Babies need a lot of sleep, but they don’t need an infinite amount of sleep. If many — not all! but many — of them are wired to get tired and cranky around 7/7:30 p.m., then they are probably going to wake up by 6 a.m. or so.
I am not a pure night owl by any means. But I’m also not naturally an early-to-bed, early-to-rise sort either. So the early wake-ups have been one of the toughest parts of baby and toddlerhood for me, especially since many of my kids haven’t been great during-the-night sleepers either.
I had been considering my bedtime to be 10:30. This allows me to read to the 6-year-old, relax a bit and make sure the big kids are going to bed, then get a little reading done. But even if I was asleep by 10:45, if I woke up at 5:45 and had any wake-ups during the night, I wasn’t clocking the 7.3-7.4 hours my time log shows my body aims for.
So this weekend, I had a revelation: I should probably aim more for 9:30. Let me state right now that I absolutely hate this. I want to stay up and do stuff. It feels like no fun whatsoever to go to bed at a grade schooler’s bedtime. But it also feels really, really good to fall asleep by 9:45, wake up at 5:45 and — even if I have been up for 30 minutes or so at some point in the night — not be exhausted.
Thus, I went to bed at this unreasonably early time on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights this weekend. On two of the nights my husband did full big kid bedtime duty. (Since the baby nurses in the morning, I am, alas, the parent he prefers at 5:45 a.m. — I generally hand him over at 7 a.m or so). Since Sunday is a school night, I made sure that my portion of the 6-year-old’s bedtime routine was done by 9 p.m. Then I had a quick chat with the big kids (and took their phones) and then got ready for bed.
To not feel too sorry for myself, I’m being more pro-active about other leisure time. I’m generally reading or doing a puzzle from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. To ensure I don’t piddle this time away, I’m making sure to have a puzzle or book going, so there’s something I actively want to do (and get to do for an hour!).
This weekend, I finished the 750-piece “Brooklyn Flower Market” puzzle I’d been doing. This one was fairly easy — first of all, because it is 750 pieces (not 1000) and because the art was intricate enough that there was no question where pieces would go. I never had to resort to sorting pieces by shape (as I have had to for some other puzzles with big patches of, say, blue sky). I’m also reading a book about hummingbirds called The Glitter in the Green. Parts are a bit overwritten, but it’s also interesting, and has made me look at our hummingbird feeder, and my oldest child’s school art project replica of Frieda Kahlo’s Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird differently.
This weekend also featured a few fun-for-me anchor events that made the 9:30 bedtime feel less tragic, too. I ran 8 miles along the Schuylkill River Trail with a friend on Saturday morning. The 11-year-old and I went to Holland Ridge Farm in New Jersey on Saturday late afternoon. He picked 20 lovely tulips, and then — the real highlight — we got lobster rolls from the Cousins Maine Lobster food truck. We are now obsessed. Apparently there is a Philly-based truck too, and it occasionally stops at a mall near our house, so that is now on the schedule. And then on Sunday morning I sang with a very small group (one on each voice part) for our church’s first live, in-the-sanctuary service in over a year. The staff singers are incredible, and so this small ensemble singing is a real treat.
The weekend had its share of frustrations — the puppy and toddler combo is definitely stressful — but looking back over it, any weekend when I run long, enjoy tulips and a lobster roll, finish a puzzle, and sing, is probably a good one.
What time are you going to bed these days? I’m reminding myself that I won’t have to go to bed at 9:30 p.m. forever. Eventually my kids won’t wake up before 6 on weekends. The older ones could probably sleep until noon if I let them!