It’s 11 p.m. on Sunday night and my 17-year-old son is doing homework. He started it about an hour ago. A classic teen move, right? Staying up late and waking up early is definitely going to cause my son to begin his school week cranky. Once again, in this strange journey of raising teens, I am asking myself: Should teenagers have a bedtime?
I remember the first time I went to bed before my daughter, who is my oldest. It hit me at the time that I had a teenager, no longer a little girl who needed to be put to bed. That night was followed by many other nights where I have slipped into slumber WAY before my teens.
Most high schools start crazy early and teens tend walk through the hallways in a sleepy trance. On weeknights, I tell my son he has a bedtime of 10 p.m. Enforcing it though is a completely different story.
Some nights, I will pop my head in my son’s room over and over like a whack-a-mole mom reminding my son he needs to wake up early in the morning and should be going to bed. Of course, he says he is going to bed “in a few minutes” but continues to stay glued to his phone screen. Then, eventually I go to bed and have no idea what time he really goes to sleep.
The WORST is when my son hits the snooze button over and over in the morning because he went to sleep too late and can’t drag himself out of bed. At some point in time, I have played out this get-your-butt-out-of-bed scene with all three of my teens.
I remember the day I decided to let my daughter be responsible for waking herself up and getting to school on time. The first time she was late, she wanted me to call her school and say it was because she had a doctor’s appointment. I refused. That didn’t go over well, but it was her last time being late to school.
I know teens have ton on their plates between homework and extracurriculars and video games and Instagram. But isn’t managing your time a life skill that teens should figure out sooner or later?
Experts say teens should get 9 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep a night. Well, it’s not happening in my house, but setting a bedtime for my son — and enforcing it — has become too exhausting task. He might not be getting enough sleep, but since I gave up worrying about it, I am much more rested.
What are your thoughts on setting a bedtime for teens? Is it appropriate? If so, what time do you consider reasonable for teenagers?