Jill Spivack: When we talk about marriage and relationships in my parenting groups, it's always fascinating to see that the parents whose kids go to sleep at a reasonable hour ... 7-8 PM ... seem to be happier and more fulfilled than those whose kids are up til 11:00 PM.
When kids go to sleep too late, parents simply don't have any time to refuel themselves or their relationships. It seems as though they're parenting 24 hours a day and once the kids are asleep, the parents just conk out themselves. Too often, parents think they're doing their children a service by allowing them to do what they want in the bedtime arena. However, ultimately, if mom and dad fall apart, the children are the ones to ultimately suffer.
A happy parental marriage is one of the highest indicators of ultimate happiness in children. Without sleep, parents feel cranky with their children, with one another and resentful of the parental duties they're expected to perform day after day. They bicker over the simplest things, stop feeling connected and very often are too exhausted to have sex.
Bottom line ... sleep deprivation can bring out the worst in everyone in the family. If the kids go to sleep early, you have time to reconnect with yourself and your spouse which ultimately creates balance and harmony for everyone.
|Jill Spivack, MSW, author of "The Sleepeasy Solution" and co-founder of Sleepy Planet Inc., is a psychotherapist and mother of two.|