Why I Allow My Four-year-old to Stay Up Late on Weekends

Ayden is so adorable when he is sleeping, and I find myself staring at him and kissing those cheeks of his some nights after he falls asleep, but wait a minute! Don’t I have a blog I want to get done before I turn in for the night? Yup! The truth is, though, I’m too tired to even do it! I’d rather get up early in the morning and write while I’m freshly awake, after having that cup of hot coffee first. I can think better after a good night’s sleep and will manage to get more writing done because of it. Instead of working on my next blog after Ayden goes to sleep, I work on tasks that don’t take much thought and energy, whether it’s blog- or personal-related.

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Recently, one Friday night, Ayden just didn’t want to go to bed at 8:30. He wanted to hang out with his older siblings and watch a movie downstairs with them. “Hmmmm,” I thought to myself. “He doesn’t have to go to school in the morning, and we’re not going out early, so why not?” And Larry said, “Let him stay up, it’s not going to hurt him, and he’ll just sleep later.”

“Sleep later??? Not a bad idea!” I thought. That can work to my advantage! I gave in. I let him stay up and proceeded with doing whatever it was I was doing. Back downstairs, Ayden went to snuggle up on the couch with Kaiya and watch a movie. That time with his siblings was important to him. I’m glad I allowed it to happen.

Sometimes, as parents, we must realize some things are just not that big of a deal. Ayden going to bed later on a Friday night like his siblings is not going to harm him or hinder his development. If I’m going to let him sleep until he’s ready to wake up, he will still get the sleep that he needs. And because he’s only four, he has the freedom to take a nap if he gets tired, which he doesn’t normally do on the weekends, even though he naps faithfully at school for two hours Monday through Friday.

Faithfully, on Saturday mornings around 7:00 , a little boy is standing over me while I’m in bed or flipping over my body and squeezing himself in between me and Larry and making his requests for French toast sticks and sausage. But after staying up late, that didn’t happen until about 9:00! Wow! This was great! I got to stay in bed late. Not that I was asleep and not that 9:00 is late, but it can be for parents. This was major to me! I didn’t have to go downstairs until I was ready. I just laid in bed appreciating this extra time. I can’t remember exactly what else I accomplished in those two hours, but it didn’t involve French toast or Nick, Jr.

It appears that Ayden will wake up about two hours later when he goes to bed the night before two hours later than usual. Works for us! So, every now and again, I’d have some weekends like this. I started to use it to my advantage and got some blogging done. There are times when I used that extra time to get something done in the house, take a nice long hot shower without interruptions, or enjoy a cup of coffee in peace. Once I realized how allowing Ayden to stay up late on the weekends made him feel like a big boy, he had a chance to spend quality time with his siblings, it wasn’t hurting him, I could sleep late, and I could get some stuff done, I allowed him to stay up late on some weekends.

In addition to those reasons, here are some others:

Donte, Kaiya, and Mikayla get to stay up late, making it complicated to put Ayden down to bed early. He sees them up having fun, watching TV, playing games,  laughing, talking, etc. He wants to join in on the fun and play some more. Sometimes, he just wants a little more time building with his blocks or playing with his trains. Perhaps he wants to watch endless amounts of Peppa Pig episodes on YouTube. Or simply hang with the big kids. This time with them means a lot to him because his siblings usually lock themselves up in their rooms to do homework, study, read, work on their hobbies, or do their own thing. They love Ayden and all, but during their activities, he’s usually not allowed in because the truth is they wouldn’t be able to do what they want with him in there. Though I feel for Ayden, I understand my kids, and I respect that. They have their own little lives, and it can be complicated involving a four-year-old. When the opportunity arises for him to spend more time with them, he wants to take advantage of it – I understand that now.

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He’s only allowed to stay up late on weekends because there’s no school the next day, and if we have plans, they typically don’t start until later that morning or early afternoon. He can sleep as late as he needs to, and once he’s up, he can play in a relaxed way.

Allowing him to stay up late doesn’t interfere with his sleep schedule for the upcoming week because it’s only the one or two nights that I’ve allowed him to stay up. Sunday night, it’s back to the norm.

Some might say it’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s selfish that I let a four-year-old stay up to 11:00 at night on weekends. I disagree. Selfish? Maybe a little. But it’s justified. As I said, I haven’t seen any harm done to him because of it; if anything, it does him more good. It’s doing me some good, too, because I have so much that I want to share with you all, but I need to get it all typed.

Does my plan ever backfire? Yes! I’m thinking he’ll get up at 9:00, but sometimes he’ll get up at 8:00 (so one less hour of sleep than I felt like he should have received). Instead of feeling guilty about it, I remind myself he can take a nap later or go to bed earlier to catch up on that missed hour. But that might not happen either, and that’s okay, too. The other way it can backfire is that whatever I’m doing has to be put on hold once he gets up, or it just may take me a longer time to complete because I prefer to tend to my child and make his French toast sticks and sausage, bring the toys from downstairs so he can play in my room, and answer his many why and what questions while I try to finish up some more of my writing. I’m okay with that, too. I’ll get the writing done when I can. (And when it is done, I do hope you enjoy it when I share it with you.)

This plan may not work for every family. It wasn’t something I’ve done in the past, but with having three older kids and one younger, I’m continuously learning how to make things work for us. Always remember: each family is different, and you have to do what’s best for your family. Sometimes I don’t know what’s best until I try it.

Do you let your young children stay up late at times? If so, what are your reasons? If not, do you think it would benefit your family in some way if you did?

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