I've always said that my boys' bedtime is 7:30. This isn't entirely accurate because, during the school year, on Sundays and Wednesdays, we're at the church late. And, on the other five days of the week, we don't actually put them in bed at 7:30. We start the shower/teeth brushing/bathroom using/jammie putting on-ing/flossing/Bible reading/chapter book reading routine at 7:30. If Troy and I tag team and work very efficiently, the boys are in bed at 8:00. Although, honestly, I'm not usually finished reading them a chapter of whatever book we happen to be devouring together until a little after 8:00. And then they both want me to snuggle them for a few minutes--a habit I am almost always happy to continue because I know it's only a short matter of time before the idea of their mother scratching their backs while they fall asleep becomes appalling. It's usually about 8:15 before they actually fall asleep. They get up at 7:00.
Last night, the neighbor knocked on the door at 7:45 with basketball in hand. "Wanna play?" he asked my oldest.
"I can't," Garrett replied.
"Why not?" came the follow up question.
Garrett was shirtless, in a pair of pajama bottoms, so I thought the answer was fairly obvious. Garrett told him that he was going to bed.
"ALREADY?" the boy (who, by the way, is one year older than my son) shrieked. "WHAT TIME IS IT?" My son answered that it was almost 8:00.
"I DON'T GO TO BED UNTIL 9:30! WHY DO YOU HAVE TO GO BED SO EARLY?" he wailed.
Time out. Do you know how much sleep is recommended for an elementary school aged child? Ten to twelve hours. Ten to twelve hours of blissful sleep. By the time my kids actually fall asleep--on a good night where bedtimes are being observed--they get a little under eleven hours.
Assuming this child falls asleep exactly at 9:30 (which is a ridiculous assumption because very few people--my husband NOT included--actually fall asleep the second their head hits the pillow) and gets up around the same time my kids do (likely because he starts school at the same time), he only gets 9.5 hours of sleep. Less than the low end of what is recommended for a child his age.
So Garrett responded that he had to go to bed because his parents told him to. The friend left, irritated, and my kids hopped into bed to hear their Bible story and a chapter of Laura Ingalls Wilder's On the Shores of Silver Lake. They seemed neither traumatized nor overly scarred for life when, at 8:07, I walked out of their room for the night.
One of the countless roles I've taken on as a mother is the task of teaching my children about healthy sleep habits. I'm thankful that, even after this encounter last night, my son didn't try to push his bedtime back. I'm sure it was just the first of many times that he'll have to tell friends he has a bedtime, but I'm hopeful that he'll understand that a good night's sleep allows him the ability to function at higher levels throughout his day.