Talk to me about kid bedtimes

by DaniGirl on May 5, 2011 · 36 comments

in Mothering without a licence

Anybody want to compare notes on kid bedtimes? I’m starting to get the “Awwww, we have the earliest bedtimes in our whole class” whine from my big boys, and I thought I could thwart the complaint with a little ammunition from the bloggy peeps. “Sorry boys, the interwebs say that 6:30 is an entirely appropriate bedtime, and you know that everything on the Internet is true.”

Okay, so I don’t really put them to bed at 6:30, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do have an earlier bedtime than a lot of their classmates. Right now, the call for jammies and teeth-brushing usually goes out between 7:15 and 7:30 pm, and it takes about 20 minutes from that to get everyone under the covers.

Beloved and I take a divide-and-conquer approach — one of us shepherds the big boys while the other puts Lucas down. Bedtime stories for Lucas (age 3) usually takes another 15 minutes, so he’s lights-out at around 8 pm every night. It usually takes a little bit longer to read to the big boys (ages 7 and 9) especially if we’re reading from one book for each of them. Most nights, it’s a single book for both. (Pending blog post: book club for boys. Stay tuned for that one later this week!)

Regardless, they’re usually lights-out around 8:15 or so, and they chat and giggle for another 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the day. Simon usually conks out first (he’s like his mother that way) and I often find Tristan reading to himself by the light of his nightlight after 9 pm.

Sleeping babes

(This picture is from the archives, circa 2005. Oh how I miss the afternoon car naps!)

The routine seems pretty reasonable to me, but their bedtimes haven’t changed in years and they’re getting to the point now where they think they should be able to stay up later. And of course, the nine-year-old thinks he deserves a later bedtime than the three-year-old — and I can’t say that I blame him. But honestly, I simply can’t imagine letting them stay up any later at this point. I get up most days between 5:30 and 6:00 am, and I am done for the day sometime in the middle of the afternoon. It’s only thanks to a continuous flow of coffee that I manage to stay vertical until 9:30 pm or so, and I simply can’t end the day without reading for another 30 minutes in bed.

If we let the boys stay up any later, Beloved and I would never have any quiet time together. And really, do we need the nine-year-old watching Glee or Survivor with us? Even the Amazing Race is a little, um, racy some weeks, and I think the Big Bang Theory is still a little beyond their comprehension. I don’t watch a huge amount of TV anymore, but I do value the nightly hour or so Beloved and I watch together.

And yet, I can’t keep putting them down for 8 pm forever. The weather may not be signalling that summer is nigh, but the days are unquestionably getting longer, and nobody likes to go to bed when it’s daylight out. And of course, there is a time in the not-too-distant future when they’ll be keeping their teenaged selves up until midnight, hours after I’ve crawled into my own bed. At least Beloved is a night owl, so someone will be able to keep an eye on them if we ever do let them stay up.

So let’s compare notes. Am I really a bedtime ogre, or does this schedule roughly match yours? Do you have summer versus winter bedtime rules, or weekend versus school night, or are you as resistant to change in the routine as I am? Speak up, bloggy peeps, and save my kids from yet another potential humiliation from their peers!


{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Steve W May 5, 2011 at 9:53 am

My 5 & 7 year old are on a similar routine with bedtime being 8pm, however 7 yr old typically reads for 15 minutes or so.

2 Irene-Ann May 5, 2011 at 10:03 am

We do the same thing as you! My daughters are 4 & 7 and they have been complaining about going to bed before sundown too… I agree that they need their rest and we need some peace in the evening πŸ™‚ Sounds like your oldest is staying up later, if he is reading on his own after then others have gone to sleep.
We are pretty relaxed on the weekends, but the kids get noticeably crankier the more late nights they have. Any later than 9pm and we have trouble catching up for the next few days! Summer is another issue all together…. πŸ˜‰

3 Windex May 5, 2011 at 10:41 am

2 and 4 year-olds – on the good days heads are down on the pillow at 7:30 pm (we start bedtime routine by 7:00)
6 and 7 (soon to be 8) year-olds Get the extra half hour to read or be read to and are in bed at 8:00 pm or 8:15 pm. If the younger ones are already asleep (each share a room with one of the younger ones) then they are asleep withing 30 minutes….if the younger ones are still awake than it is close to 9:00 or after before they fall asleep. If they go to bed any later mine are too cranky to get through the day.

4 Janet May 5, 2011 at 10:43 am

I think those bedtimes are completely normal and age appropriate. Many parents let their kids stay up too late, which isn’t doing them a favour. A good night’s sleep is so important! Alone time with your husband is also important. Maybe you could make a deal with them that they can stay up an extra half hour on Friday and Saturday night if they continue to lobby for later bed times.

My son is 5 and goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:00.

5 Lynn May 5, 2011 at 11:02 am

Um…well, this is going to be embarrassing but we are well known as the bedtime bad cops around here. Our kids have always had super super early bedtimes and everyone thinks we are nuts.

Our three-and-a-half year old’s bedtime is 6:30 – we only recently moved her up from 6pm. We take her up around 6 to have a bath, and read a book, and we are out of her room by 6:30 – she’s asleep within minutes.

Our six-year-old (grade 1) has a bedtime of 7, but we are more lax with her than the others because she handles it better. She goes up sometime between 6:45 and 7, and is finished her routine and totally asleep by 7:30.

Our eight-year-old (grade 2) was just recently upgraded to a bedtime of 8, but he goes up to get ready for bed around 7:30. He’s in bed by 7:50 or so and is allowed to read using his bedside lamp until 8, then it’s lights out and he’s usually fast asleep by 8:15.

Some caveats – our school has a super early start time (8 am) so everyone has to be awake by 6:30 or so; and once summer vacation starts, we usually give everyone an extra half hour of staying up.

We absolutely ADORE our evenings together. It’s so great to have at least an hour or two to just talk out the day, maybe watch some TV or share dessert. I swear it has kept our marriage healthy, since we don’t have any family in town and literally never, ever go out or go on vacation.

Swistle recently made a post about how her older two (around 10 and 12, I think) are now staying up late, but are too young to stay up alone, and her post-bedtime with her husband has vanished for a while. Those will be interesting years!

6 Sky May 5, 2011 at 11:03 am

Sounds pretty reasonable to me. My 4 and 2 year olds go to bed around 8pm. That’s the goal anyway. The four year old is up later and longer with stories while our 2 yo has a rock, some lullabies and sleep.

7 Fawn May 5, 2011 at 11:06 am

Perhaps I am insensitive because my children are younger and not so susceptible to peer pressure, but your boys’ arguments don’t sway me much. πŸ™‚

It sounds to me like the 7 year old already has a later bedtime than the preschooler because of the longer storytime. Iif he falls asleep very quickly thereafter, it seems he needs the sleep! And if Tristan is staying up past 9 to read, then his de facto bedtime is already later — much better to spend that time reading, rather than watching TV with you during your precious adult time!

I don’t know what your ruled on reading in bed are, but maybe you can officially sanction reading until whatever time (9 p.m.?) to appease him? Nine sounds like a late bedtime to me, but then again, my oldest is only 5. Still, “Everyone else is doing it” is just not a good enough argument for me. πŸ™‚ You can go ahead and tell them you’re a fairy godmother compared to me.

8 Fawn May 5, 2011 at 11:09 am

Also tell them they shouldn’t learn their proofreading skills from me…

9 Susan May 5, 2011 at 11:51 am

We’re on the early side, still: Curious Girl just needs a lot of sleep. We start moving upstairs to get ready for bed sometime between 6:15 and 7–and 7 is the latest a bath can start (a cut off based on the fact that baths after 7 tend to end with tantrums). We move towards the 6:15 as the week goes on and she gets tireder….and then the upstairs routine can take its time. She likes baths a lot, and they involve a lot of narrative play–she’s generally in bed, then, between 7 and 7:30, and asleep between 7:30 and 8. She wakes up at 6 or 6:30, happy as a clam.

10 Elizabeth May 5, 2011 at 11:51 am

I think your bedtimes sound very similar to ours. Our daughters, 8 and 4, have the same bedtime as each other, getting into pajamas by 7:30, with lights out well before 8. We all get up just after 6:30 on weekday mornings, so they need their sleep. Weekends bring more flexibility, but we pay in crankiness for any bedtime later than 8:30 or 9. Summer bedtimes can go much later, but it all depends on the girls’ behaviour and tiredness. I have a question: why do children protest about waking up on weekdays, but spontaneously wake much earlier on the weekends? Haven’t they heard of sleeping in?

11 Anonymous May 5, 2011 at 11:56 am

My 8 (nine in July) year old son usually goes up to his room at 8pm for his “alone” time. He reads and plays around. I recently started going in at 8:45 to tuck him in and lights out. It was 8:15 and then 8:30 but all this did was make him call me repeatedly. On Wednesdays he gets to watch American Idol (we read together before it starts) with me until 8:55 and then he goes up and gets in to bed. He sleeps until 7:30 so I don’t worry that he isn’t getting enough sleep.

12 liz May 5, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Muffin Man (9) is supposed to have lights-out at 8:30, he’s pushing for 9:00 (and to be honest, it usually does end up being closer to 9:00 than 8:30).

13 DaniGirl May 5, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I’m really enjoying your perspectives on these — thank you all! Lynn, I’m so going to tell my kids about “all” my mommy friends who make their kids go to bed at 6:30. Cuz kids never exaggerate either, right? πŸ˜‰

The issue of morning wake-up time is a good one, too. I can’t think of a single time I’ve ever had to wake my kids up in the morning for something, and I can imagine it makes mornings hell if you have to drag them out of bed.

14 Rebecca May 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm

My 6-yr old goes to bed at 9 on weekdays – no bedtime on the weekend or summer because he can sleep in as long as he wants. My 14-yr old is supposed to be in bed by 10, but I’m usually out by then, so who knows? But, he knows he has to get up at 6 for school, and that if he doesn’t get up he gets a squirt of water in his face from the bathroom spray bottle. Cuz I’m mean like that.

We’re just… not that routined. They’re not particularly tired or hard to get up in the mornings (well, most days… teenagers never want to get up anyway) and if the 6 yr old seems sleepy, I just send him earlier. It’s generally no big deal.

I never did really early bedtimes because I’ve worked till 6 or 7, and at one point wasn’t getting home until 8:00 pm and would’ve never seen my boys. For a single mom, that’s just not gonna work. So, we do what works for us and don’t worry about what works for others.

15 Lindsay May 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm

My 7.5 year old goes to bed at 8. School starts at 8:15 so she needs to be up by 7 at the very latest. I will adjust her bedtime when (a) she’s having trouble falling asleep at night because she’s not tired and/or (b) she’s waking up earlier than she needs to. But right now she falls asleep within minutes and wakes up just when she’s supposed to (most days).

I will say, we made a point of making the baby’s “bedtime” about 30 minutes before the big kid’s… ’cause I remember being the oldest… the little “perks” make it easier sometimes. πŸ™‚

16 Finola May 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm

My 7 & 9 year old go up to get ready for bed at 8pm, and by the time they are tucked in with stories read, it is between 8:30 and 8:45. With the nice weather and longer evenings coming, your boys will probably do well with this slightly later bedtime, but a tip for you is that you can tell them that they can stay up later, but that extra half hour or so is quiet time. I often tell my kids that I am tired, and off duty for the last part of the day. You can decide if you want to read stories before or after that quiet time, but either way you can still have a quiet time. It works for us…but maybe boys are different?
All I know is that I need a little quiet time of my own at the end of the day just like you do, or else I turn into a very bad Mom!

17 Chantal May 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm

My 9yo and 6yo start their bedtime routine at 8pm and are usually sound asleep by 8:30. Next school year will be a challenge because they are changing schools and will have to be on the bus at 7:30 (now they are on at 8am). I bet September is going to be tough. I have no plans to change their bedtime routine as of yet. But I am more relaxed on the weekends and on holidays. I find it is hardest during the summer months when my boys still have a regular routine due to day camps but our neighbours kids are home (no care) so they are outside till really late playing.

18 suze May 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm

My 6 yr old and 4 yr olds are both in pj’s by 7. They have stories and snuggles and then some reading time. The 4 year old is lights out by 7:30, the 6 yr old by 8. They can sleep until 7:30 (or even 8) if they’re really tired, but the younger one is inevitably up at 6:30 on the dot. Her brother is usually awake by 7:15, but there’s no coming into mommy and daddy’s room until seven-three-zero. Quiet time at night, quiet time in the morning…

I truly believe that most kids (and adults) are overtired. We were out last night and didn’t get home until 8pm, and the older one was crying as we were going into the house, saying “I’m really tired”. So I’m not swayed by the later bedtimes of other kids. Or the sun. Although I have been known to put them to bed at 6:30 in the winter because it’s so dark…

19 Gabriella May 5, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Ahhhh bedtime…my 5 year old daughter should be in bed by 8 as she’s supposed to be up by 7am for school but in all honesty she stretches it until about 9pm. I hate it but I’ve got a 4 month old who’s not on any schedule at all and she just can’t understand it at all why he’s still up when she’s off to bed. Also by the time we finish dinner 6:45ish or sometimes 7 an hour till bed isn’t enough for getting in some playtime and bathtime. I can’t wait until summer so I won’t feel so bad about letting her stay up longer.

20 Anonymous May 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Wow, if you feel like the bedtime curmudgeon, than I have no idea what our kids would call me!

Our kids go to bed at 9pm and 9:30pm. Respectively, they’re 13 and 15. They need to be in their rooms 30 minutes before their bedtime for quiet reading to wind down.

Now, our 13 year old has a hard time getting to sleep so he’s often not out until 9:30 – 10:00 pm. He has ADHD and this is one of the side effects of his meds. He also doesn’t sleep well and wakes up throughout the night. He is really miserable to be around when we doesn’t get enough sleep and has really bad days at school. This is why his bedtime is so early and why the wind down time is so vital. When we make it later, he’s just miserable in the morning. Also, he has to get up at 6:30 am to catch the bus at 7:30 am.

We’ve just started to let our 15 year old go to bed whenever she wants. She’s in her room around 9 pm, usually with her nose in a book, and then turns out her light when ready. She loves to sleep and really has no difficulty determining when she should go to bed (and thankfully gets up pretty easily).

21 Paula May 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Sorry fellas but I’m with your Mom on this one. When I was a kid, my Dad was very strict about not only bedtime, but about what time we had to stop playing outdoors and be in the house.
In grade school we had to be in bed at 8:00 p.m. sharp. No excuses! In high school in Grades 9 & 10 my Dad still made me go to bed but at 9:00 p.m. and in Grade 10 it was moved up to 10:00 p.m. In Grades 11 and 12, he stopped telling me when to go to bed and by then I was happy to go as soon as my homework was done.
The kids at school who brag about being able to stay up late may not in fact be able to at all and are just kidding you. If they aren’t then their parents should be more like your parents and have them going to bed at the times all of you have too. You need your rest to grow and to be alert in school so you can learn and grow up to be as smart as your Mom and Dad. When you have kids, you’ll be putting them to bed at the same time as your Mom and Dad are putting you to bed. Trust me on this one guys, you don’t appreciate what a gift a good night’s sleep is now, but one day you will πŸ™‚

22 Jody May 5, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I don’t have the focus to describe our routine in the States or compare it to our slightly later routine here in Scotland, but briefly, I think your routine for the 9-year old is almost exactly like our routine for 10-year olds in the States. Now, we have to be up at 6:30am to catch a 7:15 bus for school in the States, so I just don’t see how the kids are going to get the required sleep unless they’ve gotten into bed by 8:15 or 8:30 at the latest. Maybe if our schedule were later, our bedtime would change. (The middle school starts half an hour after the elementary schools, quite deliberately, out of respect for older kids’ later bedtimes — the high school starts another half hour after them.)

Anyway, no, especially if there’s some chatting/reading in bed after 8:15, I don’t think that’s too early AT ALL. At home, we try to aim for lights out/no more in-bed reading by 8:30, although we don’t always achieve our goal.

23 Sharon May 5, 2011 at 4:38 pm

WE try, and I say try to get Nathan to bed or at least going that way by 8 p.m but in all honestly we don’t make it much before 8:30 and lights out by 9, although if he whines just right, Daddy reads longer and it is 9:15-9:30 which I think is way too late. But he is a night owl and not like his mother who needs more sleep than a Hibernating bear to function the next day.

I think each kid is different if he is really, really tired he will ask to go to bed, and do we argue…NO!

But it is good to have a routine and tell them, they don’t have a choice and what other kids do is their buisness. Your buiness is to run a tight ship and stay sane!

24 Nat May 5, 2011 at 4:55 pm

What time are people getting home that you can get them fed and cleaned and in bed by 7:30? Amazing to me. Anyway… different lifestyles I think.

The Boy has never been early to bed, he’s like me that way. Earliest we’ve ever started the bedtime process is 8 p.m. for 8:30 p.m. That’s when he was just starting school. It’s crept up since then. The Boy, 10, now goes up to bed between 8:45 and 9, for light out by 9:30. (With no set bed time on the weekend.)

The Man usually doesn’t get home much before 6 (in my past job, The Boy and I didn’t get home until 5:30ish.) From homework, to food … it’s usually about 7:30 by the time supper is done. We always eat together and the schedule is design for us to spend time together as a family after work. I miss The Boy and we like to do things as a unit. Mornings are mental, and evening gives us a chance to chat (had a great one about puberty last night, hysterical.)

The Boy is usually in bed by 9:30 asleep, then I usually go to bed around 11ish. Gives us 90 minutes of couple time if we want it (usually used as chill out time, or solo time.)

Going to side with the kids on this one. Being the eldest should give you, at the very least, 30 minutes stay up time. (Sounds like he’s doing that anyway…)

25 Annie May 5, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Bedtime around here is 8pm on school nights! Right now Jo is still in the tub, but in fairness it was The Fun Fair at school tonight. 830 is my limit and and later than that and I have one cranky kid by supper the next day. On weekends when she hasn’t been to bed early enough I will find her curled up asleep in the afternoon and this at the ripe old age of 7.75 (yikes)
For me it’s the attitude the following day that dictates bedtime around here!

26 Liisa May 5, 2011 at 8:07 pm

I’m really curious to know what time kids who go to bed later (say 8:30 pm on, for example) wake up. My boys (3.5 yrs and 5.5 yrs) go to bed at about 7:30 on average now that it’s lighter outside. It was closer to 7 pm in the winter. But they’ve adjusted their wake time to between 7 and 7:30 am. They just need 11.5 or preferably 12 hours of sleep.

On the odd occasion that they stay up later (I’m pretty strict with this for my own sanity), they are really tired and whiney a day or two later.

Dani, I think 8:45 or 9 pm is perfect for the two older ones (though quiet reading till a little later on occasion as a reward might be an option for your oldest).

This is such an interesting thread. People/kids/families are so different – love it.

27 Sarah (mrsgryphon) May 5, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Our girls are 2 and 5, and they have the same bedtime, roughly. We start around 7 or 7:15, and the littlest is usually asleep within 20 minutes after story and snuggle. Our Bean is a bit of a dawdler, but the goal is to have her in bed with lights out by 8:00. Honestly, that feels late to me and I would love to have her in bed by 7:30 but if we did that my husband would only have a few minutes with them at the end of the day and that’s just not fair to him (or them). They usually sleep in until 8:00ish.

All of this is up for re-evaluation when the 5 yr old starts morning kindergarten in the fall. NONE of us are “morning people” so an earlier bedtime might be required to compensate for the earlier wake up!

Also – I’m pretty sure I had an 8pm bedtime until I was at least 10 when I was growing up. My parents had 4 of us, they needed a break πŸ™‚

28 Melanie May 5, 2011 at 9:58 pm

I have marvelled at parents who say that their kids stay up late and then sleep in the next day and balance themselves out with regards to sleep. Our kids are 11.5 and nearly 9. Bedtime has always been one of those things I have tried to be consistent on as I see the impact of a late night the next day. A 7:30 bedtime or a 10 pm bedtime mean the same wake up time…6:30 am. No sleeping in here. The summer is a little different as we are all home but too many late nights creates disaster. Last summer it was the last week of the holidays and they started to sleep a little past 7 am! We are not being mean, we just want happy families! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

29 Leanne May 5, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Boys, 8 and almost 4, I’m at home with the little fella, big guy wakes at 7am to make an 8am bus. We get ready for bed between 8 and 8:30 most nights. We aren’t usually finished dinner till 7 or 7:30pm due to my husband’s work schedule (not home till around 6/6:30) . Tonight we didn’t get home from a school function till nearly 8pm, so bedtime, by the time they wound down, was around 9pm.

If the little fella falls asleep around 6 or 7pm and I try to put him into bed, he’ll be wide awake around 9 and want to be up till midnight or later and there is no way to get him back to sleep.

When they were babies/toddlers, they didn’t settle for their long sleep till around 11pm. I’m a night owl, so their schedule reflected mine and my husband’s. Also, we never had set nap schedules: when the babies were tired, they slept. When they weren’t tired, they were awake. We never used cribs and often wore our babies.

I’m pretty lucky in that the 8 year old pretty much puts himself to bed. He sometimes needs a little cajoling to put a book down, but if he’s tired, he’ll crawl into bed without even being asked. The little fella rarely gives us trouble about bed except when he’s had a late day nap.

30 Sara May 6, 2011 at 12:34 am

Lil’ Man goes to bed during the week at 8pm. On weekends he is allowed to stay up until 9 which is when I go to bed. He is at the age he doesn’t want to miss out on anything and to be honest most nights I fall asleep on the couch before he goes to bed.

Our weekends are jam packed and the only “me” time I get all week is the 30 mins while he is in swimming lessons.

In the summer, bedtime is later and with no school we play it by ear. We have so much freah air and are on the go so much that there is no need to worry that he will be up too late.

With that said. Lil’ Man is five and after dinner inwatch him very closely. He is a VERY cranky boy when he is getting tired.

My bedtime however was the same from as far back as I could remember until I hit high school. I had to be in bed by 8pm. When I hit high school my bed time was 9 pm. Yes, my parents had me be in bed for 9. So sad. I know. Of course they never checked up on me because if they did, they would have noticed I wasn’t there. What high school student is in bed by 9? Nowadays I’m lucky if I am not yawning and falling asleep where I am by 9 pm.

I think the boys should have staggered times within a half hour to 45 mins of eachother or something but you are the mom. You have to do what works for your family and your sanity. If it is easier to get them all wrangled at once. I’d say stick with it.

31 jennyandtim May 6, 2011 at 7:13 am

We have a similar bed time. Showers at 7:00, and stories for each of them after that. We try to get the 4 and 5 year-olds to bed as close to 7:30 as possible. The 9 year old is now staying up until 8:00. The older two usually fall asleep pretty quickly, while the little one plays in his bed for a while.

A few exceptions to this. If they are up late the night before, or are disagreeable, they may be going to bed earlier. T-ball and soccer may lead them to being up a little later on nights. When school is out, they can all stay up until about 8:00.

32 Mary @ Parenthood May 7, 2011 at 6:13 am

I had an 8pm bedtime at that age! My brother did too and I vividly remember how “unfair” I felt it was. In my case though my parents moved us from 7:30pm to 8pm at the same time. I had to go to bed at 7:30pm for a whole two years longer than he did. Still rankles a bit.

With Elizabeth bedtime is based on whether she is showing signs of being tired. 6pm and rubbing her eyes? Bed. Right now she’s two and we mostly have her in bed by 7. After the
time change she was going to bed super early for a while for some reason, but has gradually shifted back. I find that if she’s tired but I don’t get her to bed right away she takes lot longer to fall asleep. There’s kind of a sleep window and if you stay up past that window you get a second wind. We also let her sleep until she wakes up, usually around 8:30 or so.

In the case of your sons, particularly the older one, I would set a target number of hours to sleep based on age and go with that. According to Wikipedia, 3 year olds need an average of 11 to 13 hours, and the other two are in the 11 to 9 hour range. Everyone should have at least six hours before their lowest body temperature for the best sleep.

Our society doesn’t value sleep and most people, especially teens, are chronically overtired. So standing up to that pressure is challenging. Do your boys care about looks yet? Too little sleep stunts growth. And apparently makes you less beautiful πŸ™‚

33 Anne May 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I agree with another poster how different families are – it is fascinating.

We’re on the “curmudgeon” side here, with an 8 and 13 year old, both in bed by 8 (the younger one a bit earlier than the older). We are definitely the strictest, meanest parents around, but we have had years of dealing with a child (the oldest) who just needs a lot of sleep. It doesn’t help that he is an early riser too, so like Melanie, it doesn’t matter whether bed is 8 pm or 10 pm, same early wake up time. I remember someone saying that for babies, “sleep promotes sleep”, which really worked for my babies, and I still find that an early night will more likely lead to a bit of a sleep-in than a late night. I can’t wait for that typical teenage body clock to kick in!

We’ve done the rounds of sleep specialists and sleep studies etc, and the consensus seems to be that our kid isn’t all that unusual in needing the amount of sleep he does, it’s just that others are sleep deprived. I know when I’m helping in the kids classrooms I notice so many kids yawning and fidgeting – I can’t help wondering whether a bit more sleep might help them focus more.

I do feel sorry for my eldest as he struggles to explain to his friends why he isn’t responding to their text messages at 10 and 11 pm – when you’re that age it’s so hard to admit to something which is “uncool” in the extreme. However it’s just not worth the crankiness and poor performance at school for him to go to bed late like all his peers. Even as an adult I struggle with the discipline of going to bed when I need to – those quiet hours are so precious I am often tempted to stay up way past my bedtime!

34 Rae May 8, 2011 at 8:51 pm

We set the call for bedtime around 8pm most nights (9 on Fridays) and the kids brush teeth, jammies etc, and usually in bed by 820. The 9 year old gets to read till 845, the 7 year old still likes being read to, and the 2.5 year old is usually down by 845 too, but we are later moving morning people.

9 year old wakes at 7am latest, unles she went down late. 7 year old has to be crowbarred out of bed no matter how early she goes to bed. She just never seems to have enough sleep. 2.5 year old is up at 6. No matter what. He can usually be convinced to snuggle for a few hours until either #1 takes him for breakfast, or I get up at 730.

The time for you and your beloved is very important, and you should always consider it when working on bed time!

35 Natalie May 10, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I’m with Lynn and Paula on this one. We worship at the altar of sleep. Our four-and-a-half year old triplets are in bed, lights out, by 7pm every night, which means dinner is over by 6:15 and the bath routine starts. For us it has mostly been a question of survival. Then tend to get up by 6:15 each morning regardless of what time they go to bed. So any later than that and we have three cranky kids. Also, having gone back to school myself, evenings are precious as much as for catching up on chores, school work or just saying hi to my husband πŸ˜‰ That said we’re thinking of giving them an extra half and hour on Friday nights over the summer as a special priviledge for good behaviour and see how that works out. I also agree that kids may tell all kinds of fibs when it comes to bed times. When I was a kid there was a girl at school (6th grade I think) who always bragged about how late she was allowed to stay up. One night I called her at 7:45pm for a question about homework and I was given royal heck from her dad for calling past her bedtime! I see alot of sleep-deprived kids at our kids’ school and lots of behaviours attributed to ‘oh he’s just being a kid’ when actually, it looks alot like sleep deprivation to me. Just my two cents.

36 Julie May 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I consider myself to be a bedtime nazi as well. My 3 and 4 year old boys are both in bed by 7. We have an early start school here (7:45) so my kids are up somewhere between 5:30 and 6 to start their day. If I let them go to bed later, they are still up at the same time.

I always have comments on my 3 year old looking and acting tired. He sleeps 11 hours at night and another 2 hours for his nap every day. I have even considered moving his bedtime earlier to 6:30 but haven’t yet. Thank goodness I have over a year until he starts school.

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