We Are Both Right

Our Two Cents: Advice for a Mom Who Needs Some Rest

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Do your kids have a different bedtime in the summertime? ©hoefi/stock.xchng

Dear Suzanne and Amanda:

I’m tired. Oh so tired. It’s summer obviously, and to my kids and my husband, among other things, that means everyone gets to stay up later. Lovely! Fabulous! Except it isn’t so much and I’m the mean one.

I love my kids (ages 7 and 10) and I’m glad they are home all day (I’m a stay-at-home mom), but I need a break. It used to be I got it at 9 p.m. after they had all gone to bed. Now they are both convinced that since they don’t need to wake up in the morning they can stay up as late as they like.

They have the backing of my husband who is glad to spend some “real time” with them. He works until 7:30 p.m. or so and usually doesn’t get home until after 8. During the school year he would only see them for an hour or so, now they have the whole evening together. And that’s great. But I am with them all day and I need some time for myself. Not to mention, I’m not really crazy about them sleeping in until 10 or 11 every morning.

I need a break, but how do I get it without being the scrooge who stole summer?

–ZZZZZZZZ

Amanda: Easy. You take it.

It sounds to me like you don’t begrudge your husband time with his kids. So give it to him. At 9 p.m., or whatever time it is you choose, announce that mom is done for the day. And mean it. Head into your room and go to sleep, catch up on your DVR viewing in the family room, go out for a drink with a friend. But whatever you do, don’t be a mom. Don’t unload the dishes, don’t make a snack for your daughter, don’t take the dog for a walk. Take your break and let the rest of your family fend for themselves.

Sound mean? Hardly. It’s just for a few hours every night and it’s not like you can’t put your “mom” hat back on in an instant if you need (or want to). Explain to everyone what you just told us. That you are working long, hard days and while you love your family very, very much, you need a break at the end of the day, a chance to unwind. And who knows, you may decide that you want to join dad and the kids in playing Monopoly or watching a movie or whatever it is they are doing until the wee small hours of the morning.

The one thing I would be firm on is the morning wake up time. It is summer, so I do give my kids a bit of a break in terms of not turning on the alarm clock. But I make them get up by 10 a.m. the latest and if they choose to sleep in that long, they don’t get to watch television until after dinner. It’s easy to whittle away the long summer days, but I know I don’t want my kids sitting on the couch or in bed all day, I’m afraid it will mess up their internal clocks too much. And if by chance we do have something to do that requires an early wake-up in the morning, I do make them go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Good luck! Enjoy your not-mommy time.

Suzanne: Ah, the curse of summer. Everyone is so happy to be footloose and fancy-free but at the same time you get robbed of any me-time you might have carved out during the rest of the year.

If you can’t get the family’s understanding that you are home but off-duty, then maybe you should find an evening summer course — tennis, book club, or yoga — that gives you some “scheduled” time away. Or, suggest to your husband that he take the kids to the ball field or playground after dinner, and tucker them out so they come home ready to climb into bed.

As for them sleeping in, why don’t you consider those extra hours a chance to fit in some bonus time for yourself? Read a book, do your nails, sit outside with your coffee. Take a slow start to your day and you could find yourself in sync with the rest of the crew, ready to enjoy a late summer evening together.

Just look at it this way — it’s really only for a few weeks. Soon enough you will be shopping for marble notebooks and glue sticks, and then it’s back to your regularly scheduled programming.

******************************

What is your advice to our poor, tired mom? (Whisper, I think she might be asleep.) Do your kids have a different bedtime in the summer?

And if you need advice x 2, send us a note at advice@wearebothright.com.