Many moons ago when I was still struggling to get my daughters to go to bed after "one more glass of water," it was hard for me to imagine a time when my kids would be responsible for setting their own bedtime and waking up without reminding. One bleary eyed morning I was meeting an older friend for coffee and complaining about our nightly ritual when she shared with me that she canceled curfew for her 18 year old son. Obviously way past having to tuck him in at night, she gave him the freedom to organize his evenings for most of his senior year.
She said she would rather he learn the consequences of staying out too late when he was still living at home than when she was paying for his higher education. In her opinion it prepared them both for his freshman year of college. A little bit of Love and Logic for the older crowd!
College advisers note that many students are not successful their first year. Time management, sleep difficulties, alcohol, and skipping class are among the top ranking reasons why freshman struggle through this transition. Some kids have "senioritus" in college, with a huge academic consequence. Part of learning in college is the real world stuff. No matter how late you stay up, morning comes at the same time every day.
I was horrified, terrified, and kind of excited. The idea of not regulating bedtime forever appealed to me. On and off for the next dozen years I remembered this sage advice.
This partnership in learning was successful not because they did it "perfectly" but because they didn't, and they managed the accountability from home. Now that they are both past their freshman year of college they keep weird hours, but its all good. Transitioning home for breaks means resuming the "roomate rules" that worked since they turned 18. Now they don't have to check in when they come home, because I know they've got it figured out. I rest easy.
It will be a long time before our bedtimes are in sync, but that's okay. I still enjoy making coffee for them in the morning.