April 4, 2013 by Melissa
I’ve always been one to stick to a schedule, especially when it comes to my kids. I work better on a routine and my kids certainly do as well. Lately, though, I’ve encountered some eye-rolling and some attempts to make me feel like I’m being too strict or rigid. Now I feel the need to defend myself and any parent who bows out early from a party or get-together to get their kid down for a nap or bedtime or who doesn’t want to travel too far from home at certain times of the day for fear of getting stuck somewhere or their kid falling asleep in the car and, thus, not napping.
My girls are great sleepers. They love going to bed (vast majority of the time) and they go to sleep and stay asleep easily and without much fuss. When they get their normal amount of sleep, they’re great kids. I’m proud to be their mom. They are well behaved, they’re cooperative, they’re cheerful. When they don’t get enough sleep, they’re, to be quite honest, beasts. And not just for that day. It affects their next sleep session (takes them forever to calm down and go to sleep and they’re usually up a lot during the course of the night) and affects their behavior well into the next day or two. It doesn’t surprise me that a lot of kids show decreased symptoms of ADD and ADHD when they get more sleep. My girls are impulsive, aggressive (for them), uncooperative, they talk back and throw tantrums when they’re short on sleep. That’s not who they are.
I know every once in a while is not going to cause irrepairable harm and we have let it slide a few times because we couldn’t get around when a wedding was or when the rest of the family could be together or when our swim classes for Alice were, but these times don’t happen often. We don’t let them. I’ve had people say that I’m depriving my kids of great experiences by keeping them on such a schedule but I disagree. Nobody has fun or experiences much of anything when you have a tired crabby kid. At least not in my family. I have to be on extra parenting alert when my girls are tired. They need much more attention with all the extra meltdowns and neediness.
Now, my kids really need their naps and not every kid is like that. Lucy has never slept more than 10 hours in a stretch and Alice isn’t much better with her 10.5 hour stretch at night. So they both take 2.5-3 hour naps in the afternoon. Some kids sleep 12-14 hours at night and don’t necessarily need that nap. Mine do.
I realize that I have the luxery to be able to keep them on a tight schedule and not many people have the same situation. I’m home with the girls and can enforce such a schedule every day of the week. I get that. But please don’t judge me for it. It’s my perogative as a mother and I’m proud of their sleeping and eating habits. Most people in childcare or education work will say the same thing: kids thrive on a schedule. Mine certainly have and continue to. So we make it known ahead of time, when possible, that we may be late or have to leave early and that’s that. Or, if possible, we try to negotiate start/end times to get the most out of the event.
Have you experienced issues with sticking to a schedule? How have you dealt with it? Do you stick to your guns? Do certain people have the ability to make you cave in or feel bad about it?