We are, generally, pretty big believers in maintaining routine with our girl. Some friends and family have said (with words or with eye-rolling) that we seem a bit inflexible. When bedtime hits, we head home. Of course there are exceptions and special occasions, but we have learned through a series of parental experiments and hypotheses that our girl does best when well rested. And she rests bests when she does so in a consistent manner. She has been this way since about 4 months old and continues to be this way. Haters can eye-roll all day long, but a happy, rested child who sleeps when she is tired keeps our anxiety levels at a managable level. Unless said haters are going to come hang out with us at 5am when she wakes up cranky or after breakfast when she is so tired she is smacking her own face, we are not concerned with their input.

Will our next child be this way, or will he/she be a flexible wisp in the wind of life who falls asleep just anywhere and feels rested regardless? Something tells me no, but who can say. Whatever traits that person exhibits, we will do our best to accommodate within reason. Maybe that is our sleep strategy motto? “Dave and Lane, parents who will accommodate you within reason!” It’s catchy, no?

In Japan our child’s ‘schedule’ makes us a source of curiousity. No one quite understands why we have to leave or why we don’t just put her to sleep on any old soft surface when she gets tired. They are polite about it, but you know this is one of those moments where our cultural difference is on display.

Here kids seem so flexible about the hours they keep and parents (at least those we socialize with) seem totally at peace with the chaos that brings. I recently went to a get together with several other mothers, 14 childern in total. As the clocked creeped past 7pm I started sweating. Actually sweating, like in my armpits. As the hour grew past 8, I started moving towards the door more often and checking my invisible watch, hoping my ride would get the universal language of “let’s get out of here before my kid get so tired she has to act insane just to stay awake.” When we got to 9:30pm I get the sense the other moms saw my eyes darting wildly about and my sweat was now visible. My child is one thing, but now we are encroaching on MY bedtime and I’m about to flip my shit.

No one needed to speak English to understand this vibe, so two moms gathered their crew (of 7 children total ages 1-12…SUPER casual as I frantically stuffed my one child in the van) and drove me home. During that entire evening of lovely adult chatting, delicious red wine, the blissful and ear-shattering sounds of children playing, not one of those mothers batted their eye towards the clock. My hat off to them, seriously. My child got up an hour early the next day, just to thank me for the night out.  *sigh*  And I should add that this night was TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY worth it! I ate new foods and drank and laughed with other women and my child socialized and played and laughed and made friends in a language she doesn’t understand. Worth it. For sure. But exhausting none the less.

Oh and by the way, when their kids get tired they do this. While other kids run around screaming and playing. Seriously:____________________________________________

Last night there was a festival in Nikko. We had heard about it through a friend who couldn’t really explain to us what this meant, so we visited the tourist info center and learned only that there would be fireworks. From 7pm-8pm. Our girl usually hits the hay around 7pm, so this seemed risky, but she is of an age where fireworks and crowds of families are a huge excitement! We decided to go for it.

Oh hi there GIANT CIRCLE OF DELICIOUS FOOD TENTS! No one mentioned you when they were pointing us towards the fireworks! We had just finished eating a massive supper but you know this child is ours because as soon as she smelled frying food she yelled “I HUNGRY!” No honey, you’re not. But I know what you mean. Let’s eat.

Dave got chicken. We went for churros. YES CHURROS. Rule of life: if you are in Japan and churros are being sold, buy them and eat them immediately. There was cotton candy, okonomiyaki, yaki soba, pineapple skewers, candied apples, and beer. Because eating like this makes you thirsty.

We walked around and took in the smells and the sounds and our little blue-eyed monster made friend with strangers. And by the time her bedtime crept around we could both see the signs. Rubbing her eyes, grabbing her ears, laying down for no apparent reason. Having an outing is fun, but this little spark plug is getting tired and we have to respect her wishes. Does the baby in this picture look happy to be awake?

We stayed for a few minuets of fireworks while Japanese singers covering Beatles songs blared over speakers. Our girl yelled ‘boom’ and ‘more music’ then hugged her dad’s leg and said ‘I tired…go back ‘partment.’ Japanese children around her looked wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, but our girl, she just can’t hang. She was LITERALLY asking for bed. We walked home listening to booms, watched a few more from our apartment and she was asleep by the time her head hit the pillow.

9 thoughts on “Bedtime

  1. Keeping a schedule is a must. Even in the U.S. I am surprised at how many people don’t care about schedules. The consequences are just too much the next day.

  2. I understand this. James goes to bed between 7 and 7.30 (depending on the nap situation that day) and not a second later. We are routine, people. I get you.

  3. I am so right there with you. If the routine gets out of whack, the kids get out of whack. Would have been sweating right there with you! On a side note, I’m jealous of that festival! Yum!

  4. I also totally agree! If my kids are up late, they are up early the next day. We are currently negotiating family weddings and hte idea of a late night, while filled with lots of fun and laughter, makes me anxious thinking about how early they will be up the next day. Sleep late to catch up? Not my kids!

  5. You know my pain and I know yours…My mom friends are of the all hours types and can’t figure out why we don’t meet them at the zoo at 12:30 (its nap time) or go out to dinner at 8 (bedtime is 7) or stay past 6:30 at any event (bath! DUH!). And it turns our that my kid is the least insane, most easy going, following directions and playing nicely while the tired, unscheduled kids are bananas.

    I live and die by that schedule!

  6. I live in CA and I seem to be the only schedule/routine obsessed Mom in our neighborhood! Both my daughter and I need one to survive through out the day. Your experience sounds so “un-Japanese”. My — Japan’s changed!

      1. Maybe that’s the norm now through out the world. I can’t quite imagine a schedule-less day. I often meet moms who are complaining about their little kids going to bed late, but if there was a set schedule in the first place, that wouldn’t and shouldn’t be the case. I can understand it would be more difficult when there are older siblings involved though.

        I agree wholeheartedly with Kimberly — schedules, early bed time = less moodier kids 🙂

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