An idea was taking shape. It was risky. I knew it could go really well or really poorly. As I walked down the stairs after tucking our oldest daughter in one night, I thought about the risks and benefits of removing her lights out time. It can be risky to turn over responsibilities to your child.
I discussed it with my husband and we agreed that she needed to start managing her time more now that she would be starting high school this coming year.
Have you had one of those moments when you realize your child is growing up and has reached a new stage? You suddenly realize he needs to assume more responsibility for herself? If you are anything like me, it can often take you off guard! I wasn’t sure if I was ready to let go of control in this area yet. I had a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head such as:
- What if she stays up too late and is cranky the next day?
- If I don’t turn over this responsibility, when will she learn?
- What if she wakes me up because she’s moving around her room?
- Will I be able to go to sleep knowing she’s still awake? (Tell me I’m not the only mama who struggles with going to sleep before she knows everyone else is safe, secure, and sound asleep?! It’s getting better, but it’s still a struggle.)
As I thought about these, I realized we needed to turn over this responsibility. She needed to learn to manage her own time. And I needed to accept that she would mess up. After all, it’s part of the learning process.
So what happened?
She did stay up too late. She was tired many mornings. And she came to the conclusion on her own that she needed to turn her lights out earlier. She needed to be up early several mornings each week so staying up late just wasn’t compatible.
It’s a lesson you have to learn on your own. Throughout the first month of her being responsible for her own lights out time, we talked several times a week about how it was going. I only told her to turn her lights out early twice. Both times we had early morning activities for which she needed to be well-rested.
The rest of the time, I listened and provided advice but did not tell her when to turn her lights out. As we discussed how much sleep she needed and how she felt, she came up with a good rule of thumb for when to go to sleep and when to get up.
We intentionally planned this little experiment for the summer months. Normally, we turn over new responsibilities and privileges to our daughters in the fall, around the time of their birthdays. But I did not want to deal with the learning curve that would come with this particular responsibility when we were also starting lessons for the new school year. So we turned it over during the summer months when it would not matter as much when she made poor choices as she acquired this new skill.
Have you considered if there is a responsibility you need to turn over to your child?
So often their maturity spurts sneak up on us. I often realize I should have turned over responsibilities sooner.
I want to encourage you to pause this week and consider what responsibilities your child might be ready to assume.
If you are stumped about what to turn over, the Responsibilities and Privileges List has over 100 suggestions of both responsibilities and privileges for children of all ages. This extensive list includes all of the skills I want my children to acquire before they move out on their own. By turning over the responsibility for her lights out time, we checked one more off the list.