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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

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)


Anonymous Closs said...

I have 5 munchkins and the youngest is 4. Bedtime is a NIGHTMARE around here for her. The older ones go to bed at 9:30..and I even manage to get my 17 yr old in her room at that time..but holy COW the four yr old is a task. Honestly..I don't have a clue what to do.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Heth said...

I have a love/hate relationship with bedtime. And I know what you mean about the older kids staying up as late as the parents...not sure I'm ready for that one! It was fun to read your bedtime routine. Good topic.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

We actually had similar rules at our house - we had to be in our rooms by 8 (and later 9)but you didn't have to be asleep or even in bed - mostly we read. And we were very good about turning out our own lights and going to sleep at a reasonable hour...

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Denise said...

I used to always put all the kids down at 8:00. Now the older ones (14 & 13) sometimes have homework that keeps them up well after I go to bed. In general bedtime has gotten later around here in the last couple of years. Last night I put the five younger ones down at 8:00 like the old days. Wow, that was nice. I'd like to keep that up for the rest of the school year. Soon there will be a newborn in the house to mess everything up again, though!

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another advantage of homeschooling huh?
I have a couple of sleepers who sleep a LOT.
Then I have a 7 year old who would rather have second shift!

11:46 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I am actually pretty blessed in this area. Babies, toddlers, adolescents, all great sleepers.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Bethany said...

Why oh why hadn't I found your (or this post) about 2 years ago? I only have one kid (I know, small potatoes) but it is still relevant. That damn question, "Is he sleeping through the night yet?"

Man, it used to grate me. He was a high-demand nurser, loved cuddling (still does at 3) and well, never slept longer than an hour and a half or so til he was almost a year. STILL at 3 he gets up at night unless he is in bed with my husband and I.

I totally resisted this notion for a long time. Would lay in bed with him for an hour or more (his bed) to get him to sleep, etc. etc. Now? I just don't care. If he goes to bed in our room I can kiss, hug, turn out the lights and return a few moments later and he is out. and you know what? THAT is a helluva lot easier than the other routine.

So, when I choose to have another child--the whole sleeping won't be a second thought.

Thanks for a great post, and now we both can celebrate that we aren't terrible mothers for forcing an 8pm bedtime. :-)

11:52 AM  
Anonymous courtney said...

Right there with boys and sleep are not friends. My oldest(2&1/2) Now sleeps through the night but not before a year and a half of waking up every two hours. In the beginning my youngest ( 8 months) slept really well-taking naps (oldest never did) and sleeping for long periods at night (4-5 hours) Ha-just a tease. He's so wants to be like his big brother so he too wakes up every two hours :(

11:54 AM  
Blogger Dana Glover said...

I'm a fairly new reader and couldn't resist the subject. Most nights I only have my 2 boys to put to bed - 4 yrs and 17 months. Their bedtime is between 8:15 and 9:00 (depending on time of naps). They both get kisses and get tucked in. I never hear a peep from them until morning (7:30 - 8:00). The 17 month old usually takes two 2-hour naps a day. Just lay him down and he unwinds on his own. And when we have my 3 stepkids (13, 8 and 6) over, bedtime is 9:00 on the dot for everyone except the teen. He stays up until about 10 pm with me and his Dad, watching TV or reading. I love the routine of bedtime because it gives me the only true peace of the day. The few times I have tried to allow my 4 year old to stay up a bit later -- he comes to me and tells me he wants to be in bed. Might as well enjoy this while it lasts!

11:54 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

you have inspired me to burn those books on getting your babies to sleep. as my husband keeps asking me, "is this really a problem? or just other people thinking this is a problem?"

thanks chris. you're my hero-mom.

12:01 PM  
Blogger falwyn said...

Hee hee, beatings. At bedtime growing up my dad used to say, after we were all ready: "Okay, we brushed our teeth, we have our pjs on, we beat the kids.... wait, we forgot to beat the kids!" All a joke of course, else it wouldn't be funny, but how amusing, the spellcheck.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

Long time lurker here - I decided to join your Wednesday tradition starting this week. Glad to know I'm not alone in this battle!

1:26 PM  
Blogger sillypants said...

I am so, so in love with your blog !!

I am loving your bedtime routine and is sounds eerily similar to our own ( well, minus 5 kids) I too remember the days of warm baths, a song, a few stories....which have now been replaced with taking bets on Survivor and my 9 year old closing my lap top when she finds me sound asleep.

Wonderful writing !

1:34 PM  
Blogger owlhaven said...

I posted on this topic this week, too, Chris! I have the feeling you and I would get along!

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

I've been lurking for a little bit . . . I love reading your blog. You have a great writing style, and a realistic outlook on life.

I love what your husband said about bedtime issues usually being someone else's problem. Our kids have a bedtime and a short routine, and they go to bed well. They don't necessarily stay there, however . . . and we don't make it an issue. I figure I'll be less likely to wake up and find my son in my bed when he's 12 than now, so I live with it. I need my sleep, so whatever allows me to get it pretty much happens. I know I can count on neither kid waking/sneaking in until around 2 or 3 in the morning, so I also least get a small chunk of sleep.

Thanks for sharing! I think I'll join in and share our sleep philosophy too.

1:45 PM  
Blogger noelle said...

OK, I'm neurotic about sleep. I like my sleep and thankfully so do my kiddos. No fancy rountines-just go to bed and stay there! They're all there by 8...8:30 at the latest, and my oldest just turned 10.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

Sometime in the distant past there was an article that said the sleeping question was a cultural thing. That in the US it is the big question and is kind of a 'how good a parent/child' thing. Now in Italy they could care less about sleep patterns babies/small children wake up and its expected. The big question is 'how are they eating?'. So when do we move to Italy?

3:23 PM  
Blogger O_Scientist said...

My house is even worse, my kids don't sleep much at all. And have the same 'coming down to share something important' routine going all night.

But somehow it all works out, even if it's somewhat chaotic.

I posted about it on my blog today.


3:54 PM  
Blogger carolyn said...

Ever since my baby was born (now 7 months)my husband has taken over bedtime for the 2yr old twins. It drives me crazy. I have always liked to get them into bed and done with by 8:30 at the latest and he just stretches it out and out and out.... By 9:30 I am just ready to scream for him to take them upstairs. PLEASE!

Anway, sleep is such a big issue when you have little kids and need a break at the end of the day. The baby is such a horrible sleep. There isn't much I wouldn't do for 8 straight hours of sleep right now.

Love your blog!

3:55 PM  
Blogger Jodes said...

I have to let my 2 yr old fall asleep on the couch almost every night, but then once in bed he lasts till about 5 am and I put him in bed in my place since I have to get ready for work.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Chuck Pierce said...

Damn I have it easy....
Anyways, I added my post on the subject.

4:44 PM  
Blogger TBG said...

I dont think the bedtime would bother me either. Growing up we had bedtime but had to be in our rooms quiet and after so long we no longer had bedtimes. By the time I was 13 I went to bed whenever I wanted we all did we just had to be able to get up in the morning and be nice for school!

4:54 PM  
Blogger Linsey said...

I have 5 kids, and I have been SO BLESSED with good sleepers. Allof them sleep 12 hour nights by 2-3 months, spoiled, I know. I also know that I am being blessed with such sleepers because I know they will keep me up ALL NIGHT when they are older. I will get mine...

4:56 PM  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

One day, Chris, if I am lucky enough to have a baby, and that baby doesn't sleep through the night, will you remind me that they all do at some point? That will be a wonderful gift to me, so that I don't freak out.

I love your laid back nature.

5:33 PM  
Blogger judi said...

sounds like bedtime used to be at our house. we never set bedtimes, and if we had, noone would have listened. the ages of our 5 kids are from 8-22 years old and now that our eldest two are out of the house- bedtime seems sadly uneventful. our 15 year old daughter sits and knits ( she did NOT get that from me) and the 8 year old twins listen raptly to harry potter, wrestle a bit and fall asleep in the same bed. and then there is quiet.

8:41 PM  
Blogger cheri getty said...

first time here!...god bless ya do you do it with 7? we're on the fence about a 2 girls have me so busy and i feel crazed at're an inspiration!

9:41 PM  
Blogger JenLo said...

I should be more relaxed about it like you. I just can't wait to get my kiddos to bed so I can be "off work" for a while.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Jodie said...

I have 4 (7-14)and when they were little they were light sleepers that didn't "self-sooth" I hated it when people said how great their kids slept. But, after toddler age they just straighten themselves out. Preschool helped, heck they'd practically fall asleep at dinner! Like your blog!! I just started a little nervous.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Mama26blessings said...

I'm a day late, but my routine is up!!
God bless!!
A Day in the Life at Our House

6:01 PM  
Anonymous rcmom said...

Sounds a lot like bedtime at our house, minus about 4 kids!

What we really want to know, is the other things that drive you "bat shit crazy"! Or is that next Wednesday's topic?

8:36 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Could you imagine what one of those TV nannies would say?

I can't imagine what she'd say to me when she found out that I have not only my 2.5 months old in bed with us, but also our 20 month old!! lol

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK I'm late once again BUT my post is up. Not very exciting but it's there.

4:35 PM  

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