It’s Not All Mary Poppins

In which Mary digs in her heels

Top of the top of the top of my pet peeves with parents. Bar none.

Worse than parents who…
… can’t say no to their child.
… are chronically late at the end of the day.
… don’t call when they’ll be late dropping off the child.
… call me “the babysitter”.
… refuse to leave before they’ve calmed their baby (and thus spend 15 minutes winding the poor child up)
… consistently forget to send diapers, changes of clothes, or other necessities
… are inexcusably late picking up a sick child
… send a sick child to daycare

I’ve seen all those, and yes, they’re annoying to one degree or another. But the thing that really, really annoys me, possibly because it’s the thing I see the most frequently, bar none…

Are the ones who expect me to pick up their napping slack. The ones who say that they’re SURE their child doesn’t need a nap any more. They’re sure, because if the child has a nap, the child “just won’t go to sleep” at night.

Which, on the surface of it, sounds reasonable enough. There does come a certain point where a child no longer needs a daytime nap. For some children, that can be as young as 22 or 24 months. (Not often, but occasionally.) Some children are still needing naps at four. (Not often, but sometimes.)

A lot depends on patterns at home, of course. A child with an early bedtime (6 – 7:30 or so) will be able to give up the afternoon nap before the child who’s up till 9:00. Only makes sense.

If I have a family who has always encouraged sane and sensible sleep patterns with their child, I am always co-operative. In fact, only last week, I was the one suggesting to that parent that her daughter probably didn’t need a nap any more. Mum was describing bedtimes which have become steadily later over the preceding weeks, greatly extended periods of chat and activity before sleep finally arrived. I know this family has always had a consistent bedtime. I know the child’s sleep quirks. She’s not a perfect sleeper, but she falls well within normal, and her parents have always responded sensibly, as they are now.

“Let’s try dropping the nap for a week, and see what happens,” I said. This is her fourth day without a nap. Mum, Dad and I are working together, noting changes in night-time sleep patterns, daytime energy levels, mood, appetite… all those things that can be affected by sleep. I suspect she will only need occasional naps from here on in.

So, though I do enjoy my quiet oasis of nap time, I don’t put my quiet hour or two above a child’s genuine need. Emily hasn’t napped in about a year; Tyler naps some, but not all, days. Child-free naptimes are WONDERFUL, but if a child genuinely doesn’t need a nap… well, they don’t. I deal.

I’m not talking about that kind of parent, though. I’m talking about the ones who have never managed to establish consistent, age-appropriate sleep patterns. Year-old babies go all weekend without a nap. Fifteen-month-olds go to bed at ten at night. Eighteen-month-olds are waking multiple times most nights. Bedtimes vary by as much as two hours, wake times are similarly unpredictable. These children arrive on Mondays with dark shadows under their eyes, irritable, whiny and either lethargic or in manic overdrive. They are obviously, chronically, consistently sleep-deprived. I hate this as much as I’d hate it if I knew a child weren’t being fed properly, and was malnourished. It’s not about convenience, it’s about health.

And, very often, sometime in the second year of these children’s lives, their parents get the brilliant idea that the reason their child won’t go to bed at a decent hour is not because of any of those things. No! The problem originates elsewhere. This poor, weary, sleep-deprived urchin makes bedtime a misery because they’re getting TOO MUCH sleep! And if I would only agree to skip the naps, everything at home would be perfect.

Bugs the ever-living crap out of me.

I don’t say so, of course. “You people are making me crazy!!!!” That would be unkind, rude, unprofessional, and unhelpful. I want this problem fixed. I just don’t agree that their solution will result in a well-rested child. And that’s what we all want, right?

So, instead of laughing in their faces and out-right refusing, I suggest that I would be open to eliminating naps if I had a better idea of what their current patterns are. Which is only true, and only sensible. “We can’t effectively alter the sleep patterns until we know what they are.” I mean that. I may believe that their current problems are only the result of a year or two of poor patterns… I may believe that, but I could be wrong. It’s been known to happen.

Therefore, I ask parents to keep a sleep log. I provide the charts to fill. They keep one and I keep one, for three weeks. At the end of three weeks, I say, we will combine our charts and see what they tell us.

A blind experiment, I call it, where neither side sees the data the other has, so expectations don’t skew perceptions. (And to prevent, as happened on one memorable occasion, the parents fudging their charting to get the results they wanted. Here’s a tip: It’s silly to lie about something like that when your regular evening babysitter is your childcare provider’s daughter…)

With the charting in hand, we usually spot the problem easily. And usually — not always, but usually — it’s nothing to do with daycare. The first time I did this with a family, they called me on the weekend at the end of the second week. “We don’t need to keep up with the charting. We thought we had a consistent bedtime with occasional exceptions. The chart’s shown us that it’s his bedtime that’s the exception!”

That was nice. Moreover, they were appreciative of the exercise. That was nice, too.

Because it’s not intended as a trick to trip them up. Truly, it’s not, though I suspect some parents see it that way, as a test they can pass or fail. It’s not a test. It’s information-seeking. I want to know what we’re dealing with here, what the baseline is so that we can evaluate if our actions are resulting in the desired changes. If you don’t know what your starting point is, how do you know how far you’ve travelled? If you don’t know what the current situation is, how can you plan your strategy and evaluate its efficacy? Has the situation changed? If so, by how much? If not, why not? How do you answer any of these questions without information? You need DATA.

But do you know what? When I suggest the charting, about 80% of the contenders drop out of the race. Keeping a sleep log for three weeks is too much work? Or they know in their hearts the data wouldn’t support their position? Or it’s that fear of failing the test? I dunno. I just know that my suggestion, which is made quite sincerely, almost always results in the issue being dropped. I genuinely find that odd.

(Gratifying in some instances, she chortles evilly, but odd nonetheless.)

I want the child to be happy and healthy, and part of that includes being well-rested. I will work with the parents to achieve that. I will not, however, do the work for them.

It genuinely distresses me to see pale, weary, unhappy sleep-deprived children. If a parent’s strategy for getting their child to sleep at night is to drive them to the point of bleary-eyed, blithering exhaustion… well, don’t expect me to co-operate.

And if they expect me to make such changes without any data, and only on their say-so?

It won’t happen.

Period.

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July 15, 2011 - Posted by | parents, Peeve me, sleep | , , , , ,

22 Comments »

  1. I kept an asthma symptom log for a YEAR for my middle child. I could do this. My 30 month old wakes up the same time every morning–between 6:30 and 7:15, cheerful and ready to run around–but bedtime has gotten later and later (on his account–his sisters are long ago asleep). I try and try. He’s #3 so perhaps I am not trying as hard as I think I am, but it’s ridiculous. It’s gone from 8:00 to 11:30 bit by bit. His nap has stayed the same, a long afternoon nap from about 1-:3:30. When I’ve tried to eliminate it in the face of the terrible bedtime, he falls asleep at the dinner table at 6. That’s too early for bed–if he were falling asleep at 7, that might be one thing, but…I’m not at my wits end, since it’s summer, but the school year rolls around and this will be bad. Also lately he’s awakened from naptime very unhappy. It is so aggravating. The two girls, while not EASY, were far more predictable with the end of naptime. Sophia went quickly to long night/long day, and Maeve was still taking naps at age 5, with kindergarten being the trigger to end them……

    How weird. And aggravating, yes, I’m sure! If eliminating it has him falling asleep at 6, what would happen if you shortened it by an hour?

    Comment by Bridgett | July 15, 2011 | Reply

    • He was asleep at 10 tonight: we went to the zoo and wore him out for a 2 pm-4pm nap. I am only now getting back to your suggestion (summer got busy!). I’m going to try the regularity of the school year first, but then I think I will shorten it. I have always hesitated waking up sleeping children from naps but a shorter day sleep might be the ticket.

      Comment by Bridgett | August 15, 2011 | Reply

      • I’m now also wondering if, in addition to cutting it down to an hour, he could start his afternoon nap a bit sooner, to give him more awake time before bed. So start at 12:30 or even noon. Is that possible?

        Comment by MaryP | August 16, 2011

  2. Why wouldn’t they do a sleep log? That makes no sense. You have a problem, you want to fix it, and someone’s offering a way to move ahead? That’s nuts.

    I think they don’t want the information, they just want you to make the problem go away for them. If three weeks of attention and consistency is too much, that probably explains right there why they’re having problems. And I’ll be it’s not just sleep that gives them fits!

    You could be right!

    Comment by LauraM | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  3. Tuesdays are especially grueling for me because I have two kids that come three days a week. By Tuesday, they’ve had four days of no naps, crazy-late bedtimes, early wakings, and no structure. I’m just getting them back on track by Thursday, and then the whole stupid cycle starts again.

    Drives me BANANAS. Just happened yesterday, in fact – one of these kids (he’s 2.5) was dropped off looking pale, wide-eyed, and dopey. “He was up until 9 last night,” says his mom, “and woke up this morning at 5:30”. This kid’s bedtimes vary by as much as two and a half hours from night to night.

    At that age, making sure kids are getting enough sleep is such an easy thing to control! I just can’t understand people who make it harder for themselves by not sticking to a consistent sleep routine.

    They probably think that the early waking proves that he doesn’t need a lot of sleep, too, don’t they?

    I recall looking through one family’s charts with the parents. Dad looks at the chart and says, “That’s pretty consistent.” I looked at dad and said, “To be called ‘consistent’, there shouldn’t be more than 15 minutes variance in bedtimes.” He was stunned. (So was I! He honestly figured 60 – 90 minutes variance was ‘consistent’!)

    Comment by hodgepodge | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  4. Also one of my biggest pet peeves!! I love the idea of having them chart it! Can you tell me what your chart is like? Or even consider sharing it through google docs or something?

    I just write it up by hand, but since a few people have asked (both through comments and email), I’ll try to post a printable form, perhaps next week. It’s very simple, though: the time, from midnight to midnight across the top in half-hour segments, and the days of the week down the side. I have different symbols for four different states: soundly asleep, sleeping restlessly, awake and calm/happy, awake and crying/whining.

    In a perfect world, the “soundly asleep” sections would start and stop at the same time every day. (And there would be no crying/whining ever at all, and no one would ever throw up on me or sneeze in my face, and I could afford a cleaning service — heck, why not just be independently wealthy! — and a handsome man would bring me drinks on a tray after work every day before cooking my dinner, and I would never have to wash another dish in my life, ever.) 😀

    Comment by Abby @ They Lend Me Their Hearts | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  5. This problem is number one on my list too. Drives me CRAZY! I love the charting, I must try this. I had a set of parents, fine in so many ways, except for this…….ugh! When I would have to take the day off for an appointment or something in the middle of the week, grandma took them and they didn’t nap, the children were asleep by 4pm, didn’t eat dinner, didn’t wake until morning. The parents were thrilled! Seriously?? Why do you have children if you are ecstatic when you didn’t have to spend any time with your child at all. They were constantly telling me not to let them fall asleep. Drove me crazy!

    Oh, dear. That’s truly sad, isn’t it? I prefer the model of my aunt, whose parenting I greatly admire. When her children were in school, she would throw a party for the family (she, her husband, and their FOUR boys) the Friday before March Break to celebrate. Cake and balloons and their favourite foods. Why? “I get a whole week with my boys!” I had no kids then, and before I saw that, I’m pretty sure I’d have mindlessly followed the lead of most young mothers I knew, who complained about March Break. But as you say, “Why have kids if you don’t want to spend time with them?” Seeing her celebrate the time, instead of bemoaning it, was a small but happy paradigm shift for me.

    Comment by chantelle | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  6. I’m thinking these parents don’t know what they’re missing! A one-year old going all weekend without a nap? The very thought strikes terror in my heart! With a high-need one-year old in my house, naps are my greatest blessing. And it drives me crazy when people say, “Oh, you’re so lucky to have such a good sleeper!” It’s not luck! It’s taken a lot of work to establish good sleep patterns. And it’s worth every bit.

    I agree. Consistency with naps and sleeping is soooooo important. And I’ve written about the notorious (and insulting) “you’re so lucky before.” Isn’t it frustrating?! All your hard work and consistent effort dismissed as ‘luck’. Bah, humbug!

    Comment by rosie_kate | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  7. I have the opposite problem. I’ve always had consistent bedtimes & naps and our childcare provider won’t provide a place or opportunity to nap. Quinn is 23 months. He only naps at her house if he passes out on the floor or couch. This has smashed our whole evening. He may pass out immediately upon arrival at home at 4 and sleep til 7, maybe at dinner, he’s now up until 9:30 or 10 and he’s been in bed since 7:30, up at 6 instead of 7 or 7:30. It’s making us all crazy. When we started childcare in March he slept 12 hours every night plus a 2 hour nap. Now he goes around with bags under his eyes.

    Typing this all out shows me we must move him ASAP and makes me want to cry.

    Oh, you poor thing! That’s awful. What kind of childcare provider doesn’t provide naps? That’s crazy! I’ve never heard of that before. Never. Wow. What is the rationale for that? I’m flabbergasted!

    Comment by Rayne of Terror | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  8. I am trying so hard to be less judgmental about other parent’s child rearing methods. But damned if sleep still drives me crazy. “Oh, she usually falls asleep on the playroom floor at midnight or so; she’s such a night owl!” And this is about a child who is being tested for ADHD at school in kindergarten. She eats crap, she is threatened without follow-thru, she is bribed with toys and food to behave… but the fact that she never napped as a tot and sleeps so poorly still… that’s what bugs me most. I can only comment “hmm” and get away from the conversation as quickly as possible.

    And how much money would you be willing to bet that after two months of sensible bedtimes and consistent sleep (and good nutrition and behavioural structure) she would suddenly, magically, not be showing any signs of ADHD any more? Sigh.

    Comment by My Kids Mom | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  9. My dear computer-savvy husband programmed one of the living room computers (sigh, there are currently 3) to play a collection of “bedtime music” at naptime and bedtime. It has kept us on track for years. Now that the kids have outgrown naps, we still have “quiet time” in the afternoon if we’re home. Unfortunately, it’s not magic, my little dears do not simply trot off to bed without any additional prodding, but it helps.

    Some of my friends and relatives thought I was silly to be so rigid about sleep, and, yes, I’m sure they missed out on some activities by napping instead of “powering through,” but it was worth it.

    What a great idea! I love it. I also use music to set moods, and there are certain things I tend to play during naptime, but I hadn’t thought to use it as a cue. I like it!

    It is worth it! Well-rested children are happier in themselves, which makes them nicer to be around. Well-rested children are about 98% less likely to have meltdowns and temper tantrums, they’re better able to focus on things, to complete activities, to get along. And when they’re older, they’re far more likely to understand the value of sleep and its positive impact on their mood. A lot of the surliness we associate with teens can be chalked up to sleep deprivation.

    Comment by katkins | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  10. How would you suggest dealing with fluctuating schedule?

    Say for example the days they have to get up earlier for daycare if they’re not full time. I’m also interested if you would be willing to share how you have your tracking sheet set up. Trying to find out DD sleep patterns and get DH on board has not been going so well. He always forgets what time he put her down and doesn’t think that there’s a problem with inconsistant napping during the day.

    Adults on this continent think sleeping in on non-work days is normal, because most North American adults are mildly to moderately sleep-deprived. Thus it can seem unkind to us to be hauling our kids out of bed when they don’t have to be anywhere, but letting them sleep late only maintains the problem. With the exception of certain medical conditions, if you’re getting adequate sleep, you don’t/won’t/can’t sleep in. So, getting your child out of bed at the same time seven days a week will go a long way to creating consistent nap- and bed-times. After two or three weeks of a consistent wake-time, and matching consistent nap- and bed-times, you won’t be having to wake them; they’ll wake themselves.

    Comment by Melissa V | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  11. When both my husband and I were working swing shift, and getting home at 11:30 pm, we had our kids on a later schedule. Sure, they went to bed about midnight, but they slept until 11:00 am. And it worked for us. None of us were sleep deprived. 🙂

    Now that I’m working part time, and mornings, and my husband is on the same swing shift, we’ve adjusted their bedtimes to a more normal schedule. They get to bed about 10:00, and sleep until about 9:00 am. Mom and Dad are considerably more sleep deprived, but the kids seem to be faring well. They’re 3 yrs and 18 months. The younger takes a nap daily, and the older takes about 3-4 a week. I’d be happy if he took one daily, too, but some days he just doesn’t need one.

    Consistent bedtimes and routines are difficult to maintain, but I’m hoping now that we’re done moving, and have a home that we’ll be in for the long haul, that I’ll be better able to maintain the sleep routines.

    I’m interested in seeing your chart so as to see if we really are consistent, if you wouldn’t mind sharing…

    The experts all seem to be agreed that early bedtimes are best, and it certainly seems that children are naturally wired for early to bed and early to rise. However, so long as your children are getting sufficient sleep, the hour on the clock matters less than the hours spent in bed.

    In fact, my charts are hand-made, but maybe I should see about making one I could post as a print-able for those who’ve asked.

    Comment by MJ | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  12. Here in the Bay Area, California, the parent news groups are full of people looking for preschools that don’t enforce naps.

    Most preschools still do a full 2 hour (I think 1.5 hours in reality) nap during day until the kids leave for kindergarten.

    This means both my 3.5 and 5.5 year old sleep 1.5 hours a day during the workweek and then go to sleep around 9:30 pm (wake up 7:30 am). Weekends they don’t nap and go to sleep earlier. And yes, most parents I know have begged for no naptime and yes, none of them succeeded (except if they switched schools), and yes, we all end up figuring it’s a wash.

    We may not get alone time at night but we do get to see our kids (and read tons and tons of books)!

    Nice strategy though. I would certainly have been one of the 80% 🙂

    See, I would hate that. Hate it. I am in bed by 9:30 most nights. You commenters are showing me that I didn’t make it clear what my expectations are for well-rested children. The parents I’m complaining about here do not have well-rested children, and so these kids are going to need naps for as long as they can get them! Well-rested children don’t usually need naps after 2.5 or three. So, if I were a parent who’d successfully established early bedtimes, and I found that taken away from me because the daycare doesn’t want the logistical challenge of non-nappers… I’d be pissed. I’m glad it works for you! It sure wouldn’t for me. Eep.

    Comment by MB | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  13. I’ll never understand parents who don’t see how important sleep and consistent sleep is for children. We have a hard time keeping naps consistent on the weekends, (A combo of a well meaning but occasionally loud brother and various activities). However, we are sticklers about bedtime at night. Perhaps some of it is luck but my kids will sleep anywhere. I expect them to. If we go to grandma’s and we’re going to be there past 8pm. They sleep in her spare room. If we are a friends house in the evening, we always make sure there is a place to put them to sleep at bedtime or that we are on our way home by bedtime. They’re little, they’re growing, they NEED sleep.

    Our daycare does naps all the way through kindergarten. This occasionally annoys me because we had some issues when my son was ready to be done with naps. He gave up napping before he was three. We we’re fine with it because he wasn’t fussy, he wasn’t disruptive and he wasn’t sleepy before bedtime. He was actually incredibly pleasant all day and it seemed silly to fight with him over it. Daycare disagreed with us over it and they would rub his back and snuggle him to get him to sleep. I don’t do that at home. At home, you go to bed, by yourself and you stay there. Mama doesn’t want to run your back for two hours. They eventually conceded that the issue was not him but that his other friends still needed naps and he was disrupting them. It took many lessons to my son about being considerate to his sleeping friends and not being loud. BUT, eventually he learned.

    I think the important thing is to learn the kid. If they’ve got bags under their eyes and they’re falling asleep at 5pm. They probably need a nap. As a parent, don’t you want them to be feeling their best?
    I love the idea of the sleep chart. We struggle with staying consistent for E but I try most especially on Sundays to keep her to a schedule that will make her bright eyed and awake for daycare.

    The important thing is the child. Most children up to the age of 2 to 2.5 need naps. From about 2.5 or 3, the need for naps is dependent, to a very large degree, upon bedtimes. If bedtime is early (6:30 – 7:30), so that wake time can be 12 – 14 hours later, they likely won’t need one. If it’s 8:00 or later, they likely will. Normally, children wean themselves off naptimes, as seems to be the case with your son. Happily, sleep areas are separate enough from play areas that I don’t have to make a child nap who doesn’t need it, though nap-time play is necessarily quieter. They learn to play quietly very quickly when they realize the alternative is lying there staring at the ceiling, wide awake… 😀

    Comment by Dani | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  14. I was one of those parents – when my child was in his first year at his former daycare (age two) we had to work with the person in the two year old room in regards to his nap. We didn’t have him nap as when he did he wouldn’t sleep at night, no matter what time we tried. He’s still that way – if he gets any extra sleep he can take forever to get to sleep. We didn’t have his sleep well regulated or regimented. The home day care we had him at from 1-2 years only had a few kids and it wasn’t a daycare that had a lot of activities so he had a laid back day during that time. At the new daycare there were more kids and way more activities. He was getting a little more tired.
    The daycare teacher suggested a very short nap or even just a lie down – it helped him at daycare and we kept them short enough that it didn’t impact his night sleeping. He only did it for a few months and then stopped napping. Some of it was peer pressure and some of it was that he was a more tired It is a process that has to be figured out with the other major person in his life – the daycare teacher.

    Were you one of ‘those’ parents? You’ve said your two-year-old didn’t need naps, but that doesn’t make you one. ‘Those’ parents have generally disrupted, inconsistent, all-over-the-map sleep… well ‘patterns’ is scarcely the word. If the child is at least two, if you have a set bed-time and wake-time, if your child is getting a sensible number of hours sleep per 24 hours, but is simply getting them all at night? Then it’s quite possible that he genuinely doesn’t need a daytime nap. As I said, I now have three children (age 2.5, 3.5, and 5.5) who don’t nap, or at least, not every day. The troublesome parents have no healthy sleep patterns, have never had them.

    Comment by Alison | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  15. Mary, I absolutely agree with your stance. I have been feeling a bit frustrated and perplexed about sleep for my children lately, my son in particular (he will be three next month). My husband and I have always been quite strict about naps and bedtimes (sometimes to the bemusement of our families) and have always had early bedtimes for our kids (my 10-month-old is asleep by 6:15 every night). The frustrating part is, despite my best efforts, I often feel that my son is on the verge of being sleep deprived.

    In June, I went away for several days without my son, and when I returned, quite understandably, I had some work to do in getting things back to normal. We had some epic drawn-out bedtimes and my husband and I wondered if maybe my son needed to drop his nap, or move his bedtime later. We tried making some changes for two weekends and it was mostly a disaster: he DID crash and burn at nighttime, but during the day he was an overwhelmed, weepy mess.

    During the week at daycare, he naps about 1.5 hours in the afternoon, and we are reinstating the naps on weekends (although he often fights me on them and I have to lie down with him to get him to fall asleep, once he does fall asleep he will nap for two hours). However, he is SUCH an early bird. It is rare these days for him to even sleep until 6:00 a.m. 5:00 a.m. is just way too early (for him and for his parents) and he is exhausted by late morning. I’d try to move his bedtime even earlier, to get him more sleep at the front end, but as it is it’s a pretty tight schedule to get him in the bath shortly after 6:30. It can be discouraging to see your child being tantrum-prone due to fatigue when you are doing everything you can to get him rested!

    Comment by Jaimie | July 16, 2011 | Reply

  16. I’ve got some friends who have their first child. I pity him – and them, honestly! – terribly. Hes chronically sleep-deprived – at his first birthday he was getting *maybe* ten hours of of sleep at night (in two five-hour chunks, broken by a two-hour waking). Now at eighteen months, he’s down to just over eight, and still – no naps. He’s an absolute angel for most of the day, but the late afternoon and evening are filled with nothing but whining and tantrums. He must be constantly attended to and distracted. And the funny thing is…his parents are *convinced* that the kid is getting enough sleep! No amount of casual hints re: actual sleep need helps. I’ve had to give up babysitting for them; it just frustrates me too much.

    Comment by Becka | July 16, 2011 | Reply

  17. Sleep begets sleep…wise words someone once told me when my child was born.

    The more sleep deprived your child is, the harder it is to get them to go to bed at night and to fall asleep easily…surely as adults we’ve all experienced this, when you’re just so tired but you just can’t shut off and go to sleep.

    We had our share of sleep problems, but my son napped til he was four. Around 4 he probably only napped about half the time, but still he napped. Even now at 4 and a half, he will still fall asleep if we go on a long drive, or doze off if he’s watching a movie in the afternoon.

    We also stuck to a strict bedtime of 7.30pm. Every night, without fail, he is in bed by 7.30 at the very latest. We start the bedtime routine around 7.00 to ensure that it happens. He’s an early riser though, up by 6.00am at the latest, but then we have to leave the house by 7am each day, so that works for us.

    I think the trick was that bedtime and nap time was non-negotiable, we didn’t ask if he was tired, we didn’t discuss if it was time for bed, we just got on those jammies and off we went. Some say we were lucky, but we all know that luck had nothing to do with it!

    Comment by Tammy | July 17, 2011 | Reply

  18. Tammy makes a good point. You might want to point these parents to ALL THE SLEEP books, which say that a nap helps the kid to sleep BETTER at night, because they aren’t overtired…

    Comment by IfByYes | July 19, 2011 | Reply

  19. What Tammy said. Exactly.

    I’ve also noticed if we “miss” bedtime (hello 7:00 baseball games and not getting home until 8:45…..) it takes a lot more effort to get everyone to sleep….. mama included.

    I was thinking maybe I was doing something wrong when I read your post…. my 5 and 7 year old still “nap” on weekends…. but it isn’t a real nap (unless we spent a big chunk of time at the water slide or doing some serious ACTIVITY that day)…. it is QT. QT is a minimum of 20 minutes…. you can read, play with creative toys (no batteries), sketch in a notebook, some other quiet activity, tell yourself a story, think about your heart beat or just look at the wall… doesn’t matter to me. I can always tell when my 5-year-old has spent the evening hiding on the stairs watching tv after bed time…. she either naps at daycare the next day or is a weepy and sensitive train wreck when I pick her up.

    Comment by Homestead | July 20, 2011 | Reply

  20. I have had this argument with my husband over sleep for YEARS. I am the one who has to deal with the kids in the morning, which means I am the arbiter of sleep, which also means that I am the one who has to be constantly looking at the clock to make sure that bathtime is finished on time (if he’s giving them a bath) and that he isn’t getting the kids riled up 20 minutes before bedtime (which he often tries to do), and reminding him countless times that it is “x” minutes before he has to put our son to bed. I don’t even let him put our 5-year old daughter to bed anymore because it takes him forever and no matter when they go up, he’s not down before 9:45-freaking-pm. I love this man but he is seriously flawed in this manner. He does not care about sleep and he figures that if there’s a problem with kids sleeping, the solution is to keep them up later. And because he’s a scientist he thinks he’s right about pretty much everything, including sleep. Honestly, this is what we argue about the most and it drives me insane. He’s more concerned with feeding our daughter nitrate-free salami than he is with making sure she gets enough sleep. Sigh.

    Comment by Kiki | July 21, 2011 | Reply


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