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Sleep-deprived children can blame parents like me

A young sleepy boy.

A young sleepy boy. (Credit: iStock)

The TV is blaring a “Real Housewives” show of one kind or another. My son’s friend keeps calling to meet him in Minecraft. My husband’s got hours of work ahead of him but he is checking over Harrison’s homework first. The washing machine’s chugging. The pork chops are sizzling in the pan. I am emailing, Facebooking, tweeting, texting and trying to pick up dirty dishes and other Things Where They Do Not Belong.

It’s 8:45 p.m.

Eventually, the TV needs to be turned off, the post-homework Minecraft session needs to end, the lizard and fish need to be fed, the dishes need to be cleaned and put away, the clothing needs to go in the dryer, the lunches need to be packed for the next day, the child needs a bath and somehow, some way, everyone needs to settle down.

Our family’s got a sleeping problem, and apparently we’re not so uncommon. Most parents estimate in the latest National Sleep Foundation’s 2014 Sleep in America poll that children ages 6 to 10 get 8.9 hours of sleep. That’s almost perfectly in sync with my  son, who’s 10. The nonprofit recommends 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night for kids that age. (Kids who are 11 and 12 get 8.2 hours of sleep, 13- and 14-year-olds need 7.7 hours and teens 15 to 17 need 7.1 hours, according to the foundation)

You get the picture from the 2014 Sleep in the Modern Family poll: Young people aren’t getting enough sleep, which the foundation blames on electronics around bedtime, too many activities in the evening, a lack of rules and poor parent modeling.

I am guilty on all counts for not taking control, even when activities didn’t allow an early bedtime. I always thought it was silly for parents to take bedtime rituals so seriously — as a working parent to hear that others who don’t work outside the home were tucking in their kids at 7 p.m. seemed preposterous to me. When would I ever see him? After all, we were night owls at my house growing up, and we thrived.

Now I see how silly — and selfish — I was being

So each day I am trying to get our son off to sleep a little earlier, even if by a few minutes. Whatever can wait until tomorrow will wait. I hope as he catches up on sleep, I can catch up on being a better parent.

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