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Older kids, younger siblings, shared rooms and sleep


fairfarmhand
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How do you encourage older kids to maintain better sleep habits or even just be quiet so that their siblings can get adequate rest? My oldest is a night owl. Fine. I get it. The problem is this. She's inconsiderate of her younger siblings' need for sleep at night. They get up at the same time every day, even if she's been loudly goofing off at night and keeping them awake. Then they are crabby.

 

We have 2 bedrooms for the kids. They are shared in the best way possible for the personalities involved. We can't rearrange this.

 

When my oldest goes to bed, she is loud, chatty, and will even do things like pound on her keyboard while her younger sister is trying to sleep.  Last night, my oldest went in and pounced on one of her sisters to try to scare her. This was at 9:40. Younger kid bedtime is 9 pm. GAH! The kids had just settled after she'd gone downstairs and riled them all up after I'd tucked them in and gotten them settled in for the night.

 

I've thought about sending the younger kids in to play in her room early in the morning when they wake up...

 

This is so frustrating. She doesn't have to deal with weepiness, whining, and arguing throughout the day due to fatigue.

 

She's just oblivious to the needs of everyone else in the house. What;s annoying is that she's not content to be quiet late at night, reading or doing something else peacefully. She just wants to be loud and engage others who want/ need to be left alone. She likes being silly, wrestling, tickling, scaring people etc. late at night.

 

Anyone who has older teens dealt with this kind of thing?

 

(BTW the house we have is the only one we have. Moving isn't an option. Rearranging the bedrooms isn't an option. She shares with the one person who can sort of tolerate her. The other kids can't deal with her personality.)

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Must she be in their shared room while they are asleep?  Can she hang out in a different room till she's ready for sleep?  Give her a space of her own to be a night owl?  

 

Probably not much help, but I feel for you!

 

She actually spends very little time in her room. What ends up happening is that she hangs out up in the bonus room (which is fine) but when it's time to actually go to bed, usually 30-40 minutes after the other kids she won't do it quietly. She will talk loudly, sing, play the piano, turn on the overhead lights, etc. Her siblings are getting to sleep when she goes down and starts winding them back up again. 

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I've thought about sending the younger kids in to play in her room early in the morning when they wake up...

 

 

This. Older sisters make great trampolines.   I'd be tempted to get up at 0430 and crank the Ride of the Valkyries.  (In fact, I have two whole cassettes of what the upperclassmen called " Motivation Music"  from Beast. :sneaky2: )  Then vacuum.  

 

If she doesn't see the light (and my dc wouldn't have), you need a better carrot.  Maybe tie it to driving privileges:  if you want to drive tomorrow, don't wake anyone up after 9pm.

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Can she sleep in the bonus room? Not as her bedroom but just crash on the floor or the couch.

 

In the morning if she's allowed to sleep in she'll need to stagger to her bed if the bonus room is needed.

 

Eta: so if she wants to sleep in bed undisturbed she has to chose to be quiet when she goes to bed

 

Does she really go to bed at 10, just an hour after the other kids? I think I'd consider changing everyone to 10pm bedtime.

 

Eta: is her room set up that she can go to bed silently without much light? (Pajamas in another room, small light by bed etc)

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She actually spends very little time in her room. What ends up happening is that she hangs out up in the bonus room (which is fine) but when it's time to actually go to bed, usually 30-40 minutes after the other kids she won't do it quietly. She will talk loudly, sing, play the piano, turn on the overhead lights, etc. Her siblings are getting to sleep when she goes down and starts winding them back up again. 

 

I like the PP's idea about setting it up so it's easy for her to go to bed quietly.  If she won't use a small, dim bedside lamp - then take the bulb out of the overhead light so she doesn't forget and turn it on anyway.  Maybe give her a dimmer switch for her nightside table lamp, if she doesn't have one.  Maybe figure out some more little things that might make it easier for her - turning the bed down, pajamas on earlier, the kindle all set up next to her bed, whatever she might need laid out...

 

Actually, I think my favorite idea is letting her crash in the bonus room, if that's where she hangs out, if she really can't be quiet for the younger sibs.  

 

Maybe you can approach this with her as a problem for *her* to solve?  Have a discussion about it, but let her brainstorm ideas and lead the way?  She might have some ideas or solutions that we can't see, and that might really work.  If she gets stuck, you could throw out the ideas of crashing in the bonus room or dimmer switches, or whatever might work.  

 

I have a night owl here, too, and can see him acting the same way some time in the future.  He doesn't share a room though, and he takes melatonin to sleep, but still... He's been known to keep people up at night, even in another room.  

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I grew up in this situation as the little sister. My parents washed their hands of it and said "there's nothing we can do. you just need to deal with it."

I do not recommend their strategy.

Her behavior is disrespectful. Perhaps you could tell her that if she can't be respectful of others, she can't have the privilege of staying up later. Or take light bulbs out when the youngers go to sleep. Or reward her for when she does bedtime well. 

I can say from personal experience that I lost a lot of respect for my parents when they wouldn't stand up for me/protect me from the bullying and disrespect of my older sister.

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Can she sleep in the bonus room? Not as her bedroom but just crash on the floor or the couch.

 

In the morning if she's allowed to sleep in she'll need to stagger to her bed if the bonus room is needed.

 

Eta: so if she wants to sleep in bed undisturbed she has to chose to be quiet when she goes to bed

 

Does she really go to bed at 10, just an hour after the other kids? I think I'd consider changing everyone to 10pm bedtime.

 

Eta: is her room set up that she can go to bed silently without much light? (Pajamas in another room, small light by bed etc)

 

My younger kids WILL NOT sleep in. Never have , never will. We take a week off and go to bed later,  they are still up at 6:30-7 am. They are cranky and crabby though. They have light blocking drapes, etc. But they can't sleep late. A 10 pm bedtime would ruin our lives.

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I might suggest to her that she sleep in the bonus room. However, I don't think she will appreciate it when I get up at 6 to read my Bible there! It's furthest away from the rest of the sleeping areas, so I hide there in hopes that I don't disturb others with my lights on and stuff. I may suggest it, letting her know that the price for not quietly going to be is to deal with momma in the early morning.

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This is a 16-year-old?!?! I thought you were going to be talking about a 7 or 8 year old waking up preschoolers!

 

I'd have her get ready for bed when they do so she can just slip in without rustling around. Have her use a small flashlight so she can slip in quietly. Maybe even walk her to bed so she's not tempted to pounce on anyone! And have a serious talk about respecting other people's needs. I had a friend with a college roommate like this and it was horrible! This is a life skill she needs to learn quickly!

 

If she persisted in waking them I'd be tempted to wake her when they're up and have her make breakfast, do extra chores, use her money to buy me Starbucks, etc. since I have to spend my energy dealing with cranky siblings.

 

Does she get lots of exercise? Can she shoot hoops in your driveway or use a stationary bike or treadmill at night? Is there a night-owl friend she can call to chat so she can burn off some chatty energy that way?

 

My then 4-year-old used to interrupt the baby's nap because he wanted to play. After a few days of losing TV time he decided it wasn't worth it.

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Is it possible that 9:40/10:00 is too early for her to wind down for bed? I found it impossible to sleep before 11:00/11:30 at that age. At 9:40 I would still be watching TV, reading, doing a craft, chatting with mom, or playing Tetris.

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...I'm of no help here with this situation....I know everyone's parenting style is different (and rightly so).  This situation isn't something I would put up with, there'd be some serious privileges taken away until the point is well driven home.  Again, not making a suggestion, I'm very pro-different parenting styles. But :grouphug: until you figure out a solution that works for your family.

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When she does this, what happens?

 

I'd be raining down hammers on my teen for this! And she would most definitely be woken up very early the next morning, in a very unpleasant manner. And then I'd be unable to drive her where she wants to go, because I'd be too tired to drive safely. 

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Thinking along a different line here:

 

What;s annoying is that she's not content to be quiet late at night, reading or doing something else peacefully. She just wants to be loud and engage others who want/ need to be left alone.

 

She is a night owl and craves interaction. What opportunities does she have to satisfy this need to socialize in the evening?

I am looking at my own kids, and none of them would have gone to bed at 10pm at 16 or wanted to spend the evening quietly reading. They are doing things in the evening with friends, either in person or via the internet.

 

Please note that I am not saying what she does to her siblings is OK. I am just wondering whether the expectation for her to behave contrary to her rhythm exacerbates the issue, and whether part of the problem could be resolved if she had a chance to get it out of her system.

Does she have any activities or the opportunity to socialize with friends in the evenings? Because I imagine it would be much more satisfying to hang out with friends instead of pestering one's siblings.

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Thinking along a different line here:

 

 

She is a night owl and craves interaction. What opportunities does she have to satisfy this need to socialize in the evening?

I am looking at my own kids, and none of them would have gone to bed at 10pm at 16 or wanted to spend the evening quietly reading. They are doing things in the evening with friends, either in person or via the internet.

 

Please note that I am not saying what she does to her siblings is OK. I am just wondering whether the expectation for her to behave contrary to her rhythm exacerbates the issue, and whether part of the problem could be resolved if she had a chance to get it out of her system.

Does she have any activities or the opportunity to socialize with friends in the evenings? Because I imagine it would be much more satisfying to hang out with friends instead of pestering one's siblings.

 

She does have occasional evening activities. However, most of her friends actually go to bed at night and earlier than her. I've found that evening activities actually make things worse. She comes home all wound up and unable to get to sleep. She doesn't have a terrible time falling asleep once she gets in the bed. She just enjoys the horseplay and loudness late at night.

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Her 16 yo friends don't want to be up late? This is an outlier group of friends she's got.

 

I strongly agree with Regentrude. You need to work with her on ending the really disrespectful behavior toward her siblings, but she needs at outlet at that time of night and maybe even needs some other space for herself. Can the bonus room be given up for the next two years to keep her out of everyone's way while she's on such a different schedule? She's going to be an adult soon. I think it can only backfire to do as some are suggesting and try to make her go to bed earlier. Her wind down time is already way too early. At that age I was often still out with friends doing homework or just goofing off - either at their homes or at coffeehouses or the like. And this is almost certainly biological for her to want to be engaged at that time.

 

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Her 16 yo friends don't want to be up late? This is an outlier group of friends she's got.

 

I strongly agree with Regentrude. You need to work with her on ending the really disrespectful behavior toward her siblings, but she needs at outlet at that time of night and maybe even needs some other space for herself. Can the bonus room be given up for the next two years to keep her out of everyone's way while she's on such a different schedule? She's going to be an adult soon. I think it can only backfire to do as some are suggesting and try to make her go to bed earlier. Her wind down time is already way too early. At that age I was often still out with friends doing homework or just goofing off - either at their homes or at coffeehouses or the like. And this is almost certainly biological for her to want to be engaged at that time.

 

Most of her friends either do morning activities or their moms get them up earlier to do school. They end up at home by 9-10 ish . They're also (mostly) introverts who would stay up late to read or write but not necessarily to socialize) I don't plan on making her go to bed with her siblings. (counterproductive anyway because she's the master foot dragger around here and she'd end up hogging the bathroom when the siblings needed it anyway.)

 

I wish there were a way to give her her own space. But there's not.

 

BTW, my siggie's incorrect, she's 17, a Junior.

 

Most of the kids around here are at home by 10, in bed by 11 on school nights. I'm including both schooled kids and homeschooled kids.

 

We're on Central Time in a rural community and I've noticed that everything runs earlier here. The school bus comes by at 6:45, classes start at 7:30. It's not unusual for a weekend activity that's supposed to be just for fun to start at 7 am. I think this area just is an earlier to bed place.

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Here;s a bit of irony. This morning, she was going "Why's he SO whiny!" about her brother...the one who shares with the sister she was pouncing on last night.

 

I said, "It's because he didn't get enough sleep. Someone was in his room at 9:45 goofing off last night, and he got up at normal time."

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Ummm. That's the idea.

Yes, this!

 

If she can't get into bed without disturbing people then she crashes in the bonus room and in the morning that room gets used as usual. If she really doesn't want to totally wake at 6 then she'll stagger to her bed.

 

Eta: crashing in that room doesn't make it "hers", kwim?

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Can you introduce her to a different bedtime routine? Maybe a cup of chamomile tea, lavender oil bath or anything calmer?

 

ooo....that is a GREAT idea. She loves to drink tea. She;s also working on building in a routine of Bible reading on a daily basis. So maybe I can encourage her to read her Bible and drink tea to wind down.

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She is a night owl and craves interaction. What opportunities does she have to satisfy this need to socialize in the evening?

I am looking at my own kids, and none of them would have gone to bed at 10pm at 16 or wanted to spend the evening quietly reading. They are doing things in the evening with friends, either in person or via the internet.

 

Please note that I am not saying what she does to her siblings is OK. I am just wondering whether the expectation for her to behave contrary to her rhythm exacerbates the issue, and whether part of the problem could be resolved if she had a chance to get it out of her system.

Does she have any activities or the opportunity to socialize with friends in the evenings? Because I imagine it would be much more satisfying to hang out with friends instead of pestering one's siblings.

 

 

She needs to get it out of her system BEFORE she enters the room with sleeping siblings.  At 17, she's old enough to figure this out.  

 

If her local friends aren't up that late, sign her up for an online course with a mandatory chat room.  There'll be people from all over the country and surely someone who wants to chat at 11pm.  And, she can do it in the bonus room, not the bedroom.

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I feel that 16 is old enough to understand the need to be quiet for others who are sleeping. It should make sense to a 16 yr old that it's rude to play the piano, pound on keyboards, jump on people, tickle, ect., when others are sleeping. 

 

I'd inform her of this fact, and then if she disregards it, consequences would be in effect; probably loss of privileges. 

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Her roommates are going to hate her when she leaves in a year.

 

At 16 years old, I left home to go to a state-funded academic boarding school. At 17, I graduated and came back home for a year. My parents had already re-arranged bedrooms (I was the oldest of 6 and my youngest brother was only 4). They told me I could have the closet under the stairs in the finished basement. It was wide enough to fit a twin mattress and a small dresser at the tall end. I loved that little room and felt like a better-off Harry Potter. I lived there for a year. Maybe you can find some nook to put a mattress in where she won't bug her siblings?  

 

At this age, that seems like incredibly disrespectful and avoidable behavior.  17 is practically an adult. Adults know better than to wake up small children by doing loud things in their rooms for no reason.

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DD13 and DD21 shared a room growing up and we had similar problems. Younger DD was often sick (chronic illness) and fell asleep by 7pm.

 

We made it a rule that older DD needed to get all of her stuff for bed set out right after dinner. Older DD stayed up late, but would change into Jammie's downstairs, brush her teeth in my bathroom and basically not even enter the shared bedroom until she was actually totally ready to crawl in bed. If she forgot something, she had to ask DH or I to fetch it for her. I would turn on older DDs bedside light when I put little DD to bed.

 

It actually worked really well for both girls.

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I had two room mates like this in college. They would come home at 2 a.m., turn the light on, discuss their evening (in regular voices -- no whispering) while changing their clothes. Perhaps you could work with her on this as a life skill for when she gets out on her own and has room mates or even a husband. At this age she may not care much about her siblings, but being booted out of her living situation someday because of inconsiderate behavior will cost her both money and friendships.

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