Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bed times

Middle school starts in our house in a week. As I have noted before so many changes are coming. The most debated question in our family lately has been ‘What will the new bed time be?’

Having a bedtime routine is important, especially for middle school aged children. A new school environment, new classes, new teachers, and new more stricter study habits all have to be dealt with in such a short span of time. Good sleep habits will make this transition much easier to cope with.

Moving into Middle school has specifically been challenging for Sam and has changed quite a few of our daily routines. The breakfast program Sam participated in at Primary school is no longer offered in his new school so now we have to accommodate getting up earlier for a healthy breakfast. The new school is located 6 blocks further away from the old school now Sam has to leave the house earlier to get to school on time. The biggest stress inducer for me will be that Sam will now be given much more homework and responsibilities than he had in primary school.

I was amazed that my son had the earliest bad time in his grade 5 class. His bedtime was 9:00, which I think was very reasonable and what I thought was very common. Most of his classmates averaged 11:00 p.m. bedtimes and quite a few were even later than that. How can a 10 year old child function on so little sleep. I don’t think I could even function on only 6 hours or less of sleep a night.

We have found that what works in our house to make arguments over bedtimes nonexistent is when we have a family discussion and plan ahead of time. If Sam knows his bedtime is constant and nonnegotiable than he does not try to finagle a new time or complain about it. It makes for stress free evenings in our house.

During summer hours, bed time is much more flexible. But now that school is starting up again we have to, as a family come up with a new time.

The family criteria for bedtimes is:

how tired and grumpy is Sam in the morning when he gets up
how fast does Sam fall asleep at night
does Sam fall asleep before or after dinner or during quiet time.
how is homework/reading going in terms of comprehension levels
how are Sam’s coping skills throughout the day

After discussions and taking into account the effects of the above and also taking into account Sam’s grade five bedtime (when Sam went to bed at 9:00 he would lay awake for long periods of time and ask to read in bed) and the summer bedtime (when Sam went to bed past 10:30 p.m. he would wake up later and be grumpy for the first few hours), our final conclusion was 10:00 will be Sam’s new bedtime. This will be a trial period for a month and then we will adjust accordingly if needed.

Sam is also aware that this new time is on a trial basis and it is a privilege not to be abused. If he cannot handle the later bed time, it will go back down to either 9:00 or 9:30.

I am looking forward to the new year, challenges and all.

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