The topic of bedtimes with my children, is one that I have always struggled with. As a kid, I was sent to bed with an early bedtime ( 7ish at night ) and most times I was not tired. I HATED going to bed so early during summertime, because it was still light out and we had no school to worry about. I also hated falling asleep so early, then waking in middle of night feeling rested and realizing I was only one up, alone and in the dark. I would just lay there for hours until I saw the sun come up. I swore as a child that when I had kids there would be NO bedtimes!
Fast forward to me as a parent and I followed through with my childhood claim of no bedtimes. I always told my kids that as long as they could get up for school on their own in the morning, that they could go to bed when they wanted (within reason) . For the most part it went well. They went to bed when they got tired and sorta set their own routines and schedules. They knew when they had to be up and how much sleep they liked…which worked out in my benefit because they went to bed without me having to get on them or nag them.
I loved our later night movie times, when we would snuggle on the couch together or the later nights when they would set up sleeping bags on floor and we would make snacks and veg out and have family movie nights. I loved our late night talks and our late night walks, when they would stay up a little later. It was nice to just be able to hang out with them, without the hustle and bustle of homework, dinner making, lunch packing and so on. There was and is always so much going on in our house, that it was nice to have that little “extra” time with them. With that being said, there were times that they did try to take advantage of my lenient bed times and I had to step in and usher them off to bed. There were times when I had enough of parenting and kids for the day, where I would need a break or just some adult only time. Then I would say “O.K., you guys gotta go to your rooms, you don’t have to go to sleep, but you can’t stay down here”. I always felt like I was a bartender past last call, kicking people out of the bar , when I would say this…lol. There were times as well, that I felt my lenient rule bit me in the a** because I felt like either I didn’t get a-lot of “me time” or that my husband and I didn’t get a-lot of “us time”, but lets face it…when you have a large or larger family there is not a lot of “us time” anyway. Even though, I felt like this at times, I still don’t think I would or will change that leniency. I had people make comments to me like” how come your kids don’t have bed times?” or “it is 10 o’clock why are your kids still up?” or ” your kids should really be on a schedule”. So I doubted myself and thought…”Hey, maybe I should try a schedule?”. So I caved and tried a bedtime schedule because I felt pressured to, but it just wasn’t a good fit for OUR family.
I could never cope with strict schedules. I cant stand having to hover and be on my girls non-stop, like “lets go!” or “come on, get your teeth brushed, your clothes laid out, get your bed pulled back, get your lights off, come on, hurry and get in bed, No you may not have another drink of water!” it just wasn’t me. I found all that too stressful for both me and them. The strict routine and bed times, were just not worth a nightly battle. When we tried scheduled bed times it was chaos and took wayyyy too long to go down the line and try to get them all to conform to a set schedule. They were in tears, I was almost in tears and I was stressed out! I thought to myself “No way can I do this every, single night! No way, did I want to dread or my kids to dread bedtime every evening.” I had to stop and think why I cared about what people thought or were saying, after-all, they weren’t the parents here. They weren’t the ones that would have to do this torturous routine every night, they weren’t going to be the ones here dealing with the kids crying or wiping away tears and this wasn’t their family…it was MINE. That was the night I decided to go back to what worked for us and say screw everyone else and their 2 cents.
It gets hard not to listen to people and their advice, comments or their opinions about what YOU should do or be doing, it can get to you and at times and it can make you doubt what you are doing as the parent. Parenting is not a one size fits all when it comes to families or family life and what may work for one parent and their kids, may just not fit or work for yours. In the end you might just have to tune out what others may have to say and do what is right for your own family OR you can take the advice in, the comments in and take them under advisement. They might help you or give you an alternative that could turn out to be beneficial, but ultimately you know your family better than anyone else and you know what works and what doesn’t. Follow your heart and use your own judgement.
So where do you guys stand on bedtimes? Do you follow and have a strict bedtime schedule or routine? Are you more lax but within reason like me? Do you find it stressful ending your families night? Or do you find yourself sailing through bedtime with ease? Have any helpful tips, funny stories, helpful advice please weigh in on the comment section and please like and share our blog!