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By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Why My Toddler Has the Bedtime of a Teenager

Uploaded: Oct 21, 2013
Not only is my son unusually unscheduled, but he also has an unusually late bedtime...10-11PM. Why? Because we believe that it is extremely important for my son to have ample quality time with his father. With a late bedtime, we can eat dinner together and have extra time to play, laugh, and read. Then, my son sleeps in while my husband goes to work in the morning. In other words, my son's day is shifted so he sleeps a few hours more while my husband works and he is awake a few hours more while my husband is home.

Although some men are stay-at-home dads, teachers and nannies, my son spends the majority of his day with women. I believe that both sons and daughters need quality time with male role models, especially, when possible, their own fathers. I'm curious how other parents handle this dilemma. Most of the toddlers I know have bedtimes closer to 7:30, leaving little time between coming home from work and bedtime (even with the traditional 9-5 job).

I know that our family's solution will only work until school starts. After that, my son will not have the luxury of being able to sleep in until, 9,10 or even 11AM. It sounds like either my son and husband must wake up early to spend time together before school or we'll have to pack most of their quality time into bedtime routines, holidays, and weekends.

How does your family carve out quality family time?

Comments

Posted by ah, a resident of Downtown North,
on Oct 21, 2013 at 9:33 pm

"I believe that both sons and daughters need quality time with male role models, especially, when possible, their own fathers."

What if they have two mothers? Hmmm. I am starting to get an idea about what's going on, and all I can say is maybe Betty was on to something.


Posted by matty, a resident of Atherton: other,
on Oct 21, 2013 at 9:58 pm

I ran the 100-yard dash in high school once, does that make me qualified to give child advice?? Wacky.


Posted by CherylBac, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 21, 2013 at 10:12 pm

CherylBac is a registered user.

Ah - For children with two mothers, I still believe that male role models are extremely important. Sometimes the child is able to spend time with his or her genetic father and sometimes not. In either situation, I would be interested to find out how they carve out quality family time and include male-role models in the child's life.


Posted by Jessica T., a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 10:32 am

Hi Cheryl,

I have a post on this topic coming as well, but I'm afraid that I sit firmly in the other camp. My babies have always embraced a 7 pm bedtime (my 10 year old now goes to bed at 8:30). For our family, this ensured the kids were sleeping enough and it meant that my husband and I preserved some precious time to ourselves as adults and as a couple. And for us as working parents, school nights descended upon us when my daughter was one year old. How one parents can be polarizing - it can impact one's relationships with friends and family. That said - the important thing is for you to do what works for your family and your son.


Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 10:45 am

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Thanks for reading and commenting Jessica T. Do you and your husband play with the kids before going to work? When I worked with 3-5 year olds, it was always adorable to hear when parents played with Legos at 6:30 in the morning.

I'd love to hear more about how you find ways to carve quality family time into the day/week. Hopefully I can incorporate some of your tips when my son starts school (which may be as soon as the next year or two). Looking forward to your post about a 7PM bedtime


Posted by Betty, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Seriously Weekly? I can't wait to read the homeschooling adventures of this fundamentalist family. Or maybe they're Mormons. Either way is this in any way representative of the PA readership? How does that work? I think you have a soft spot for antifeminism hidden down deep. Maybe you CPUs read Katha Politt instead of making us suffer this way.


Posted by wise grandmother, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Oh dear, when this child starts school, the bedtime habits will be too entrenched to change. You will face mornings of drama, tears, crabbiness, rushed and empty breakfast meals, inattentive student and and all around moody child. Handle this problem now. Come home form work: play with the child; prepare dinner; draw a bath; change him into night clothes; read one book and get him into bed - all by 7:30. 2 working parents have a challenge. One working parent gets cheated of long evenings with their child. That's the way the cookie crumbles. Do what's right for your child but you better get a move on. Bad habits are not easy to break.


Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Wise grandmother - thank you for reading my blog and for taking the time to comment. I'm curious if you have the same concerns about a child moving from one time zone to another? Or a parent taking a longer leave from work? There are many situations that can change in a child's life. I personally don't see a late bedtime as a problem or bad habit.


Posted by experienced mom, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm

"I personally don't see a late bedtime as a problem or bad habit," said no parent with common sense ever.


Posted by Wise Mother, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I have to agree with Wise Grandmother. She is right! When your son will start school, it will be VERY difficult for him to adapt to an earlier bedtime and an earlier wake up time. I have two friends whose toddlers had very late bedtimes, exactly as your son. When they started preschool, they consistently arrived late (9-9:30 a.m.) and that was OK. However, as soon as these children started Kindergarten, there was no room to be late consistently. These kids struggled for two years (Kindergarten and first grade) of not being able to go to sleep early, due to the entrenched bad habit, as well as falling asleep in class and not being able to follow what was being taught. The teachers, not knowing that these were normal and very bright children who simply had too late of a bedtime, advised the parents to take them to all kinds of remedial therapy and labeled them ADHD. You don't want to go through this, believe me. Fix the situation now and allow your child to go to bed at an age-appropriate time and get the sleep he needs!


Posted by Jessica T, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Hi Cheryl,
I'm with wise grandmother. I think there's some well-documented evidence that late bedtimes can raise a child's cortisol levels and cause more sleep challenges throughout childhood. It doesn't sound like this is the case with your son, but it's true that kids get into a rhythm that can be tough to break.

I wish we had the energy or time to play with the kids before rushing out the door for work. I haven't headed back to work yet with the twins, but getting everyone fed and dressed is what we had time for in the mornings with my daughter. In fact, I typically left for work a couple days a week before my daughter woke up to hit the gym. I try to focus on quality time with the kids (even in snatches) as opposed to quantity of time - this is often on the weekends. It took me years to let go of the guilt of being a working parent and the time I wasn't with them. What's great about my daughter growing up is that I don't feel guilty anymore, because of the young, independent woman she's becoming and the relationship I have developed with her.


Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Wise mother - thank you for taking the time to read my blog and for commenting. My son does get the sleep he needs because he sleeps-in in the morning. As I said in my post, his day is shifted (rather than his night shortened). And, I agree, as I wrote in my post, this arrangement only works until he starts school.

As I asked Wise Grandmother, what are you thoughts about other life changes between the toddler and school years? Such as moving? parent returning to work? And how do you incorporate quality family time into the day/week with such an early bedtime?


Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Jessica T - I haven't heard about higher cortisol levels coming directly from a late bedtime. Maybe when a late bedtime is connected to the child being sleep deprived?

I'm glad that you no longer have mom guilt. I agree, quality time with our children is very important. And it's great that your family has that on the weekends.


Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I agree with Wise Grandmother and know from experience that late bedtimes can be really disruptive. I know because we have taken our young children to Europe and have had to deal with jet lag which is a big deal for young children. I know because every time we change to or from daylight savings, whether spring forward or fall back, it is at least a week before the kids get back into the habit of bedtime. I know because as a child living in northern latitudes, that I had to go to bed in daylight in summer and the need for heavy curtains to make the room dark to enable me to sleep as well as hearing people outside in daylight at 8.00 pm was difficult but the only thing for me since getting up even as a young child was difficult for me.

Simple things like bathing the child before Daddy arrives home, having separate children/adult meal times, playing games like Candy Land in pjs, bedtime milk and chat, storytime, brushing teeth and other things are still quality time with Daddy. A child who gets to bed on time is much happier, gets into the habit of getting up with the sun, eating a reasonable breakfast having played for a while, does much better all day long.

The one thing that can and does cause problem for bedtime for any child who is not the eldest is the need for parents who are driving to pick up older siblings from activities and keep the toddler up late. I have had to deal with this often as Daddy's job often makes him later home than we would like and he has frequent out of town business trips. For these after 6.00 pm pickups I put the toddler into pjs, have done the brushing teeth and bedtime story, and quite often the toddler has fallen asleep and is carried into bed straight from the car without waking.

If you worry about having dinner too early, then stop some of the daytime snacks. If the child is eating at 5 or 5.30 pm, then the child does not need a mid afternoon snack, just water when thirsty. Without snacks, a toddler eats a good dinner without being picky.

Been there and with 4 kids, I know what works.


Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mother of 4 - Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting.  You've come up with some great solutions.  And I'm glad that they work for your family.  When my son doesn't have the luxury to sleep in during the day, we may test some out.  


Posted by experienced mom, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 22, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Cheryl, I don't think you are hearing what people are saying -- there are a lot of experienced parents on this forum trying to tell you that you are developing bad sleep patterns and habits, not that you should change it later. They are telling you that your 2 or 3 year old is going to howl like a wounded animal and resist with the full force of a 3 year old temper if you try to change his bedtime later. This will make your life a nightmare, which from reading your responses I would say you kind of deserve, except that your 3 year old would also be miserable. I also think your comment to Jessica was very passive aggressive ("glad you're not guilty anymore...hope you find some time with your child."). You're not a better mom because you stay home. On the contrary in one short week we have learned that your child has very erratic sleep (unscheduled, no naptime, stays up until 10:30 and then sleeps late). I'm sure you will deny that was your intent but it is really obvious and I think you owe Jessica an apology since she is trying to be supportive by reading your blog and posting on it, even though to be honest you have very little worth reading to say. It seems like you have much to learn and nothing to be superior about. That's OK but why would you be a good candidate to have a parenting blog? Why does PA need a "Read about all my blunders and then watch my defensive attitude when people try to help me" blog? The "Cry for help" blog? What, paonline, have we done to deserve this?


Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 9:12 am

A little more to add to my comment above.

Quality time with Daddy does not, and in fact should not, mean lots of fun and games only. Doing routine personal stuff counts too. It is doing it together that counts.

The morning routine can start with a toddler jumping into parents' bed for tickle time - what memories. It can mean showering with Daddy - first shower at 18 months is a great way to start morning hygiene even if the child hardly gets wet. Watching Daddy shave and pretending to do the same is a wonderful activity. Eating breakfast as a family around the table is a much better way to start the day than everyone running off with a piece of muffin in their hand and barely a goodbye. That will come later but start the day together now while you can.

Don't let the toddler run the house, you run it. You have doctor's appointments, and other timed activities in the day. You run the schedule not the toddler, because if you do it now you will have a lot less heartache when kindergarten comes.


Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 11:12 am

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Experienced mom - I am hearing your comments, suggestions and concerns; however, at the moment, a late bedtime works for my family.

A late bedtime does not mean my son has "very erratic sleep." He consistently goes to bed late and he consistently wakes up late.

And Jessica T has a wonderful blog and I'm glad that she takes the time to read mine and comment. Please don't misquote me. Just so fellow readers are clear, my comment to Jessica T was "I'm glad that you no longer have mom guilt. I agree, quality time with our children is very important. And it's great that your family has that on the weekends." This was in direct response to her comment, "I try to focus on quality time with the kids ... this is often on the weekends...What's great about my daughter growing up is that I don't feel guilty anymore."


Posted by Another experienced mom, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 11:35 am

I agree with experienced Mom. Sleep is so important to toddlers and the fact that you don\'t get it makes one wonder why you have a parenting blog? Shouldn\'t you consult experts? Link to articles? I mean what is your point or goal here? I also think you don\'t understand Jessica\'s point. She only mentions her prior guilt to reassure you not to worry about the amount of time your husband can spend with your son. She\'s telling you not to worry about sufficient time. As the primary breadwinner of her family (similar to your husband) she used to worry but later realized later that it was quality not quantity that mattered. She is trying to use her experience to reassure you. You entirely missed the point and continued on your way. I don\'t think you seem passive aggressive just clueless. I do have to agree with all the other posters in expressing alarm at you understanding of sleep issues. You also seem unable to receive feedback. And why do you want to have a blog? You\'re just embarrassing yourself.


Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I was reluctant to start reading this blog at first because I thought it was going to be another "help, I have read all the parenting baby works, but my toddler hasn't, what should I do now?". I was expecting a lot of questions and answers re babies sleeping through the night and how to get my toddler to eat vegetables.

Instead I was surprised to find a naïve first time, stay at home mom, saying "I know that all the good advice from baby books, experts and pediatricians say this is the way to do it, but I know better, I have a PhD in Social Psychology and as a result I know so much better than the experts or the experienced parents out there. So this is the way I do it, it works, why don't you all see how great I am and do it my way."

You make very good arguments and believe it or not, we have all been there. We think our way is better and hey it works. Trouble is, we find that we are wrong and often pay the price.

There is nothing wrong with being a bit flexible with bedtime if you can. Bedtime for a toddler doesn't have to be 7.30, but can be earlier or later and varying by an hour or so from day to day won't be too problematic. But, letting your toddler stay up until you go to bed is letting him rule the home. If you keep giving in to him on bedtimes and getting up times, you will never be able to change him. Once he is used to getting his own way on this issue, he will try on other issues. It will be a case of not wanting to wear the clothes you want him to wear, wearing rain boots right through summer, or swimsuits to kindergarten. It will be tantrums for haircuts, and refusal to get into the car seat.

You are the mother, act like it.

Apart from the fact that you are spoiling your child (yes it is spoiling them), when do you and your husband have time together if the baby is always around?

Yes, putting the child to bed earlier will give you some down time together, something you will sorely need. Yes, you may have to set the alarm 30 minutes earlier in the day for a relaxing start to the day so that you can have quality time then, but hey again, your child will be asleep earlier and you can get to bed 30 minutes earlier too.

We are not trying to be overly critical of your blog, just can't understand why you as an inexperienced parent have been chosen to tell us all how to do it. We don't mind your naïve attitude, but please try not to be arrogant with it.

None of us are born experienced parents, we all glean from others. Asking advice and sharing ideas here would be great, listening to an inexperienced expert, is not.


Posted by Wow, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Fascinating that "Experienced Mom" feels okay saying things like "howl like a wounded animal" and then accuses Ms. Bac of passive/aggressive. Since a lot of these posts are just plain aggressive, Ms. Bac's seems like a measured response.

I have off and on read or gone to lectures about sleep patterns that suggest people are somewhat hard-wired in their circadian rhythms, making much of the talk about setting sleep habits somewhat myopic. I don't think she was telling everyone out there to do as she does. I haven't seen such nasty posting in a long time - what's up with all you mean "experienced" mom's?


Posted by experienced mom, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 1:24 pm

mom of 4, she's probably overcompensating for being insecure? It's kinda fun to imagine the titles of future posts: "Why my son eats an unusually large amount amount of candy," "My kinder is allowed to wear his Halloween costume to school every day and his teacher doesn't like it," "Wait till your father gets home," "why you don't need family planning if you have no bedtime for your child," "why four glasses of wine helps me wait for my toddler to scream himself to sleep," "My toddler bit a child in his playgroup and now he can't come back, is he being bullied?" "Why we stopped going to restaurants," "My in-laws try to correct my parenting and it's causing conflict," "Why six glasses of wine help me get through my day," "Homeschooling is better than having to make my son take off his Halloween costume," "Why a bottle of wine helps me to homeschool," "My best friend says I need to take a parenting class," and "Does anyone know a divorce lawyer?"


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

It's hard to understand what the ongoing nastiness toward Cheryl is for. If you don't like her blog, how she's raising her child, the choices she's making or her writing style and blog subjects, why bother to read it at all? It's not like what she's writing about is directly impacting your life, unless I'm mistaken & it actually is? Some of you may see her as naive or insecure, but she sure doesn't come off as snide, nasty & rude.


Posted by experienced mom, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Hmmm, We're just boosting the Weekly's ad revenue by increasing the traffic. Why are you reading it?


Posted by Wow, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Okay "experienced mom" you haven''t addressed the question - what's up with the extreme hostility? Do you do this in person, as well?


Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Experienced Mom

Thanks for a good laugh.

Everyone else, I don't think we are being nasty, but Cheryl's responses have been a tad superior.

As a first time mother, I made a lot of mistakes (and a second and third and fourth), but was always glad to get a bit of advice. I may not have liked it at the time, but when I thought about it I realized some of it was actually quite good. We should be able to learn from each other, share ideas and be told why they are not so good further down the road.

Cheryl, if you are still reading our responses. Please listen to the feedback and understand we thought we knew it all once too. We are just giving you the benefit of having gone through it. No offence intended.


Posted by experienced mom, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I don't think "wounded animal" is nasty, it's just meant to be descriptive. Have you ever tried to wait for a 2 year old to scream themselves to sleep? It sounds terrible and wounded animal was just meant to be evocative of that experience. Does anyone even Ferberize their kids anymore -- that was a fad when I was a new mom. It's HORRIBLE. Please substitute a better adjective or descriptive phrase that is more to your liking to describe that experience.

In terms of the satirical future posts I suggested, yes those are a bit sarcastic. On the other hand, as mom of 4 points out when she gives up somewhat in disgust, Cheryl does not seem very open to feedback which makes reading about her foibles a bit frustrating.

I also think that mom of 4 is right that there is an underlying arrogance (toward Sac mom, toward commenters here) that seems entirely unwarranted.

And I don't need to explain why I am reading this thing. It's there because she wants people to read it, because the Weekly publisher wants people to click on it. Perhaps it is the car crash element to it that the publisher is trying to accomplish.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Well, rude, experienced mom, I started to read her blog to see what current moms are up to these days. Why are you so nasty to Cheryl?


Posted by experienced mom, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Hmmm I disagree that I am being nasty. I think I'm making a point. But we aren't going to agree about that so let's agree to disagree and move on, shall we?

Here\'s a bit of lighthearted fun on this topic just to brighten your day a bit:
Web Link


Posted by Wow, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Dear Ms. Bac - please don't let these people get you down. You sound like a person enjoying the adventure of parenting and trying to open a dialogue about quality time with one's children. You also sound like someone used to thinking scientifically about child rearing. Don't you love the sample size of the "wise" and "experienced" grandmothers and moms? They could be right - but who really knows? I wish they would, while acquiring said wisdom, have learned to be gentler, and to read a text more closely for it's actual subject. Keep up the blogging!


Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Wow

Thanks for putting this back into perspective.

I was rather heavy in my posts I agree, but at the same time I have given some tried and tested ideas of quality family time, which if you read the last sentence of the initial post, was what was asked.


Posted by Momof3, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I was really surprised to read the comments. I can assure you that it is not a representative sample of Palo Alto! As a mother of 3, including kids in high school and older, I think I also qualify as "experienced" :-) The families that we've interacted with here have really run the whole gamet as far as bedtimes -- and all of the variations worked absolutely fine. It really is what fits with your family. My children also tended to have later bedtimes -- in our case it was because I was the one that left home a bit later in the morning, and so arrived back home from work a bit later. And then later on, after I stopped working, our "family rhythm" was a bit later due to the older kids' activities. None of them ever had any problems with adapting to "school bedtimes". And they all got right up at 7/7:15am with plenty of time to get ready for school. If anything, I feel like it was their friends with the really early bedtimes (the 7:30pm ones) that had the most trouble adapting in elementary school. I remember being at a school potluck, and the family not being able to stay to the end of it because their child was falling asleep! Also, given the shortage of gym space and related matters, youth sports often go into the early evening (or even a bit later). So, I think you've hit on a great solution for your family. Enjoy it now, and keep it up until circumstances change.


Posted by Another experienced mom, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm

11 pm for a toddler. Not a "bit later." No one is saying she can\'t do whatever wrongheaded thing she wants, but why have her as a blogger? Why not a blog by a mom who advocates unlimited violent video games, or unlimited soda, or no vaccinations? Yes she can do those things too. But why have a blog about mistaken choices made by inexperienced parents?

That\'s my question.


Posted by Momof3, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 4:34 pm

"But why have a blog about mistaken choices made by inexperienced parents?..."

Seriously...? I think this is a great topic for discussion... and discussion is what it is all about. I don't see/hear the blogger advocating that hers is the only way, ... she is just presenting it as something that works for her and meets her needs/her priorities. While it is certainly valid for you to say that you don't agree (and give your reasons why), it is NOT valid for you to assume that everyone holds your point of view. I think it important (especially for new parents!) to realize that people will diverge wildly on what they think is the "right" way/"right" thing (the "right" amount of homework is a biggie when they get older - for every person who says the homework load is too heavy, you've got another behind them saying it is too light!) In this case, I'd say there are a couple of factors in particular that cause me to think this is a good choice for them. One is that the father WANTS to play when he comes home. By all means take advantage of that! And the other is that they have the flexibility for the child to sleep late - so the child is getting the same amount of sleep, just shifted. I personally don't see any issue.


Posted by experienced mom, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm

I think you are in the minority momof3 with the idea that 11pm is a reasonable bedtime for a toddler. But let's just drop it. I'll be nicer.


Posted by CherylBac, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Thank you all for reading and commenting. And an extra thanks to everyone who has been respectful and supportive. Our views and decisions may differ, but that's why these topics are worth discussing. With so many comments, I decided to write a follow up post rather than one long reply (as new readers may not read all the way through 35 comments).


Posted by Stay-at-Home Mom of 3, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
on Oct 24, 2013 at 1:23 am

Ha, agree there are some rude commenters here, and no one\\\'s advice is superior; people parent differently. The funniest posting was someone questioning why Cheryl thinks being a marathon runner makes her a good parent. Did Cheryl claim it makes her a good parent? Cheryl will have to use her instincts instead of following advice or books. But asking others is a good idea to see how others parent and to consider alternate ways.

There is an online group called PAMP (Palo Alto/Menlo Park Parents) of which I was a member 6 years ago and the forum has helpful, intelligent, polite and caring parents answering such questions about preschoolers. I was sad to leave the group when my children aged.

Here\\\'s my experience with late bedtimes, as I am a night owl and unstructured, disorganized parent. Yes, I know kids love structure, but I just couldn\\\'t do it and my kids are great (adults and teachers rave about them). Even a newspaper journalist asked if he could write a story about our family based upon watching us eat at a restaurant and witnessing the way our family got along so well. Two of my children are at Paly now. We have always had late bedtimes, now because of the rigorous schoolwork at Paly, but when they were little, I could never get them to bed before 10:00 and I envied those who could keep the structure and have their kids in bed at 7:00PM on the dot. But I didn\\\'t want them waking up at 6AM. Our naps were all over the map too. Let me assure you that children can adapt easily, and just because a preschooler is going to sleep late now, doesn\\\'t mean he can\\\'t adapt to an earlier bedtime in elementary school. It\\\'s really easy for a child to adapt to a different schedule; children adapt easier than youths. The really tough part is for the parent to adapt to it! Preschoolers won\\\'t pay attention to the actual time - they can\\\'t read a clock yet. Just let the child know that playtime with dad will be less when he has to go to elementary school. And dad can still spend quality time with the child on weekends. My kids went to be late, but not because they were playing with dad all the time and they have a fantastic relationship with their dad.

And on my soap box: I\\\'ve always respected my children and believed that even when they are babies, they know what\\\'s going on. I showered my children with love and attention (why have them if you don\\\'t adore them and want to spend time with them?). I loved breastfeeding because I could hold and look at them. So when I told my children they could miss preschool but once they got to elementary school, things would change, they understood. When I give my opinions, even as teenagers, they listen; they tell me what\\\'s going on in their lives and ask me for advice. They never went through "Terrible 2\\\'s" or teenage rebellion. Why? Because we have always respected and shown our love. We respected their opinions so they respect ours and actually strive to please us. If I\\\'m sick, they try to help me because I cared for them. We did none of the controlling parenting tactics of making them tough it out or saying "no" just because kids need to know they can\\\'t get everything they want. We give our children everything so they have learned to care for others too. We still say "no", set boundaries and don\\\'t let them run wild, however.

The first three years are so important to cement the love into the heart of the child. A child with a hole in the heart will never feel satisfied and at peace with themselves (my firsthand experience with my complacent parents, and other anecdotal evidence). There is a book called "The First 3 Years" which expands upon this.

As far as sleep books, the best one out there is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: Web Link It advises crying-it-out, but I tried it with my first and it tortured me so I avoided it. However, there is other fantastic sleeping advice which other books don\\\'t cover (such as when to put a baby to sleep - not when they yawn - watch the clock and depending on the age, there is a chart stating when to put them down). It\\\'s written by an M.D. pediatric sleep specialist.


Posted by experienced mom, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 24, 2013 at 7:53 am

Interestingly, the book that Stay-at-home-mom-of-3 posted has exactly the same advice about sleep that Cheryl has been receiving here from multiple readers. In fact (see page 47-48) this doctor specifically addresses her precise situation and warns against letting preschoolers stay up late to play with daddy (or a working parent). He concludes, as do all doctors, experts, and experienced parents, that regular bedtimes between 7-8 or so is necessary to prevent disorganized sleep. And it should it be noted that he says even if you are going to keep your child up late (and by late he means 8:30) you have to have regular naps. Cheryl already wrote about how she doesn't have a regular nap schedule. Many parents are posting here that she is playing with fire and will risk messing up her child's sleep which will make it hard to correct later -- the doctor you quoted says that (54-57) children with late bedtimes, disorganized naps, and other issues have behavioral problems that may not show up until later but can be very hard to correct due to chemical issues related to sleep.

In other words, all the things that were posted here earlier are in this book, which is not surprising since many parents are highly attuned to sleep issues.

I don't think you would get a lot of takers for your "give your child everything" advice -- obviously the advice to love your child is uncontroversial. But when a parent keeps a child up late to play with them, what they are doing is in the child's long term interest. Cheryl has received lots and lots of advice and think that the comments you are seeing here that are rude are a reaction to the disinterest the blogger is showing in hearing what people are saying, even when it is backed by every expert there is on the subject. It causes me to wonder why have a blog that merely discloses mistakes (and to me this is a kind of obvious parenting mistake) similar to letting your child eat too much candy or watch too much TV. Yes, everyone can make choices, but not all choices are equally good.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 24, 2013 at 8:07 am

> Stay-at-Home Mom of 3, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
> Ha, agree there are some rude commenters here, and no one's advice is superior; people parent differently.

Because people parent differently does not mean no one's advice is superior ... I'd say better or more effective.

Reading through the comments here is simple bizarre. If I had to put a picture with it, it would be people trying to duel about nothing while never breaking a fake smile or a sweat.

How is that different from the rest of PAO? Maybe the subject of child rearing, competition and bullying makes it different.

Anyway, I know two kids who spent their infancy and early years in their parents business, never with a regular sleep time, often staying up into the early morning, or sleeping during the day. They are two of the smartest nicest kids I've ever known. Many of the "wear your coat outside" and "sleep time rules" may not be quite as Earth shattering as one may think, and driving oneself and others crazy over stuff that is really indeterminate even if the results are most important thing into the world to one is unwarranted.


Posted by experienced mom, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 24, 2013 at 8:20 am

Yes it COULD turn out fine, but it probably will cause problems. Being able to produce an anecdote that you know a child who despite having crazy sleep turned out fine does not mean that it's equally good or nonconsequential whether to promote healthy sleep patterns. There is actual research on this (much of it in the book cited and discussed above). Does EVERY child with disorganized sleep turn out to have ADD and behavior issues? Surely not. Do you put your child at risk for those things? Research says: yes. We don't live in a world where every choice is just as good as every other choice no matter the topic.

Could you smoke a ton of weed and still get into Yale? Just because you know A PERSON who did that does not mean that by letting your high schooler smoke weed all the time you are helping him get into Yale. Or do anything else with his life.

The real question is the one I raised before: what is the point or purpose of the blog? Most blogs start with some interesting article or link to some study or information and then perhaps use that as a jumping off point for discussing his/her own life. Having a blog that is just entirely "here's what I do, discuss" does two things: it invites discussion of the blogger's choice since there is nothing else on which to ground any discussion; and it has the discussion in a fact-free zone of "don't criticize my choice, it's as good as anyone else's." Neither makes for a good publication or meets the minimal standards for journalism even for an opinion piece.

I re-raise the question in the nicest way I can: is this a good blog to have? This parent is making first-time mom mistakes, telling everyone about them in a fact-free context, and refusing even politely offered advice (and there was plenty). That turns it into kind of a freeway crash, where people click on it just to see what mistake is being heralded today: will it be "yes you can have the Big Gulp"? Will it be "OK you can play as much GTA as you want"? "No you don't have to get your shots?" "Formula is yummy and so good for you?"

If you are going to write an opinion piece based on literally nothing more than your opinion then you have to be prepared for the opinions of others to differ, particularly if they have facts behind them. But the larger issue is how is this a "parenting" blog in any sense other than that she is a parent and is talking about her own personal world?


Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Oct 24, 2013 at 8:53 am

I think the comments started out fine, but the problem was that we were being thanked for reading the blog and certainly I got the impression that the blogger was not reading my responses.

I agree that there will always be exceptions to every bit of advice showing that it does not always work, or that despite it kids turn out fine. I certainly was a lot more flexible with one child but when there are subsequent children, routine is much more necessary for all of them - my sanity included.

The blogger also asked for ideas about how else to do family time, and that is what I gave. If we are going to have a discussion, then let's discuss. It felt very much like a teacher in class asking for input and dismissing every bit of input given as not relevant to the topic in hand. That is fine in a classroom setting where the teacher should know more than the students, but in this case it was the experienced parents being told that our advice was duly noted but not relevant to the case in point by the novice parent.

I have read many blogs about parenting and they get tiresome after a while as they have the same problems and the same answers being given. They are helpful though and I think it is worth them being there. I was expecting this to be the same. Instead I found it very difficult to take part at that level when I got the impression that my ideas which had been sought were being completely dissed.

Discussion means discussion, not being dissed.


Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Oct 24, 2013 at 10:12 am

Once again, I think my above post has come out a little stronger than it was intended. Sorry.

No offence intended.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm

OR, possible problems could exist in something most Americans don't pay much attention to ... nutrition, or even environmental toxicity. The kids I was talking about did not eat much junk food or candy. My point is not to say I know or claim superior knowledge, but that you look back 30 years and childrearing and medical knowledge was much different than it is today. The disagreement I see is in how serious and strongly to take what we know today ... like it is any better than the past or is not missing anything.

In terms of history and science we are at the mere beginning of a knee of the curve that that is taking off exponentially - meaning we get more data about more people with more ways of looking at it and analyzing it than ever before ... and that only lasts years before everything else is going to get upended. Back in my parent's time the big argument was about bottle and breast feeding ... and they had no idea what was in breast milk.

Then occasionally data and science are hijacked by economic forces as could be happening with global warming. I'm just thinking it bears to always keep that kind of stuff in perspective before you argue too much or take too seriously things that MIGHT just not have the affect one thinks.


Posted by hmmm..mother of two, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm

hi,
thanks for this blog...i suspect that there are many other parents like yourself but they don't advertise that bedtime for fear of being chastised! i think eventually each family has to work out what works best for them. kids are innately very resilient and have their own body clock too.
personally, i have to agree with mother-of-three. in addition, we come from a different country where the standards are polar opposite from what we have here with respect to the almost fanatical (IMHO..no flames pl. :)) worry that parents here seem to have about bedtime. like everything else, the kids attitude towards sleep or lack of it will be determined by two things..one is their own biological clock and two is their parents attitude about sleep.
i am a night owl and my hubby is a morning person! i am laid back (since i am a stay - at - home mom) and i cannot ever imagine going to bed by 10pm. i have 2 kids..one of whom is a night owl and the other is a morning person . we also frequently travel to our home country (can anyone say major jetlag?)..so if i have tried to teach my kids flexibility with sleep schedules. just as (barring any medical conditions), we expose our kids to different kinds of food, and experiences, it is ok for them to be exposed to different sleep patterns. my kids are 10 and 12yrs old and love to stay up to have quality time...even with themselves. friday and sat. nights are very relaxed...they can catch up with whatever fun activities (quiet ones) they want to, that they did not have time to do otherwise. ofcourse, if we anticipate a busy early start to the next day, then they go to bed early. and yes...mondays are definitely harder on them...but i know of no one who looks forward to them anyway!!! :)
so, in closing, lets not stress so much about sleep...the body learns to adapt..different body clocks have to be respected and lastly, do whatever increases the love and happiness of your family.
peace!


Posted by CherylBac, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:02 am

Thank you everyone for keeping the discussion going! I was without Internet access today, but will catch up on comments tomorrow.


Posted by Skeptical, a resident of Duveneck School,
on Oct 25, 2013 at 10:53 am

I agree with those who say this thread has gotten oddly nasty.

I'm not sure if I'd adopt Cheryl's approach, but I do think it is interesting and deserving of serious consideration.

But to all those sure that the a noxious sleep pattern disruption will occur upon entrance to Kindergarten, I'd ask if they feel the same about a family that decides to move from Palo Alto to, say, New York. It's 3 hours later there, so our 8pm bedtimes are 11pm there. So when moving, you suddenly need the kids going to bed three hours earlier. And if you moved to Europe or Asia or Africa, it would be enormously more disruptive.

But from seeing families who have actually done that, other than the initial rough transition period, it does *not* seem to create long term issues. I would suspect that any lingering problems would be associated with the change in lifestyle, as in "I used to get to hang out with Dad for 4 hours after he got home, and now I get only 1 hour!"

I think Cheryl has opened a topic worthy of discussion here, and I hope we can get a real diversity of experience-based responses to it. I am a working Dad, and think about this issue a lot.


Posted by Skeptical, a resident of Duveneck School,
on Oct 25, 2013 at 10:53 am

I agree with those who say this thread has gotten oddly nasty.

I'm not sure if I'd adopt Cheryl's approach, but I do think it is interesting and deserving of serious consideration.

But to all those sure that the a noxious sleep pattern disruption will occur upon entrance to Kindergarten, I'd ask if they feel the same about a family that decides to move from Palo Alto to, say, New York. It's 3 hours later there, so our 8pm bedtimes are 11pm there. So when moving, you suddenly need the kids going to bed three hours earlier. And if you moved to Europe or Asia or Africa, it would be enormously more disruptive.

But from seeing families who have actually done that, other than the initial rough transition period, it does *not* seem to create long term issues. I would suspect that any lingering problems would be associated with the change in lifestyle, as in "I used to get to hang out with Dad for 4 hours after he got home, and now I get only 1 hour!"

I think Cheryl has opened a topic worthy of discussion here, and I hope we can get a real diversity of experience-based responses to it. I am a working Dad, and think about this issue a lot.


Posted by Hermia, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Oct 25, 2013 at 11:41 am

This was the single biggest error of our parenting.

I tried to wrap my own and our kids' schedules around their dad's work and yoga schedule for years, keeping dinner till he got in at 9 or 9:30 so we could eat together, despite their school schedule. I was fighting to create a group feeling, but always accepting as immutably protected his hours to work and exercise/socialize.

I used to feed him their characters and experiences verbally each night so well that he didn't even realize how much he was gone. One hour on Tuesday evenings before bed and half the weekends (the other half he spent away at yoga intensives and immersions) did not add up to being there with them. It wasn't till one of our children started greeting him like a beloved visitor that we realized he'd missed most of their growing up and that he was the one who had to make a change. Then he found he could get exercise classes in over his lunch hour and eat lunch afterwards at his desk. That meant only two evenings he had to be out past their bedtimes, and weekends started to include family biking, cookouts, and other shared activities instead of so many solo workouts. But of course by then they were into middle school.

It had a cost for him, as he lost the depth and ease of his connection with his yoga community. It has taken time to build back up to the peak of his practice again. But relationships with grownups are easier to rebuild. The change wasn't easy for him, but it was worth it. He really got close to the kids, and by the time they left for college, they had the kind of connection that could withstand the distance.

Childhood is evanescent, they remember everything, and the story they write about it is not the one you would have written. Everyone has some fixed obligations, but if you can arrange to be there... be there!


Posted by CherylBac, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Wow - Thanks for the support.  It would be great to hear more about the lectures you've attended.  Are they in this area?  I definitely plan to keep blogging.   Yes, parenting is absolutely an adventure and I look forward to what's ahead.

Hmmm - Thanks for your continued support. And I hope you continue to read my blog and find out what new moms are up to.  Thanks for helping to keep the tone respectful.  Greatly appreciate the support.

Momof3- In my daily life I've also found that parenting styles around here vary for work, culture, or just personal reasons.  Great example about kids with earlier bedtimes falling asleep at a potluck dinner.  And, yes, I love that my husband wants to play with his son.  Thanks again for the support and for being a reader.

Mother of 4 - Thank you for toning it down a bit.  I appreciate it.  I wanted to add that I am reading your responses, I just didn't have a chance to write a lengthy reply to each one.  I find it interesting that you were more flexible with your first kid. In addition, I've read a lot about sleep, and the points brought up are not completely new to me.  I wanted to share what works for us and was hoping readers would do the same.  I hope you will read my follow up post in answer to some of your other questions and concerns.  

Stay at home mom of 3 - Thanks for sharing your experiences.  I am currently a member of PAMP and I love it.  It has been a phenomenal way for me to meet others and to share our parenting experiences. I will also check out the book you referenced, The First Three Years.  I agree that love and respect are great lessons for a baby to learn.

Hmmm...mother of 2 - Thanks for sharing your experiences! I'd love to hear more about the sleep habits in your home country.  We have relatives in different countries, so I'm also getting a sense that there is clearly more than one right way to parent.  I loved the movie, Babies and the book Bringing Up Bebe, for this reason

Skeptical - Great to hear from a dad's perspective.  It would be wonderful to hear how your family tackles these issues.  The points you raise are great ones.  I hope that you read my follow up post as it addresses some of these issues.  Thanks again for taking the time to comment.  

Experienced mom - It has been awhile since I consulted this text; however, I wanted to point out that you quoted sleep advice for a preschooler, not a one year old, "this doctor...warns against letting preschoolers stay up late..."  Second, it's erroneous to say that all experts agree on sleep advice.  Like most new mothers I consulted many articles and books on sleep, attended lectures and, of course, talked with my sons pediatricians.  I've consistently heard that the amount of sleep is very important and a set bedtime is a plus.  It's inconclusive whether staying up late has any negative impact.  Furthermore, some traditional sleep advice has come under fire recently (e.g., baby wise).  For these reasons, I've chosen to look at a variety of sources before making these types of parenting decisions.

CrescentParkAron - Completely agree.  It's amazing how quickly parenting advice changes.  The back to sleep campaign, drop side cribs, baby wise, etc.  I also like to keep a critical eye when reading parenting advice, tips and tricks.  As they are constantly getting updated.

Hermia - Thanks for sharing your experiences. I'm so glad that your husband was able to shift his work, exercise, and socialization schedule around.  It sounds like everyone in the family benefited.


Posted by Allison, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 25, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Cheryl, do whatever works for your family. I think many of us who have husbands who come home late from work (later than 6pm) grapple with this dilemma. My girls are now 7 and 8, but throughout their babyhoods and toddler years, they were both night owls. I let them sleep in in the mornings and brought them to preschool late, when necessary. Both my girls are now in elementary school and they are still night owls, but they can wake up at 7am and are never sleepy during the day. Yes, I would LOVE for them to go to bed at 7:30 so I can have some peace with my husband before we go to bed, but it just isn\\\'t a reality. I personally think their time with their father is more important then getting my own personal quiet time.


Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 25, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Allison - Great to hear from another night owl family! My son also seems to have a natural tendency to stay up late. Thanks again for reading and commenting. I love your point that "it just isn't a reality." Yes, finding time for ourselves can be a challenge. Have you found any creative solutions?


Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of another community,
on Oct 28, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Hi Cheryl, Great and interesting post! Interesting discussion in the above comments as well. Like your husband, my husband also works long days. He usually works 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon through Fri and is also taking a college class on Mon and Wed nights. Our 20 month old son goes to bed between 7 and 8 p.m. Unfortunately the main time my husband spends with our son is on weekends and holidays. I would love for him to work 9-5, have a less demanding job and be able to spend more time with us, but that is just not the case. I have tried keeping my son up a bit later (he also sometimes stays up a little later if we are out or on vacation or whatnot) and he still wakes up at his usual time in the morning (between 6 and 7 a.m.). I talked to my husband about his bedtime recently, and he said he likes that he goes to bed early. That way we can have some time together if we choose, and it gives him a chance to wind down in peace from a long day. Not to say we can't relax if my son is awake, it's just harder to do leisurely activities, like reading, watching TV, or playing on the computer (my husband's hobby) with a very active toddler running around. Also he has recently stopped napping altogether, so an early bedtime is a must for him to make up on lost sleep. In conclusion all families, children and situations are different. What might work for one family, may not work for another. Everyone is entitled to there own feelings and opinions. Also our world would be pretty boring, if we were all exactly the same. Keep up the great work and I look forward to your next post!


Posted by CherylBac, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 28, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Thanks for sharing your experiences! I agree, it can be a lot easier to wind down for the day with an active toddler in bed rather than running around. I'm so glad that you and your husband discussed bedtimes and tried out a few different options. I bet down time is a must if your son is no longer napping. Thanks for being a reader :)


Posted by Grant, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Nov 1, 2013 at 12:31 pm

hello people!!

as a dad of toddlers who are up past 9 - usually up till 10/10:30 - HELP I need advice. How do I get my spouse to agree that we need get the kids into a sane routing - which includes fed, bathed, read to etc and tucked in bed by 8 pm?!! I have no down time for myself or myself and spouse - the kids seem to rule our roost, they are completely over indulged. believe me we have enough time together - love eating breakfast with the little ones and snuggling as they wake up, having them wave & kiss goodbye before I drive off in the

this late night routine is killing us - any advice on how I can convince my spouce to work with me to chnage it for teh sake of all?


Posted by Sarah, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by former pa resident/mother of 4, a resident of El Carmelo School,
on Nov 1, 2013 at 1:38 pm

It may be that you will be fostering the development of a natural sleep pattern and circadian rhythm that will be difficult to change once developed.


Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


Posted by former pa resident/mother of 4, a resident of El Carmelo School,
on Nov 1, 2013 at 1:40 pm

The above links are to npr articles about sleep studies done with children and the adverse effects that late and irregular bedtimes can have


Posted by Mother of 4 , a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Mar 23, 2014 at 9:44 am

Hi Cheryl

I had a conversation recently with a young mother along the lines of this blog which is why I decided to look back on this again.

I was wondering if you are still doing the same bedtime schedule now that your son is a few months older.

I like your recent blogs and some of the topics have been very interesting. The bedtime topic was definitely a hot topic and we all learned lots of things about online discussion from it.


Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Mar 23, 2014 at 11:48 am

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mother of 4- Yes, my son still has a late bedtime. However, we will start shifting it earlier if a morning playgroup works out. I'd love to hear more about your conversation with the young mother. Thanks for continuing to read my blog and commenting. I'm glad the more recent posts have interested you.


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