337. Bedtime

Most of us adults don’t have bedtimes imposed on us by other people. We go to sleep when we decide to. That’s even more true of us retired adults; we’re less likely to have to get up at a fixed time, so why go to bed when we don’t feel like it? True, there are some tyrants who seem to be giving adults bedtimes: our bodies, which have a way of getting tired; our neighbors (if we don’t have separate homes or apartments with thick walls), who may not be on the same schedules we’re on; or our children, who may have needs that dictate our sleeping schedules (e.g., late night and/or early morning feedings).
But if we want to have some kind of night life, we’re free to ignore some of those tyrants. We can get more tired than our bodies want us to get. If we’re sleepy and our neighbors aren’t, we can put plugs in our ears, and sleep through
whatever noises our neighbors are making. Some of you may even have figured out ways to get your children to sleep when you want them to sleep. The main thing is, we don’t have to go to bed if we don’t want to.
Are you wondering, yet, what my point is? Do you think I’m going to stand up for the rights of children, as I have in some of my other articles? Don’t worry. This time I’m going to stand up for you. Adults have rights, too. We need sleep, solitude, couple time, and more. Not everything we need or want to do can or should be done while the children are awake. And so we have to establish some mandatory bedtimes.
I remember envying my parents as I lay in bed for what seemed like hours (but may not have been quite so long). Sometimes I heard laughter downstairs, and I really wanted to sneak down and find out what was so funny. I know, now, that sometimes it was Milton Berle, or Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. But sometimes the television wasn’t even on. What could have been so funny?
Children do need sleep, but they may not always need it according to the schedules we have in mind. Bedtime provides structure in a child’s day – makes it so that the child is able to be awake and alert at appropriate times. I’ve worked with children who didn’t get enough sleep, and their lack of sleep was a problem in school. But even parents who are strict about bedtime don’t always have children who sleep as long as they need to; it’s possible to stay awake in bed.
Children’s sleep or lack thereof is not the focus of this article. My main point is that adults need adult time. Children whose parents haven’t had enough adult time often have a price to pay. Even adults who always mean well are able to be kinder and gentler when they’ve had some of their own time.
A friend of mine once told me that she always used to wonder why she didn’t have a little sister. As an adult, she asked her parents why. The answer she got surprised her. She’d had a role.

Comments are closed.