Kids, Holidays and Sleep Schedules

Alarm ClockI might quality as The Grinch for this one, but if there’s one thing that drives me crazy during vacations it’s when my children get so far off on their sleep schedule that they’re staying up until 11pm or midnight and then sleeping in until 10am or later. When they’re home from college, maybe, but tweens or teens sleeping in until 10am or later? I can’t condone that.

As a result, my strategy to keep them somewhat in sync with their regular school sleep schedules is to wake them up at 9am every morning when they’re with me if they haven’t already woken up. Yes, I’m that Dad.

I’m not entirely sure why this is a big deal to me and I don’t have any memories of my parents enforcing some sort of rational sleep schedule on me when I was a teen (Dad?) but there are two things that factor into this for me: first, I tend to stay up until midnight or so and like to have an hour or two to myself post-parenting, and second, I wake up around 7/7:30am every morning and while some peace and quiet in the morning is good, too much makes me feel like the kids are being lazy bums.

I know that children need more sleep than adults and that my 7-7 1/2 hours is fairly typical as an adult but too little for a child. In fact, the Mayo Clinic recommends 7-8 hours for adults, but 9-11 hours for school-age children.

Now on a typical school night, K-, 9yo, goes to sleep by 8:30pm, and the older kids (13 and 17) go to sleep at 9 or thereabouts — though A- (17yo) often gets up again and keeps me company until 10pm or so — then everyone’s awoken at 7am to get ready for school. If they take 30min to get to sleep, that’s 10hrs for the little one and 9 1/2 hours for the older children. Spot on the Mayo Clinic recommendations, right?

Switch to a holiday and while midnight to 9am is still 9 hours, it both impinges on my solo evening time and messes up their own sleep schedules too, my ostensible concern being that a 2-3 hour shift in sleep schedule is difficult to switch back when school does roll around again.

But it’s possible that this is all a sham and that the real reason I want them to stick with their sleep schedule is because it’s an important aspect of my own sanity that I get some time off, especially if it’s been a difficult day.

So, am I The Grinch, or just a parent seeking a modicum of control in the chaos of single parenting?

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