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Why our kids go to bed at 7 p.m.

I usually get the same reaction when people hear about our children’s early bedtime of 7 p.m. The confused look followed by a “Huh?” or “That’s crazy, my kids would never go to bed that early!” And my favorite, “But, like when do you see them?” But that’s the deal in our house. And trust me: we spend plenty of time with them.

Rarely will I keep our girls up late just to hang out and have a play date, except for holidays or special occasions. Skipping naps is blasphemy, as a well-rested child is a happy child in my book (which equals an even happier mom and dad). Consistency and routine is key at bedtime. However, this sometimes leaves me to be unpopular both with my kids and with some of my friends. “Oh let them stay up, don’t be such a stickler!” I hear it over and over again. But alas: we are boring and predictable.

Sleep didn’t always come so easy for us, though. Like most new parents, we couldn’t get our first baby to fall asleep. Ever. Rocking was misery, the car seat never worked, and the blasted pacifier only lasted two nights of putting it back in her little mouth every hour before I trashed them all. When she was old enough (five months) and weighed over 12 pounds, we sleep trained her. She went down at 7 p.m. and didn’t feed until 7 a.m. the next morning. No Ferber-izing, no sshhh-pat, just good old-fashioned cry it out.

With our second baby, we were sleep pros! We put her down awake in the hospital bassinet, and by 11 weeks she was barely feeding at night. She preferred an even earlier bedtime of 6:30, but we eventually trained her to the same 7 p.m. schedule.

Another question we hear a lot is “but…why so early?” Well, it’s simple.

It is estimated that kids in our age range, (3 and 5) need between 11-13 hours of sleep per day. Plus we get up early for school at 6 a.m. for an earlier start than most elementary schools. Our 5-year-old is in school seven hours a day, which is long and tiring for little ones. She needs that time at night to rest and grow.

And honestly, 7-10 p.m. is my time. Between work, freelance writing, and all the household chores and mom duties, I need a little time to myself. Naptime is sacred, and so is this night window. I can work out, hang with the hubby, watch TV, or pen that novel I’ve always dreamed of. It’s crucial to our sanity and marriage.

I know many parents work late and don’t get home until our bedtime, but this is what works for us. We are in bed reading with our kids at 6:45 every single night, even on weekends. I may not be the coolest mom on the parenting block, but at least I’m well rested!

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About Kristen Hewitt, Bundoo Blogger

Kristen Hewitt is an Emmy Award Winning Producer and Reporter for Fox Sports Florida and the Miami HEAT. She also writes a blog called mommy in SPORTS which chronicles her passion for sports and the misadventures of mommy hood. Her work can also be seen on The Huffington Post, She Knows and you can find her on Facebook & Twitter. Kristen’s favorite job though is raising her two daughters, she tries to teach them to live every day with grace, gratitude, love…and a lot of laughs!

Comments

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  1. Wow! Not the feel good article i was hoping to read. Both my kids now have the 7 O’Clock bedtime. I bed shared with both of them and both of them started “sleep training” on their own shortly after 1 with very little crying. There is a reason why you feel like an awful person when you don’t comfort your crying baby. The CIO method was based on zero scientific fact and has on several occasions been shown to cause apathy in the children subjected to such brutal “training” (naturalchild.org has some great articles on this and other topics). Also, feeding (usually from birth to a max of 7 years every 1 1/2-2 hours) throughout the night is a great way not only to keep them hydrated while their body is losing moisture but also to introduce antibodies at their weakest point during the night (usually between 3am and 6am). Again I refer anyone who is interested in learning more about breastfeeding, attachment parenting, or sleep training to naturalchild.org. the site is completely free and has been my best friend for 3 years now.

  2. I hear it all the time. “I never had my kids on a schedule”
    Drives me crazy. Well I do! My kids have an 8pm bedtime daily. I have to be home before this time. It’s home and bedtime for them.
    I wish I was strong enough for the cry it out as an infant. But my baby has adjusted to her older siblings sleep schedule pretty well. I wouldn’t mind not getting up in the middle of the night to nurse though.

  3. One day I will strive for this…but luckily I do usually get a consistent 10 hour break each night when they do go down!!

  4. I’m surprised people think that’s really early! While we’re not super strict with bedtime, especially if we have company or have to be out somewhere, we do try to have the kids in bed between 7-7:30 on weeknights. I have a friend who was telling me about someone she knew that sent her kids to bed at 4:30. They’d get home from school, eat dinner, and go to bed. Now THAT’S early!

    1. 4:30? That sounds like torture!

      1. My son is in bed asleep at 5:30pm every night – it’s not torture. He needs the sleep and I get the evening! It’s a win win. My other two go to bed at 6:30pm and all are up around 6/6:30am the next morning- works for us!

  5. I’m with you 100% on the routine/schedule…we just have things adjusted a bit to fit our lifestyle better. But the concept is the same…I plan my days around nap time and bed time, and we hardly ever stray from the path. The grandparents are the ones who usually give us the hardest time about it, but I NEED my son’s nap time for my own sanity! 😉

    1. Yes Kristen! What is it with the grandparents? Whenever they come to visit schedules get wacky, naps get missed, and we are left with the cranky remnants. Sigh.