Bedtime: a moveable feast in our house
I used to be a stickler for bedtime, but lately routine has gone out of the window. Does it matter?
Bedtimes used to be a set-your-clock by event in my house. Children in bed by 7.30pm no matter what, sometimes earlier if things weren’t going well.
Yet, lately that has all changed. Try as I might – and admittedly it hasn’t been that hard – there are still children floating about after 9pm on many nights of the week. This plays serious havoc with any shreds of quality time my husband and I hope to have.
Evenings getting out of control
How did this dismal state of affairs come about? It must be a combination of things. My eldest son – now 12 and in high school – finds his more grown up evening activities stretching later and later. Last night we didn’t get back from the school show until after 9pm.
He and his brother – who is nine – have always had similar bedtimes, out of convenience and the fact it seemed to suit. So, he’s up too. But then his cubs now doesn’t finish until 8.30 and football the same.
Combine that with a toddler who refused to do routine and often wants to stay up to see his daddy, which I haven’t the heart to turn down, and you’ll see the situation.
Are the battles worth fighting?
The question is do I get strict and stroppy and start clockwatching, or just get used to going with the flow?
If it seemed to make a huge difference to the boys, then I’d be more inclined to tighten the rules, but I don’t think it is. Experts have worked out a recommended amount of sleep for the 'average' child, but I’ve yet to meet average children.
According to this Milpond Children’s Sleep Clinic report a 12 year old needs 9.25 hours sleep, a nine year old 10 hours and the toddler, 11.5. So, that would mean – assuming we’re all up at 6.30am – the toddler goes to bed at 7pm, middle boy at 8.30pm and the oldest at 9.15pm. Hmm. I can’t see that working in any way for us.
On the other hand, letting them get exhausted isn’t going to do them any good either, especially on school days.
Dozy at school's not classy
Secret Housewife said: “As someone who works in a primary school it really gets to me when I see little ones with dark circles under their eyes because they are so tired. It’s not fair on them and definitely affects their ability to work. well and enjoy school.”
And scientists agree: children who don't have regular bedtimes do less well in school.
I don’t think my kids are being adversely affected as they seem to be able to get up in the morning and are still full of bounce by the end of the day. But maybe we need to make a bit more effort on days when there’s no evening activity and push things along so they go to bed early. And staying up later at the weekend is a rarity in our house because I don’t think anyone catches up on sleep very quickly.
So, perhaps it’s time to revisit some advice about bedtime routines and to stop worrying about it.
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