My kids thrive on routine and on consistency, which has been in short supply this school year. Between the Jewish holidays and ongoing late-night baseball games (Go Phils!), we’re heading into the end of October rather cranky and sleep-deprived and not having had a single week that follows our supposed schedule. How do I balance my kids’ desire to be part of all the excitement with their need to settle into a routine?
Not Pheeling So Phine
One of the most frequently asked questions over the past decade of writing this column has been, “Do people really send you these questions?” And while the answer is usually “yes, actually,” I’ll just say that I received this question telepathically from at least half the parents in Philly. Phair enough?
You need to pick your priorities, and you need to help your kids pick theirs. Granted, the Jewish holidays are over for this year and the World Series, however it goes, will be over in a couple of weeks. Still, there will always be more events competing for your time and attention in the coming months. How you talk about decision-making, the need for healthy sleep habits and your overall family calendar will set the tone for the rest of the school year and beyond.
You can decide as a family which late-night experiences are most important and agree on a bedtime extension for those days. You can tell your kids that they can pick one weeknight and one weekend day to stay up late, and the rest of the days need normal bedtimes. You can also tell them that to have any bedtime extensions, homework/chores/showers need to be done earlier in the afternoon rather than trying to get things done when everyone is already exhausted.
Through all these discussions, remember that you make the final decision, and that modeling this process is at least as important as how much sleep they actually get on any given night. Your kids will hopefully grow up with fond memories of fun holidays, citywide celebrations and special family time. They’ll also hopefully grow up with an important foundation for setting boundaries, taking care of themselves and knowing that their grown-ups are looking out for their well-being.
Even when those goals seem incompatible with each other, you need to be the one with the long view, knowing that both of these modes of being can exist, even if, perhaps, not at the same time in October 2022.