Lately I’ve been feeling guilty about bedtimes. My little men, who are getting older, still have the same bedtime as the girls. The Scientist is eight and a half, the Ninja Monkey is seven and a half, and the Superhero is six. The girls on the other hand are almost five, three and a half, and 14 months. If you know kids at all you know that there is a huge difference between eight and four, let alone between eight and 14 months and they have all been going to be at the same time since they cried it out. It had to end.
While they’re ages alone dictate that they shouldn’t all be going to be at 7:00, age isn’t the only factor here at Le. Rheims. You see, living in a small space means things work just a little bit differently than they would in my ideal world. If we lived in a four bedroom house, this wouldn’t pose as much of a problem. I’d put the baby down at 7:00 PM, be done with our nightly routine of a couple of stories and prayers with the “big girls” by 7:30, and then put the boys to bed by 8:30. I might even let the Scientist stay up until 9 (shocking, I know!). It would be lovely and normal and just about perfect.
But I don’t live in a four bedroom house. I live in a three bedroom apartment. One bedroom is for the grown ups, one if for the baby, and one is for all five of the “big kids” (read: anyone who isn’t the baby). So you see where bedtimes get complicated, right? I’m not crazy for agonizing over this for so long, right? Anyways, to keep the peace (and avoid meltdowns over why one kid can stay up and others have to go to sleep) I’ve just kept everyone at the same bedtime until very recently.
What changed? I realized in an effort to save myself a bit of a hassle, I was being unfair to my kids, and not just to the boys. Oh sure, I was keeping them from the magical land of growing up and all the rights and privileges it affords, like extra TV time. But more than that even, I was being unfair to my girls. I wasn’t teaching them the valuable lesson growing up comes with those rights and privileges and that since not everyone is the same age, not everyone is allowed to do the same things. It’s not a punishment to go to bed earlier than your brothers (I mean, unless it is, in which case, I got nothin’). It’s just a part of being four when your brother is almost nine. It’s life.
So, a couple of weeks ago, I finally did it. I marched into the bedroom at bedtime and told them all that the Scientist was definitely old enough to stay up until at least 8:30, and that the other boys might get to stay up as well depending on how they behaved at night and, more importantly, how they behaved the next morning. Apparently, I was worried for nothing. The boys were excited; the girls were a little disappointed but fine. Seriously? Oh well, I guess it’s better than the alternative, right?
The best part? The boys have developed a love of Psych. We watch an episode a night while they play Uno or dabble with Snap Circuits, and I write or answer email. It’s actually so pleasant, I’m wondering why I was so afraid of trying it.
Note to self: Don’t avoid something that’s right to avoid a fight that might not even happen, especially in parentingn