Since the very beginning, my kids have been put to bed early. FAR earlier than most of my friends’ kids. I was insecure about it at first, like many parenting things. I would second-guess my/our decision. But as my kids got older, and we added more to the bunch, I began to see that they were much better off!
Reasons I love early bedtimes:
- They get more sleep. This seems to be a no-brainer, but early bedtimes mean more sleep. It’s not abnormal for my kids to sleep 12-14 hours a night. There’s no way they would get that much if they stayed up later.
- They are better behaved. I think this goes along with getting more sleep. A tired kid is a cranky kid.
- I get more “me” time. This may sound selfish, but I spend all day homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, barking orders, and chauffeuring my kids around. It’s not unreasonable for me to clock out at a decent hour.
- *I* get more sleep. Since I have some extra time after the kids go to bed, I can get some housework done, check in online with my friends, watch a TV show with the hubby, and still get to bed by 10 or 10:30. Then I am rested and ready to start the next day!
So how early DO they go to bed?
We have a general rule-of-thumb for bedtime, and occasionally we have to bend it for outside obligations (like our Wednesday night Bible study).
- kids 0 – pre-school age go to bed at 6:45
- kindergarten – age 9 go to bed at 7:45
- ages 10 – 14 go to bed at 8:45
- ages 15 – 17 go to bed at 9:45
- 18 and up choose their own bedtimes
No, my kids are not in these higher age ranges yet, so this is a tentative plan. But I do intend to enforce bedtimes even for my teenagers, to teach them the value of getting to bed at a reasonable hour. It’s part of organizing and time management, important life skills that many teens never learn.
Our “X” system:
Sometimes our kids go to bed earlier than the official bedtime because they receive X’s. If they are misbehaving throughout the day – not listening, disrespectful, disobedience, etc – they receive an X. Each X represents 15 minutes of “free time” lost. Three X’s equals automatic loss of free time. Free time is what we call everything after 6:45 pm, when the littlest ones go to bed. So there are some nights when my 9 year old has been disrespectful, and he has to go to bed at 6:45 with the baby, but my 5 year old gets to stay up until 7:45. This is effective discipline for us, because my kids love free time. It’s when they are allowed to do anything in the craft closet, play games together, or play games on the computer or iPad with the stickers they earned.