Wednesday, March 30, 2011
What time is bedtime for kids?
Another friend of mine is from Pakistan. She's been in Canada for a year and a half and really has a difficult time with the Western notion of bedtimes for children. In her culture supper before 8pm is considered early (we eat at 6pm in our house) and generally bedtime is closer to 10:00. She has adjusted somewhat for the sake of her 6 year old son for school (feeding him dinner at 8:30 and then putting him to bed), but the idea of eating earlier and putting your children to bed earlier really takes her back.
Similarly, I babysit a child whose parents have immigrated here from Romania. The mother was telling me that she was so happy that she got her son to sleep at 9:30 the night before (he's 2). She is finding it difficult to wake him at 7 in the morning. 9:30! I thought. Oh my goodness, I couldn't fathom having my kids up that late. 9:30 for me is my time to visit with my husband and relax before I go to bed. You should have seen the look on her face when I told her my kids' bedtimes. She was floored. She grew up watching bedtime stories on TV during the 9:00 hour and the notion of putting her child to bed before 9pm is inconceivable to her.
Another child I babysit has parents from Iran. On his child profile sheet the bedtime is listed as anywhere from 10pm to midnight. Wow! Again, I think it is a cultural thing. They are having a difficult time waking him up on his daycare days because they are so used to sleeping until 11am/noon. Getting up to go to classes and have him at daycare for 9am is a stretch.
This all triggered a memory of an ex-student of mine years ago. He was in grade 1 and was really grumpy and having behavior issues in the classroom. I met with his parents to talk about it. On a hunch, I asked about his bedtime. Their answer was, "oh, 10, 10:30" This child's family was from India originally. This particular school started at 8:25am. I suggested that they try putting him to bed at 8:30 at the latest just to see what happens. They did. The improvement in his behavior at school was remarkable. You wouldn't believe it was the same child. Here I am so many years later just learning why his bedtime had originally been so late, it was their culture to do so.
I don't know about you, but I find this all fascinating. Here in Canada we have based our work days and school calendars on the old agrarian schedule. Up at dawn and meals at 7, noon and 5 (or thereabouts). We are also a country now that is truly made up of so many different cultures. Bedtime is just one aspect of this that shows where we come from.