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A Master at Manipulation?

Kids fight a return to normal bedtimes.

“Can I go back to sleep?” my teen son asked Sunday morning.

He had a surly tone. He was still upset I had “forced” him and his siblings to get up at 7:30 that morning and the 3 mornings that preceded it.   

It was all part of my big plan to get my kids off their holiday sleep schedule - stay up late and get up late – and back on a school sleep schedule.

“Sure,” I said, refusing to put up a fight.

By the look he gave me, I could tell he had expected me to fight his attempt to return to bed. In fact, I’m fairly certain he had a list of reasons why he should be allowed to go back to sleep. I’m sure not fighting his demand for more sleep threw him for a loop.

He began heading for his room then he stopped walking, looked at me, and said, “This better not be a trick.”

“It’s not a trick,” I said. “If you want more sleep, then go back to bed.”  

This only served to make him even more suspicious of me. He watched me as I sat at the kitchen table reading. When I tired of him watching me, I said, “You can go back to sleep now.”

“I’m not tired anymore,” he said, crossing his arms.

“I think you’re being paranoid,” I said as I suppressed a laugh.

I found the fact that he thought I was up to something hilarious. He usually treats me like I’m not bright enough to walk and chew gum at the same time. Why he had suddenly decided I was a schemer out to trick him was beyond me. But I liked it.

The reason I imposed a wake up time in the first place is because when school’s out, I give my kids the freedom to choose their own bedtimes.

For my youngest, this usually means staying up an hour later and waking up an hour later. My teen son, however, is the one who takes full advantage of the break from normal schedules.

Over this winter break, my teen son got into the habit of staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning and sleeping as late as 3 pm. When “Call of Duty” calls, apparently he’s the one who has to answer the call.  

On December 31, I told my kids that starting January 3rd they needed to be up each morning at no later than 7:30. As soon as I finished my sentence, the questions and protests began. They were like addicts who didn’t want to be cut off.

“Why is it so important for us to wake up so early?” my teen son asked.

“I want you to get back in the habit of going to bed at a decent time,” I said.

My daughter, who is normally level-headed, gave a token effort at protest. Apparently, being sleep deprived took away her ability to come up with a compelling argument.

“If I get up so early, I’ll need to set an alarm,” she said.

“Oh, the horror,” I mocked.

“I hate using an alarm. Plus, I want to catch up on my sleep,” she said.

“It’s not as if I’m forcing you to stay up late,” I replied. “If you want to get up without using an alarm, then go to bed earlier.”

“This isn’t fair,” she said calmly.

“Life isn’t fair,” I replied just as calmly.

I learned a long time ago that setting an early bedtime doesn’t work for my kids. Back when I tried it that way, they usually went to their rooms and stayed up late and slept late.

So, now whenever I need to get them back on a school sleep schedule, I prefer to concentrate on them getting up each morning. Even at the ridiculously early time of 7:30 am.

The first couple of mornings of their readjustment period were rough on them, but my kids were back on their normal sleep schedules before they returned to their schools. They were rested and ready to resume learning.

Now we have returned to our normal school routines. This, of course, means I give them daily reminders to complete homework assignments and pleas for them to spend more time studying for quizzes and tests. I think they force me to check up on them just to torture me.   

But maybe I’m just being paranoid.

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