“WHEN WILL THEY SLEEP!?!?”
I distinctly recall practically weeping this desperate statement out loud to my fellow infant playgroup moms circa 1999. Bone tired, with eyeballs barely able to focus on the clasp of my nursing bra, I remember the sheer exhaustion being so deep that I wondered if the lack of sleep would end me one day!
None of my babies and toddlers slept all night, and when they finally did, their wake-up times hovered somewhere between 5-6 a.m., seven days a week, for years!
Flash forward about two decades; I’ve been awake for a solid seven hours and have yet to hear one of my teenagers even stir. Turns out “When will they sleep” ends up being, “When will they wake up!”
Remember when your newborn first slept a long stretch, and you would tiptoe in there to see if they were still breathing? Yeah, with my first long slumbering teen, I found myself doing that one day because how on earth does one human sleep for 16 hours straight!?!
When my first teen slept late every day, I became angry
With him, I also became ridiculously rage-y when he slept deep into the afternoons. I was furious that he seemingly had put the entire household on his nocturnal schedule. For example, if I wanted everyone to eat dinner together, that meant moving our normal dining time from around 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
My kitchen slowly turned into an all-night diner, with blenders whizzing and air fryers crackling well after midnight, so when I stumbled in for coffee at dawn, the place looked like raccoons had filmed an episode of Chopped. To say those selfish, marathon-sleeping teenagers made me a wee bit angry was an understatement.
I’m now on my last teen at home, and years of wisdom have permitted me to release all that sleeping in rage for sleeping-in gratitude. I am no longer angry, raging, annoyed, or feeling disrespected by my teenagers’ summer schedules. The sleeping-in battles have long since been surrendered, somewhat like the “wearing a jacket when it’s 30 degrees out” battles.
They’ve gone to join other disagreements in the “This is not a fight I want to have or one that will change anything” graveyard. I regret all the ridiculous fights I had about sleeping in with my first teenagers, senseless drama that in no way did either of us any good, and I find myself telling younger moms that one of the most important parenting skills to learn during the teen years is what battles are worth having and which ones are not. And lazy summer days that transform our teens into bats? This is why you need to let that go.
Let your teens sleep late in the summer.
1. Sixteen-hour sleep marathons are a phase.
Yes, like every other annoying childhood phase, your teens rolling out of bed at 2 p.m. is most certainly a phase and will not last forever.
2. They just need sleep. Period.
During a typical school day, your teens probably bank around 5-6 hours of sleep a night. This is the result of very full days of school and extracurriculars, combined with body clocks that don’t find their mojo ’til around 10 at night yet have to rise at 6 in the morning.
Adolescent body clocks are a mystery wrapped in an enigma and probably wrapped in a down comforter swallowing your kid right now. If they require serious sleep deposits during the summer because of growth spurts, brain development, or hormones, well, just don’t try to understand it. See #1.
3. They also need to eat in the middle of the night.
I used to wonder why my sons needed another dinner just a few hours after they had actual dinner. The summer my son grew a mustache, three shoe sizes, and a voice like James Earl Jones taught me that there could never be enough caloric intake in June, July, and August. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. That’s the name of the summer game. Don’t fight it.
4. It doesn’t mean they won’t be able to wake up for a real job one day.
I just assumed that my sleeping sons would spend eternity on my couch, snoozing until 3 every day, addicted to YouTube. Then one morning, one of them called me at 6:15 a.m. just to chat after he had run five miles and was headed to work. See? Told ya it was just a phase.
5. You asked for this, now enjoy it.
You wondered when they would sleep in? It’s NOW. So just relax and make another pot of coffee, settle into some bad reality television, enjoy the peace, and don’t waste your day wishing (or fighting) that they would wake up. Let sleeping dogs and teens lie.
Life, and all of its horrendous alarm clocks of responsibility, will be coming after them soon enough. A few precious months of slumber is sometimes just what they need. And you, too.
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