02 October 2010

it's not fair

One of my children thinks a lot of things are not fair.  I often have to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "life's not fair!"

He does not like to have limitations put on him.  He wants a lot of freedom.  Lately the complaining centers on the afternoon and evening routines.  We have always had pretty early "in bed" times.  The three older boys share a room, so we like them to all get in bed at the same time.  With ages 12, 9 1/2 and 6, the lights out times vary quite a bit, they end up with a lot of reading time, which they enjoy, but the 9 year old frets over the fact that he has to get in bed earlier than his friends.  When the weather is nice, time permitting, the boys can go outside after dinner and get into bed a bit later, but there are lots of times when we start the bedtime routine not long after dinner.

We endure a lot of whining over these nights especially.  We've tried predictable consequences, but the debate continues.  So, I decided to ask him what he envisions as the ideal afternoon and evening routine.

Our standard routine goes like this:

Boys get home from school between 3:15 and 3:30.  They have a snack and play and begin homework at about 4:00.  Homework is done with little input from me.  I highly encourage the boys to do their work independently.  I help when asked but each boy has his personal working space and Harold is encouraged to play quietly or watch a dvd at this time.  I usually fold laundry or work on dinner during homework time.

They finish their homework, tidy up a little, and then play until dinner is ready.  We usually eat dinner around 5:30 or 6:00.  After dinner, if everything has gone smoothly during the day, the boys can go outside to play or have dessert outside.  We have them come inside to get ready for bed at 7ish on school nights, later on the weekends.  Lights out is 8:00 for the 6 year old, 9:00 for the 9 year old and around 9:30 for the 12 year old.

We are flexible, though.  If someone is having trouble falling asleep, they are free to keep reading until they feel sleepy.

Mr. It's Not Fair proposed this routine:
Come home from school, play until dinner.  Do homework after dinner, then go outside until 8:00.  Shower, get ready for bed, lights out at 9:00.

I am pretty confident that he will see that this is not a feasible routine.  If he waits to do homework until after dinner, I might be too busy cleaning up and getting my youngest son into bed to give help if he needs it.  Also, it is not likely he will have time to go outside after his homework is finished, especially since the sun is setting earlier these days.

I think the freedom to try his own routine will give my son some piece of mind.  I see compromise in our future.

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