Sleep Freedom: Bedtime’s Gone Bye Bye

We did it. We got rid of bedtime. I can’t say exactly how long it’s been, because some nights have been HARD and it feels like it’s been forever, but it’s probably been a week or two.

Why, you ask? I’ve been reading about respectful parenting and food freedom and sleep freedom for some time now, and it all made sense. But I couldn’t just give up bedtime. Up until recently, I worked after Magic Spark was in bed. That was our only reason for a mandatory bedtime–so I could work.

More recently, I accidentally stumbled across some of Roslyn Ross’ philosophies on parenting. It rang so true in my heart that I shared it with Magic Papa. Much of it rang true for him, too. We thought we were parenting respectfully already. I mean, we’ve never spanked or done time-outs or anything of that nature. No rewards or punishments, or at least that’s what we thought. But it’s hard to make kids behave with no manipulation, coercion, or trickery.

Once our eyes were opened a little more, we changed a few things. We don’t use manipulation, coercion, or trickery anymore, though we do sometimes say things and think,¬†why the hell did I just say that? And we help each other recover from things like that.

Still, I clung to bedtime. And as Magic Spark got to make more and more choices for herself, it became apparent that she was wondering what was up with bedtime. It became a struggle. I never wanted bedtime to be something unpleasant, and it was. So Magic Papa and I decided to let Magic Spark decide when to go to bed.

For many, many nights, she stayed up until at least one of us adults went to bed. She was up until after midnight a few times. She was determined to stay awake like us. And we slept in, until 10 or 11 some days.

This week, we had to get up at 7:30 a.m. a couple days in a row. (And actually, this will be our¬†routine for the next month. I’m glad, because I want to get up earlier, but I need a reason to pry myself out of that nice, warm bed in the morning.) Poor Magic Spark was so, so tired. Last night, I was in bed by 10, and she went to bed, too. She had a hard time getting up this morning, and she played hard all day. She was exhausted by the time dinner was over.

I was halfway through washing the dishes when I heard a little voice say, “I want to go to bed with you, Mama.” Music to my ears! I dropped what I was doing, Magic Papa dropped what he was doing, and we helped her get ready for bed. She was asleep before I finished her bedtime story. And it was only 7!

Now that no one’s making her go to bed, she can tell us when she’s tired and wants to go to bed. And I think pretty soon, she’ll be listening to her body more and staying up just to stay up less. Hallelujah.

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