You know the whole bedtime thing? We decided it was time for a change. It really wasn’t working out. We were having tears and stomping up stairs the moment we said it was time for bed, courtesy of Sander. He and Beekee would be wild at night, meaning someone had to go talk to them, several times, and the light had to keep being turned out. It was frustrating, and it really didn’t seem to be doing any good. We still had tired, miserable kids, for all our efforts.
That’s when we decided to go back to the radical unschooling approach to bedtime. We stopped giving them one. Would you believe the kids have actually been getting more sleep? There’s no tantrums and tears. There’s no fight to get them to go to sleep. Most importantly, there’s no flipping on and off with the light.
How do we do it with the neighbors? Well, that’s simple. We’ve laid down some ground rules. 9 pm is quiet time. Sander and Beekee need to be upstairs in their room. They can be talking, reading, or even playing, so long as they’re doing it quietly. The neighbors next door moved out, so we don’t have to worry about the kids disturbing them through the wall, so we decided this was the perfect time to try it. Luckily we haven’t had a reason to worry.
As for Luca, we’ve decided he can’t play with Sander and Beekee quietly. Luca can be upstairs watching movies with Corde, or on our bed watching movies or reading books in my room. Who am I kidding? The answer is watching movies. Luca isn’t a huge fan of reading books, unless it’s something he can read himself (which isn’t anything at the moment, so it’s a struggle.) Luca is perfectly content to sit in my lap, watching Oz play video games until he falls asleep, or watch shows with me in the living room. At the same time, we have a “bedtime” for Luca. When I go to bed the lights go off and Luca has to lay down with me. We still cosleep, so having respect for my sleeping needs is a must. More often than not, Luca agrees to lay down until I fall asleep, then he can get up and turn the movies back on, which results in Luca falling asleep anyway.
Surprisingly, this has resulted in the downstairs neighbor commenting on how quiet the kids have been at night. We haven’t had any fights and only had tears on one night when Sander had to go upstairs because he wanted to watch a movie. We don’t have a television upstairs in the bedrooms, so that’s a challenge for him. Corde’s room might be getting a television, but that’s yet to be determined, and she may not want the boys in her room watching movies all night. I told them once they find one of the missing Kindles they could use that, but no luck as of yet. Since they were the ones that lost them, I feel it’s valuable that they learn their actions have consequences.
Now that the kids (well, all but Corde) are no longer in school, the lack of bedtime makes a lot of sense. It’s not like they can’t take naps during the day. Sander often does. They don’t have to be up early for school, though they generally are up with the sun. Most nights they all fall asleep quickly. Best of all, they’re learning how to be responsible for their own needs. It’s another whole level of independence.
This is just one more small way we’re edging in to a more “unschooling” kind of lifestyle. We have no bedtimes. The kids are free to eat or not eat as they like (so long as they don’t waste food…we’re not made of money!) We’re not super formal about the “school” stuff we do happen to do, and as we go a lot of the “school” stuff is being phased out. I have a feeling a lot more will go when we’re finally in a position to have a car again. Things are moving in the right direction. I couldn’t be happier about that.