My Judgemental Little Secret

I have a confession to make.

You see, I do a lot of writing here on this blog about how we need to stop judging each other as parents and start supporting. It is something I truly believe. And I have been pretty open about how we all judge sometimes, but we would do well to remember that every kid is different and they all need different things.

But ask any of my friends or family and you will hear one area where I am persistently judgy. If I see a kid, between the ages of about 4 months and well, let’s be honest, at least 4 years, out with their parents past 7pm I can’t help but mumble to myself/who ever is with me: “Put that baby to bed.” I let the under 4 monthers off the hook, because those little monkeys tend to not sleep in any recognizable pattern- so whatever. But for the over 4 month crowd, I strongly believe in early bedtimes. First and foremost because well rested babies are happier babies. And secondly, because we parents need a break. So when I see a Mom with a 1 year old wondering the mall at 9pm I think “Put that baby to bed.”

I know, I know, I know… they don’t all sleep the way my daughter does. And I totally get that many parents take their kids out at night because 1) they need to get out of the house, 2) taking babies out sometimes keeps them occupied and therefore they are sometimes easier to handle, especially when they are refusing to sleep. I get it. I am not saying you should all lock yourselves up in your house with your cranky 8 month old that won’t sleep. Really I get it.

But, I also hear a lot of parents complaining about how their babies won’t sleep during the dreaded 6pm-10pm time slot, only to hear the same parents talk about all the things they go out and do in said time slot. And I can’t help but wonder- maybe the kid doesn’t know they should be sleeping at that time because they always get taken out and their little senses stimulated by light, noise and action, which tells their little brains it is not time to sleep. Artificial light has a huge impact on our circadian rhythms not matter what age we are….. I am just sayin’.

I truly credit part of the reason my daughter did start sleeping from 6pm-6am (with a 10pm bottle) at about 5 months was that we always made that 6-10pm time quiet, calm and dim. (Don’t hate me.) We used to carry her around in a sling to encourage her to sleep and we would talk in hushed voices. We rocked her or walked around with her. We rarely played or did anything too stimulating. Eventually she figured out we were no fun between 6-10pm, so she might as well sleep. For a while, she even went to bed around 5, it was awesome! I would expect in the next year her bedtime will move to 7ish and I am hoping it will stay there until she is, um 12? Maybe that is being a tad unrealistic. 10? Just let me be delusional about that one, okay.

Yes, yes, I know. I am being judgy. But it is because I care! I care people! I want your little monkeys to sleep so you can get a much deserved break. I am being supportatively judgmental. That is so totally a different thing. Okay, fine, I am just being a hypocrite. I accept that. I am willing to take the heat on this one. I know we won the lottery, so to speak, on the sleep thing. I know that so many parents do everything they can to encourage the kid to go to bed and they just don’t. Because, well, again, they are all different. But that doesn’t mean that taking them out the mall at 8pm is helping the situation. I am just sayin’. So I stand by my word: Put that baby to bed!!

Okay, I have said it. Now feel free to proceed to disagree. Really, I won’t mind.

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15 responses to “My Judgemental Little Secret

  1. amberhj March 11, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I agree in general that keeping little ones up “late” seems like a bad idea, but your guidelines seem a tad rigid. Stella sleeps from 8:30pm to 7:30 or 8am (she’s 18 months old and has slept through the night, for 10 hours or so, since she was about 4 months old, and no waking up for a bottle, either). She has never had an early bedtime per your definition. Ever. She’s always gotten a ton of sleep (except for in those first three months when she was in pain due to her feeding/intolerance/reflux issues). She has always napped well, with blips here and there chalked up to teething or illness. Yesterday, she slept from 8:30pm to 8:30am and took a 3 hour nap from 1-4, then went to bed, as always at 8:30pm. It’s not unusual to take her out for a walk at 7pm, once in a while to get ice cream. Stella can go from running around like crazy one minute, to fast asleep the next… she’s amazing that way. So maybe give other parents just a little more wiggle room. Though to be honest, a 6pm bedtime makes no sense to me, because you’re up earlier. Not that I’m judging or anything… Really, WHATEVER WORKS! That’s the bottom line and it really does vary from family to family, don’t you think?

    • amoment2think March 11, 2010 at 5:47 pm

      I totally agree. And yes, my time line is more then a tad rigid. And yes, Whatever works.

      I think one of the main reasons I wrote that post is to come clean about my overly rigid reaction that I just can’t seem to stop. I mean, I know that I am being unreasonable, but I just can’t help myself. I don’t know, I just needed to confess.

      Also, just for the record, when I said ‘early’ bedtime, I should have clarified that I didn’t mean all should go to sleep at 6pm like our daughter. But I guess I did say that I started my judgyness around about 7pm, so fair enough. I put our daughter down so early because she gets up at the crack of dawn regardless, so we found the 6pm was the ‘sweet spot’ where she would go down easily and sleep for the longest amount of time. But I could certainly see the benefits of 8:30am wake ups, that sounds awesome! And 8:30pm sounds like a good bedtime too, especially if it works for you. And a walk sounds like a lovely thing to do at 7pm, especially if it includes icecream.

      I knew someone out there would make a good argument for why I was being unreasonable. Thanks.

      • amberhj March 12, 2010 at 2:32 pm

        You’re still judging me, as I see below, because you think 8pm is the cut-off, I see! I can’t help but laugh while being slightly annoyed. At least you seem to know how silly it is to presume to know what is best for other families. Sounds like you just can’t help yourself, but you’re on shaky ground when you start down such a path. Been there myself and had to check myself!

      • amoment2think March 12, 2010 at 4:22 pm

        Amber,

        Sometimes I write blog posts because I have a thought swirling around in my head. I write it, publish it and let it swirl around some more. I get comments, or not, and I assess what I am thinking and why. This is one of the reasons I write and I think this is one of those posts. I wrote this because I was having trouble reconciling the belief that it is wrong, as you say, to presume to know what is best for anyone’s kids but my own. But I also have opinions about parenting. Opinions that I share sometimes.

        Here is how I have come to reconcile this after letting this post swirl around for a bit, and in a good part thanks to your comments. I have opinions. And conversations with my friends and family and on my personal blog is where I sometimes share those opinions. And so long as I can recognize that my opinions are mine, and that I don’t need everyone to agree with them, I think it is okay. I can see value in and respect an other perspective/opinion, in this case yours. Your daughter is obviously thriving on her current schedule. But that doesn’t mean I have to change my opinion that generally an early bedtime is preferable. Sometimes others words result in me changing my opinion and sometimes they don’t. I am not going to stop you or anyone else on the street and tell them to put their kid to bed. I full recognize that my opinion isn’t right for everyone. But I believe I expressed my opinion, and replied to your comment disagreeing with my opinion, respectfully. As long as I do that, I don’t see anything wrong with expressing my opinions.

        I apologize if you felt judged by what I have said. That was not my intention. Although I guess I was asking for it with the title of this post, so fair enough. I appreciate your comments and I always enjoy hearing a different perspective.

      • amberhj March 12, 2010 at 11:15 pm

        I *was* judged by what you said–you made a clear judgment, admittedly so, so it’s not about me *feeling* judged. Your thoughts on this seem to be in the vein of those who judge formula feeders–the type of lactivists who proclaim to know what is best for every baby and family. I didn’t say you couldn’t have your opinion. I didn’t ask you to change yours. I was simply giving my own opinion in response to yours.

        When you see a mom out with a baby “late”, you have no idea what is going on in their lives. When Stella had a feeding tube, and when she was being weaned, I kept her up until 11pm sometimes, to give her as much of a chance to eat as possible–to get hungry enough to not have to have food pumped directly into her stomach. It worked. She EATS, all on her own, and sometimes it still feels miraculous to me. She came around, in part because I gave her that chance. I moved her bedtime earlier and earlier once we were through the woods. But it’s not as early as some believe is “correct” apparently. So that’s our story. What about those other moms you see and judge? Maybe the mom you are seeing out with her baby at–gasp–8pm is at her wit’s end for whatever reason and just needed to get out for once. You just don’t know. Seems like a waste of energy to me, such a minor issue, you know? But I do feel the need to defend myself for some reason.

        Kudos to you, though, for being honest and exploring your opinions openly. Best of luck as you continue to bravely put your thoughts out there. Take care.

      • amoment2think March 13, 2010 at 6:46 pm

        Fair enough, you are right. I was admitting to being judgmental, so it wasn’t just that you felt I was being judgmental. I was being judgmental. Coming clean to that fact was part of the point of the post, so I don’t know why it bothered me that someone would call me on it. Perhaps because I thought that by admitting in the post that I was being judgmental (and possibly unreasonable) and acknowledging that there were good reasons why some parents would have their kids out late, I believed I avoided the trap of presuming to know what is best for other children and families. Apparently that was not sufficient to communicate that I knew there will always be some families and children for whom my opinion would not be best.

  2. Brooke March 11, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    My friends always seem shocked that Kellen goes to bed at 7. My husband believes that the later you keep them up the later they sleep, which we all know is not true. Sometimes he wakes up at 7 or 8, but this last week it has been 5:15. It’s making me crazy.

    • amoment2think March 11, 2010 at 9:27 pm

      Yes, one of the best pieces of advice I got early on was that the earlier you put them down the longer they sleep. I mean, not all of them I am sure, but some of them, meaning it is at least worth a shot.

      Also, A goes through weird 1-2 week stages where she will get up at 5ish, then 6ish, then 7ish and then back down to 6ish. This weird and maddening cycle tends to continue on and on. So I think they just go through cycles. Which means at some point your 5:15 madness will end. Probably. I will cross my fingers for you.

  3. smdcanada March 11, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Ooohhh, babies and sleep. I’m lurking, waiting for the e-hollering’ and fightin’ to begin!! I too am all Judgy McJudgerson when out for a “late” (like 8:30 pm) grocery shop and see little toddlers roaming the aisles. Or people who bring their babies to NHL hockey games or evening house parties. I don’t get that. The child needs to be in bed. But that’s just me! We’re a 7:30 – 7:30 household. Vary more a few minutes, and our children automatically self-destruct.

    • amoment2think March 11, 2010 at 9:20 pm

      Its funny- Every time I write a post in which I believe will result in e-hollering it always ends in a polite:
      Reader: “I disagree with you”
      Me: “Okay, fair enough, you have a good point too.”
      Crisis adverted.

      But since you are egging me on…. whether I recognize that putting little kids to bed at 8:30, 9:30 or 10:30 is totally someones choice and I can respect that, especially if it works for them…. I just can’t help myself- I still think that they should be in bed before 8pm. I just do. Especially when I see little kids throwing fits at that time of night…… I throw a fit too when I am kept up after my 10pm (ahem, 9:30pm) bedtime.

  4. Perpetua March 12, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Hey, everybody’s got their thing. It’s impossible to be Saint No-Judge. 🙂

    We’re still struggling with sleep issues, though it has nothing to do with when E goes to bed. He goes to sleep between 5 and 7 pm, but he almost always wakes around 9 or 10 pm and stays up for an hour or so, regardless of what we do to get him back to sleep (he’s also a “tension increaser,” so leaving him in the crib to CIO is pointless for us). A later bedtime has no effect on this problem. It just moves the “I’m AWAKE” period to 2 in the morning.

    Anyway, I agree that one great argument for early bedtime is parental sanity. E gets up at 5 am. There’s no way I could be out with him at 9 pm. That’s mama’s bedtime! 🙂

    • amoment2think March 12, 2010 at 9:14 am

      Oh, that is no fun. Those little tension increasers are such a challenge. It sucks that all sleep problems don’t have one easy solution. I mean, I think moving bed times earlier for some kids could make the difference- obviously not for everyone. Sometimes the only solution is time- which I always hate because I am one of those who believes there must be a solution for everything. A gets up pretty early sometimes too… and I have found there is nothing we can do about it, but wait it out. She goes in weird cycles of a couple weeks at a time, so eventually she hits a 6:30-7am cycle and we rejoice. Then it ends and we are back to 5:30.

      Anyway- I feel for you.

  5. Fearless Formula Feeder March 13, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    I am currently zonked out of my mind on Vicodin (I have endometriosis and my period cramps are worse than labor) so I’m in no shape to make any intelligent comments on this post. I just wanted to add that I really believe kids have their own personal alarm clocks. My son will only sleep until about 6:30/7am, no matter how early or late he goes down. We are pretty rigid about bedtime at my house, much to the chagrin of my in-laws (I still get snarky comments from FIL every time they visit about how “strict” I am about being home by 7pm at the latest), but we’ve also had a ton of sleep issues and had to sleep train several times, so we’ve adopted the same philosophy about early bedtimes. As my son has gotten older, we’ve been able to push him a bit longer, but if he shows ANY signs of being overtired we end the evening promptly.

    That said, our friends have a son the same age as ours, and they have always kept him on their schedule. And I judged. Oh, how I judged. But they’ve gotten the last laugh – their kid can go to sleep whenever- some days it’s 7, other days it’s 10, depending on what they want – and he doesn’t wake up until 8:30 or 9am. I would literally kill for that kind of blissful sleeping in.

    Anyway. Not sure what my point is. Vicodin.

    • amoment2think March 14, 2010 at 8:03 am

      FFF, oh vicodin- that sucks. I hope you feel better soon!

      Yes, I do agree- personal alarm clocks. And I think you are making a great point– it really truly is true that every kid is different. I too would kill for a baby that slept until 8:30am. I think also you made a good point that the judgment cycle goes all around and at some point we all get judged and at some point we all realize that our judgment is unwarranted as we see someone else, as you say, getting the last laugh.

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