Lately I’ve been having trouble sleeping. I wake up in the middle of the night (around 3-4am) and can’t get back to sleep no matter how much I toss and turn. This means that there are a lot of days where I’m walking around zombie like, surviving rather than thriving. It’s made me think about the way I go to sleep. Which is why I’m blogging  now.

If I don’t blog I know that when I wake up in the wee hours of the morning I’ll be thinking about how I haven’t blogged and what I’m going to blog about. I’ll write in my mind until I finally get up and just do it. (My last two blogs were composed thus.) So tonight I’m taking preemptive measures. I’ve paid that bill that was on my mind (thank God for internet banking) and now I’m writing, even though my eyes are heavy and black circled, and I’d like nothing more than to curl up with a big fat book in bed. (I’m currently reading Jane Austen by David Nokes. It’s a surprisingly good biography. Excellently written. Another good book I’ve read recently is the Secret Life of Bees – a must read.)

I’ve also showered hoping the hot water will tire me out further. I’ve eaten lightly and I’ve even contemplated closing all the windows so that the stuffy, oxygenless air would ensure I stay asleep. I now understand people who get stuck in a viscous cycle of sleep anxiety. I’m now one of them. And I used to be such an easy going, brick of a sleeper. Nothing could move me. Maybe it’s a post 30 thing.

It’s also made me think about the way I put my children to bed. How I set them up for their full nights rest. I’ve always read to them, and try (although I don’t always succeed) to read to each of them separately at their individual bedtimes. I’ve learnt that giving the Princes their age appropriate bed times creates unique one on one time with each of them every night. In the darkness, cuddling up to them creates an intimacy where they begin chatting. All the boyish machoism falls away. And finally, finally I get to hear about their day. The funny incidents, the things that bother them. And I’m sure if I stayed a bit longer as they beg me to (especially Prince No. 1) I’d hear about those inside things that go into diaries. It’s really special, and yet more often than not, as most parents are, I’m often too tired to sit for half an hour longer, and yet I wonder at what I’m missing out.

Even as I write this I feel an urge to run to their beds and see if they’re awake to chat. If only there wasn’t school. I find myself thinking quite often these days, ‘If only their wasn’t school.’ Life would be so much more pleasant for me and the kids. Yes even if I had to home school I’ve decided. At least I’d be able to start school at nine. And there’d be no morning lifts. Maybe I wouldn’t be waking up in the middle of the night quite so often either. I read once in a book by Ken Robinson, that it’s been scientifically proven that teenagers need more sleep, they need that lie in, in the morning and changing the school hour to later made a world of difference. How much more so with our seven year olds? Three year olds?

Our children already feel the pressure of time as we continuously say, ‘hurry up, we’re going to be late.’ I’m so guilty of it. Late for school, late for OT, late for supper, late for sleep, because if you sleep too late, then you’ll be late and too tired for the whole rat race to start again. Do I have the most negative view??? It could be because I’m sleep deprived.

There obviously has to be a balance of duty, discipline and schedule combined with kids enjoying their life. It’s an anomaly really. Talent, passion, love is not enough. We need to teach and give structure and schedule so that something can be made of the passion and potential. I’m just not sure we’re doing it the right way. I don’t see anyone particularly thrilled about going to school. Except at Crossroads where the kids bounce into class without complaint. And nursery school. My Prince No. 3 was quite irate with me for fetching him fifteen minutes early from school. (I’d unwittingly interrupted a lovely discussion about the sun setting in the east and rising in the west. He’s got a fabulously passionate teacher.)

My new question is – why can’t primary school be more like nursery school. That love of learning is so apparent in nursery school. I used to think the quicker kids get out of nursery school and into school, and then out of school the better. Now I think the longer kids stay in nursery school the better. They won’t have better years in the school system. (Unless they go to a lekker remedial school like Crossroads or Bellavista. I really must do a blog on just how fabulous these systems are.)

Anyhow, I’ve digressed with a nattering of thoughts.  The main thing is to go to bed with a clear heart. I’ve heard that signing off for sleep with a list of what we’re grateful for is very healthy. Ending off the day with blessings. I’m going to try that right now.