Monday, September 7, 2015

When Is The Right Bed Time?

Is the discipline of a child's bed time slowly going away? It would seem that way based on the questions I face most nights. Often, as I turn out the lights, my son asks why he must go to bed "early" when his friends all get to stay up. This is my second go-round with this type of questioning, having dealt with it with my older son when he was still in elementary school. Then, as now, I wonder if as a parent I have become too old fashioned or are other parents just being troublemakers by letting their kids stay up?

Public Domain Picture
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I remember having a bed time routine as a child. My routine started in the bathtub where I was allowed to play for a few minutes before having to soap up. I had two rubber sharks, each about six inches long. And while the theme from the movie "Jaws" was known for scaring people out of the water, I found it to be a soothing alternative to the quiet sound of being alone in a bathroom.

After my bath, and my half-hearted attempt to clean the tub, came time to get dressed and brush my teeth. Once my parents were satisfied that I had in fact applied enough fluoride, we would move to my room and to my favorite part of the night: story time. Even after I had grown too old to be read to I enjoyed using that time to read to myself or to imagine my own stories and adventures. What I did not enjoy was that moment when it came time to turn out the lights.

I admit there is a part of me that sympathizes with my son. His complaints bring back memories of that time when I thought "bed time" a dirty word. Now the kid who used to chafe under what I saw as unfair restrictions is the one in charge of enforcement. This task would be much easier if all those other parents would fall in line by putting their kids to bed on time. But even as I tuck him in I find myself wondering if his friends really are staying up late or is he exaggerating as I did as a child, telling my parents how my friends got to stay up. Good thing they never asked for names.

Could it be true that the other children get to stay up late? Are we moving towards a time when children no longer have a set time to go to bed? If you are a parent, do you still attempt to get your children in bed on time?