Thursday, May 29, 2014


     A good night's sleep is priceless. There was a time when I would have loved to move back to Hilo (it's slow, calm, easy pace soothes my soul like nowhere else), but no more due to the coquis: noisy non-native frogs recently introduced that chirp all night long—annoying and disruptive—and that don't have a single natural predator in Hawaii, thus, everywhere they've populated—virtually the entire east side of the Big Island—they've overrun. Some claim their chirps register near a hundred decibels. Try sleeping through that in peace (sort of like sleeping through boo whistles over bad calls at a French Open tennis match for ten straight hours).
     Michael Jackson died over want of a good night's rest and so have countless others—asleep at the wheel, overdosed on licit or illicit drugs, or done in by cardiovascular disease or stroke brought on by chronic over-exhaustion. Along with obesity and insufficient exercise, America's youth now suffer all too often from inadequate sleep. The way our family ensures sufficient sleep is by eating healthy, getting plenty of exercise, following our consciences (albeit we're far from perfect), and adhering to strict early-to-bed, early-to-rise routines. The last is easy, sleep coming natural, if the first three are practiced and there is a no-TV (see my prior TV-less Bliss essay), no computer, no electronic devices, and everybody has to do something quiet before bedtime policy that's enforced.
     Here's our crazy-beautiful weekday evening schedule starting from after school:

2:00 – 5:00 Kids come home, do homework, exercise outside, read and bathe.

4:00 – 5:00 I come home, wind down, and do some exercises, Deanne makes dinner.

5:00 – 6:30 We all eat dinner, clean up. Deanne goes for a walk with one or more of our kids, I bathe and brush my teeth.

6:30 – 7:00 Everyone reads or does a quiet hobby/activity.

7:00 – 8:00 I read on my bed to each child in turn.

     Children's bedtime are as follows: Jaren 7:30 pm; Penelope 8:15pm; Braden 8:40pm. My bedtime ranges from 8:15 to 8:40pm., Deanne's ranges from 9:30 to 10:00pm.
     I awaken at around 3:30 and read the bible until 4:15 to 4:30 (I read it because it works; everything in my life and our household runs smoother as a result and we all just feel better too, and the alone-time I get to spend with God is humbling, instructive and peaceful).
     Here's the remainder of our early morning schedule:

4:30 – 6:00 I eat and get ready for work, spending a few minutes with Deanne in bed before leaving, giving and receiving quiet well-wishes for the day.

6:00 – 6:10 I walk to the bus stop.

6:00 – 7:10 Deanne and the kids get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, clean up, brush teeth, and head off for school.

     Deanne was volunteering at a hospice twice a week during the kids' school hours. Now, she's employed twice a week as a teacher's assistant at Jaren and Penelope's school. The rest of her weekday hours are spent keeping our household running—cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and ironing my work shirts; doing craft projects; and reading.
     I read in a book In Search of Silence about how the journalist writer went to one of the most austere monasteries in the U.S. and when he inquired about their sleep schedules (similar to mine, I was amused to note), a monk said, "...the darkness is a very safe space.  It's about birth...  The quiet, dark places are where the treasure is buried...  We have six free hours before our workday begins.  how many rich people can say that?  We call it 'holy leisure.'  Having that time does something to your humanity."
     For me, the early sleep and rise schedule started when Jaren was an infant: sleep when the infant sleeps or you won't get much sleep—so we discovered early on. Because Deanne nursed Jaren (who never had much formula), she had to wake up for middle-of-the night feedings. By 4:30am Jaren, after being fed, was ready to start his day and so was I (I suppose), so I took him out for walks around the neighborhood. It was quality father-son time that allowed gave Deanne time to catch up on her Zs.  
     The schedule stuck. It's been years since I've set an alarm; I wake up when I do and check the time and ask myself did I get enough sleep? I feel fine with six—and—a half hours of sleep each week night. Weekends I get a bit more with an occasional after-breakfast or after-lunch nap.
     Sleep as a parent is so precious, we savor every minute of it, yet do our best not to overindulge, which is easy enough when three kids are waiting outside wanting to be fed or something to do. They're good about waiting patiently, and Braden and Penelope have been instructed to feed themselves if they're hungry, but we start feeling bad about making them wait too long. They get enough sleep, and so do we, so getting up-and-at-'em is rarely a problem for any of us.

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