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!