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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Why I won’t apologize for my son’s early bedtime



 My son went to sleep at 6:30pm until he was almost a year old.  At that point he was waking up religiously at 5:00am every morning.  I tried pushing it later a few times, but he still woke up at the same time, and since he was still sleepy, he woke up in a bad mood.  Not a good way to start every day.  Around his first birthday, I started pushing bedtime a little later until I got it to 7:00pm, and now he sleeps until 6-6:30am.  This is perfect for us.  I wake up around the same time and we have an hour to get dressed and eat breakfast before I take him to daycare and go to work.

Even now there are evenings where I can tell that he is exhausted at 6 and just wants to go to bed.  My son is not a great napper most days.  If he gets in 1.5-2 hours that is a GREAT day.  Most of the time we are looking at a total of 1 hour, split into a morning and afternoon nap.  Since he doesn’t get much sleep during the day, he NEEDS the extra sleep at night.  And since he is naturally an early riser, he needs to go to bed earlier to get all of the sleep he needs.

An early bedtime causes lots of “problems” though.   We can’t usually go out to dinner.  Even if we went around 6:00, he’s tired and fussy, so it doesn’t make for an enjoyable experience.  When we visit family out of town, we leave early so that we can get home by 7:00 to put him in his own bed.  We’ve tried really hard to establish a solid bedtime routine with Grant so that he understands that it’s bedtime and he needs to go (and stay!) asleep.  It seems to have worked since he’s been sleeping through the night since around 7 months old and he hasn’t had one (knock on wood) night where we’ve had to go in and settle him.  Even when he’s been sick or teething, he sleeps through the night and if he wakes up he is able to settle himself.

Recently we had the 4th of July and multiple family members made comments about him staying up for fireworks.  I understand the excitement of watching him experience that for the first time, believe me, I’m looking forward to it too.  However, keeping Grant up 2.5 hours past his normal bedtime is not going to be enjoyable for anyone involved.  It’s going to consist of me trying to keep my whiny, tired 1 year old quiet so he doesn’t ruin everyone else’s holiday and trying to ignore the “look” people give you when you can’t keep your kid from crying. 

A major bonus of an early bedtime is 2-3 hours of kid free time! Some days my husband and I just want to cherish our alone time, I’ll take a bubble bath and he will watch YouTube videos or tv.  Other days we make it a movie night or have wine on the back porch.  And verrry occasionally I will use that time to catch up on cleaning, but let’s be serious here, most of the time it’s a movie/bubble bath. 

So, if I have had to miss a girl’s night or dinner or fireworks, I’m sorry.  My child was sleepy and we didn’t want to subject you to his tired cries.  We wanted him to be in a good mood the next morning and for us all to enjoy a good night’s sleep.  This is just a small season of our lives and it will be over before we know it.  I’m cherishing each night that I rock him to sleep and watch him on the monitor, because before I know it he will be a teenager barely making curfew and I know we will miss these early nights.

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