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Ok, I have three children, ages almost 2, almost 5 and 6 1/2. When they were infants there was no bedtime, just gentle encouragement to sleep at night and play during the day (yk, I was more energetic and playful during the day and less at night because I was tired!). Eventually they got to the point where I started doing bedtime. With my oldest it was "it's bedtime." With my middle one it was a little less set in stone and my youngest (and the older two now that I've become less rigid) it's "you're tired, how about we start thinking about bed". I do coerce them I suppose. I do use encouragement and not just let them be until they decide, but it's mild coercion...I don't force them to go to bed and if they need more time they get it.

The younger two though will stay up all night if left to their own devices. Then the baby gets up at his normal time (or sometimes much, much earlier) and is VERY crabby the next day and the middle one will sleep until noon, which is a problem because there are some days when we have responsibilities out of the house much earlier. They tend to hit their ideal tiredness to go to bed at the same time daily...the middle one it's about 7pm (she needs about 12-13 hours of sleep) and the youngest one it's about 730pm (he still takes a nap).

But my oldest is fairly good about going to bed when he's tired. He was going to bed consistantly at about 9pm...no later than 930. But lately my sister has been home and chatting with him and watching tv (well, usually movies) with him and he's been staying up until about 10 or 1030. He's always been an early riser, but with his late bedtimes lately he's been sleeping in until 730 or so. Just crazy if you know him. And he doesn't really get up on his own, he's usually woken up by the little one.

So, other than that everything seems to be going ok. Everyone is happy with the situation and it works fine...except for one thing. I am going to be going to school in the fall and because of our schedule my only time for homework will be in the evening. I've tried to explain to ds that I just can't do anything with him at night - he's always asking to go for a walk or play a game or just wants to talk to me (he talks ALL day and I listen any other time), or asks me for a million things...it's just not a good environment for homework.

I can't ask that he play in his room because he shares a room with his brother and it will wake him up. With the younger two (and in the past with him) we'd have a deal that if they were ready for bed, but not quite ready for sleep they could play in their bed...but he's not really into that anymore.

I've given thought to having bedtime be at 9pm for him. When dh is home he is not ok with him staying up until he wants to go to bed (even when it was at 9 or 930 that he chose to!) and he has him go to bed at 9 and he goes right to sleep.

But somehow I just don't really feel good about setting a bedtime after him having this freedom of going to bed when he's ready. I've moved toward more of a consentual lifestyle and I feel good about that, and this feels like I'm saying that I'll treat my children as equals...except when it's inconvenient to me and in that case I'll just tell them what to do.

My homework needs to get done, though!

By the way, I spend quite a bit of time with him throughout the day...he's just very social. He does not understand why someone would want quiet time or time alone.
 

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I'll be interested to see what responses you get, because I've been thinking about this as well. My oldest NEEDS to go to sleep by about 8:30 or else she is a weepy mess the next day (like today, instant meltdown 20 minutes after waking up, and dragging along the rest of the time), but I practically have to force her into her bed at night
: I'd love to find a consensual way for her to get enough sleep, but I'm just not seeing how.

For your older guy, would he read in bed until he fell asleep? That's what we do with Bella many nights. Also remember that CL is about what works for everyone, and if you need to do your homework and you aren't able to, then it's not working for YOU (which is not to say I've found any kind of balance myself, just throwing it out there once again
)

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well... i have no idea about the "consentual living" perspective. but i wanted to share my thoughts ~~

my son will be 6 in about a week and a half. until this week, he didn't really have a bedtime. he would stay up late with us and then go to bed anywhere from 10 pm to around midnight or 1 AM. then he would get up whenever he woke up in the morning.

but now, since he started public school this week, and we have to get up early every morning (6:00), and he has to be able to stay focused at school ~ we have a set bedtime. every night by 8 pm, he brushes his teeth, and we read his bedtime story, and by about 8:30 to 8:45, he has lights-out and usually he goes right to sleep.

since school started, bedtime has been completely non-negotiable. i KNOW that he needs x amount of sleep every night, and i KNOW that he won't be able to concentrate or behave well in school if he doesn't get the sleep he needs. i also KNOW that he has been dealing with a lot of other stress in his life, and he needs to be able to rest enough to deal with the issues he has to deal with. so, there is no negotiation, because i know this is what's best for him.
 
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