By Cheryl Bac
What to do when life gets in the wayUploaded: Oct 25, 2013
As mothers, especially new ones, we are constantly learning and walking in uncharted territory. If you read enough books and consult enough experts, you come to discover that they don't always agree (why else would there be so many different books on parenting?). I personally choose not to back my choices up with specific articles, books, and experts in this blog because this is not an advice column, but rather a blog about my experiences as a new mother. If you happen to be interested in the research on late bedtimes, I would recommend starting with two articles: are late bedtimes bad for kids? and does your child need a regular bedtime? A flexible schedule and a late bedtime are not for every parent or every child.
As a followup to my last post I wanted to share two experiences when a flexible schedule and a late bedtime were life savers for my family: our cross country move and a recent trip to the East Coast.
As anyone who has moved with young children knows, it is a huge disruption, especially when it is from coast to coast. And, like most new parents, we worried about how my son would handle the transition. Not only was my son's daily routine interrupted by packers, movers, and a long plane ride, but he also had to adapt to a new city, time zone, even a new crib. We believe that my son's flexibility helped us greatly during the move (e.g., we shifted him so he could play before the flight and ended up sleeping through most of it). And when I started looking for new parents' groups to try out, I wasn't limited by my son's schedule. We could go to activities that interested us most rather than choosing activities that occurred at set times during the day. Furthermore, my son gradually shifted to a late bedtime (it did not magically happen overnight, nor did we force it to). Because my son stayed up late, I was able to take him to family friendly events in the evening to meet new people and also learn about the area (e.g., concerts, author talks and cooking classes). And my husband and I have had to opportunity to enjoy many dinners at local restaurants both with and without my son in tow.
This cross country move was not the first nor the last time we shifted my son's bedtime. My son has flown on half a dozen trips already, all but one had a change in time zone. So we understand some of the challenges that shifting a child's bedtime entails. Our most recent flight was to the East Coast. With lots of luck and a pocketful of wisdom from others, my son did not cry on either flight, even though we left two hours later than we originally expected. Our fellow fliers, one of whom was quite wary of sitting next to a toddler, pointed out how impressed they were by my son's ability to sit quietly and not bother other passengers. Traveling with a young child always has its challenges; however, my son's flexibility and late bedtime helped us navigate through this unexpected delay. Our family, like many in the Bay Area, have relatives in different states and in different countries. Ever since we got married, it was clear that traveling was going to be a big part of my son's life (and with it, the challenges of shifting bedtime. Because of this, we'd appreciate tips and tricks you all use to reset (sometimes just temporarily) a child's bedtime (as my son doesn't understand time zones yet).
Some families do better with a set schedule and/or earlier bedtime and some do not. As a mother of a child with a flexible schedule and a late bedtime, I can assure you that my son does not control the house. However, my husband and I don't always have control of what life throws our way either. Sometimes life happens (e.g., cross country moves, flight delays, etc) and when it does, flexibility can be a great asset to have.
Finally, I appreciate all of you who have been respectful and supportive. Thank you! I expect that we will have different views and make different choices but I hope we can keep a respectful tone for readers who do have interest in the chosen topic.
What parenting choices were lifesavers for you when life got in the way?