Posted by: Hannah | 03/19/2012

go the f**k to sleep

Regular sleep is so very important for children.

Most parents know this – but they miss the ‘regular’ part. They know kids need sleep. What they don’t understand is how to help them get adequate amounts.

Sweeping generalization time – younger parents seem to struggle more with this. Monkey’s parents were on the youngish side; Pixie’s parents are, too. They value their sleep-in time on weekends (don’t we all!) but they aren’t willing to let it go for the sake of happy, well-rested children. So on Fridays and Saturdays, they let the kids stay up very late, counting on them to sleep in the next morning.

This will work, for a while.

Eventually though, it will backfire.

When Pixie’s mom doesn’t need to get up for school, she lets Pixie stay up late the night before. Then Pixie doesn’t get up until 10AM, or even later. Then of course she has a later nap that day, which means an even later bedtime.

The end result of this messing with the schedule is that when Pixie arrived here at 7:45 today, she looked like she got rode hard and put away wet. They tried to have her in bed by 8PM, but thanks to a very late wake-up yesterday and a late nap, she didn’t actually sleep until 10PM. Then she woke up at 2AM and partied until 5AM, when she went back to sleep, only to be woken up at 7:30 and dropped off here 15 minutes later.

Now at not-quite-morning-snack, she’s tired, cranky, weepy, with a short attention span and no ability to play for more than five minutes at a time.

And this is after last week – March Break! – when her mom wanted to sleep late, so she didn’t get here until 9:30 all week. Her schedule is FUBAR and it will doubtless take some time to get it back.

I’ll give it a week or two. If she’s still beside herself every Monday, I’ll have to take a page from Not Mary P at Daycare Daze and make her parents fill out a sleep log, so I can drive the point home that they are making themselves miserable, all for the sake of an extra hour or two on weekend mornings.


This job, it continually throws challenges at me. I’ll say this – I’m rarely bored.



  1. For the first couple of months Owl was in daycare, we had the opposite experience – Owl would have short naps there (woken up by the other kids, usually) and then catch up on his sleep on the weekends, often with two or even three hour naps. Not so much any more. It’s a shame, because we love us some long Owl naps, and being introverts, we’re all about getting him to bed as quickly as possible so we can watch Better Off Ted/Dragon’s Den/play board games.

  2. You’ll know this already from reading Mary’s blog but I’ve found what she always says to be very true – sleep begets sleep. If I go to bed earlier, I sleep for longer. I once read that everyone sleeps in around 2.5-3.5 hour cycles, and I’ve found that useful too when trying to set my alarm. I guess it’s the same for children too.

  3. This is something I have never understood, but then I am someone who is pretty rigid about my own personal schedule. I’ve never understood how people can let young children stay up at all hours and not expect them to be just messed up by this. Lack of sleep affects everything – and especially is hard on the little immune systems. Sleep deprived kids catch all the viruses going around, poor things. Plus it’s bad for their brain development. Poor sickly, slow kiddies.

  4. Huh. I admit I might have been tempted to do this if my kids ever DID sleep in, but no matter how late they stayed up when they were little, they got up at the same time as, if not earlier than, usual in the morning.

  5. As someone whose child has always fought sleep, I am also bemused and baffled by the idea of someone voluntarily preventing their child from sleeping.

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