bed. 

 

As for alone time, I have learned that it wont happen in the evenings, and am trying to grab a bit more during the day, and even go out by myself for coffee once a week or so for a couple hours. As an introvert raising and unschooling four kids, I need the away time so that i can invest when i am home. This is a recent realization. With four kids, there is rarely a time when I am at home when at least one of them doesnt need me (one is an 8 month old). I've even started getting up before the kids in the morning occasionally (the advantage to them going to bed late is that they still want to go to bed when i do, but then they sleep longer in the morning, or often one will be awake in the morning and I can get quiet time with that one.)

post #49 of 49

Thank you for your response. We have been battling night times for as long as I can remember. My oldest is 10 and youngest is 4. My oldest has just decided that he wants to go to bed before midnight because he wants to start waking up earlier. Now the shift of arguing is with my middle 2 boys ages 8 and 6. We have had an agreement since I needed some quiet time with hubby that they could stay in their rooms quietly (because littlest brother would be asleep) and we wouldn't bug them about when to go to sleep. Well, that was going well until os decided to go to bed early and the other boys would watch or play on iPods and keep os awake. And they all want to sleep together like puppies. It seems just like the rest of life, once things get into a settled mode life shifts and we begin again. :D

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

It seems that it many/most families, going to bed turns into a control battle: parents always on one side trying to get kids to go to bed, and kids on the other side always pushing to not go to bed, no matter what. When you think about it, sleep is a physical need, just like food or water, and it ought to be as welcome as food to a hungry person or drink to a thirsty person. For some reason our culture sets up a situation that works against this, where it is assumed that parents must work to get their children to sleep and children must oppose. It's weird. I don't suppose primitive cultures have this tension. I wonder ... 

 

Anyway, I'm honestly not sure how we side-stepped this control issue in our household, but we did. My children never perceived it as the parents' job to get them to go to sleep, and so they didn't see their role as resisting sleep. When they were young they seemed to need very little sleep, and I think the best thing we did was to just accept that and not spend time "trying to get them to settle." If they didn't toddle off to bed, or ask to be taken there, they would fall asleep on the couch, or in our arms, or on the floor. I guess this was flying in the face of common wisdom about creating consistent bedtime routines and such, but we didn't have a morning schedule of work/daycare/school to contend with, so it didn't matter. And the upshot is that we don't have control issues over bedtimes. Although my kids' sleep patterns have not always been conventional (to say the least!) they are generally well-rested and their choices work for them and for their housemates. And these days their bedtimes tend to be very conventional. 

 

This is a rather different situation than those of you who are trying to transition to child-led bedtimes, of course. You'll probably have to go through something similar to a deschooling phase, where things go a little wild and wooly for a time as kids rediscover their own internal clocks and learn to recognize and respond to their bodies' signals. There will be a learning curve and I don't pretend to have experience at weathering such a transition. I would probably plan the transition for a time period when mistakes are likely to matter less but when there is still some sort of over-riding rhythm to family life ... so maybe after co-op days and violin lessons are over for the summer, but not while daddy is on holidays, for example.

 

In my family we all have a tendency towards night-owlish-ness and this doesn't mesh well with our need to participate happily in various activities during the day. So we do need to pay consistent attention to how our bedtimes are working for us and we manage to do so through collaboration rather than conflict. Even though we don't have transition issues that come of giving over control all of a sudden, we do have to pay attention to sleep issues. The reason this can be a challenge is that the repercussions of poor bedtime choices come much later and tend to be vague and easily misattributed. A girl who is engaged in endless bickering with her brother may be experiencing the negative consequence of her poor bedtime choice 16 hours earlier, but she is not likely to make that connection: she is likely to think that her brother is being especially annoying now, and that is all. I see it as my job to help my kids (and myself) learn to connect the dots on these issues. 

 

Of course it does absolutely no good to point out to the girl who is bickering with her brother that she should have gone to bed earlier the previous night! When someone is over-tired and annoyed they are not going to learn from having their mistakes pointed out to them! What I've found that works best is to have discussions on a regular basis when everyone is in a reasonably good mood to revisit the previous few days and look for patterns and connections and collaboratively problem-solve. Life is full of annoyances and stresses, and I point out to my kids that they'll cope with the crappy stuff with more resilience and better humour if they have lots of well-restedness as a sort of emotional cushion. Rather than saying "You were snarky because you were over-tired," I say "It is possible that you would have been able to cope better with that if you'd been more well-rested." Rest puts emotional resilience into your tank. Life's daily trials tend to drain it out. Problems occur when there's more "out" than "in," so we need to adjust depending on what life is throwing our way. There aren't simplistic answers about what's the right bedtime or what is the right amount of sleep, but by keeping tabs on our emotional resilience and our daily activities and feelings, we can make the corrections we need here and there.

 

If, as tends to be the case, we find our bedtimes slipping later so that we're getting less sleep than is optimal, we look for solutions together. Once we've agreed that we're suffering from a lack of well-restedness in our tanks, I say something like "Well, then, what would help you get a bit more sleep? Is there something I could do?" We examine, and then discard, the idea of sleeping until noon, since that would not mesh with our need to participate in various scheduled activities or with dh's work schedule. So we then start looking for ways to change our evenings to make them conducive to earlier bedtimes. 

 

I always frame the sleep-wake issue as one of a number of life-balance issues that we need to keep tabs on: sedentary vs. active pursuits, healthy nutritional balance, social vs. solitary pursuits, and so on. Sometimes we need to correct the balance in one or another area, that's all. We work together to make these adjustments, and I am always happy for any suggestions my kids might have for novel ways to tweak things. Recently I was asked to program the router to block the internet beginning at a certain time in the evening. Shifting dinner earlier in the evening has helped in the past. Dimming lights, installing a wall clock, etc. 

 

Hope this great meandering post contains some food for thought for someone!

 

Miranda

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