Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Mythbusters: early risers

There seems to be this mistaken belief out there that all parents with young children are up and about at the crack of dawn. This wouldn't bother me at all except for the fact that some people with this assumption feel perfectly fine about dropping in unannounced before 9am, or even 8am! I have even had phone calls before 7am because they figured I'd be up and about "with all those children".

Sleep is a contentious issue for most families with young children and I have met no two families with the same approach. Sleep patterns are adjusted around work, social events, parenting style, teething, illness, bad dreams and personality. In our family the standard is kids in bed by 8pm and we USUALLY don't hear from them again until 7:30-8am. They know they are allowed to play (preferably quietly!) in their room in the morning but they must not leave their room until they are told they are allowed to unless it is for the toilet or to knock on our bedroom door and speak to us. The fact that none of us are morning people means that if we have been out late the night before and have no pressing need to get up, we have been known to sleep in until 9am or even later! Especially if we have had a restless night for some reason.

Even if we are bang on routine, and I have "risen while it is still dark" like the proverbs 31 woman, there are some mornings I simply don't make it out of my PJ's until after 10am. When I was in the habit of getting up between 5 and 6am, I often put off getting dressed immediately so I could slip back into bed and give Beloved a cuddle with his morning coffee. If I have had a crisis like urgent nappy leakage to deal with first up, getting dressed slips down on the list of priorities. Now I am rarely dressed up to the nines, but I do not consider my night attire appropriate for receiving visitors! Of course I am not going to turn anyone away because I am not dressed appropriately, but I would prefer non-urgent visits were put off until a decent hour! I had a neighbour who had a habit of sending her young teenage sons around with messages or questions before 9am (sometimes even before 8am) which was EXTREMELY embarrassing for the poor lads and myself. I would have preferred she pop over herself or call, but never got up the guts to mention it to her. The thing is a part of me feels I SHOULD be up and dressed and have the housework done by 4am, however irrational that is.

Even families who DO get up and going early are often very busy during the fringe hours of morning and evening, preparing for the transition between day and night. If you do not know a family's routine, in my opinion, the polite thing to do is leave phone calls until after 8am and unannounced visits until after 9am (10am if you are visiting me!). Be sensitive to the fact that mornings are a very busy time in most households. I often have a phone tucked under my ear while I do morning chores and chat to my Mum or a friend but not everyone is as adaptable.

The conclusion is all families are different! I am not going to tar and feather anyone who breaks the 'rules' however, like most others, I appreciate people being sensitive to my family's needs.

Don't assume you know, be open to learn what is.

Myth: Busted!

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