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I'm out of sync with modern parenting and losing friends because of it ...

(42 Posts)
Countingthegreyhairs Wed 20-Jun-07 09:49:49

Don't know if this should be under 'relationships' heading but it's about parenting styles really. It's a bit of a long one ...

I'm an older mother (43) with a nearly-4 dd. Therefore, most of my friends with young children are a decade or more younger than me (which is great!). The only thing is I'm finding it hard to negotiate these friendships as my parenting style is a bit rigid/old-fashioned and but I'm beginning to doubt whether I'm doing the right thing or not.

I have always given priority to regular sleep and meal times. It's a pain in the a**e frankly but I feel they are important. (And yes, this is getting less relevant as my dd grows up but am still trying for another so need to resolve this!). My dd still needs an afternoon sleep most days and is a good eater. Frequently though, I've received and turned down loads of invitations to go over to friends houses in the evening to eat (invitations which include the children and where it's suggested they play and then 'fall asleep on the sofa together') and also after-school activity invitations when (imo) my dd is too tired having had a long day.

My friends are starting to express their discontent at me being 'a stick in the mud' and too inflexible. I don't mind the odd summer evening where my dd stays up late on a special occasion, but these are regular occurences.

Am I being too precious? Perhaps this is a result of only having one child? Should I lighten up more? Thanks for any thoughts. I don't want to lose my friends over this.

choosyfloosy Wed 20-Jun-07 09:54:28

i struggle with this a little bit - ds is 3.6 - not so much that other people are inviting me but ds and i have always enjoyed being out and about, and now school is preventing that really as he is just too tired afterwards.

I think you are fantastically lucky or a brilliant mum in having a dd who still sleeps in the pm AND goes to bed at night - ds will sleep but wont' go to bed as well atm - so i'd just stick to fixing weekend lunch stuff and holiday things.

Having said that, isn't there a patch between nap and evening? Could you go out for late play and supper, followed by going home in pyjamas? does that appeal at all?

FluffyMummy123 Wed 20-Jun-07 09:54:50

Message withdrawn

DumbledoresGirl Wed 20-Jun-07 09:58:54

I am about the same age as you (42) and have a 4 year old child too, but also older children: ds1 is 11 tomorrow, ds2 is 9 and dd is 7.

I am not so sure this is to do with your age as such. I was the same as you with regard to regular naps, mealtimes, bedtimes etc when I had my first but over the years, I have become more flexible mainly because you have to be with more than one child. I still feel horror though when I see children out at night - even my 11 year old is getting ready for bed by 8 (even though he might not go until 9).

I would not dare to presume to tell you you need to be more flexible, but I do think some flexibility will inevitably come as your dd gets older. Is she not going to playgroup or nursery yet?

bozza Wed 20-Jun-07 10:07:19

So if your DD has a nap in the daytime what time does she go to bed? I see dg's point about having to be more flexible with more children. I have always had to wake DD up before the school run for DS, for example. But some children need more sleep than others. DS needs a lot. He is going on a sleep over on Friday night (he is 6) and I know that I will have to factor in a nap either in bed or in the car because he will be so late to bed.

oranges Wed 20-Jun-07 10:07:33

I don't think its a result of age, or having an only child - I'd imagine sleep and routine is more important with more than one child. That said, we are very laid back with ds and do take him over to friends houses in the evening but he hasn't started school yet. Can you just do things on Friday and Saturday nights, when it won't matter so much if she sleeps late the next day.

ernest Wed 20-Jun-07 10:12:04

I don't think it's an age issue either. regular eating/ sleeping times have always ben important to me. I would hate to be kept up late and just told to try and doze off on the settee in someone's house. Imagine if you dh wanted to go to some mate's house and planned to stay till 3 am & tell you if you get tired just to try and nodd off on the settee! I'd hate it. If I'm tired I want to go to bed. MY OWN bed. Why dish out any less to our kids??? I have never once done it, and my eldest is now nearly 8. Stick to your guns.

Mind you I am very jealous of your thumping social life.

GooseyLoosey Wed 20-Jun-07 10:12:47

Counting, ime, your friends are unusual in wanting to have palydates at tea-time and then fall asleep. My circle of friends all finish palydates at 5.00 so they can do tea or have tea at 5/5.30ish so child can go home afterwards, niether they nor I would like the idea of falling asleep on sofa as bedtime is important to all of us.

That said, I too was a sticklet for afternoon naps and this really did get in the way of playdates so when ds was about 3.5 I started to put him is is room about 1.30 before play date for "quiet time" and sometimes he fell asleep or sometimes he just played quietly for 20mins or so and then came downstairs more relaxed. So I think I might review the naps.

Blu Wed 20-Jun-07 10:15:34

I'm an older Mum than you, with a 5 year-old. I think it's style and personality rather than age that influences these choices, not age.

DPs family have always done the 'let the kids stay up until they drop' thing, partly it's cultural - in their family it would be an anathema to have a family occasion without the kids. Thier kids simply sleep late in the mornings and catch up, but having had quite a settled bedtime routine, DS is less good at sleeping in.

So, can you get a babysitter so that you can go out in the evenings, or accept these invitations but leave earlier than everyone else? If your dd stays up late at weekends, it's actually better that she is still having a nap - she will probably catch up better the next day. Just go, but leave when she starts to get fractious and obviously ready for bed.

Try lightening up a tiny bit and see if it works ok?

Blu Wed 20-Jun-07 10:16:31

I certainly wouldn't do the staying up late thing except on Fri and Sat nights or in the hols.

Countingthegreyhairs Wed 20-Jun-07 10:25:56

Yes Oranges, and ChoosyF I guess there is a middle way. My dd is at ecole maternelle full time (we live abroad) 9 to 3.30 pm (except for Wednesday afternoons) and she's finding it very tiring. According to the teachers, she still sleeps after lunch every day at school (and when she doesn't she still has a quiet time) but on Wednesdays when she eats lunch at home, she always sleeps for 2 hours.

Bozza -She then goes to bed for 7.30 (ie bath at 6.30, milk and stories, and asleep by 7.30 pm latest) and sleeps through until 7.00/7.30 am the next morning.

By the way, it is definitely just luck choosyfloosy NOT brilliant parenting that she sleeps so much!! She's always been like this. She eats really well and the sleep just kind of follows ...

Dumbledoresgirl, I can see that my sort of rigid timetabling isn't practical with having more than one child. And I can be more flexible at weekends and now that the summer holidays are approaching. Thanks, I guess this thread has clarified that this is a 'starting school' issue and it will get better.

But what excuses do you use iCod? (I say simply "thanks but dd goes to bed at 7.30 pm" but it doesn't seem to make any difference.) It gets a bit embarrassing when you've turned down an invitation for the fourth time!! I don't want to hurt my friends' feelings. We always reciprocate the entertaining btw, but we have brunches/lunches instead.

ELR Wed 20-Jun-07 10:28:56

sorry but in my opinion letting kids fall asleep together on a sofa is not on, unless it is a special occasion or weekend, children need routine and eating and sleeping are the main things i was 25 when i had my first child and these things were and still are important to me and my family. Of cause you must be flexible on some occasions but just day to day the things your friends are suggesting seem alittle bit too much.
If it were me i would be secretly thinking scrubbers can't they put their kids to bed and give them a proper tea

oranges Wed 20-Jun-07 10:29:03

if they are good friends, and they seem to be if they are willing to host tired, possibly irritable children in the evening, can't you ask to do lunch instead? Or at weekends put her to bed upstairs on their bed at 7.30 then carry her to the car later?

bozza Wed 20-Jun-07 10:30:51

Maybe it is different then because you are living in a different culture. But here the obvious time to meet up or have a child to play would be straight after school, with maybe the children eating tea at about 5-5.30 and then home at about 6 or 6.30.

oranges Wed 20-Jun-07 10:30:54

Blu - i come from that kind of culture too, where children are at all family occasions. The flip side is that there is always an aunt , cousin, grandparent willing to go and sit in a quiet room to let ds sleep or chill out, so its not as exhausting for us.

Elibean Wed 20-Jun-07 10:32:05

Ditto what Blu said (not for the first time ).

Am older than you with a 3.5 yr old and a 7 month old, and found that many of my younger antenatal-group Mum friends had stricter routines than me, from the start. I don't think its an age thing at all - my BF is 45 with a 5 and 2 year old, and when she had just the one she had virtually no routines and was very much an evening person: her dd was a good, flexible sleeper and BF isn't British and likes different time frames - so it fit for them.

Personally, I don't do the sofa thing either - dd wouldn't fall asleep, she'd just get hyper and end up in hysterical tears. So they come to me, or we get a babysitter - if its an evening thing. Playdate-wise, I don't know anyone (yet) who wants playdates after about 6pm!

I do think its easy to blame our age for a lot of things, as older Mums. I blame my current tiredness on it: some truth in that, but have to say a lot of my peers with non-sleeping 7 month olds are just as knackered

Countingthegreyhairs Wed 20-Jun-07 10:32:19

Agree Ernest (not really thumping social life by the way - just easier/more regular in expat community!!) the time's when we have tried it, it's been a bit of a disaster tbh. Whinging tired children distracting the parents who are trying to enjoy quiet glasses of wine. Neither party happy imo. We do get baby-sitters of course but we're on a tight budget currently.

Will try and lighten up though and those are good suggestions GooseyLoosey and Blu - thanks.

Elibean Wed 20-Jun-07 10:34:46

x posted - did'nt realize you lived abroad (France? I'm half French, possibly why dds are in bed at least an hour later than their British peers and get up later!).

If you can't get a babysitter, then maybe it would be possible occasionally to let dd have a good long nap after l'ecole, and then stay up an hour or two later than usual? On non-school nights?

ELR Wed 20-Jun-07 10:35:10

did not realise you were abroad so i suppose there will be some cultural differences, and perhaps a little more flexibility is required is it not possible to say you can make it on tuesdays as you know your dd will only be at school half day on wed so time to chill out at home if she is more tired

snowleopard Wed 20-Jun-07 10:39:26

Mmm, I'm a bit of both here. Lots of routine, DS has a very rigid routine at bedtime becaise he loves it and it really seems to get him into sleep mode. But OTOH, I think the more regular and reliable your routine, the more easily it can be broken without too much ill-efffect, if that makes sense. So we do go to parties and occasions where DS can stay up late and fall asleep in a bed there or in his buggy, then take him home and do the bedtime thing when we get in. We wouldn't do it night after night, but I reckon once a fornight or so doesn't disrupt him. And I think while routines are brilliant and give children security, it's also good to help them learn to be flexible and that breaking the rules once in a while can be fun.

Also while I do synpathise with you, it does sometimes irritate me when other parents won't join in with things because of their child's routine. TBH I think that child is missing out on a variety of experiences and fun that they could otherwise enjoy.

Why don't you try agreeing to just one of these dos (maybe at a weekend when it won't matter if the routine's disrupted) and see how it goes? - it won't mean you're committing to that lifestyle.

Countingthegreyhairs Wed 20-Jun-07 10:43:31

at your last sentence ELR.

Yes, Bozza maybe it is a cultural issue too. (We live in Belgium but lots of second generation Spanish/Italian families at dd's school but most of our friends are expats to be honest.)

Great to hear from all the older mums here too Elibean. Good to hear it's possible to have a second after the age of 43 ...!!

ELR Wed 20-Jun-07 10:45:57

its the northernness in me

Countingthegreyhairs Wed 20-Jun-07 10:46:17

Your post has definitely given me something to think about Snow Leopard thxs.

Off to fetch dd now - half day ...x

morningpaper Wed 20-Jun-07 11:03:29

This is only temporary - in a couple of years your DD WILL be able to stay up later.

So don't let your friendships fall by the wayside - go to as many playdates as you can that are not at too difficult times (without compromising your DD's routine) and make sure you host lots which are at times more convenient to you.

Time will go by quickly and if you can keep your social life going (sounds better than mine!) then it will pay dividends in a couple of years when your DD is still bouncing around at 8pm.

MaloryTowers Wed 20-Jun-07 11:05:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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