The above picture showed up on my daughter's Instagram account the other night. It was Saturday night and we had just finished watching Risen - a movie I highly recommend. (Note: Our children 12 years and up watched it. Our two youngest, ages 9 & 10, we had watching a children's movie in another room.)
Anyway, back to the picture above.
After the movie, my husband popped some popcorn and all of us hung around for a while snacking before heading to bed. The caption on this picture was as follows:
Yes, it is after ten on a Saturday night. Yes the whole family is still up. Yes, this is a first. #saturdaynightparty #watamovieandeatpopcorn #donthavetogetupearlyforchurch #firstforeverything #thishappenswhenchickenpoxvisits
So much is told about our family in this caption and in the hashtags (which, by the way, are sending my spell-check into a tizzy). We have chicken pox in the house. In order to not expose our church family, we are staying home until everyone has them or are safe from getting them. Therefore, we actually stayed up late on a Saturday night. And there is the thing that makes us a bit odd in our culture...
For us, having our kids stay up until 10:00 on a Saturday night is late.
When I was a kid, my mom had set bedtimes for us all the way through high school. There were some rare occasions when I had a tough homework assignment due the very next day that I actually stayed up until 10:00 pm. Weekend nights, even in college, I had an 11:00 curfew.
While my kids aren't expected to go to bed as early as I was, they still have regular bedtimes at reasonable hours. The younger kids go to bed earlier than the older ones. They don't think it's fair, but that is life. If our teenagers consistently have trouble getting up in the morning, we expect them to go to bed earlier.
During the school year, our kids are to get up by 7:00 am. During the summer, most of them are up by 8/8:30. I have one who will sleep all day if I let her. I rarely let her sleep past 9:00 am.
I am amazed at the amount of families - homeschool families - that I know whose children are up until midnight or later on a regular basis, including the school year. Because they are up so late, they get up late. A lot of these kids think that getting up at 8:00 am is early, they drag themselves around until noon, and they're addicted to coffee by the time they are 16 years old.
My kids sometimes feel like they are the odd-balls going to bed so "early." During the summer, my teens are in their bedrooms by 10/10:30 and lights out within an hour of that. Their curfew's are 11:00, at the latest, on a school night if they are at a special church service and midnight, if absolutely necessary, on Friday nights. While our oldest son has some leniency in this, he still texts me if he won't be home by midnight on the weekend.
While my kids feel odd, they don't complain. They realize that we care about their health...and their reputations. Let's face it, not much good happens after 11/12:00 at night - whatever your age is. Plus, they have all learned that there is so much to do and experience during the day - especially in the summer.
My response to my daughter's post was, "This says a lot about how early we go to bed around here! That's only because we have to get up EARLY to have fun all day long!!"
This summer, we have explored parks, taken advantage of free bowling, gone to friend's houses, enjoyed beach days, etc. In order to do these things yet still get chores done and get home to have supper together as a family, we need to get up early. We play hard during the day...we are ready for bed at night and usually sleep well.
In order to get to church looking alive and ready to worship on Sunday morning, we need to get to bed early on Saturday night. In order for us to get up and read our Bibles and seek the Lord in true quiet time, we need to go to bed at a reasonable time and get up before the craziness of the day. Is it possible, that some of the weaknesses we see coming into the church stems from lack of routine, sleep, and time with God due to exhaustion? Maybe sleep affects spiritual growth. I have no science to prove it, but it is a thought.
Our three oldest kids have jobs. The two girls have to be at work, usually, by 8:00 many mornings. Because they are used to regular bedtimes, this hasn't been a hard adjustment for them. Our son works the c-shift (11pm-7am). He has to sleep during the day. He adjusted to this schedule fairly well and is able to enjoy his weekends...however, the sleep pattern has taken its toll on him in various ways. It's unnatural. The best thing for him would be regular day hours so he could sleep regular night hours. However, because he always had routine growing up, he's made a new routine for himself, which allows him enjoy his weekends and not just catch up on sleep or walk around half-dead.
I believe I am, by nature, a night owl. Even as a young girl, I had trouble falling to sleep. When I was in college and as a young married woman, I began to stay up later. Up until a few years ago, I would regularly stay up until 1:00 am and drag myself out of bed around 7:00 or 8:00 am. About a year or two ago, I began to force myself to go to bed earlier. Most nights, I head to bed around 9:30/10:00. I read for a bit and my head usually hits the pillow no later than 11:00. Some nights, like tonight, it's later; but, as a habit, I have become a person to goes to bed early and rises early. I know that if I am to exercise and spend time with God in the mornings, I need to be in bed early at night. I am up by 6:00 most mornings now and I find I get so much more accomplished, I am healthier, happier, and rested physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
So, yes...we go to bed early around here. I think Ben Franklin was on to something when he said,
Early to bed,
early to rise,
makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
In my humble opinion, I believe that is what the Lord intended.