One of the great joys of life learning, in my opinion, is the ability to sleep – or not – without worrying about it making you late if you slept too long, or of not being able to focus on some all important- your life will be nothing without this knowledge- kind of lesson or class if you didn’t sleep enough. In our family, the four of us have varying sleep schedules, which would never, ever work if we all had to wake up, eat breakfast and then get out the door at the same time every morning.
For instance: My husband’s current schedule means that he usually goes to bed long before the kids and I do, then wakes in the middle of the night (even if it’s 5 or 6 am, it’s the middle of the night for us) to go to our store to work before it opens for business. Since he is a light sleeper, I can be found on a memory foam mattress on the floor in Maya’s room, so that I don’t wake him when I wander in to bed at around midnight, and he does not wake me when he leaves somewhere between 4-6 am. People are often anywhere from slightly to grossly appalled when I relate this to them, but in my mind, what is better; two well-rested, cheerful individuals who enjoy their waking hours together and with their kids or two adults who were jolted out of their sleep in the night, resulting in short tempers and general grumpiness all day? We do what works for everyone, and we are all happier for it.
As for my kids, they go to their rooms at around 9:30 (or 10pm on Biggest Loser night). Ben is usually asleep between 10 & 10:30, then wakes up anywhere from 7am-8:30am. He gets up, sometimes makes himself breakfast, and plays until Maya and I appear. Right now my Mom is here and she is on about the same sleep schedule as Ben, so they are roomies and enjoying the early mornings together.
Maya and I stay up late. I will be out in the living room until almost midnight, writing or watching something on line while she reads or works on the computer in her room. When I go to bed, we both read until I say I’m stopping, usually around 12:30am. She goes to the bathroom, says good-night, climbs in her bed and it’s lights out. Then we sleep till we wake up, which is usually 9:10am for me, although last Saturday it was rainy and dark outside and unusually quiet in our building due to the Easter holiday, and I didn’t open my eyes until 10am!
I think the pleasure of being able to sleep when you want to, uninterrupted, is a great gift of life learning. My kids never lack for energy during the day – they hardly ever yawn or have a kind of ‘sinking spell’ in the afternoon. My husband can sleep on a schedule that benefits his work and our lives, and so can I.
The variety of sleep schedules in our house is just another example of how life learning doesn’t program you through ‘have to’s’, but only exists in a ‘whatever works’ realm of thinking. This does not mean my kids cannot ever wake up early. If we are traveling anywhere, they are up and ready to go even if it means waking at 5am. Yesterday they both chose to get up at 7:30 due to Easter and its’ promise of candy and gifts. If there is good motivation to wake early, they do.
There are many, many reasons we chose to learn outside of school. Sleep is only one of them, but it’s one I enjoy most.