We’ve all heard that a strict bedtime is very important for children. I completely agree with that: Children need to count on a schedule to get all of the rest they need. Equally important is what a strict bedtime for children means for parents. Most nights, the bedtime for my younger children is 9:00 and then 9:30 marks the beginning of my second shift of work – making lunches, doing the dishes, folding a pile of laundry, etc. We all know how it goes, don’t we, sister-friends. But sometimes, if I can get my act together sooner (and have some additional help from the kids and Thomas), I am able to make the kids’ bedtime my quitting time. By then, even though I work outside the home part time, I have had my fill of my various jobs, including parent and housekeeper. I’m ready for time to myself and time with Thomas to reconnect.
I know of a couple who maintained a strict bedtime for their kids for their own good but also so that they, the parents, could have couple time. Every night, they would prepare a snack, have a glass or wine perhaps and talk or watch a humorous video (because laughter is so important). They said that the nightly time together has been critical to the happiness of their 30-year marriage. They refer to it as “The Nacho Effect”. Pretty funny and pretty smart. I don’t know about Thomas, but for me, that time is essential for keeping us linked, reminding us that we are more than parents or employees or a son or daughter. We are “us” and, if on my own, I am “me” – a necessary re-introduction which isn’t selfish at all. It makes me a better mother, and Thomas and I better parents.
Courtney’s desire for strict bedtimes for the kids is perfectly justifiable and logical… But I often want to revolt against this rule! Most nights, I arrive home and have a mere 2 hours left with the kids before they must go to bed… Within this window of time, dinner has to be eaten, homework must be checked and corrected and outdoor chores completed before sunset. This leaves precious time to spend with each child on fun stuff, like going to the park and throwing a ball. At times, I resent Courtney’s insistence on firm bed times and wish she would just relax.
I hate to admit it, but I often make Courtney the bad guy in these situations. There she is, trying to get the kids to bed on time, and there I am- saying it is ok for them to stay up another half hour… “What will it hurt? Relax!” I say. Jeesh… Bad parenting role model for sure, I know. Sometimes Courtney gets so exasperated that she throws up her arms in defeat and retreats to our room. I understand she wants “Me Time” or “Couples Time”… and she deserves both! But there are just those time when I need Dad Time to last a precious 30 minutes more. Is that so wrong?