Posted by: Hannah | 05/17/2011

I want someone to explain to me…

… the phenomenon whereby working parents keep their very young children awake long past the point when they ought to be in bed, so that they can spend extra time with them.

I get that when you’re working all day long, you maybe only get two or three hours in the whole day where your little one is awake and interacting with you. I get that it sucks. My Thing # 1 was in full time daycare from 7:15AM until 5PM for the first two years of his life, and when you tack a 45 minute commute on either end it meant that most of our quality time happened in the car. But you know, you do what you have to do.

Four of the kids I look after are routinely kept up until 9pm or later, even though they have to get up between 6 and 7AM so their parents can get to work on time. They often fall asleep in the car on the way here in the mornings. They are cranky and groggy when they get dropped off. They start the day in an ill temper and generally stay that way until I can get them to take naps. In the case of three of them, however, they are really too old to have a morning nap, so instead they are just weepy, angry, and hypersensitive until after lunch when I finally get them all settled and sleeping.

It makes for a very long day for me, and for them. And it’s completely unnecessary.

To me, it’s the height of selfishness to keep your children in a perpetual state of exhaustion just because you want to see them more. And just how good is that time you’re spending, if the child is cranky & wound up for most of it?



  1. I agree that it’s selfish. As I anticipate returning to work, I’ve been mourning how little time I will have with Babby, but I can’t imagine keeping him up late just to spend time with him. Especially since evening is cranky-time. Best to give him a good sleep so he’s all smiles in the morning…

  2. Oh, I totally agree. Back in the day when I was working, I would see parents dropping their little ones with black circles under their eyes, at 7 am. I knew these parents, knew their kids were so called “night owls” who were up until 9 or 10. Always wondered what the daycare was like with all these terribly exhausted littles.

  3. Man, with the kids in school and care now, they are up at 630/7 each morning, and home around 845, in bed and “hopefully” asleep by 930. And it BLOWS. I hate being around them after a few days because they are NASTY from lack of sleep. I would never keep them up. I do know many people with “night owl” kids and I’ve always wondering if the kids are night owls or the parents just were never able to get the kids into a proper sleep schedule.

    Either way, I cannot stand my children unrested, and I’ve never been able to. Many an outing when they were babes was stopped because they weren’t rested. (see? It’s cause I’M lazy. I’m not dealing with whiny stressed out children.)

  4. I generally do a good job about not judging other parents, but this issue is my Achilles heel. Just chalk it up to one to many readings of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, but when I see a young child outside of the house after 7pm, I am SHOCKED. Shocked, I tell you! That child should be in bed! Like my own well-rested children!

  5. This is one of the reasons that I quit my job. When I figured that my commute was an average of 90 minutes each way, I realized I would never ever see my kids unless I kept them up super late and I didn’t want to do that. And now when they’re cranky sods, I get to be up close and personal with them for the whole day.

  6. I can’t believe that parents can be so selfish. I mean, I’m all for spending time with my kids, but at what cost? My kids are in bed at 6 for Simon and 7:30 for Claire (and that’s only because she still naps!) I’m also surprised when I run errands after I’ve put the kids down for the night and I see children their ages and smaller out shopping.

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