We’re those parents who put their kids to bed at the same time every day, so that by 8pm, our five-year-old and toddler twins are tucked in and ready to sleep. Once in a while, we’ll come home from a family party and extend bedtime, but the latest they usually sleep is 8:30 or 9pm. Once in a while, I’ll wonder whether we can break out of this routine, especially during the holidays when my family’s tradition is for everyone—kids included—to stay up past midnight. But then I’m reminded of the benefits of an early bedtime for my kids, including:
- Having a regular bedtime routine keeps our kids’ temper and fussiness at bay, so I only half-mind when we miss out on evening events. They thrive with consistency and appreciate that they know what to expect and when.
- The early bedtime gives me something I look forward to every day: time for myself. With all three kids in bed by 8pm, I’m given the time to do things I enjoy: blogging (hi!), reading, hanging out with my husband, exercising.
- I’m able to do chores I need to get done, like prepping dinner for the next night or cleaning the house. The early bedtime (plus the full night’s sleep) has truthfully given me back some of the sanity I’d lost during the first newborn months.
- Rare is the morning when the kids will actually sleep in because they slept late the night before. Sleeping two hours past their bedtime, for instance, doesn’t mean we’re able to enjoy an extra two hours of sleeping kids the next day (although today one of our kids slept in a whole hour later!).
- Our eldest goes to kindergarten, which means he and my husband have to be out the house by 8:15 five days a week. The repetition of waking up (and going to sleep) at the same time every day has helped make sure he doesn’t get cranky from lack of sleep and remains alert throughout his school day.
It seems my preference for an early bedtime seems sound when I hear from sleep experts Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack, authors of The Sleepeasy Solution. According to that book:
Most children do well with a bedtime between 7:00 and 8:00 PM; 8:30 is the very latest bedtime we recommend all the way up to age 10.
And so far we’ve followed this with success. Other than the occasional night out from an outing or staying up late to watch fireworks, our kids have gone to bed no later than 8pm.
Yet I also hear from other parents and family members whose kids have a completely different schedule. The kids still clock in the usual 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, but pushed way up so they’re sleeping at midnight and waking up at noon, for instance. The schedule works for them, as they’re able to spend more time with their kids in the evenings and even bring them to social functions.
As our kids have grown older, we’ve been more lenient with evening outings. We’ve come home late and taken a quick back while skipping our story time routine. Special occasions are special for a reason, and whatever grumpiness or hassles of putting a child to sleep late at night could perhaps be contained for a day.
As far as Christmas Eve and our family’s midnight revelry, we might even venture out to sleep past bedtime.
To read more about kids and sleep, read these posts:
- Help Your Kid Stay in Bed All Night
- 9 Children’s Books about Bedtime
- Your Child Won’t Nap? Read This.
- How to End Your Child’s Nighttime Fears
- 6 Tips on Helping Your Child Sleep in Their Own Bed
What time do your kids go to bed? Do you have a set bedtime every night, or are you more flexible with when your kids turn in for the night? If you have a set schedule, when have you made exceptions to bedtime? Let me know in the comments!
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