We are having a bit of a struggle with sleep and our kids lately. Last night my husband came up with a challenge to test the situation. Here's what's going on.
Five days a week my kids have nothing to do in the morning except homeschooling. One day is homeschool co-op and the other we have church. We are enjoying the freedom of not HAVING to rise to an alarm and run out the door in a rush. However this has led to some not so great sleep situations.
Another important thing that factors into this situation is that at present due to water damage from ice dams this winter my older son's bed has moved into my younger son's room and the two are sharing a room. They have nighttime disagreements over when to shut the light off. Both kids like to read before bed but how late to stay up is the issue. Depending on the excitement of the book they are reading they have in the last six weeks both stayed up until up to two in the morning glued to the books, especially in order to finish off the books. (Older son was glued to The Hunger Games series and The Roar and The Maze Runner and younger son has been reading the Harry Potter series.)
When the kids stay up late they can't get up in the morning. If I let them sleep late (nine or ten or eleven) they can't go to sleep before ten or eleven or midnight. It is a vicious cycle. Oh, and in between if they are tired in the day they are cranky and have a horrid attitude that I have to deal with while trying to administer homeschooling lessons. It's a much different thing to have a tired kid you have to be around all day than one you wake up early and shove out the door to catch the schoolbus.
The next challege is my older son's puberty and that teenage sleeping thing. He was always a nine hour sleeper, from the day he was born. Now he seems to need 10.5 to 12 hours of sleep a night. He wakes up groggy and stumbling. He is more alert at night but he swears the alertness is not to such a good degree that evening or night can be used for academic studies.
My younger son has always been a 10.5 hour sleeper, again from the time he was born. He is still that way today. He is tough to wake up in the morning and he needs that sleep so no matter how late he goes to bed he has to have the full amount. He can also sleep through anything including noisy sounds in the house.
This weekend I hit a burnout point where I feel that I am never "off duty" due to homeschooling. I am up and ready to go in the early morning but my kids are still asleep. I am not interested in doing homeschool lessons at four or five in the evening and definately don't want to be on duty at seven or eight at night teaching my kids. I am drawing some boundaries and limits.
I decided from now on even though we have nowhere to be my kids will set an alarm and wake up at eight. Then at night they'll be tired and maybe won't fight when we tell them to go to bed at ten.
Last night at 9:30pm I explained this new policy to my kids. They instantly protested and said they were not tired and said they'd not go to sleep. They didn't want to go to the bedroom either. My husband got this idea at that moment and wanted to test it out so he said the new policy was although there are no video games on weekdays that tomorrow we'd try something. If they got up early they were allowed to play video games until 7:30. The game would go off at 7:30 and then they could shower and get dressed and homeschooling would begin. They both jumped up and ran to bed declaring they would go right to sleep so they could get up in the morning. The ten year old went right to sleep with the light on without reading and the thirteen year old read a bit then went to bed before ten.
I had asked them to set the alarm for eight o'clock. However my ten year old set the alarm for 6:10 and he woke up immediately on his own, ate breakfast and began playing video games. That son of mine is the master manipulator and this is yet another example of it. The teen slept through the alarm and continued sleeping until I forced him to get up at eight. That gives him 10.5 hours of sleep which will have to be enough.
My husband said the test showed that our younger son is full of baloney about his inability to go to sleep at an earlier time at night and about his inability to wake up in the morning. The test also shows that our teen does need a bit more sleep and that even a tempting thing like playing video games on a no-video games day is not enough to rouse him.
The cycle is going to have to shift backwards to an earlier bedtime and an earlier rising time so I can be fresh and awake when I oversee their homeschool lessons. It will also help with getting them up on time for the two morning appointments we have a week.
If you ask me rising at eight in the morning to do school is still pretty wonderful. In my town the high schoolers must catch a 6:30 bus and the elementary kids are picked up at eight. My kids may think rising at eight is an example of my husband and I being "mean" but others would say they've got it really good!
Update: I'd written the post before talking to my kids. After they were both up my husand and I spoke to them and told them it was a test. My kids didn't like that test, they wanted it to be a way of life.
Furthermore I found out that last night my kids talked with each other about what they wanted. My ten year old wanted to play a single player game and my older son gave in. They made a deal that on Monday my younger son would wake up early and play alone. So he went to bed with the lights on and my older son read until late in the night. Then the deal was that on Tuesday my older son would rise early and play a single player game.
Now they are angry that my husband is shutting down the plan as it was a one day test. They are mad at me but I have nothing to do with the plan unless I rally on behalf of my kids and extend this one day so that it can be fair to my older son to have his one morrning early.