Should your kids be up this late?

I don’t like running at night. It usually means I failed to get out of bed early enough to do my run in the morning, which in turn means I’ve been vacillating and procrastinating and lacking the benefit of an early run all day. I don’t get back in time to have dinner at a decent hour, or else I just get back far too late to get a proper night’s sleep. But worst of all, when I go running in the morning the only people around are other runners and the occasional poor sod sweeping the pavement; at night, it seems that every child in Singapore has to be kept out by its parents as late as humanly possible.

This is bad if you’re trying to put in some speed, because I don’t want to be colliding with a four year old at 7.5 miles per hour. I’d feel guilty, the parents would be mad at me, and I’d probably have sore shins for days.

But I also think that even if your children aren’t being kicked into the harbour by somebody running around in shorts and a skimpy vest, you still shouldn’t have them out that late. Yet everywhere I go late at night, there’s tiny children either running around or being carried by their parents, through brightly lit malls or walkways, as if it’s entirely normal for them to be out in the dark.

I don’t remember who told me this, but every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after midnight. Even if you’re wanting coke up your nose (maybe especially) if you stay up till 2 in the morning, you’re going to need to sleep in much later the next day before you’re back to normal.

(There are exceptions, like Margaret Thatcher, but ask any coal miner from the North of England how great her 3-hour-a-night sleep schedule was for the rest of us.)

Perhaps some of these children are truly exceptional and don’t need much sleep. Perhaps some of them are gaining rich and valuable experiences by seeing the Merlion statue at 10pm. Or running in front of cars in Chinatown. Or staring at television screens. But they can’t all be exceptional, can they? Wouldn’t it be better if at least some of them were tucked up in bed?

I assume this is less of a problem back in the UK. Say what you like about the constant waves of knifecrime on the streets of London, at least it means most people don’t have their kids outside when they should be sleeping.

They’re probably inside glued to the television, playing ultraviolent videogames.

Oh well, so much for cultural relativism. But young children’s brains are developing, along with the rest of their bodies, at a fair old clip. I can’t see that it makes sense to deprive them of the downtime they should need to recuperate and reorganize all the new experiences they’re having. But then I’m no expert in child development. Maybe anyone who does have access to stats can tell me how many hours small children should sleep for each night, and I can either stop getting cross at the toddlers that cross my path, or stop to remonstrate with random passers-by about their faulty parenting decisions.

3 thoughts on “Should your kids be up this late?

  1. Are these all Chinese kids? Staying up late seems to be a Chinese thing. My friend Pearl from Uni said it’s because sometimes your parents are working so hard you’d never see them unless you stayed up late.

    Also maybe a value for money thing. Getting every drop out of the day you have been given (for free as well!) that you can.

    I agree it’s a strange thing. Given that the Chinese are so big on achievement and using your time productively ad responsibly, it seems a very strange thing not to look after your child’s body in terms of making sure they get enough rest.

    1. “Parents these days!” – it fair warms the cockles of my heart, whatever those are.

      There’s quite a cosmopolitan mix of people dragging their children out past bedtime. In Chinatown it’s mostly Chinese (obviously) but up by the Marina Bay there’s Indians, Malays, pretty much anyone apart from Europeans, desperate to deprive their kids of as much sleep as possible.

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