Okay, I know it isn't very radical of me but I can't go on with my kids not having a bedtime. I've waffled a bit on this issue but it has come to a point where I'm taking off my radical unschooler hat and saying that the living room and all screens are off limits for kiddos after 10 pm. There are a few reasons I'm doing this.
1) The kids are staying up very late and sleeping very late. This issue is compounded by the fact that they like to sleep in the living room and therefore when they are sleeping until 11:00 am then I have to either be very quiet which means I can't do things like clean the kitchen or vacuum OR I go ahead and do what I need to do and they wake up cranky. Neither of these choices creates harmony in our household and I don't see a way to fix it with the current sleeping situation.
2) We can't make plans for anything that happens in the morning because they are too tired to wake up and can't simply go to bed early the night before an outing because their body clocks can't make the adjustment. We have missed several activities in which they've expressed interest because they couldn't get out of bed on time to get ready and attend.
3) I truly need time to unwind at the end of the day. Time to read, go online or watch what I want on tv. I don't have a room of my own to do this in. The only place I have is the living room and if children are in it then I don't get this time. This may seem selfish but I spend nearly every waking moment with my children, we have clear rules that people can't enter their bedrooms without knocking first, they both have free use of both the tv and the computer during the day. I don't think it is selfish for me to ask for the same consideration for a few hours that they receive all day.
4) I am insisting that this is no screen time because when Jace is allowed to stay up as late as he wants to play video games he plays for hours beyond tired and we still don't get a good start to the day. Furthermore when he plays video games late into the night he often can't fall asleep on his own and will wake us up so he can sleep in our bed. He is too big to sleep in our bed; not because he's too old but because he is physically too big for us to get quality sleep. When his want to play video games (which he has unlimited access to during the day) interferes with our need for sleep it requires intervention.
The reasonable solution for all of this is that they go to bed at 10:00; a time that we've discussed and agreed upon based on all of our wants and needs, not an arbitrary number pulled out of the air. They don't have to go to sleep at this time but they will do activities that can be done in bed such as reading, drawing, writing, playing with small toys, etc. They have to sleep in their bedrooms with the exception of Friday night; if they want to sleep together in the living this one night then their father and I will agree to be quiet in that area until they naturally awaken.
At first I thought this wasn't a very unschooly thing of me to do and I'm sure there are some who still think that. However, I feel good about the way we've handled this situation that was becoming a problem. We've discussed the reasons this is becoming an issue and worked together for solutions that meet everyone's needs. This is what consensual living is all about. :)