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10 to Twins

By Jessica T

About this blog: I'm a late thirties mother of a ten-year-old and infant twins. My family moved to Menlo Park 6 years ago from Virginia - where I grew up, went to college, got married, had my first born, and got an MBA (in that order). I'm a manag...  (More)

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Neither Seen Nor Heard After 7PM

Uploaded: Jan 9, 2014
Hi Readers,
I'm going on a "work vacation" this week. I promise to explain what that is when I'm back. In the meantime, I'd like to introduce you to a guest poster: my very own husband, Coach T. I hope you enjoy a new perspective from the "10 to Twins" household. -- Jessica T

In general I don't agree with the philosophy of Lucille Bluth, the acid-tongued alcoholic matriarch from TV's Arrested Development. I did agree with her, however, when she declared, in reference to her cringing youngest child, Buster, that "a child should be neither seen nor heard." In fact I was so taken by this pithy summary of my own feelings toward bedtime, that I couldn't help myself: I stood up and cheered.

Okay, a child can be seen and heard. But not after 7pm.

Forgive me, but I believe that it's a good thing for children to go to bed early, and it has nothing to do with the value of a good night's sleep. See, the Coach and Jessica T are adults. We do adult things after the kids go to bed, among which are drinking, swearing, and taking off our clothes, and the sooner the kids go to bed, the sooner we get to do these adult things. Also I don't believe there is anything wrong with making our kids go to bed. Some days I have spent twelve or more hours with my children, helping them grow up happy and strong (etc.), and I feel that by 7 or thereabouts, my job as a father is done for the day.

Because the Coach is not just a father: the Coach is also a man.

Why don't more parents feel this way about bedtime? It's simple. We live in the era of the Wuss Parent. So many of our contemporaries seem to think their job is to be their kids' best friend. That's wrong. We are supposed to be their parents, not their friends, which means among other things that we must set limits for them. Not all limits you will set for your children have tangible benefits for you, but bedtime absolutely does (see above). Maybe your children don't want to go to bed. I didn't when I was their age. But guess what? Tough. I'm sure your sons and daughters can find something lovely to think about while they are lying in bed wishing they weren't lying in bed, wishing they were playing with their friends, and in particular their best friend. Who is you.

How lame is that? A kid whose mother is his best friend! That's the part of Lucille Bluth I just can't support.

--Coach T
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Elizabeth Ouren, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Thanks Coach T for the new perspective on bed time! This made me laugh and think. I will give it a try but I think it may have to be a bit later than 7, especially on basketball practice night. :)

Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 9:23 pm

I got a bit confused for a minute. I thought I remember reading a blog about keeping up kids late and I thought the husband and wife had completely different views and then realized it was a different blog. Web Link

But got to agree with this husband completely.

I also agree about the basketball practice!

Posted by Bunyip, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Jan 10, 2014 at 7:50 am

If bed time is a battle zone, that\\\'s the parents fault - learned behavior. We had a rule from birth, once fed and settled, if it was time for bed the baby went down. If she cried we waited a set time period, promoting self-soothing, rather than coddling every second. Now we say let\\\'s go bedtime, shes pre-k, she jumps up stops what she\\\'s doing and heads to bed. We read her a story and it\\\'s lights out. Its not rocket science, but you can\\\'t play tough parenting after years of coddling and responding to this behavior. It\\\'s learnt that if they make enough noise in bed, you come running. Also the "seen but not heard" line is an old one, and I recommend you don\\\'t have children if that is the case. Whether my kid is screaming or laughing I want to enjoy every breath of it. If you want to ignore your kid for your "adult things", then hopefully when your in a nursing home, they have the same thoughts towards you and your needs. How they act reflects more on you, then them. Do some reflection.

Posted by a male engineer, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jan 10, 2014 at 3:39 pm

This is great!

Question: Once children are old enough to read by themselves, what's your opinion on allowing reading past the imposed "betime"? (To be clear, I am referring specifically to books and /not/ to electronics of any sort; those, in my view, absolutely should be banned past bedtime.) For example, is it ok to permit one hour of book reading past bedtime? An arbitrary amount of time?

When I was a kid, I read with a flashlight under a heavy blanket that didn't transmit the light. It would have been a lot more comfortable in warm weather to be able to read in the open, but maybe my parents had good reason to equate "lights out" and "bedtime".

Posted by Bunyip, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Jan 10, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Male engineer: There's some things you want to promote, like reading actual books. We do that now. If she wants time to read she has to figure out how to work that in. I.e. bedtime is 8pm. You want to sit and chill with a book, head to bed at 7:45, then at 8pm I'll read the story, then it's lights out. BUT if we said yes to reading beyond bedtime, what do you think happens? That will turn into something else and before you know it you are battling. It's all about independence and control. She gets to choice if she wants reading and we manage around that, but she doesn't dictate lights out - hard stop. We will ask how much time she wants, then help her set an alarm clock for example so that when it goes off, she knows the plan (also teaches her about time). If she is responsible for the plan, it rarely goes sour. We just engineer it so that she has a say in the plan, between our parameters. Works for us.

Posted by Coach T, a resident of another community,
on Jan 10, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Ouch, Bunyip! You might be right about my children. They will probably let me and Jessica T rot in a nursing home, but that's the American way--it has nothing to do with childhood bedtimes.

Male Engineer, I think it's important to have a lights-out time, but if my daughter wants to read under the covers, that's her business. Jessica T and I have always respected our daughter's privacy. What she reads under cover of darkness is her business, just as it was mine when I was her age.

Posted by mom of teenagers, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jan 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm

mom of teenagers is a registered user.

Coach T - This is a great idea (and would have been when my kids were smaller) except that if I had put my older child to bed at 7, she would have been up at 4 am! As it was she got up at 5 or 5:30 as a baby. Does you 10 year old go to bed at 7 or just the babies.

I totally agree that after 12 hours, it is time for a parenting break! I'm glad it works for your family!

Posted by Tunbridge Wells, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park,
on Jan 17, 2014 at 9:19 am

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

In total agreement with the ideas that a) kids need more sleep, and should be in bed earlier and b) parents need some grown-up time for themselves after the kids go to bed. The challenge is for families where both parents work full-time outside of the house. If Mom and Dad are walking in the front door at 6:30, how in the world do you get dinner on the table, eat, bath time (sometimes necessary, sometimes optional) and in bed at any sort of reasonable hour? Not to mention that the only time these parents get to see their children is in the evening, it can be really hard to send them off to bed when you haven't seen them all day.

Part of this conversation about making sure children get enough sleep has to include work/life balances and the expectations of so many employers that "dedicated" employees will routinely work 60+ hour weeks. There just aren't enough hours in the day.

Posted by Jessica T, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 18, 2014 at 8:05 am

Jessica T is a registered user.

Tunbridge - We hear you as two parents who work outside of the home. It's such a challenge. What Coach T means is "Neither Seen Nor Heard After 7 PM - or as close to that as humanly possible."

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