Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Staying Up All Night

Today, I went out on a limb and tried to explain to a friend about our "coming around week"... and I realized that it is exactly the sort of thing that makes people think that RU is not for them. So I thought it was worth addressing.

I spent a considerable amount of time trying to keep my family on a consistent sleep/wake schedule. Not a conventional one, perhaps, but I definitely had a window of time where I thought: we should go to sleep during this time period. And a window for when everyone should be waking up. This ended up with a lot of stress for me, and everyone else. So I let it go. Totally. We sleep when we sleep. And the most interesting pattern has evolved: one week out of every month, we switch night and day, and we are staying up all night and going to sleep a bit later each day. And then after that week, we're sleeping at night again. Dh and I call it "coming around." My kids just call it staying up all night.

We're all sleeping at least 8 hours (me)
and up to 11 or 12 hours (the kids.) I'm actually getting way more sleep now. How it works is that every night, bedtime is a little later than the night before. So we have one week of getting up early, going to be early. And then the next week of the "perfect schedule" I tried so hard to make the ONLY schedule - going to bed around midnight and getting up late morning. And then we have a week where it's getting later and later, and we're up until 2, 3, 4 in the morning. By the following week, we're staying up past dawn, then to noon, and then to the late afternoon. And then that brings us back around (hence "coming around") to the first week w here we are up at 6 AM. And so on. It was so strange to find that this is how it is. It's like a revolution. (As in something that revolves, not a coup!) There is no way I could have orchestrated it For that one week where it is TOTALLY flipped, playgroups are hard to get to, if not impossible. The rest of the month we live what looks like a normal life.

This is very much something that other families would look at and think that it was absurd, ridiculous, impossible, wrong, too much work, too much laziness, whatever... but it is apparently what works for us. I wanted to share it because I spent so much time resisting it, trying to make something else work, and it was awful. I was in tears a lot, of frustration, exhaustion, resentment. But I thought that I would find "peace" and "rest" when I figured out how to make the schedule I was trying to maintain work on a permanent basis. We've "come around" in the past and it's always been in desperation because it was the Only Thing that Worked. But I felt that if I were doing things right in the first place, it wouldn't be necessary. So it had that feeling of failure attached.

I let go of all of that, and from then on we just followed our happiness. I stopped saying "It's time for bed!" and stopped placing expectations on myself and the children. I threw away the guilt and worry and shame and frustration. Now we bake brownies at 4 AM if that's what happens. And sometimes we are getting up at 6 AM and having a normal day like normal people. The reason I wanted to share this isn't to say that everyone should have this same kind of kooky schedule that doesn't make any sense. I wanted to share it because what I thought I wanted was not what I wanted. What I truly wanted was for us all to be well-rested and living in joy. Finally, after YEARS of struggling with how I thought that was supposed to happen, I released control on it, and what worked out was EXACTLY what everyone needed. As my kids get older, this all might change. These nights of staying up until dawn might be just a memory. But for right now, it's our reality, and it's what works for us.

I encourage everyone to take whatever it is that they are
struggling with the most, and just Let It Go. Release it. Stop fighting... and I think you will be so unbelievably blessed by the results. Joy follows.

No More Rules!!

Interesting development here... the "No Rules" episode of Gullah Gullah island came on again last night. I described the show here http://undonemama. blogspot. com/2008/ 04/world- without-rules. html
- long story short, the parents agree to do away with the rules.

Watching it, Mermaid says, "Mom, they don't have any more rules, and no more chores! That would be GREAT!" - very excited. She then asked me if we could get rid of the rules and chores.

I blinked at her for a second, because for the life of me, I couldn't think of a single rule they have to follow or chore they have to do. So obviously, she's doing some sort of play-acting, and I should just play along...

But then I started thinking, that maybe there's more to it than just pretending.. . for the past few days, I've been suggesting that she clean her room before going outside to play. Not even all the way clean, "just pick up the Polly Pockets." Which she hasn't done, and I didn't enforce. She did go up and shove all the Polly Pockets under the bed though, and then come down and tell me she'd done it. That should have told me what was going on right there. She has bargained with me, she held up two fingers and she said, "This one is clean-up-room- then-go-outside and this one is mess-up-room- and-go-outside. " And then the latter shoved the former out of the picture and was the only one left, victorious. It was a great visual aid! LOL I wasn't enforcing it, but I did get a bit naggy.

So. Anyway. Obviously my husband and I were feeling like we had a "no rules" situation already. And obviously she was feeling like there was definitely some top-down directive going on. So we talked about rules a bit, and I told her "Sure, no more rules!"

There have been a couple of times already where Mermaid has said to me, "Remember, you said no rules." One was when I said, "If you're going outside, I need to brush your hair." So she said, "No rules, Mommy!" and I had to pause... it was something I'd honestly never thought about (and I'm not a stickler for brushed hair, but the other day they went out straggly and then their friend's mom brushed their hair and put it in ponytails. I was mortified.) But obviously it was "bossy" of me. So I said, "Okay, I don't have to brush your hair, but if you want it brushed, please let me do it and not B's mom." And she said, "Okay, I'll get the brush," and was quite amenable.

It has been interesting, that just in the last five hours there have been occasions where I didn't even register that I was "ruling".... but the children perceived it that way. Pretty eye-opening night here!