Early on I got the best piece of advice a young mother could have asked for. I was a 25 year-old mother to one six week-old little boy and she said he needs sleep.
You might be thinking “duh that’s pretty obvious.” But what I’m seeing more and more of is parents who don’t really put their kids to bed. There is no set bedtime, no bedtime routine and no expectation that the kids should even go to bed. The norm is falling asleep on the floor, on the couch or in the car.
Maybe the kids have a bedtime but it’s more like kenneling rabid dogs than sweet dreams in the making. There’s no bedtime stories or snuggles. There’s no hugs and kisses. There’s no “I love you soooo much”es.
Thirteen years ago when I got that advice, I started forming rituals around sleep. Sleep became a regular habit. Eventually bedtime had its own traditions and strict guidelines imposed by a 2 year-old little boy who wanted a stack of books read, his head rubbed and just the right music playing.
So what’s the big deal?
1. Kids need boundaries.
“There is security in defined limits. When the home atmosphere is as it should be, children live in utter safety.” – James Dobson’s Family Talk
2. It’s healthy.
3. Sleep affects behavior.
Most of us who have parented any length of time know that tired kids are cranky kids but it is actually more serious than mood swings. Last year a study out of the UK concluded “Irregular bedtimes linked to kids’ behavioral problems.”
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that irregular bedtimes could disrupt natural body rhythms and cause sleep deprivation, undermining brain maturation and the ability to regulate certain behaviors.
Yikes! Read the full article here.
4. Mom’s mental health.
That cartoon up there isn’t too far from how I feel at the end of some days. I am a loving mom. I enjoy my kids immensely. But if I want to stay that way, I need a few hours a day when I can go to the bathroom alone, find reprieve from the machine gun fire of “MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM” and maybe, just maybe have an adult conversation.
5. Married people need time to be married.
Mom and Dad need time to be Husband and Wife. Parenting together is a great adventure. But it’s not very romantic and it is certainly not foreplay. Clark Kent needs his phone booth. Mama needs a closed door, warm bath and fresh jammies before Super Wife is ready for sex. Not much nookie happens when the kids are banging on the door. Put them to bed and light your fire.
Maybe you are reading this and believe this stuff… in theory. But you just can’t seem to get your angels to drift quietly off to sleep. Never fear! Coming Soon: The Do’s and Don’ts of Happy Bedtimes