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My Kids Live in Different Time Zones (In the Same House)

I know every mom out there is tired, but I think I could take you right now in an exhaustion contest. That's because my average parenting day is nearly 17 hours long. I blame the time zones.

See, our family of four lives together on the west coast, but my five-year-old is clearly operating on Eastern Standard Time. Whereas most kids her age are asleep by 7:00 or 8:00 p.m., my little rock star is wide awake, bouncing off the walls until nearly 10:00 p.m. every night.

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Ten o'clock? I imagine that sounds like wildly irresponsible parenting, until I tell you that she gets plenty of rest because she routinely sleeps in until a leisurely 8:00 or 8:30 each morning. Now you're a little jealous, right? Yeah, this used to be a pretty awesome sleep schedule for her dad and me--both night owls who hate rising early.

That is, until we had another baby.

The baby apparently lives in Hawaii. She gets up before the sun. She could get a job as a rooster. By the time her big sister wakes up, she has already been eating and playing and pooping for so long, it's time for a nap. Add up Miss Hawaii and Miss New York and I'm on the clock parenting for more hours than a flight to Dubai. And boy are my arms tired!

It's not good. I know it's not. But how do I get my kids to join us in Pacific Standard Time?

The endurance required to survive these supersized days of feeding, dressing, playing, caretaking, chauffeuring and so on is hard to muster, particularly since I am left with little time to recharge. Sleep is so precious, that I can't afford to waste a minute watching TV or just hanging out. Which means my husband and I haven't had an adult conversation since that weekend in January when my in-laws were visiting.

It's not good. I know it's not. But how do I get my kids to join us in Pacific Standard Time? I'll tell you what we've tried so far:

Strategy #1: Woke five-year-old up early.
Result: Extremely cranky five-year-old. No impact on bedtime.

Strategy #2: Put Baby down later.

Result: Baby woke up even earlier. Never doing that again!

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Strategy #3: Used reward chart to bribe five-year-old to go to bed earlier.

Result: It seems that driving her parents crazy is a much greater reward than any toy or treat we could offer.

The big kid starts kindergarten in August, and I'm told it will tire her out in ways she's never felt before. If she finally starts going to bed earlier, I might actually get to see my husband. Or watch "Scandal." Or both! But for now, I'm California dreamin', on such a winter's day.

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Photograph by: Amy Wruble

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