Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Go To Sleep Already

It's past 9pm and Chamudi is in bed, quiet but not yet sleeping. I'm pretty excited--this is EARLY for him to be settled down.

Herein lies the problem. Most of my friends have their kids in bed by 7pm. The wild ones have them there by 8. But not us.

The problem really started when Chamudi began school in November. Now that I'm not paying by the hour I leave the house a little more slowly in the morning and get home later in the day. We're home by 6, pull together dinner, sit down and have a nice family meal and then start playing with blocks, trains, books, whatever.

Before you know it, it's 7:30pm. And Chamudi doesn't want to to take a bath, or get his jammies on, or read a book. He wants to stay awake. And the truth is, we want to spend more time with him. We miss him.

So we dawdle. And comment idly on the tie. And completely fail to lay down the law.

Somewhere around 8 or 8:30pm one of us summons the grown-up-ness to start the bedtime routine. If we're lucky lights are out by 8:45.

Then begins the massive stall. Water. Music. Tuck in. Tuck in again. And so on. We try to ignore him, but we're softies--both of us. And have I mentioned that we miss him?

I am completely embarrassed to say that it is not unusual for our toddler son to drift off to sleep at 10pm. Fortunately for him he's also able to sleep in (not one of those up with the sunrise kids). Most mornings he sleeps until 7:30 or 8--and he still gets a good nap midday.

He doesn't seem that much worse for the wear. So what's the harm?

One of the biggest downsides is that he's pretty much ceased going to synagogue in the morning with Abba. Up until 2 years old he was basically a regular at morning minyan and daf yomi--which was surely a hassle for Abba but also an amazing experience for them both.

For another thing, our grown-up time--to get housework done, or watch tv, or just be with each other--has pretty much been confined to the hour or so between Chamudi's bedtime and mine.

We do the calming routine thing. But no routine in the world will convince a toddler that he wants to go to sleep when really, he doesn't. And while I may be able to make him go to school, or put on his jacket or say please, nobody but nobody can make him go to sleep.

Maybe if we can just start waking him up and pushing him out earlier in the morning he'll naturally gravitate towards the earlier bedtime. But it'll take a few weeks of purposely starving him of sleep--a tough sell for everyone involved. Assuming it even works.

So there you go. Our dirty secret: we're bedtime failures.


Maya said...

The getting up earlier solution might work. When we go to TX to see Grandma and Grandpa, there's an hour time difference, and after a couple of days my girl adjusts because she's up. Of course, going to bed at 8pm is the only good sleep habit she's got. She wakes up between 5 and 6:30, no matter what time she goes down, and her nap lengths vary wildly. I've noticed that my girl seems to be able to will herself to stay awake. So it might be a contest a wills for a few days. My guiding principle is this: I can't control what time she'll wake up, but I can control what time she goes down. So that's what I work with.
It's good that he's quiet even when he's not sleeping, though.

Cynthia Samuels said...

Raising kids in New York in a two-career family meant mine never went to bed early. My colleague Merle used to say that all Manhattan kids were chronically sleep-deprived. So maybe I'm not the best person to ask.

BUT if he isn't tired, or cranky, then I say enjoy him! When he starts big guy school and/or gives up naps you can work on earlier bed times. For now though, have fun.

As for minyan, most of my friends with small children hit a kind of wall with their kids at around 2 or 2.5 because the kids no longer would sit quietly in shul the way they had. They wanted to run around, and talk. So it's possible he wouldn't be able to handle it every day even if he went to bed right after dinner.
I guess, from the perspective of someone whose kids are grown, together time is a treasure. Unless he's so tired he's falling asleep in his soup, I say go for it.

The Queen of Laundry said...

Have you considered giving up the mid-day nap? it solved the problem for us. My son was going to sleep around 9 or 10 until we realized it was... the nap.
There was some negotiation with the nursary teacher over keeping him awake, but eventually we arrived to the point where she convinced him "only to lie down" for some 20-30 mins, and later he just skipped the nap altogether, finding things to do or joining the older kids, who were up anyway, in their game. Obviously, that might not work with every child, but at this stage I feel we must decide what's good for our children (scary as this might be)and at least try it out; it's our responsibility (AND our only chance to run some kind of a "normal" grown-ups' life...)
For us, anyway, once the nap was gone, he was out by 7:30-8pm every day. He was 3 years old, and we got our evenings back :)