Let your children sleep!
I have said it before and I will say it again. And again. And again as it bears repeating. Your child’s – or children’s – sleep (and daily schedule) is far more important than your social life.
Period. End of story.
One of my biggest pet peeves is a parent who intentionally takes their child or children out to a restaurant for dinner when it is well past their bedtime. Recently my wife and I put our son down to sleep and went out for dinner (yes, there was adult supervision while we were out) after he was asleep. We did not drag him out to dinner when he should have been sleeping. Yet, we were sitting at the table and a mother walks in carrying her child while her child slept on her shoulder. She apologized to her friends for being late but her daughter did not wake up when she wanted her to so she just brought her along anyway.
There were so many things wrong with that scenario that my head began to spin. Our children need sleep. Studies have shown that they should be sleeping 12 to 18 hours a day depending on their age. This does not mean that they should be sleeping on your shoulder while you are out to dinner to then wake up in an unfamiliar place simply because your parent wanted to have dinner with friends.
Let your child sleep. I implore you. It is not good for them and the next day it will certainly not be good for you as they will be tired, cranky and altogether irritable. Just so you could have dinner with your friends? Not worth it.
Your activities should no longer revolve around you but rather your child and their sleep and meal schedule. If that is not something you want to accommodate, then do not become a parent.
Accept that you are responsible for the care and well-being of your child and that includes their sleep.
There are plenty of activities and gatherings and events that my wife and I have to decline because they do not fit into our son’s schedule. It happens. It is not the end of the world. When appropriate, we get a sitter or have someone watch him. But we do not forego his sleep schedule and bedtime routine simply for a dinner with friends. Yes, our friends give us grief and say bring him along because they do it or used to do it to their children. But we decline politely and say that is not our style. Our son comes first every single time, no matter how large or small the matter is and that most certainly includes his sleep.
This article was originally published on This Daddy’s Life and has been re-published with permission.