5 Reasons Why My Kids Are in Bed Before 8 P.M.
Bedtime: probably one of the most passionate discussions amongst parents. People usually have pretty strong feelings about it because the sleep habits of our children impact us as parents more than anything.
There are all types of parents: bedtime avoiders, bedtime lovers, and those who are indifferent and just roll with it. This is why I get a wide range of responses when I get asked when our kids go to bed and I respond with “between 7 and 8.” Some parents instantly nod their heads and agree that an early bedtime is crucial to everyone’s sanity in their home, too, while others gasp in shock and ask what type of sorcery we use to get our kids to sleep that early and if we even have a life.
It doesn’t work for everyone, and there are a lot of working parents who prefer to have their kids go down a bit later in order to spend some more quality time together or differing schedules that would interfere with an early bedtime. But an early kid’s bedtime is crucial for my husband and me for a few reasons.
Here's why it works for us:
- I’m a full-time, stay-at-home mama. I get a lot of time clocked in as “mom”. I also feel like my best self when I’m a hands-on and interactive mom throughout the day, so I end my days feeling pretty beat. After a full day of playing and teaching, I’m ready to take a step back for a bit. In order for me to be the invested and energized mama I want to be during the day, I need some time at night for myself. I notice a massive difference in my enthusiasm and patience during the day with my kids when I get that time at night. I need time to work on my own hobbies and goals and spend just a little bit of my day not worrying about little people and their demands. As a mom, it’s okay to place some focus on yourself, too. For me, it makes me a much better mama during the day and I wake up excited to see them in the morning.
- My marriage is my utmost priority. I believe that a strong, healthy marriage where parents are able to connect and lean on each other creates a strong foundation for everyone else in the family – including those who are reliant on that marriage (the kids). My husband and I both need that time to connect – to talk, hang out, go over something needing attention, or just have fun together. As a stay-at-home mom, I also really love that quality adult interaction. An early kid’s bedtime allows us both to be on the same page and to be up to date with each other’s lives. It keeps us connected and keeps us a strong team. It also gives our marriage another side that is different from the parenting gig that we do all day, which is something I love. We are not solely “mom” and “dad,” we have other roles too. After some quality time all together after dinner, my husband and I both know it’s time to start the bedtime routine. Which leads me to my next point...
- Our kids have a pretty extensive bedtime routine. It’s not just a “lights out” scenario. I don’t always love how long it can be, but it’s really important to our kids and their love languages. This is a time that author Kim John Payne would call a “pressure valve” opportunity – and it really is for us. In his book, “Simplicity Parenting,” he talks about how there are certain windows throughout the day when kids are most likely to talk to you about things that are important to them, relieving (and preventing) a lot of juvenile anxiety. This time is different for every child, but for us, when the lights are low and the house is quiet and it’s just me or their dad lying beside them in bed, it tends to be the time they want to talk and connect the most. Between this and lots of reading, the bedtime routine has taken up quite awhile by the time we actually leave their room - having an earlier start time helps to allot for this important part of their day that we spend with them.
- Kids need sleep. A LOT of it. Sleep is connected to nearly every function and impacts everything from the immune system to mental health – especially in kids. I find our kids’ coping skills and effortful control to be at a totally different capacity when they are well-rested versus when they don’t get enough sleep. We have found sleep to typically be the number one influencer of our kids’ behavior, so it really is a gift to us all when everyone is well-rested. There are a lot of charts you can find online, but for our five-year-old and two-year-old a +/-12 hour night is recommended by pediatricians (plus a nap for the 2 year old). The best way to calculate appropriate bedtimes is to work backwards from when your child wakes up. Our kids are naturally up by 7-7:30 a.m. each day no matter what, so that means they go down at that time each night to get the right amount of sleep for their age.
- There is definitely a certain amount of flexibility for us here. Parties, holidays, special weekends, and events all mean a later bedtime, because that’s life! I think it’s important to make fun memories and not completely resign your life to a schedule every single day. But for normal weekdays, this is what works for us and what allows us all to thrive and be our happiest.
But what if your child has a hard time going to bed early? What if they’ve always been night owls and you don’t know where or how to start? I’ve got some tips up my sleeve for you. Be on the lookout for my next article: 'Helping Your Kids Get to Sleep Earlier – the Easy Way'
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash