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Sleep. It Does a Kid Good

Take away much of my sleep for a night, and everyone in the house will survive. Take it away for night after night after night, and watch out. Mom's a bit like a stretched rubber band ready to snap.

And it's not just the emotional distress from lack of sleep that's a problem. Lack of sleep may also contribute to overweight adults.

But does the same hold true for kids? A new study published today in Pediatrics finds that sixth graders are more likely to be overweight if they slept too little. And kids who lacked sleep in third grade were more likely to be overweight in sixth grade as well. The study of 785 kids looked at data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Childcare and Youth Development.

According to the study:

"Shorter sleep duration in third grade was associated with increased likelihood of future overweight in sixth grade, independent of the child's weight status in third grade. For every additional one hour of sleep in sixth grade, the child was about 20 percent less likely to be overweight in sixth grade. For every additional one hour of sleep in third grade, the child was about 40 percent less likely to be overweight in sixth grade. "

From the moment babies are born, parents focus on their sleep. First, it's teaching the babies that day and night are not reversed. Then, it's getting them to sleep through the night (a whole 5-hour stretch!). Follow that with where the kid sleeps, the "best" bedtime and nap schedules. Finally, they drop the nap, and mom and dad need to help figure out what to do with bedtime, again, and again, and again as the child grows. But just how much sleep do kids need?

The number varies by age, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Preschoolers need 11 to 13 hours a day; elementary school students need 10 to 12 hours. Pre-teens are good with 9 to 11 hours and teens with 8 to 9 hours.

What are your household's biggest sleep challenges and how do you handle them? And do you and your kids get as much sleep as your bodies need? What behavioral changes do you encounter when your kids don't sleep enough?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  November 5, 2007; 6:30 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers
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Comments


The same kid whose parents indulge him by buying him video games instead of a basketball, and by letting him stay up half the night playing these games instead of checking to make sure he's asleep, is the kid whose parents indulge him with whatever he wants to eat: chips, McDonalds, Cokes, Skittles. THAT is why the kid who doesn't sleep gets fat.

Posted by: Margareta | November 5, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I've never been an enforcer of an established bedtime so for the most part my kids have always fallen asleep whenever and where ever they wanted. Of course if there is a kid sleeping in my spot on the bed when I'm ready to sleep, he/she will probably wake up in the pile of dirty laundry. LOL!

Anyway, this strategy has the advantage of eliminating the bedtime battle, and the kids naturally fall asleep when they get tired (note: electronic media in many of its forms will interfere with this process) So, for the older kids, it's TV off, lights out, brush your teeth and you can stay up as late as you want. If you're not tired enough to fall asleep, read a book.

For the little ones, if they had trouble falling asleep, 95% of it was due to lack of excersize or activity. Hmmm, maybe that explains why kids who don't sleep well end up fat.

Posted by: DandyLion | November 5, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

My struggle involves my second child. She needs 11 hours sleep but by the time we get dinner and bath done there's no time for me to read her a bedtime book unless I let her stay up an additional 15 or 20 minutes. Faced with the choice between cuddling and extra sleep, I've opted for the cuddling but I wonder if that's the right call. (there's no way to start the routine earlier because that's when I get home from work)

Posted by: londonmom | November 5, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

We're pretty well-rested around here, even with an 11 month old in the house and demanding work schedules. I credit co-sleeping and minimal TV watching. We have a TV, but it's not in the family room, and we keep the lights low in the evenings and stick to low-key activitives. This is just my general preference, but I've noticed a stark difference in the quality of my sleep when visiting relatives who keep the TV on all evening. The bright lights don't work for me.

Posted by: MaryEllen | November 5, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

My twins 3 yr olds need their sleep. They typically get about 10-11 hours at night plus (thank god) a 2 hour nap in the afternoon. If they miss a few hours 1 day, they are OK. But, if they miss a few hours several days in a row, my life is hell. They are whiny, cranky and not very nice to be around. Once they catch up, life is better.

I need my sleep too, but unfortunately, I am a night owl. I typically go to bed at 11:30 or 12:00 and get up around 7. Some days I can squeeze in a short nap and if it is a normal weekend, I can "sleep in" on Sunday. My husband takes Saturday and I take Sunday. So it all works. I function pretty normally and don't really drink much caffeine!

Posted by: LBH219 | November 5, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

My 4 youngest need to be in bed and relaxed by 7:30 or the next day is a nightmare. They bicker and pick fights with each other. They are more stubborn and argumentative with me-it's like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde children! I am a huge component that kids need a lot of sleep and quite fankly, I need that 2 hours after bedtime to unwind myself.

My 9 year old fights me on bedtime because according to her there are no other 4th graders in the world who go to bed at 8:00. She is allowed to read, write or draw quietly until about 8:30. We tried 9 earlier this year and without that extra 30minutes she was visibly cranky.

Posted by: Momof5 | November 5, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Mary Ellen, I'm curious-- where is the TV if it isn't in the family room? we are considering buying a TV but aren't sure where to set it up in our small home.

I love fact that we gained an hour this weekend-- it allows me to try to "right" my families sleep patterns as I think we stay up and sleep in too late for our own good. I heard somewhere that the earlier you go to sleep at night the more restful the sleep actually is.

My four year old hates to go to sleep and is literally bouncing on his bed at night to try to keep awake. I agree that one resolution could be to try to get him more active during the day-- I just don't know where the time would come from! I guess we should cut short our leisurely dinner time routine in order to get a walk in before bath.

Posted by: Baby-work | November 5, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

When you think about how much growing they are doing, it is apparent how important sleep is. We've always treated sleep as important as good nutrition. I wouldn't think of having my small child skip a meal, why would I take away their sleep. My kids (4&6) are in bed at 7:45 and wake up on their own around 6:45 or 7. I've always felt that if I have to wake them, they aren't getting enough sleep. I can sympathize with londonmom - sometimes it is a challenge to get dinner, showers and stories in and a prompt bedtime. We do allow them to stay up later on Friday nights and special occasions, but since they almost never sleep in, it is back to the routine the next night. We've never really had bedtime battles, even in summer when it is light out. I don't know if this is because I am lucky or because we have been exceedingly consistent on this issue.

I also think that a great deal of the behavior problems we see in children today come from lack of sleep. Think about how you behave when you are chronically tired? How can these tired kids possibly learn properly? I have nephews who get up at 5 am, get dressed for school, get in the car for a 1 hr. drive to take mom to the train and then to school - so they sleep in the car, they get a nap in the car because dad picks them up at nap time and then they don't go to bed until 9pm!

Posted by: Moxiemom | November 5, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I am a huge believer in the importance of sleep for me and my kids. And on days when I don't get enough sleep, I crave sugar and starch -- I suspect because it gives me little bursts of energy to make it through the day. It took me a while to notice the trend because it really was unconcious and when I'm well rested, my apetite is normal. So I wouldn't be surprised at all if there's a relationship between lack of sleep and obesity. Sleep also is essential for integrating memory so I refuse to let my kids' homework get in the way of a good night's sleep. But academic pressures are only going to get worse and there's this whole martyr mentality where people actually brag about how hard they're working by talking about how little sleep they're getting! Sick, sick, sick!

Posted by: anne. | November 5, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

At our house when someone is grumpy, we laughingly say "you need a nap", but we have found that is often true. I sincerely believe that much of the hostility felt in society is that everyone is stretched so thin and they have no good humor reserves to draw on. We did not have a TV while our children were growing up, therefore it was much easier to enforce reasonable bedtimes. Yes, we heard from our children that they had to go to bed much earlier than their friends but they seemed to be much less dramatic than other children their same ages.

Posted by: Barbara | November 5, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"She needs 11 hours sleep but by the time we get dinner and bath done there's no time for me to read her a bedtime book unless I let her stay up an additional 15 or 20 minutes. Faced with the choice between cuddling and extra sleep, I've opted for the cuddling but I wonder if that's the right call. (there's no way to start the routine earlier because that's when I get home from work)"

If you can't manage to fit in time to read a book to your child and still have her get enough sleep because of your work schedule, your life isn't in balance. Consider working less and caring for the needs of your daughter more.

Not to mention, a book is far more important than a bath (most nights.) If I had to consider cutting corners, I wouldn't be pitting reading against sleeping but skipping the bath, utilizing OAMC or a crock pot so that dinner is ready the minute you get home, and cleaning up the kitchen after she's in bed, so that all of the time you have with your children is well spent.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 5, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Consider working less and caring for the needs of your daughter more.
------

hardy har har. fuuuuunnnny.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 5, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Yep, pretty hilarious that a mom can't spare 15 minutes to read to her daughter without worrying about her getting enough sleep.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 5, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Sleeping is hard, but the main thing for me is that my kids are their own people with their own personalities and while we can definitely "kick" ourselves those few weekends nights we're driving home from a restaurant at 7:45pm (meaning an 8pm bedtime is shaky), the majority of the sleep issues my kids have are their own issues and those are hard for me to solve. If my kids have nightmares about spaghetti or planets coming to get them, it's not like they're watching scary tv. They're inventing things to be scared about. Worse, what if I drop a dinner pan that I'm washing and that becomes "a monster." All bets are off. We can provide the nice quiet space, but we can't force them to go to sleep on our schedule.

I happen to be a full believer in a nightly bath for kids. My kids are old enough to say that Kid X has dirty hair or Kid Y has food on their face or Kid Z smells bad. If your kids aren't getting 4 baths a week then really, why not? They absolutely need that many if they paint, use magic markers or go outside. But besides, bathtime is a 15 minute break to get the kids separated from the rest of the day, brush and floss, hear a nice story or two, and then move on to bed. Remember that a 4 or 5 yr old can soap themselves while you read to them.

I know parents who work 2-3 hours a night from home to be able to put in 7 hour days at the office and make their schedule work with the kids, but only one parent can really do that in the couple unless one's schedule is super-flexible. Anyone who told me I needed to create a consultancy 2 years before my kids were born so I could have ultimate flexibility when they were 4... I wouldn't have believed them. But there ya go.

Posted by: DCer | November 5, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Sorry you're getting attacked, londonmom. When we're pressed for time, we speed the bath up so we can get the books in. We only eliminate the books if the kids are really, really tired, and I can't recall the last time that happened. (Ours are 5 and 7.) Also, I try to read to my 5 yo as I cook. I just jump up every now and then to check dinner, and it seems to work.

As for the self-righteous jerks attacking londonmom's situation, maybe we all need some more telecommuting or other solution that doesn't imply that IT'S ALWAYS THE MOTHER'S FAULT, since that seems to be the default answer if anything is going wrong in the home.

As for Queen Bees, we have only one female boss, and she's a mom, so she's been helpful to me, but not a mentor. I haven't really sought her out, either, since I work in a flat organization for the feds, and I'm generally happy with where I am.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | November 5, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm curious-- where is the TV if it isn't in the family room? we are considering buying a TV but aren't sure where to set it up in our small home.
-------

I have a TV in the bedroom. It has its problems at night, but there is no tv on during the day.

Other people I know have it in their basement. I only watch tv late at night, so that's where I have it, upstairs.

Posted by: DCer | November 5, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

1. If your kids point out that children have dirty hair or food on their face or smell bad, perhaps you should consider teaching them a bit of compassion for others instead of being so consumed with physical appearances.

2. Assuming that your random number of "4 baths a week" is the standard by which all children should live, who said anything about them not bathing 4 times a week? Bathe Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, voila, you have 3 nights a week where you have worked that day and have to go to work the next morning and you have an extra amount of time to read (or whatever) to your kids.

3. Children don't "smell" or "have dirty hair" if they don't bathe for 2 or 3 nights. And really, if you're worried about paint or magic marker you really need to rethink priorities. You're probably also making them wash their hands 8 gazillion times a day so I'm sure the magic marker has come off by bathtime.

4. If your children are inventing things to be scared of or making monsters out of dropped pans, perhaps you should consider that they do that because they don't have enough of your time and are craving your attention.

Posted by: to DCer | November 5, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Yep, pretty hilarious that a mom can't spare 15 minutes to read to her daughter without worrying about her getting enough sleep.
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Which was my point exactly! Certainly you didn't miss the point by a mile.

You get an A for "Can't understand English."

Posted by: Anonymous | November 5, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"As for the self-righteous jerks attacking londonmom's situation, maybe we all need some more telecommuting or other solution that doesn't imply that IT'S ALWAYS THE MOTHER'S FAULT, since that seems to be the default answer if anything is going wrong in the home. "

OK then, how about if londonmom and londondad work out some sort of a split shift where he goes in early and gets off early to pick up Junior and fix him dinner, then she comes home at her normal time and spends the evening bathing, reading, cuddling with him?

The comment was just that the work-life balance doesn't exist if someone is giving up sleep for storytime. Which frankly, it doesn't.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 5, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

1. If your kids point out that children have dirty hair or food on their face or smell bad, perhaps you should consider teaching them a bit of compassion for others instead of being so consumed with physical appearances.

2. Assuming that your random number of "4 baths a week" is the standard by which all children should live, who said anything about them not bathing 4 times a week? Bathe Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, voila, you have 3 nights a week where you have worked that day and have to go to work the next morning and you have an extra amount of time to read (or whatever) to your kids.

3. Children don't "smell" or "have dirty hair" if they don't bathe for 2 or 3 nights. And really, if you're worried about paint or magic marker you really need to rethink priorities. You're probably also making them wash their hands 8 gazillion times a day so I'm sure the magic marker has come off by bathtime.

4. If your children are inventing things to be scared of or making monsters out of dropped pans, perhaps you should consider that they do that because they don't have enough of your time and are craving your attention.

------

Almost every single thing you wrote makes no sense and I accept your apology in advance.

To break it down.

5 year olds are their own people who develop their own personality and conversations on their own with their peer group. It is an effort to encourage friendships and attitudes that put someone's heart or character above physical appearances, but the culture of the playground is not and has never been one that a parent creates or a parent influences. I've talked to my son several times about potty-mouth jokes, mean comments about other kids, and the like. But rest assured that your kids have their own personality when they aren't around you. My son spent his entire pre-school at a church daycare with no guns and now talks about them all the time. Do you think for a second that I had anything to do with the gun thing? Puh-lease. He didn't know the word gun until the other kids in the playground used the term.

2. Four baths a week are not a random number, that is my educated rule from knowing dozens of kids and you can give your kids fewer baths at the peril that some kids will mock them. Should you wish to handicap your children on the playground, that is absolutely your prerogative!

3. Children smell if they eat garlicky food for lunch, so I can say with no problem that point #3 is completely and hilariously factually wrong. The rest of your piece about the handwashing is more of a fantasy world you created in your own mind which is, frankly, weird that you find it necessary to fantasize about other people's lives.

4. Name me one 5 yr old who doesn't imagine a shadow in the closet is a scary monster. That is the oldest fear in the book and feel free to ask your pediatrician about them if you never heard about kids getting scared of shadows. If you don't know about this, talk to your child's doctor. I don't know a single parent of an older child who didn't go through "there's a monster under my bed." Talk to your pediatrician about it. You're theory is total bunk.

Posted by: DCer | November 5, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Londonmom - I don't know how old your daughter is, but one thing that really helped us was switching to showers for the kids. We have a hand held shower in the kids shower. Wet them down and let hold the wand while you soap them up head to toe, rinse. Do the hair and you are done. I can do both kids in 10 minutes - no lie. Is it relaxing - not really, but it allows us to get to bed on time on nights that we are behind and need shower. Also, in the winter I usually shower the kids every other day unless they were really exercising or got dirty some other way. Good luck - don't mind the haters.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 5, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I sympathize with londonmom. 15 minutes seems to make all the difference with my 20-month daughter. 15 mins late and she becomes the grumpy child from hell at bedtime; 15 mins earlier and she's a little sweetheart. No one believes me when I say the "15 mins" rule, until they witness it firsthand. I read to DD whilst I'm getting dinner ready (yes, jumping up and down to check on it), which seems to help. Also, sleep is #1 (along with good food). DD needs a lot, and I need a lot. If either of us does without, everyone suffers. So it means that I've reorganized the entire household and my hours around her need to get enough sleep. I leave work early (3pm) and then work in the evening when she gets to bed at 6.30pm. And we go to bed the same time every night. Minor deviations are paid for in pain later.

Posted by: DopeyMummy | November 5, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I am a big bed-time freak. Maybe I am selfish, but I *like* having some quiet time alone with my husband after the kiddo goes to bed. I love my daughter's early bedtime, and won't be moving it later anytime soon! I don't love the early wake-up calls, but I'd rather get up early than give up the time to myself in the evenings.

Posted by: reston, va | November 5, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"15 minutes seems to make all the difference with my 20-month daughter. "

Oh, for sure. We say our 2.5 year old goes from 60-0 in 2 seconds- one moment she is perfectly happy, and then meltdown city ensues with no warning. Another reason we keep bedtime early in our house (she goes to bed at 6:30 as well, but I am known to go as early as 6 if she has been particularly grumpy or or seemed tired that day).

Posted by: reston, va | November 5, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

The TV is in my office, on a TV stand with wheels. We don't have cable, just an old-fashioned rooftop antenna. If we want to watch something, we have to roll the thing into the living room and plug it in (along with the cable to the antenna.)

I know other families who keep the TV in mom and dad's room, or the basement. It depends on what kind of space you have available.

The main thing, I think, is that the default positon for the TV is "off." IME, even "background" TV noise is a real dinner conversation killer.

Posted by: maryellen | November 5, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

thanks for the comments regarding TV placement. No office and I don't want a TV in my bedroom so I think I'll need to keep the TV in the family room and just try to exercise self control to keep from turning it on. wish me luck! I'll need it to escape the pull to turn on the TV and thus turn the dull, dead dark grey "eye" into a colorful, lively picture of fun (hello Spongebob!)

Posted by: baby-work | November 5, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Weight, schmeight. If my kids don't get enough sleep, they'll be dang lucky if I don't throttle them before they even have a chance to get fat. :-)

But I do agree with the earlier commenter: when I miss sleep, I tend to crave sugar and fat, so I wouldn't be at all surprised to find a link.

We are strict on bedtimes, because life just becomes downright miserable otherwise. 2-yr-old goes down around 7:15, 6-yr-old at 8 sharp (we start the process at 7:30 so I can be walking out the door by 8 -- girl has an uncanny ability to turn getting a drink of water into a 17-step process).

Of course, they both naturally wake up at the crack of freaking dawn (or before, in winter) -- 7 AM is a miracle. I'd happily trade a later bedtime for a later morning, but they both got their dad's evil engineer gene, and when we try to change their rhythyms, all we get is an extra half-hour of really, really miserable kid at night, followed by the same 5:30 AM wakeup in the morning. Sigh. But I guess the good news is that we don't have to wake them up often during the week to go to school -- guess I should enjoy that while I can. :-)

Posted by: Laura | November 5, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

"I also think that a great deal of the behavior problems we see in children today come from lack of sleep."

I think the problem is more fundamental and it comes from lack of excersize. How is a child supposed to tire themselves out when they get driven to and from school, sit in a classroom all day, then have there nose stuck in a book all afternoon or evenin doing homework. The fact is that some kids don't sleep well even if they lay in bed for 12 hours. It's impossible to sleep unless the body is physically ready to accept it.

When I hear my 5 year old say, "Goodnight Daddy, I'm going to bed because I'm so tired.", I know I'm doing a good job being a father.

Posted by: DandyLion | November 5, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Another option with the TV is to put it in an entertainment center that you can close. Much more attractive, I think, that the naked TV just sitting there, and it's easier to blend it into the background.

Posted by: maryellen | November 5, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I have to some to the defense of londonmom. "Some" people have to work to pay their bills and it is not simply a matter of "working less". Most people would love to work less, but that is often impossible or would mean a pay cut or loss of benefits. Get real!!!

Posted by: realist | November 5, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Most people do not need to bathe everyday. I don't and my daughter doesn't. Neither of us smells bad or has greasy hair (unless I've not been able to do my whole wash and style routine with a 14 mth old)

Still, people are a little miffed when they discover that I and she don't bathe daily. What's it to them if I'm not invading their olfactory space?

Posted by: lovea | November 5, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

lovea -- tell them "too much bathing drys out her skin"

Posted by: Anonymous | November 5, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I don't want to beat a dead horse, but here's what the Mayo Clinic says about washing often:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hand-washing/HQ00407

Washing a lot, washing my hands, germicidal soap, etc, is not a big deal to me. I think I've mentioned it here only briefly before. I own no special soaps, for instance.

However, I was friends with a number of kids in elementary school who were picked on for poor grooming habits such as greasy hair or dirt around their necks. As an adult I blame their parents for thinking that they didn't need their hair washed daily and enforcing those habits at home. These were kids with noticeable BO, starter mustaches, and greasy hair by age 11. Their parents refused to think that 11 was old enough for Junior to shave, but swarthy genes proved otherwise.

Just because one as a parent doesn't feel that cleanliness is necessary doesn't mean that pediatricians or US society also have a casual view of this. Because a nightly bath is an easy ritual to keep oneself clean, groomed, and cut down on flu and related germs, I plan to use it forever.

Because of allergies, when I mow my lawn or do any amount of work on my yard, I take a second shower at night. There is positively nothing bad that ever happened to me by keeping cleaner than my friends as a child. I'm really surprised why the anti-bath factions always pop up here. I see no advantage other than an extra 10 minutes of time at night. do you skip brushing and flossing too?

Posted by: DCer | November 5, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

DD age 6 goes to bed normally around 8 pm. She has a full day of kindergarten, after care, and she is full of energy. Even if
she goes to bed at 8:30 pm she is more cranky the next day.

She actually went to bed at 5 pm last night but I think she was getting used to the time change. She never did well with the time change when she was little.

I hope she sleeps well when we take our first mini child free vacation to Florida. Wish us luck.

Posted by: shdd | November 5, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Hi Londonmom - Ugh, some people just don't get it that your life can be balanced and still frenetic, and that there are times in your life that you just wont' be balanced, and that's okay, too. But anyway...
what about reading books in the bathtub? There are fun plastic bathtub books (my daughter's fave these days is Elmo much to my chagrin), but that could be a way of making the most of your time. Then a couple minutes of snuggling up with kiddo wrapped like a burrito in his/her towel. Just some thoughts.
All the best,
Mama

Posted by: To Londonmom | November 5, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

"There is positively nothing bad that ever happened to me by keeping cleaner than my friends as a child. I'm really surprised why the anti-bath factions always pop up here."

I don't think it's so much an anti-bath faction as a "lighten up, DCer" faction. I would really hate to be your friend or for my children to know yours - you'd constantly be looking for dirt under fingernails or magic marker on hands or the slightest little offending odor, and then you would likely mock me or my children.

You know "dozens of children"? Wow, congratulations!!! How long have you been a parent, 6 months?

None of my children have ever been mocked because they're dirty (because they're not, but also maybe because they don't know your children who like I said earlier, would mock them for the slightest dirt infraction.) And while I'm at it, none of them have ever been scared of a monster under the bed. Before you suggest that I visit my pediatrician perhaps you should wonder where I get my opinions - perhaps from being a hands on parent of several children for almost two decades?

I also just have to ask - since when is not shaving a "starter moustache" a sign of uncleanliness? You are really something else.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 5, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I agree completely with DandyLion, and our family operates much the same as far as "everyone goes to sleep when they're tired." The human body will self regulate itself regarding sleep and children will sleep when their bodies are ready to sleep. Getting enough exercise during the day is very beneficial in getting a good night's sleep; far more beneficial than making sure you're actually in your bed for 12 hours.

I have never understood the idea of putting the kids to bed just so you can have a few hours to yourself. I think it's incredibly selfish, especially if you aren't getting home until 6:00 and haven't seen the children all day. But that's just my opinion.

Regarding baths: DCer, I don't believe the poster was saying that they don't think cleanliness is important, just that you're a little OCD about it. My teen showers daily because he does tend to have greasy hair and B.O. if he doesn't, but my preschooler doesn't. I guess we just handle bathing like we do sleep; if we're dirty, we take a bath. If we're sleepy, we go to bed. Sticking to a strict schedule isn't necessarily the BETTER way to handle those things, it's just what works for most people.

Posted by: Ramona | November 5, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I wanted to say in support of DandyLion that I've seen it work fine for kids to decide when they're ready to go to sleep. They do! But in our household we have a bedtime and there's very little fuss because I go to bed at the same time. The kids aren't afraid they're missing anything. Then, since I'm a morning person, I get up early and get to have my coffee and time to read in peace before I wake the kids.
As for cleanliness standards, my skin just walks right off my body if I bathe every day in winter. Same with my kids. Some people may need to bathe daily. Some of us really can't without spending a ridiculous sum on body lotion (which we already do!)That's not anti-bath.

Posted by: anne. | November 5, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

The problem I've had with the TV in the basement is that the kids will go down there and it's easy to forget how much they are watching.

It's harder to put up with in a family common room, but the annoyance of it does cause you to monitor it more.

We have a strict no TV in bedrooms rule. Bedrooms are for dressing, reading or sleeping.

Posted by: RoseG | November 5, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Sorry this is off the original topic, but since it came up... Everybody does not need a bath a day to stay clean. Your concept of cleanliness is one of the many ways that the US wastes water. I'm sure that those in the drought stricken areas who appreciate a little less of their valuable water resource taken just because you need to be "antiseptic" at all times. The worse thing is how often we launder items. Sorry that this steps on many toes, but for instance your towels do not need to be laundered each time you use them.

Posted by: Barbara | November 5, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you Barbara! I don't launder my towels or (gasp) sheets every week. Then again, I'm the only one using them.

I dated a guy in HS who had a younger sister (4 at the time, I guess, and the only girl with three older brothers) and she needed clean pj's every night! That blew my mind. First that she had control and second that someone put that thought in her head! And I still remember that 17 years later.

Posted by: WDC 21113 | November 5, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I think it's incredibly selfish, especially if you aren't getting home until 6:00 and haven't seen the children all day. But that's just my opinion.


Is that more or less selfish than the parent who keeps a tired kid up later because they haven't seen them all day?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 5, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I absolutely agree that regular daily sleep is crucial for everyone, especially a quickly developing child and I definitely could see it being a factor in how well the body processes and deals with their metabolism.

It's yet another cultural foundation issue that says "sleep isn't the priority in life." When will we learn that siestas are blessings in life and that we need MORE sleep when we are stressed, not less. And it would be nice for there to be a little more accommodation to the non morning people of the world.

Posted by: Liz D | November 5, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Hi DCer -- Try raising a child prone to eczema, and then say you don't see any downside to frequent bathing.

Posted by: Lynne | November 5, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

"I have never understood the idea of putting the kids to bed just so you can have a few hours to yourself. I think it's incredibly selfish, especially if you aren't getting home until 6:00 and haven't seen the children all day. But that's just my opinion."

Um- I'm not putting my daughter to bed "just" so I can have a few hours to myself. Kids need to sleep- it's a biological function! That's like saying it's selfish that I feed my kid fruit even if she wants cookies. My daughter sees me *plenty* during the day (she doesn't go to daycare). She needs to go to bed early, and as a (great) perk, I still get to spend some time alone with my husband. If that earns me the "selfish" label, I'll take it!

Posted by: floof | November 5, 2007 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I recall watching / hearing (TV or radio) something about research being done on baby lambs, and that the baby lamb grew some cm's during sleep; I cannot recall if it was implying that *more than* enough sleep effects this though. But their point was that sleep is when the body regenerates and grows.

I was into bodybuilding (hobby level) a while back, and reading materials also advocated sleep, for the same re-generative reasons. On nights when I did get more than enough sleep, muscle soreness went away quicker than usual.

My soon-to-be 3 yr old girl is above average height, and she gets plenty of sleep day and night. I am aware of genetics, but I would like to think that sleep is the reason why she is both physically and mentally healthy.

My pediatric sister also grunted at me once, when we were considering waking my little one just because it was milky time. "Let them sleep; if they are hungry they will wake."

http://www.daddeeyah.com/

Posted by: JLow | November 5, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Thankfully, we have been blessed with a mostly-good sleeper since infancy. We did do some "cry it out" at some point early on (not too early) and we have all reaped the benefits. My daughter goes to sleep quickly when we put her to bed (or down for a nap, which she still does at 3 years old) and she sleeps straight through for about 12 hours. She is well-rested and we are too.

I truly believe that learning to soothe herself early on and put herself to sleep was/is an important life skill. I've never fallen asleep easily (although I'm getting better at it) and I don't sleep as long or as well as my daughter does.

We try hard to stick to a schedule as far as sleep is involved - obviously there are special circumstances when we travel and on other special days (like holidays) but we try to be consistent.

We see/know a lot of people who seem to fly by the seat of their pants as far as sleep and bedtime is concerned and then they wonder why their kids are fussy and hard to control. (Mine can be hard to control too, but for different reasons!) I've never understood people who blow off naptime, or assume that their kids can just nap on the run, in the car, or whatever. I think in the long run it does them a disservice.

Posted by: viennamom | November 6, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Hi DCer -- Try raising a child prone to eczema, and then say you don't see any downside to frequent bathing.
-----

OUCH! Point taken. Certainly there are medical reasons why soap or certain soaps are a bad idea.

I'm dealing with this nice little kid in my son's class whose clothes aren't clean and whose hair is greasy and the other kids know.

Posted by: DCer | November 6, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"I'm dealing with this nice little kid in my son's class whose clothes aren't clean and whose hair is greasy and the other kids know."

Fine - but he didn't get that way because he only bathed every other or every third night.


Posted by: Anonymous | November 6, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"Um- I'm not putting my daughter to bed "just" so I can have a few hours to myself. Kids need to sleep- it's a biological function! That's like saying it's selfish that I feed my kid fruit even if she wants cookies. My daughter sees me *plenty* during the day (she doesn't go to daycare). She needs to go to bed early, and as a (great) perk, I still get to spend some time alone with my husband. If that earns me the "selfish" label, I'll take it!"

Maybe YOU'RE not putting your child to bed just to have time alone, but plenty of people, including the person who posted this below, do:

"I am a big bed-time freak. Maybe I am selfish, but I *like* having some quiet time alone with my husband after the kiddo goes to bed. I love my daughter's early bedtime, and won't be moving it later anytime soon! I don't love the early wake-up calls, but I'd rather get up early than give up the time to myself in the evenings."

I don't see any mention of it being a "perk" that she gets time with her husband, but the main or only reason she does it. And she even acknowledges that her daughter is getting up earlier in the morning than she would if she went to bed later, but she doesn't care.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 6, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, both those posts were mine.

What difference does it make if I choose to spend time with my DD in the morning or at night? I would just rather start my day with her earlier and be able to unwind at night when my DH is actually home. It certainly does her no harm to get up at 6:30- it's not like it's 4:00. I myself go to bed by 9- we're just a house of earlybirds.

Plus, she has always been an kid who needs to go to bed early. I could *try* to force the bedtime later, but considering how miserable she has been since the time change (and I have still only been able to push the bedtime back to 6), I don't think it would be wise.

I just find it kind of amusing that bedtime has become something in need of defense.

Posted by: reston, va | November 6, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"I just find it kind of amusing that bedtime has become something in need of defense. "

It's not something in need of defense. But children who are forced adhere to strict bedtimes from infancy never have a chance to develop their own schedule of sleeping when their bodies say "sleep." And they end up being completely inflexible so that their families can't do something in the evening that lasts past 6:30 because they need to get home and start the bedtime routine, and when they do try it they're a complete mess because they can't adapt to change. And then when they get to elementary school their parents complain about the activities in the evenings - the school programs and carnivals and family fun nights and what have you - that start at 7:00 p.m., and say "our family can't participate in this because my children go to bed at 7:30, and the rest of you are just crazy heathens for DARING to keep your children out that late."

Posted by: Anonymous | November 6, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

"But children who are forced adhere to strict bedtimes from infancy never have a chance to develop their own schedule of sleeping when their bodies say "sleep.""

I am going to disagree with this- most of the kids I know with early bedtimes (including mine) have them because they get tired early. My dd goes to bed at 6:30, and is usually begging to get into the crib then. I actually feel like I am keeping her up too late a good bit of the time- she would go right to sleep at 5:30 if I put her down then, but that's too early even for us since she would never see her dad during the week.

Some kids are just more flexible about bedtime than others. I never was- I need my sleep and always have. DD is much the same- we let her stay up late from time to time, but it never works out well because she is just way too tired.

Posted by: reston, va | November 7, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

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