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#1 of 49 Old 04-26-2012, 07:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I asked the question in "Parenting" so I don't bore y'all with my questions, but the responses I've received in a short time so far haven't addressed what I was hoping to address.   So, I come back to the place where I am not going to be questioned as to why someone might want to allow the them to choose their own bedtime.  

 

How do those of you w/o set bedtimes keep from having to run interference?  I could do without my brief (and unfortunately hard-earned) quiet time after they are asleep.  I would be content with some quiet time in the evenings while they do whatever if I could actually get it-- if only I didn't have to be "on" at this time of day.

 

Bedtimes have worked for us, more or less, but it can be hard at times, and the time after all too brief.  I can imagine just turning in as a family.  I suppose I can still have bedtimes and do that, but the question always arises this time of year as the evenings become gorgeous.  They want to stay up, I want to let them stay up, but in past years it has not seemed to work and have gone back to bedtimes.

 

For now, I'm just talking about younger kids. They will want to go to bed when we do, and not beyond that.  What I feel I need is to carve out some down time for myself.  


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#2 of 49 Old 04-26-2012, 08:23 AM
 
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I only have one child and bedtime has always been an issue. But can I ask you what does it mean "keep from having to run interference"?

 

Does it refer to the kids not getting along, or are they needing something else. Because (and I struggle with this too) it seems that no matter whether it's bedtime or some other time, a skill they need to learn is boundaries. Which means that at some point you are "off duty" and they need to solve their own problems. It would seem to me that if the kids learned THAT, then whether it's bedtime or whether you have a friend over for tea, you'd be all set.

 

Now, that being said, the kids' temperament matters a lot. I used to get very mad at my son for constantly interrupting me. Now I've come to feel that it was not something he could do. He just wasn't yet able to "hold back." He is getting much better! (he is now 9)  Now that he is older and I have seen that he does have the ability to hold back and let me be, it's easier, because I can say something like "bother my sleep-time one more time and you're going to start losing Minecraft-time tomorrow." It's only fair. He doesn't get to crap all over my time that I need for my personal sanity and then go on peacefully enjoying his time on the computer the next day. We all deserve to be left alone when we are doing our respective things.

 

We have a VERY liberal bedtime thing here. (we are homeschoolers too). 

9:00pm is "Bedworld," which I dubbed because it means "you are to be quiet and keep to yourself, as though you are in bed. Mom & Dad need grownup time to watch TV or whatever"

10:00pm is "Bedtime," which means just make sure you're in jammies and brushed teeth and in your room behind closed doors. I hope you're in bed but you don't have to be...you can play or read if you want. (by the way he never actually goes to BED at this time)

12:00a.m. We parents go to bed and at that point I INSIST that if he is still up, I tuck him in and turn lights-out.  If he doesn't, then he loses Minecraft time the next day.

 

There is a reason for this. Some say that he should just follow his own body-clock and if he gets energetic and creative at night, then let him set his own bedtime. A few reasons actually. One is that I tried that, and I kept hearing things like "I was still up at 4:00"  No. Not OK. We have things going on during the day for which we all need to function. Another reason is we live in a tiny house. If he's up at 2am and decides to go to the bathroom, he almost always forgets to be quiet about it. So BLAM goes the bedroom door next to ours. Then I'm awake, heart pounding, and can't get back to sleep. And the third is that he really does get cranky and nuts if he doesn't sleep enough.

 

Frankly I don't think that midnight is even early enough, but I haven't had any luck getting him tucked in sooner, except on rare occasions when he was really super exhausted from something he did. In the morning if he hears Dad getting ready for work, he gets up to kiss Dad and then flops onto the couch to get a few more hours of sleep, but then he's all upset because he wants to sign onto Minecraft at 9am (his earliest possible time). So yeah, it's an ongoing challenge to respect HIS needs and desires, without it becoming detrimental to the sanity and functioning of the parents.  :-)

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#3 of 49 Old 04-26-2012, 08:52 AM
 
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A year or so ago, my two oldest suddenly seemed to need less sleep.  And so bedtime became a struggle.  We tried the idea of quiet time upstairs so dh and I could have some time together downstairs, but they resisted.  Evenings were kind of miserable for six months or so. 

 

I read a lot of unschooly stuff about bedtimes, and became convinced that letting go of them was the way to go.  Dh was resistant--he is up earlier than everyone and really likes the down time with me in the evening.  But we tried it, and though the first two or three weeks were an adjustment, everything is pretty smooth now, three or four months later.

 

The key for us is setting up an "evening time" atmosphere: helping everyone into pajamas, brushing teeth, dimming lights, etc.  Then they are more than happy to sit on the floor and play legos, or read or watch a TV program as a family, or whatever.  Our youngest often falls asleep on the couch and we carry him to bed when we go up.  Sometimes oldest DS simply announces that he's ready for bed, and asks someone to tuck him in.  But then, he's always been really good about regulating his sleep and food needs, media, etc. 

 

I've adjusted by taking some down time for myself at other times of the day (while kids are eating breakfast and right after lunch).  If dh really needs alone time in the evening, he retires to the bedroom with a book or his guitar and I stay up having quiet evening time with the kids.

 

My relationship with my dd has really deepened since giving up bedtimes.  She was the one most resistant to going to bed, and she now feels more understood because it seemed unfair to her that she couldn't stay up with us.  Two nights ago we watched Phantom of the Opera together and it was a really lovely experience.

 

BTW, my kids are 8,7, and 5.

 

 

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#4 of 49 Old 04-26-2012, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by NellieKatz View Post

I only have one child and bedtime has always been an issue. But can I ask you what does it mean "keep from having to run interference"?

 

Does it refer to the kids not getting along, or are they needing something else. Because (and I struggle with this too) it seems that no matter whether it's bedtime or some other time, a skill they need to learn is boundaries. Which means that at some point you are "off duty" and they need to solve their own problems. It would seem to me that if the kids learned THAT, then whether it's bedtime or whether you have a friend over for tea, you'd be all set.

 

There is a reason for this. Some say that he should just follow his own body-clock and if he gets energetic and creative at night, then let him set his own bedtime. A few reasons actually. One is that I tried that, and I kept hearing things like "I was still up at 4:00"  No. Not OK. 

Yes, it means in large part not pulling me into their fights.  I need to replicate the down time in the evening.  Now, I wouldn't expect this to be perfect.  Bedtimes can be cranky, impatient times for me and not fun, followed by 1-2 hours of quiet time by myself.  I would happily trade that for 2 or 3 hours of relative but not perfectly calm time.  DH is "useless" this time of day, there is no hauling him off the couch (he's a morning person, I'm an evening person, it works out).  Yes, learning boundaries is an ongoing process and is a large part of it.  

 

It's one thing for me to say "I've tried this, it didn't work out" but clearly there is more to this than simply letting them stay up a while.  I think there is a bit a skill to this from the parent's POV.  So, I want to try being more proactive about making this work this year.  The evening are just too glorious to be spent with bedtime routines.  We all feel that way.

 

As for your next comment, yes, this is why I've continued with bedtimes up to this point.  Each year, though, the thought occurs to all of us about extending our day so we can all stay out and enjoy it.  We would all like to make it work and I see that it might take more than just giving up on a specific time for bed.

 

One of the reasons I ended up posting this in Unschooling is that regardless of what we do individually, I think USers as a group tend to have an understanding that bedtimes-or-not is a very personal decision, and not the way it absolutely "should be".  (Insert standard disclaimer for this line.  I'm sure not all USers feel this way.  In fact, I'm sure there is a contingent of USers that are just as adamant about having no enforced bedtimes as traditional parents are about having them.  I can hear the arguments in my head right now.)  

 

For the same reason, I want to try setting aside enforced bedtimes not because it is typical of USers to allow kids to choose their own bedtimes, but because I see the value in allowing them greater latitude in this arena.  Bedtimes can be stressful for me, especially if I am attached to the personal time on the far side of it.  I am more than happy to explore other options to create a better situation, and it does not stem from any thought that I should be more "unschooly".

 

Luckiestgirl, thanks for sharing!


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#5 of 49 Old 04-26-2012, 11:25 AM
 
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.  

 

How do those of you w/o set bedtimes keep from having to run interference? 

 

This might not be helpful…..but we have a set bedime for the youngest because she is still "needy" later in the day.  In our family, you get to have no bedtime once a few conditions are usually met:

 

1.  You do not get cranky, demanding etc when you are tired

2.  You respect that after 9:00 or so everyone in the house needs a calm, relaxed environment and space to do their own thing.

3.  You will put yourself to bed and not be impossible to wake up for commitments you have made.

 

For my 2 oldest kids, this did not happen til around 11 or so.  It was a gradual thing.  

 

DD, age 9, is welcome to read or play quietly in her bedroom as long as she likes.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#6 of 49 Old 04-26-2012, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been thinking about this today, and the more I think about it, the more I see this as a much deeper issue than just bedtimes.  I definitely need to insist on quieter, evening activities, or insisting that the girls respect my need for quiet activities.  Time to read my book, please, not theirs.  But also, I am examining this powerful need to have them asleep before I feel like I am off duty.  Something is not balanced during the day for me to feel so crazy abut this at night.  And for relaxed bedtimes to work, I also need, like luckiestgirl mentioned, to find those times during the day.  I have those times during the day!  They play all day without me!  So, it's partly that my head is not able to switch "on" and "off" to allow me to relax and enjoy the time I do have.

 

Any way, great suggestions. We will work on it.


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#7 of 49 Old 04-28-2012, 02:35 PM
 
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If you insist and they don't respond the way you want them to, what do you do? How do you teach boundaries, anyway? I have some similar issues with my 9 year old (and 2 year old), compounded by the fact that as they get overtired they get more wound up, and tend to run and jump around a lot, which gets us in trouble with our downstairs neighbor (he calls the landlord complaining, after which we get a notice on our door, and lately he just bangs on his ceiling repeatedly). Also, my dh and I haven't had any alone time in years, and we almost never get to be intimate.


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#8 of 49 Old 04-28-2012, 02:47 PM
 
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If you insist and they don't respond the way you want them to, what do you do? How do you teach boundaries, anyway? I have some similar issues with my 9 year old (and 2 year old), compounded by the fact that as they get overtired they get more wound up, and tend to run and jump around a lot, which gets us in trouble with our downstairs neighbor (he calls the landlord complaining, after which we get a notice on our door, and lately he just bangs on his ceiling repeatedly). Also, my dh and I haven't had any alone time in years, and we almost never get to be intimate.

 

Part of the reason my youngest has a bedtime is because her father and I are incapable of getting her to bed in a decent amount of time later in the evening.  We just aren't.  What takes 10-15 minutes at 9:00, take forever if we leave it till later.  She gets cranky, and we get too tired to even supervise her getting her teeth brushed (she is a young 9).  In your case, I would try and get your children into bed before they get cranky and difficult to reign in.  Get them to bed while your energy is still high.  I would let the 9 year old read in her room and the like, though.  

 

Is there any way you can divide and conquer? You do one child, your partner do another?  Alternately - take turns at night?  For us, turning off screens and literally ushering her into the kitchen (where bedtime snack and teeth are done) works best.  Many nights we really have to keep on top of her to get her to bed - if we leave her to do her teeth alone, she will often mosey on back into the living room or toy room - thus postponing the whole thing.  

 

 

 

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#9 of 49 Old 04-28-2012, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If you insist and they don't respond the way you want them to, what do you do? How do you teach boundaries, anyway? I have some similar issues with my 9 year old (and 2 year old), compounded by the fact that as they get overtired they get more wound up, and tend to run and jump around a lot, which gets us in trouble with our downstairs neighbor (he calls the landlord complaining, after which we get a notice on our door, and lately he just bangs on his ceiling repeatedly). Also, my dh and I haven't had any alone time in years, and we almost never get to be intimate.

Oh, boy!  Those are the questions, aren't they?  I'm afraid I am the authoritarian in the end.  But if they went to bed with me (for now) the would go with me.   I find I am much more relaxed when I am going to bed, too.  Yeah, we are entering a period where intimacy will be difficult.  Already they go to bed later, take longer to fall asleep.  And they want our company, always.  I sympathize with the wildness at the end of the day.  Our oldest is the worst, but it is just before she gets tired, not the other way around.  We do TV in the morning only.  We tried one night of Family Movie Night, and it just made the whole evening weird.  They were wired little zombies, it felt wrong and we didn't repeat it.  Eventually, I'm sure.

 

In the end, I just don't have the answers to these questions, and if something gets resolved it is almost by accident, like Pyrex or vulcanized rubber.

 


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#10 of 49 Old 04-28-2012, 07:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is there any way you can divide and conquer? You do one child, your partner do another?  Alternately - take turns at night?  For us, turning off screens and literally ushering her into the kitchen (where bedtime snack and teeth are done) works best.  Many nights we really have to keep on top of her to get her to bed - if we leave her to do her teeth alone, she will often mosey on back into the living room or toy room - thus postponing the whole thing.  

 

 

 

Most nights I am like a little drill sergeant keeping those girls on track for bedtime.  Every time I mentally criticize myself and relax and let them enjoy themselves they get giggly, then playful, then rambunctious, then insanely manic.  So I end up clamping down again and becoming Grumpy Mama.  Grumpy Impatient Crabby Mama.  I hate bedtime.  I keep thinking it's all me, but then when I channel Groovy Go-With-It Mama it all falls to pieces.

 


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#11 of 49 Old 04-28-2012, 09:13 PM
 
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SweetSilver, I don't know if you're interested in this--or if you've already seen it--but I found this helpful as we transitioned away from bedtimes.  http://sandradodd.com/sleeping  I know you may decide to stick with a specific time/routine, but there may still some interesting stuff here, including kids' perceptions of going to sleep for the night.

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#12 of 49 Old 04-28-2012, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the link.  That is a sweet and gentle collection of experiences there.  I'm curious about the experiences of those who might have made )or tried to make) the transition?  I am thinking we will start by trying to moving bedtime to later, like stories at 8:30, and see where we go from there.  The fact is, I think they mainly want to come to bed with me for now, not stay up to all hours.  Not yet anyhow.  I wonder if there isn't a gentle transition to allow for more and more autonomy without burning out and retreating to lockdown.  Also, it might allow me to back up a bit if they are just creating chaos.  If dh isn't on board with this, if they make me miserable it is just never going to work.  It has to be something we can all live with.  

 

Speaking of bedtime.......


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Thanks for the link.  That is a sweet and gentle collection of experiences there.  I'm curious about the experiences of those who might have made )or tried to make) the transition?  I am thinking we will start by trying to moving bedtime to later, like stories at 8:30, and see where we go from there.  The fact is, I think they mainly want to come to bed with me for now, not stay up to all hours.  Not yet anyhow.  I wonder if there isn't a gentle transition to allow for more and more autonomy without burning out and retreating to lockdown.  Also, it might allow me to back up a bit if they are just creating chaos.  If dh isn't on board with this, if they make me miserable it is just never going to work.  It has to be something we can all live with.  

 

Speaking of bedtime.......

 

If they go to bed at the same time as you, can you get some alone time in the morning?

 

Remind me again - how old are your children?

 

All kids eventually move to needing a similar amount of sleep as their parents, or having sleep patterns that mean they are often awake late into the evening (very typical for teens).  This is not a big deal if the kids are independent in the evenings.  One way to help them move to "no bedtime" would be to build on self-suffeceincy skills.  

 

Another thing that helped was to do beloved but time consuming night time activities earlier in the day.  Bedtimes stories and nighttime chats come to mind.  Carve out time during the day to read and have one on one chats - because you are not going to have the energy to do these things if your children are going to bed at 10:30.

 

 

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#14 of 49 Old 04-29-2012, 08:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Excellent advice, kathy, and I do get some quiet time in the morning, but no alone time.  They are watching TV, I am on the computer shaking off the morning grogginess.  Quiet, but not alone.  It's nice.  They are 5 and 7, BTW.


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#15 of 49 Old 04-29-2012, 03:45 PM
 
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I don't know if it's the solution to your issue, but I'll share what we've been doing: we have let go of bedtime specifically for my older two, but with some restrictions-- they can stay up, but after my son's bedtime, they need to be quiet and stay in a specific part of the house (their bedroom and the computer area).  We sat down a while ago, and came up with this as the way to best meet everyone's needs-- my youngest needs to be able to get to sleep, my husband and I are introverts and need some quiet time in the evening, and my older two wanted to stay up longer so they could work on projects in the evening.  It's not perfect-- if our home were different, they could stay up away from their bedroom and have a few more options for evening activities-- but it's the best we can do at the moment.  At this point, if the kids are on the main level with us, they gravitate to us which sounds nice, but means that I am with my kids every waking moment, and I go slowly insane.

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#16 of 49 Old 04-29-2012, 07:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know if it's the solution to your issue, but I'll share what we've been doing: 

 

I'm happy just hearing what others are doing in this regard.  I am still mulling it over.


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#17 of 49 Old 04-30-2012, 10:28 AM
 
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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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#18 of 49 Old 04-30-2012, 12:00 PM
 
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I guess this was flying in the face of common wisdom about creating consistent bedtime routines and such

 

Right.  I now realize that during the year or more when bedtime was no fun for anyone, I (and dh, probably to an even greater extent) was being held captive to conventional wisdom.  So many aspects of cooperating with (rather than coercing) my children came easily to me, but not when eight p.m. arrived.  It was easy to think of myself as "unschoolish" about sleep and bedtime because we'd co-slept for so long and because our children genuinely didn't seem to mind our previous bedtime routine . . . until they did mind, of course.

 

Ultimately, beginning the transition away from bedtimes required me to give up two ideas: 1) that I needed alone time in the evenings, every evening; and 2) that turning on the TV at this time of night was a bad thing that would ultimatey lead to bad habits.

 

And so, transition night began with me saying, "How about we all stay up a while together and watch House Hunters (a show the kids love, featuring a very gentle-voiced narrator)?"  The three kids cheered.  And for a few weeks we mostly watched House Hunters every evening for an hour or 90 minutes, then all went to bed together.  More often than not, youngest DS fell asleep on the couch. 

 

We sometimes still watch TV together in the evening, but it has hardly become a habit, let alone a bad one.  Sometimes the kids play Legos quietly while dh and I read or go online or fold laundry.  Dh and I stay close by and take turns handling the occasional requests for a snack or help with some malfunctioning plaything or fielding questions (or breaking up arguments when needed).  

 

I take 30-45 minutes for myself after lunch every day.  I announce this time, and ask the kids please not to interrupt unless absolutely necessary.  This mostly works.

 

What helped me the most was visualizing my children as teenagers, and how I would cope when they stayed up even later than I did.  I learned to shift into a less vigilant gear (which helps if your partner takes equal responsibility for evening time).  It was a lot like when my oldest two gave up their afternoon nap.  At the time, I didn't think I could cope without an afternoon break. But of course, I adjusted.

 

I said this before, but my relationship with my daughter (middle child) has absolutely deepened since we gave up bedtimes.  She is very sensitive to injustice, and apparently going to bed while we were still up enjoying the house and each other felt very unfair to her.  She has become more helpful, more flexible (not one of her strong suits) and more aware of when others are treating me unfairly.  I never expected any of this.

 

Would letting the kids fall asleep on the couch when they are utterly exhausted be okay for a while?  Letting them watch some calm television or a DVD (like a Rick Steves travel program, for instance)?  Setting up sleeping bags on the family room floor? 

 

 

 

 

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#19 of 49 Old 04-30-2012, 01:30 PM
 
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I'm pretty sure that if you wrote a book, I'd buy it!

 

Thanks for all this helpful information.

 

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

 

Miranda

 

 

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#20 of 49 Old 04-30-2012, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

 

 

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

 

Miranda

This is a good, mental image to frame this issue in for me.  I'm getting some really great advice here, from everyone, and it is all rocking around in my head.  We need to talk about this before we dive in.  We need to have to have some expectations met for it to work smoothly.  DH needs to feel that it is working for him as well.  We need to be able to talk about it if something isn't working because right now we often meet resistance just talking about this kind of stuff.  Part of the trouble, I'm sure. is this parent-authority-child-subject dynamic we seem stuck in.  With a family bed still in use, we need to make sure that everyone has a chance to get enough sleep.  I'm still working on their desire to have one of us up when they want to get up.  

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So many aspects of cooperating with (rather than coercing) my children came easily to me, but not when eight p.m. arrived.  

 

Would letting the kids fall asleep on the couch when they are utterly exhausted be okay for a while?  Letting them watch some calm television or a DVD (like a Rick Steves travel program, for instance)?  Setting up sleeping bags on the family room floor? 

 

Falling asleep on the couch would be fine, but I don't think I would outlast them, honestly.  When I turn in, for now at least, they are likely to turn in.  Evening TV was a bit of a bust for us, and they are not clamoring for it in general, so for now I'm not going to introduce it.  But if DH wants to watch some TV, I am OK with it, and the girls can watch with him, but it can also be disruptive if everybody isn't on board with it as all the playtime and other activity is still in the family rooms.  I still have yet to convince them that playing in a bedroom is anywhere near as fun.  I loved it as a kid, but they are not won over.  Even I find the TV annoying when I'm not absolutely paying attention.  But, we can work things out.  

 

Yeah, bedtime brings out the dictator in me.  I think if I could ditch our current bedtime enforcement I would be a bit calmer during the day.  Of course, not being whined at to get out of bed in the morning would put me in a better mood, too.  We have a ways to go in learning ways we can respect each other.  When we move next month, I am going to set up the TV and DVD player so they can reach it and teach them how to use it.  And let them use it.  Now, if I let them watch a video before the other one gets up, they start getting up earlier just to get that video.  It's not the video at issue, but hauling me out of bed for company and help.  So, this bedtime issue is not the only time of day that needs tweaking.  They are outgrowing some of it, for sure, but I'm still overtired, in part because of their insistence on me being there/helping them.  

 

Zzzzzzzz........ Just thinking about this is putting me to sleep.


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#21 of 49 Old 05-01-2012, 07:18 AM
 
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Are you comfortable with your kids being awake when you are not? 

 

If so - can your oldest tell the time?  I taught my youngest around age 7 that she was not allowed to wake mommy until after 8:00.  I do not wake her up unless there is a good reason, and feel I deserve the same respect for my natural sleep/wake patterns.  You might have to remind them a few times.  

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#22 of 49 Old 05-01-2012, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Remind them a few times....yeah.  This started when they were really little and I think the habit stuck.  No, it does not work, or I have to fight to stay in bed tooth and nail and it just wasn't worth staying in bed through that.  So, I get up.  I do ask that they not whine at me, which grates, but it hasn't really sunk in much.  It's better, for sure.  Yeah, the reciprocal respect is a bit broken in this house.  Perhaps I'm not so good at it myself.

 

I would be comfortable if they got up in the morning, I would have to get used to them being up at night, honestly.  I don't think they would hurt, kill, or maim themselves or each other, but I don't think I'd sleep.  I'm not opposed to it on principle, just that it would be an adjustment.  

 

I'm lucky that DH is on board with this, and we extended their bedtime and I went to bed with them. It's a start, but not the end.  They still fight and get silly getting ready for be and it is one of the most frustrating parts.  They can get ready without me, but they fight.  A few times I've been tired and they did it without me (they can!) but the personal dynamics get in the way most nights.  I feel like I'm just going to back off this.  Maybe go read a book or something or take a shower where I can't hear them.

 

We already had a glimpse of the thoughts in my 7yo's head, suddenly she started saying "I'm almost 8 years old!"  (She's barely 7.)  The megalomaniacal glint is in her eye!  And I think she's going to want to try to stay up forever.... 

 

Well, just for tonight, I said, we go to bed together.


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#23 of 49 Old 05-01-2012, 07:46 AM
 
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Ok, I was being optimistic with the "remind them a few times".  Hang in there and drink good coffee in the morning!

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#24 of 49 Old 05-01-2012, 08:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, you know it!  It's better in the morning, really.  But when they were little they would scream at me and generally make things miserable.  Tears, smacking me.  Oh, it's way, way better now.  Now they just whine, but I wake up like a log and it still grates.  That's why I need to teach them to operate the DVD player.  Still, they want company.  No, I don't mind getting up if they don't whine at me to do it, and give me a few minutes to log into this plane of reality.


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#25 of 49 Old 05-02-2012, 09:51 AM
 
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Still, they want company.  

 

I'm thinking this is one of the advantages of having introverts. My kids love being up alone in the mornings. 

 

Miranda


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#26 of 49 Old 05-02-2012, 10:11 AM
 
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My kids choose their own bedtimes, but they choose a single bedtime and stick with it based on the patterns we've observed together.  DS was going to bed at 11 but we recently changed that to 10 because he was having problems with impulse control after that hour. Actually, I think some of the time he was falling asleep at his computer or in front of the TV without realizing it and getting up to do stuff, like eat an entire jar of cookies or wander around the front yard or shout and stomp around the house.  This is very much in keeping with dh's family and personal history.  DD gets into bed at 8 because it often takes 2 hours or more for her to go to sleep regardless of when she gets into bed and any later than that seems to launch her into night terrors.  She seems to be unable to sleep any later than 7 or 8 in the morning, even if she stays awake until 2 in the morning but she will spend the whole day in full on meltdown mode. People who proclaim that kids' natural body clocks will work if you don't tamper and try to impose your own schedule aren't taking into account true sleep disorders.  And I think there are likely shades of gray with regards to being able to self-regulate and some kids may require a bit more guidance than others. We handle it the way we handle everything else.  If the family unit seems consistently unhappy, we look for unhealthy patterns, discuss possible solutions, test out different ideas, and reevaluate frequently, until we find a method that is bringing us joy or at least feels comfortable and acceptable.

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#27 of 49 Old 05-02-2012, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, happiness of the family as a whole is ultimately important, that's why we are trying something different.  Today was better.  They've been sleeping better in the mornings, though not waking up much later.  Better for me, I get my best sleep in the AM.  So, even though I woke up earlier, my sleep was less interrupted. Today I woke up before the girls.  Though they were up only 15 minutes later, they came out without bawling, without whining to be carried and our day started out much better.  So, I'm hoping while my evenings might be taken up with kids, I can train myself to get up earlier, and the girls might get used to not having me nearby.  It has been an adjustment, as expected, but dh and I have agreed not to bring problems back to sleep for a while, to address them at face value until the girls have had a chance to adjust.  They are short 30 minutes to 1hr compared to the old schedule.  Not much, but noticeable.  Still, 9hrs is better than many school kids get, so it's a start.  I'm hoping they will start making up for it in the morning.  For now we aren't playing this as "go-to-bed-whenever-you-want", but "stay up late and go to bed with mama."  They haven't protested.

 

Miranda, I grew up being an introvert--the youngest child behind 2 extrovert sisters, and I loved my mornings alone, my play time alone.  I love spending time by myself.  My sisters wondered what I did in my bedroom all those hours by myself.  So, my girls who never, ever want to be alone, or in the privacy of their room, it is a bit of a new thing to me.


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#28 of 49 Old 05-02-2012, 08:45 PM
 
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That sounds so awesome, SweetSilver, I hope you guys settle into a nice groove with this new sleep thing.  I am pretty envious of other unschoolers' sleep situations - family beds and free choice bedtimes and staying up late in the summer, ahh. I have endured everything from a bloody nose or a loose tooth from being punched or headbutted when touching one of my sleeping children, waking to my then-3-yr-old standing on the front porch screaming and pounding the door because he had somehow locked himself out of the house in the middle of the night without knowing how he got there, getting up 5 times a night for over a month to calm a child with night terrors that leave her shaking and crying, and on and on. The upside is that that my children have gotten the message well and truly that sleep is sacred. We only disturb a sleeping person in this house if there is tremendous need. So I do get to sleep in occasionally and our cooperative bedtime rule-making (along with some dietary changes over the past year or so) is making a difference in the quantity and quality of sleep we all get.

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#29 of 49 Old 05-03-2012, 08:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Qalliope, you do what you do to create a peaceful home where people feel safe and content.  

 

I am not a fighter*, or rather, I choose my issues carefully.  (I think that, combined with some faith in children's innate abilities, is what drew me to the unschooling spectrum of HSing in the first place.)  I did not intend to have a family bed with a 5 and 7yo, but I do because I found, at first it was easier, not having to get out of bed for nighttime parenting.  Then I realized it helped sooth our sometimes stressful days.  Then, there we were, 5 years later and still sharing a bed and I still see no real reason to change.  We sleep well mostly.  I imagine they'll be kicking me out of bed one day eventually.  The family bed was absolutely unplanned.

 

So, what I mean is that it is really easy for me to let go of some things in exchange for putting my energy in other things.  Bedtime has always been one of those things I would fight for, but honestly I can't trace it to any real need except my own thought that children should have a regular (early!) bedtime.  I think it came from being a nanny for so many years, working my ass off and getting to go *home* at the end of the day, reading too many childrearing books.  So, my brain was fully entrenched in strict bedtime mode.  It worked for getting them to get enough sleep, but I can't say it ever "worked".  Any battles I did have were at one time rewarded with a well-rested child and 3, sometime 4 hours of uninterrupted time after they were asleep.  So, I didn't really examine the bedtime routines much.  Clearly, that has changed, and any rewards I received were woefully diminished.  No longer a good trade-off, and so the whole premise of enforced bedtimes needed to be examined and a bit more effort put into giving relaxed bedtimes/no bedtimes a chance to work.  That's something I've never given this whole issue--time to work out the kinks.

 

And hopefully most of the kinks will be worked out by summer.  If the weather were nice, it would be glorious right now, but it's rainy and cold and the chicks are overcrowded in their brooder.  (I meant that literally, but, oooh, that works figuratively as well!)

 

*Have you ever studied Aikido?  I did for years BK (before kids) and this is what inspires me.


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#30 of 49 Old 05-03-2012, 09:57 AM
 
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I went to an Aikido class or two in high school, but I never got into it because I didn't like the teacher. I've read many, many books on various eastern (and western) philosophies and I tend toward a Taoist sensibility, myself.

 

I am finding this process you are going through illuminating in many ways, but then I always like to hear about others' patterns and habits and what drives them to re-examine their intentions and outcomes. And I well remember the "end of the day" relief of nannying, so much more potent than with any other kind of work. I was all ready to buck the strict bedtime model of parenting so prevalent in our society, and then it turned out they were hurting when I didn't get them to bed early enough. Initially this was pretty frustrating but I have come to terms with it, and we are all that much more committed to really embracing what evening time we have together. I don't normally frame our unusual situation in terms of how hard it is.  I mostly talk about it with humor and silliness. Last night we were up too late and I heard ds open the front door in the living room at 5:30 this morning.  I called out to him to ask what he was doing.  He called back, "I'm asleep.  I'm going back to bed."  I asked, "Why is the door open?"  And he just said sorry, closed the door and I found him on the couch wearing only socks and underwear in the morning, soooo...  Still I live vicariously once in a while through the people who snuggle their little ones at night without risk of bodily harm.  Living with somnambulists is weird.

 

I love the brooder analogy.

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