Questions and Answers

Ack! Typepad created a new Compose editor and it appeared on me yesterday -- and it's driving me crazy! I am having so much trouble with links and with, um, backspacing over typos (there are some kinks they're working on, I guess).

My promised post about meal planning may or may not happen later today -- my little ones both came down with fevers and nasty coughs yesterday, and so, although I made dinner at the usual time, I was busy running back and forth between it and the two sickies and didn't snap any photos.


I did want to answer a few questions from the last post, though.

I got a couple of questions about why some, like me, feel it's so important to have an early bedtime. There are two reasons, in my mind. The first one is that children need a lot more sleep than we sometimes think they do -- 12 or more hours in a 24-hour period for children younger than 7 or 8. Especially if children have to be up early to go to school or a class or daycare or whatever, then (I think) giving them dinner at 6:00 so that they're realistically asleep by 8:00 on a regular basis could really cause chronic sleep deprivation -- the symptoms of which can be subtle or really intense, depending on the child. (I wonder if attention disorders might not be related to sleep deprivation? Just my hypothesis ... I'm not diagnosing anyone!)

The other reason to have the children asleep early is, of course, so that Mama can have some time to herself. :)

I also got a couple of questions about how the dinnertime ties into the bedtime. This is the most important part, I think. I think that it holds pretty true for most families that I've observed and asked -- two hours after the children sit down to supper, if bedtime follows in a pretty orderly and efficient manner, is the time that they will actually be asleep. I have tried about a gazillion other things to get my children to sleep earlier, and when I finally recognized this and shifted our dinnertime earlier (at my mom's continued urging), things fell into place. My husband is a school teacher, so he is often (but not always) home in time for a 5:00 supper. On days that he's not, I do go ahead and feed the children before he gets home. I know that family meals are a big deal, but I think that the overall rhythm of the family is really more important than a rigid idea of "every member of the household must eat the same meal together at the same time." For us, while our children are so small, it's OK for them to sometimes have dinner with just Mama, and spend more time with their Daddy at other times. And, I'm sure as they grow older, we will shift our dinnertime back to a later time.

Some of you wanted to know about what time my children rise and whether they nap. The first part of that question is easy -- they are usually awake before 7:30, although that can vary a little bit with James depending on his nap situation.

The nap part of that question is complicated. Both of my children were naturally morning nappers, and I discouraged that a little bit when they were tiny. With Elisabeth, it was because we were, at that time, pretty involved in various social activities (which were fun, but perhaps we did too much if I couldn't accomodate her need for naps). So she gave up napping at a pretty young age. Now I insist that she have an afternoon quiet time because she really needs it, even though I wasn't so good about recognizing that earlier on. James, also a natural morning napper, had his natural napping rhythm disrupted a lot when he was littler due to classes and other commitments that we had in the mornings until he was about 14 months old. (Less than what I did with Elisabeth, but still disruptive to him.) Right now, if he takes an afternoon nap, he's not sleepy enough to go to sleep at night, so I don't allow him to nap past a certain time. If he doesn't get his nap, he'll usually sleep about 14 hours at night. If he gets an early enough nap (which I try to get him to do every day, but sometimes with more or less success), then he'll usually wake up around the same time as Elisabeth, between 7 and 7:30.

And finally, about the book The Seven-O'Clock Bedtime. It is not my all-time favorite parenting book, and I hesitate to recommend it to people with infants or even young toddlers, because I feel like the system, and overall approach to meeting very young children's nighttime needs, is a little bit too strict. As I mentioned before, I have absolutely no problem nursing a baby to sleep (and frankly, it's just so much easier!), I do share my bed with my little ones, and I really don't agree with "crying it out" or sleep training of babies. But, with slightly older children, I thought that there were points in the book that were useful -- it's kind of a "take what works and leave the rest" kind of book. Whew! I'm glad I got that off my chest!

Does that help? Do you have more questions?