Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bedtime Battles

Some things never change.

I chanced upon this post written back in Sept 2009 when M was just 5.

Since the boys were little, the 9pm bedtime was non-negotiable on all typical days. I believe that young children and teenagers need sufficient sleep, not just for growth but also for optimum development in one's capacity to learn. The tremendous benefits that having sufficient sleep brings cannot be underrated.

Unfortunately after being a parent for over 12 years, I still have to endure nightly bedtime battles for my three kids rarely go to bed without resistance.

Life was easier when kids were younger. When they were still preschoolers, E and I used to take one boy each for our hour-long bedtime reading. Admittedly, it was a struggle at times to start reading to both at 8pm, but we did our best.

It was hectic and tiring to be a single-parent during those periods when hubby was away for business trips, but it always seemed easier to enforce the 9pm bedtime, mostly because I have always been the stricter parent. Kids learnt quickly that mummy would not budge on certain issues.

By the time the boys were 7 or 8, we no longer read to them. But because they are used to bedtime reading, they never go to bed without at least 30 min of reading on their own.

We still read to Dolly though. Before she could read independently, I used to encourage her to look at the pictures in the books while waiting for us. By the time she could read, it became an easy habit for her to read quietly waiting patiently to be read to.

Unfortunately, despite my best effort, I fail to ensure my youngest sleep enough. Even if she sleeps at 9pm, she wakes before the boys leave home for school because my boys are too noisy in the morning. Being a light sleeper, she stirs at the slightest sound. I tried everything to keep her in bed, but she seldom sleeps past 7am.

Before she started preschool, she used to follow me out to pick boys up in the middle of the afternoon, so she had to drop naps. That kind of messed up her routine, as a result, she doesn't nap either. By the time boys are back in the evenings, there is too much household noise for her to sleep early.

Boys also fight harder now to negotiate for later bedtime. With longer school days, more homework, hence less free time for hobbies (and they don't even go tuition!), they test our patience nightly. When nagging no longer works, we have to resort to threats of withdrawing privileges at times to get them to lie down.

Some days, I accept that this is part and parcel of having a larger family with growing kids of different age groups. We just have to move along and make things work. But other days, when I look at the dark eye circles I am sure I can see under her eyes, I feel terribly guilty. It drives me nuts that my 5-year-old is not sleeping enough. Developmental-wise, she is excelling for sure. But physically, she is the smallest in class.

On one hand, my parenting experience tells me there is nothing to worry about, especially how genes play such a big part in deciding a child's body frame and physical growth rate. But on the other hand, the worrier in me cannot help but wonder what else I could do to make her sleep more.

Recently, I introduced this "rule" to her. Telling her that it is a game no longer works as she plainly told me it could not be considered a game if it was not fun. True. So I just put it simply that it is a mummy's rule that she has to lie in bed till 8am, in a desperate bid to entice her to fall back asleep. Some days it worked like a charm. She just stared at the digital clock next to the bed till she dozed off. Other days, I could hear saying aloud the numbers on the clock EVERY minute.

Oh well, until I could find a better way to fight the battles.....

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