I Always Feel Like... Somebody's Watching Me!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Parenting before noon

The same conversation keeps happening to me. When I say "happening to me" it means I'm answering questions and talking about a subject that is really a non-issue in my life. But yet, this subject comes up A LOT. It's not controversial or altogether interesting - it is the issue of what time my kids wake up in the morning (and likewise how late they stay up at night).

It's true that parents do spend a good chunk of their day contemplating mundane details of their children's lives. We care more about their lunches, outfits, playtime activities, etc. than our children do. Parents also often question whether they are making the right choices. Can I buy non-organic milk because it is affordable? (I feel just a little bit guilty every time I do...) How much television is stimulating without becoming mind numbing?

But I'm not concerned with their sleeping schedules. At all.

It is also true that parents have the distinct ability to be overly critical of other parents. Most of the people who hear that our kids sleep in just accept it as another part of life. Some are jealous. (And to those who have children who are early risers, you have my utmost respect. I've woken up early with both Ayla and Jackson - it's just not a consistent occurence. If I could choose, I wouldn't do any parenting before noon.) And some parents are overtly sarcastic and rude. If they see us out before noon, it's "Ohhh! Good morning!". They can't seem to distinguish the difference between not being able to get up early for anything or simply choosing not to. If we don't have anything pressing to attend to, why in the hell should I be bothering sleeping children at 7 am? One particular unemployed family member who happens to have the most erratic sleeping schedule on the planet, is the most persistent in bringing up this subject. I know it is mentioned with the specific intent to try to embarrass us and Gregory and I end up feeling like we have to defend ourselves.

We like the way we sleep. It fits with our lives and work schedules. Gregory and I work a combination of days and nights, which means we are home at different times than the "traditional family". On most Tuesday afternoons you can find all of us at home, lounging in our pajamas. It is one of Gregory's days off and I don't start until five. Fast forward to Friday night at 10 pm and I might not have started bath time yet. Try calling us at 8 am on a Saturday morning and I promise you'll get voice mail. Why? Because it works for us.

And for all of the people that need reasons for why I'm not rising with the sun every day, here they are:

  • No one is in school. Ayla will have preschool next year, so we are choosing to spend our time at other classes in the meantime. Dance class or swim lessons or reading hour at the library. I'm just not going to choose the earliest session. Jackson's agenda extends to walking down the street to the park - and amazingly, it's there in the afternoon as well.
  • Gregory and I have chosen to work opposite shifts to keep our kids out of daycare. Therefore, we don't have a lot of time together from day to day. Sometimes we aren't sitting in the same place until midnight after one of us returns from the closing shift at either restaurant. Other couples catch up over dinner after 5 pm. We hang out a little bit later than that.
  • I'm not a morning person and never will be. I've tried. For years, I woke up to the alarm at 5 am and worked the corporate job I hated. Now add kids to that scenario. I would be sleepwalking through life right now and I certainly wouldn't be as patient with my two lively kids.
  • Most importantly, Ayla and Jackson don't know the difference. They are still developing normally despite the fact they sleep in until 10 or 11 am. Shocking! These are precious years when they aren't overscheduled with activities and can wake up leisurely in their own home.
  • It just isn't logical to put half of our family on a different schedule. I like to get as much sleep as possible (though 8 hours seems to be the max I can achieve). If I'm not getting into bed until 2 am, why would I intentionally have my kids waking up at 7 am?
I think part of this judgemental attitude ties into the overall disdain for a non-traditional arrangement. We're not losers because we work at night and on weekends. I am not a bad mother because I need to have an outside career. Gregory is not a failure as a man because he'd rather be home making bacon and eggs. In fact, we work about half the time for the same amount of money. Set your alarm to that one!


  1. I think it's admirable that you do what you need to do to be the best parents. And, you're right, you do what you need to do to be a family, that's what's most important. I wish we could not have Spencer in daycare, but thankfully, it's only 3 days a week. This was a great post!

  2. I definitely don't judge parents who put their kids in daycare - after a certain age, I think it's actually great! But luckily we have jobs that can be flexible, that can't be said for your traditional 9-5ers.