Saturday, April 07, 2007

Schedule Slaves

Not So Little Sister posted a minor whine a while back about friends who had a small child and how impossible it was to schedule a time to see them because of their devotion to their child's schedule. I sat on my hands for a while, and then finally felt compelled to admit that we are TOTAL slaves to the children's schedules. It is less obvious now that they don't nap, but there was a point in time that there were only about three hours a day when I was willing to actually see people. Generally between 3 and 6pm, and only at our house or someplace really close by to try and keep someone from falling asleep in the car.

I am absolutely and totally completely sure that all most of our friends (including those with kids) thought we were certifiable. But when one has lousy sleepers, which I do, the thought of doing ANYTHING that might cause them to sleep even less than they usually do gives one panic attacks of massive proportions. Because if they don't sleep when they are supposed to sleep, they won't make it up for days.

Unlike most children (and grownups), if my children stay up late they won't sleep in a little bit the next day. Instead they will get up at their usual time (best case scenario) or (worst case scenario) they will get up even earlier. Which means that they will spend the next day flipping out over the minor things in life like the fact that the purple cup is in the dishwasher, or the fact that their sock is on slightly askew. Then, come bedtime, they are so overtired they can't fall asleep. Or, if by some miracle they DO fall asleep on time, they then wake up seven times in the middle of the night screaming bloody murder. And this vicious little cycle continues for days, until finally their bodies give in and they either fall asleep in the car or in front of the TV and catch up a bit.

After having experienced this little cycle a few times, M and I quickly became slaves to the schedule. Because we really couldn't think of an event that was worthy of such painful and horrific torture. Especially once there were TWO children in the mix. The kids go to bed at 7pm, 8pm if there is something REALLY special going on, like New Years Eve or my cousin's wedding. We even plan our (few and far between) airplane rides around the sleep schedule rather than the cheapest fare. Because the price we pay for flights that get us in before 4pm is well worth the sanity involved in getting the kids settled and in bed at 7pm.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that last night we had some old friends over for a get together. Since it was at our house, I figured that at 7, 7:30 my children would begin to get tired, head upstairs and go to sleep. Because that was what happened at New Years, which was not so long ago. But 7pm came and went and they were going strong. "Ah well," I thought. "8pm is doable." 8pm came and went and they were going strong. M and I were having fun, our friends were having fun, and we had not had to intervene with the seven children trashing our playroom for over three hours. I looked at my watch, looked at my glass of wine and my tushie firmly planted on the kitchen stool, and internally shrugged. "Ah well, they are older now, they have been sleeping better, I bet that they will go to sleep any minute now and then sleep in just a little."

At 9:30pm, A finally asked to go to bed. At 10:15pm, C finally headed up to bed. At 11pm, we finally headed up to bed. And if you think this story has a happy ending, well, that remains to be seen. But my children were up at 6:30am this morning. So you do the math. But for once, I can say that the fun that was had was worth the pain that we may suffer today.