When most of our children were little, I dreamed about them going to bed at 8 p.m., so my wife and I could stay awake and get some things done. Then they started coming up with every excuse they could to stay up past 9 p.m.
Nowadays, I still want someone in bed at 8 p.m., but it’s more likely to be me. I’m worrying less and less about when the preteen and teen girls get their beauty rest, mostly hoping they’ll just stay quiet long enough I get catch some ZZZs.
It’s amusing how your perspective on sleep changes so much over time. I once saw the world like my children always have. Sleep was an intrusion into my life, cutting into the amount of time I could do other, more interesting things.
Now, it’s a welcome reprieve. It’s the magic elixir that makes me feel a little less sore, a little less grumpy and a whole lot happier each day.
The irony of that is I probably get less sleep than I ever have before in my life. When I was young and single and stupid, I could stay awake as late as I wanted, as I’d have nothing in particular to do the next morning. I worked nights for years, and as long as I was awake by 3 p.m., I’d be fine. I used to joke with people that I didn’t believe there actually was a 6 in the morning, just the one at night.
Ah, what a difference a decade makes. Now I’m a full believer in the magical power of 6 a.m. It’s surprising how many times that hour passes that I’m already awake, showered, shaved and dressed for the day, working away in either my home office or the one for the newspaper. It’s amazing how much you can get done when other people aren’t around to interrupt you.
In the process, I’ve likely cut my nightly hours of sleep down from 10 to about 7 1/2 hours. That proves to be the right number most of the time.
We do still have some challenges with children not wanting to respect normal bedtimes, namely our 6-year-old. She has that fear of missing out on something amazing each night, as if we wait for her to go to bed before we start a dance party or something.
Sometimes I’ll chuckle with her when she’s being particularly pushy about staying up. She doesn’t seem to realize that if she’d fly under the radar, she probably could’ve stayed up an extra half hour or hour without our noticing.
Other times, she’ll begrudgingly head up to her room to get ready for bed and brush her teeth around 8:30 p.m. It might be an hour later when we realize she was so responsive to the initial request that she’d been left alone after that, free to play quietly in her room. She squeezes an extra half hour or more out of her day just by pretending to go to bed.
We always pay for those days the next morning, when she’s reluctant to wake up for school.
Except on Saturdays and Sundays, that is. When she doesn’t have to wake up for school, she has no trouble waking up at the same time she would’ve on the other five days of the week. She’s up and at it, ready to take on the day while the rest of us dreamt of sleeping in on a weekend.
That’s one behavior I’d certainly let snooze a little.