Sunday, April 18, 2021

Weird Bedtime Guilt


At a playground as the sun went down. The only kids out in the entire neighborhood.

The clock reads 10:06 p.m. I pull the covers up around my youngest and tell her goodnight. It's not like I've been trying to get her or her brother's into bed for hours. No, I voluntarily allowed them to stay up past their bedtime so they could watch an awards show. Bedtime has come later and later these days. Another (and their are MANY) casualty of the pandemic and quarantine. What used to be an easy 7:30 p.m. bedtime, became 8, then 8:30. Now we're sitting at a 9:00 p.m. bedtime, with one or two nights between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m.

Part of me feels guilty. Like we're doing something wrong almost. Like we're staying up late on a school night...but every night. Ridiculous, right? My minis can sleep in (nearly) as late as they'd like any day of the week. They used to wake up at 6 a.m. With the gradual later bedtime, that's now become 8:00 a.m. or later (or sometimes earlier). There's really no reason to feel an ounce of guilt. It's not like anyone is missing out on sleep or the shifting of bedtime has caused any issues.

The more I think about this weird guilt, I realize it's because I haven't fully let go of our before schedule. It's like I'm holding on to what our schedule used to be pre-pandemic with the thoughts that we'll go back to that schedule. The reality is, we won't. 

We had a schedule that most families had. Kids and parents who had to wake up for full days of school and work, running around, etc. That meant our evenings were a rushed dinner, showers, bed, and no time for much else. We simply don't have that life anymore. Our life changed, our needs changed, and our ability to not be run by a clock has changed. It's freeing (so incredibly freeing) and full of guilt at the same time. I rarely have to use the line, "get into bed or you're going to be impossible to wake up in the morning." I rarely have tired kids anymore because they aren't woken up each morning and are allowed to wake up naturally. I'm pretty sure this was my dream as a kid!

When I tell my mom friends this, I feel guilty because no one has a life like this currently. They tell me I'm lucky and don't understand the weird guilt I feel. How could then when I clearly don't understand it either? I hate guilt, which is probably why I feel uneasy as I look at the clock one more time. 10:19 p.m. and everyone is getting settled into bed. Myself included. The same time as my children. Bedtimes became a weird thing with homeschooling. Not a bad weird thing and not a bad guilt feeling either. It's just something, even an entire school year later, that I still have to get used to I guess. 

Or at least that's my conclusion at 10:56 p.m. when one kid just emerged from their room to ask me an odd question about Taylor Swift (I said we'd Google it tomorrow) and another came out for a drink of water. I foresee the weird bedtime guilt turning into bedtime frustration very soon. No matter what time bedtime is, I suppose all parents go through this bedtime dance. That likely is one thing that won't change.