All around me are moms and families that get their kids in bed by 8. Some by 8:30. These people somehow manage to get their one or two preschoolers fed, bathed, and into bed by 9 at the latest. Me. Not so much. I find the concept of this goal to be nearly unattainable. While at the same time realizing that I must MAKE it a daily practice.
Until recently, my kids went to bed when I did. They went to bed when either one of them had a meltdown or I got tired. There was very little bedtime battle. While we did not have a schedule, we DO have a routine. That routine ends up either watching a calming tv show (ala Little Bear) or reading and then lights out and some classical music or natural sounds. Together. Me and my two kids. In my bed. And this worked for us. No one was cranky at night. No real meltdowns in the mornings at school. Until there were.
Very suddenly, my 5 1/2yo started having meltdowns in the morning. The kind you expect at 2 or 3 but certainly not at 5. After several mornings like this and her telling her teacher she was "exhausted" I decided it was time to get a bit more serious about bedtime. This, for me is a challenge.
I'm not a very rule oriented mom. My kids clearly live in my house and they play with pretty much everything that won't hurt or kill them. Their toys are in every room--including the bathroom. Their clothes are everywhere and every single DVR is nearly full w/ kids shows. Oh, and yes, I let my kids watch plenty of tv. I've heard its bad for them, but I just don't see it. In many respects I've lost control of my house and turned it over to my kids. And my kids are the center of our house: we play circle time, sing their songs, and dance through the house at their whim, for the most part.
A lot of people disapprove of this. "Kids need structure" they say. "Kids need rules" others warn. Letting them sleep with you will stifle their independence. or the best one is "You're not doing your job as a mom". I beg to differ.
My kids are very respectful. I make sure of it. They have excellent manners--all their teachers tell me so. And academically, they are at least a year ahead of their peers. My kids are 4 & 5. They've both been reading for over a year--not memorizing, but reading. Sounding out words. My kids eat fast-food only rarely. Hell, they've only recently been to 7-11 for a slurpee. They ask for broccoli and salads and drink water without a fight. They're sweet, funny, and yes, independent.
So, yes, structure is good. Schedules are good. And keeping up with what the parenting experts are saying....also good. But creating rules and enforcing them just because.......well, I'm just not that mom.