What Time Do You Put Your Kids to Bed?


For many years when we first became parents — especially the three-kids-age-4-and-under phase — we set early bedtimes for our children. Like really early. Like 5:30 PM early. 6:00 at the latest. It’s almost hard for me to imagine it now, because our life is so different these days, but at the time, nap schedules and bedtimes were a big deal for us.

Especially when they were little, my kids really soaked up their sleep. They would wake up, be busy, busy, busy, then zonk out for naps, then be busy, busy, busy until 5:00 dinner. After that it was baths and bedtime stories, and then they were out for the night. We’re talking 12 to 15 hours of sleep total (naps + night sleep) over a 24 hour period. Sleep is how they recharged for their very busy lives as two-year-olds. : )

At times, our regular sleep schedule made things awkward and was disruptive. We were fine doing social things after 7:00 PM — we’d get a sitter and feel confident that our kids would be asleep the whole time we were gone. But if there was a party or family gathering that took place during the 5:00 to 7:00 range, we would usually leave early, or decline to attend. I remember getting side-eye from other mothers, and even relatives, thinking we were ridiculous and that our sleep schedule was too strict. And maybe we were ridiculous.

But though it wasn’t always ideal, the strict sleep schedule offered huge benefits for us. From what I could determine, all that sleep made for happy, good-natured kids, or at least seemed to help in a big way! At some point I connected the dots that if my kids were acting out, they were probably tired. (I should have assumed this from the beginning, because I’m the same way. For me, exhaustion and bad manners are directly correlated.)

In addition to feeling like I was helping my kids be their best selves, I also LOVED having quiet evenings where I could work on my own projects. In fact, without early bedtimes, I don’t think I ever would have managed to start Design Mom.

So now I’m curious. What time do you put your kids to bed? Is it a specific hour? Or does it range depending on the evening? And have you ever instituted early bedtimes for your kids? If yes, did it work for your family? Why am I asking? I love conversations about sleep — since it’s a universal thing we experience as humans, everyone has an opinion or thought to share, and in the conversations, I seem to always learn another way of thinking, another point or view, or another way to approach life.

kidbed_oceanlifepostersThe Treehouse: A Bedroom for Two Brothers | Design Mom

These days, we still have set bedtimes but they are much later. 5:30 PM isn’t even an option for us any more, and that’s fine. Instead, the goal is just consistency. Keeping to a regular schedule as much as possible makes a big difference for us. There are still exceptions — nights were we don’t make it home until later — but we aim for a regular schedule and we mostly make it.

How about you? Have you found it harder to keep a set bedtime as your kids get older? Or maybe you have a baby or toddler who seems to be schedule-resistant? Also, if you had to rank the importance of diet, exercise and sleep on how they influence your health, what would you put first? (No surprise, I would put sleep first. I love my sleep!)

67 thoughts on “What Time Do You Put Your Kids to Bed?”

  1. I can’t even imagine putting my son to bed before 7pm. I work a full-time job, and don’t get home until between 5:30- 6pm typically, so I’d never see him if he had an early bed time. I fully believe that you should do what works for your kid though.

    Jordan just turned 4, and we’ve shot for an 8:30-9pm bed time for the past year or so. He sleeps until 7am, which gives him a full 10 hours of sleep, plus he takes a two hour nap every day. He seems to thrive with a 10 hour night + 2 hour nap.

    1. This, exactly. My toddler goes to bed between 7:30 and 8, and sleeps until 6:30am. Between that and a nap (… some days), she’s doing fine.

      Practically speaking: we get home from work/daycare around 5:30. HOW do parents manage to get dinner on the table, eat dinner, and see their kids with a 6pm bedtime? Logistically?

      1. We do the 7pm bedtime with two little ones (18 months and 3 and a half). It is definitely a juggle to manage as we also get home from work between 5.30-6.00pm. On daycare days we have dinner for the children already made, so walk in the door, heat it up and they eat straight away. Quick bath, and then straight into stories, milk, teeth and bed at 7pm.

        We are lucky to have a nanny 2 days a week, so when she is in charge she feeds the kids around 5pm, so when we get home at 6pm it is just a matter of bath and then stories.

        It doesn’t leave a lot of time to see the children, although I see them in the morning. My kids are so tired by the end of the day that it isn’t really quality time anyway. I don’t think I could keep them up any later, probably as it is just what they are used to…

      2. We do the 7pm bedtime with two little ones (18 months and 3 and a half). It is definitely a juggle to manage as we also get home from work between 5.30-6.00pm. On daycare days we have dinner for the children already made, so walk in the door, heat it up and they eat straight away. Quick bath, and then straight into stories, milk, teeth and bed at 7pm.

        We are lucky to have a nanny 2 days a week, so when she is in charge she feeds the kids around 5pm, so when we get home at 6pm it is just a matter of bath and then stories.

        It doesn’t leave a lot of time to see the children, although I see them in the morning. My kids are so tired by the end of the day that it isn’t really quality time anyway. My 3 year old no longer naps which is a big part of it, and my 18 month old only has one nap (about 1.5 hours) a day. I don’t think I could keep them up any later, probably as it is just what they are used to…

  2. I’ve got a 1.5 year old and she’s had a 7:30 pm bedtime for about a year now. It’s late enough for my husband and I to see her after daycare pickup and time to eat dinner together, do bedtime routine etc, but late enough that my husband and I do things like watch tv, clean up, or one of us run an errand before our bedtime. I do try to be a stickler about it. I agree well rested = well behaved.

  3. My husband and I get to work late and get home late mostly to dodge traffic and because that’s what is expected of lawyers where we work (and maybe in general?). So I am gone from the house from about 9:15 AM to about 7:30 PM. My 2 and 4 year olds go to bed between 9 and 9:30 PM. The 2 year old takes a long nap every day and wakes up around 6:30 AM. The 4 year old doesn’t nap and typically sleeps until 8 or so. Even when they were babies, they started sleeping through the night by first sleeping from about 1 AM until 7 AM, then rolling bedtime earlier and earlier. So, it’s never, ever been earlier than 8 PM. I would like to get it earlier than 9:30, though, because they are crabby and hyper by then, and half the time I fall asleep alongside them and so the evening is shot.

  4. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    I was just talking about this last night.

    I think Americans are generally sleep deprived. I now have an alarm for bedtime for myself. I’m a night owl. It isn’t easy to go to bed early but I’m trying to get into the habit and not ignore my alarm. My whole existence is better for it.

    My 13 year old daughter is chronically sleep deprived. Our twisted education system puts too much pressure on middle schoolers and above and she has 3 hours of homework a night (I’m ready for a revolution). We value sleep so much in our family. It means she doesn’t get family time and social time nearly enough because when she is done with homework it is bed time-by 9:00 if we can. She gets on the bus at 7:00 am. She lives to sleep in.

    My 9 year old son is miserable (and so are we when he is tired) without enough sleep. He can’t sleep in. His body won’t do it. He wakes up every morning within 15 minutes. Between 5:45 and 6:00 a.m. He is so active during the day that he doesn’t fight bedtime and never has. We start the routine between 7:00-7:30 p.m. We dread the days when he has soccer starting at 7:30. He is exhausted. We’ve just come to the conclusion that it isn’t worth pushing him. Our lifestyle has just been to work around it in this chapter of our lives. We are either home to put him to bed (along with his beloved reading time with Dad…entire chapter book series) or we get a sitter. If and when he can sleep in we’ll shift it.

    Sleep is everything. We are all better for it. Sleep is worth fighting for.

    1. “Sleep is worth fighting for.” This is going to be my motto for the next month while I create a healing sleep pattern for our family. Thanks, Pamela.

      1. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

        “A healing sleep pattern”- I think I have a new motto that may just get me to bed when my “GO TO BED! ” alarm goes off. Thanks Tina!

  5. I love a good sleep conversation, too, and will be curious to see others’ responses! Our 2 boys (6 and 3-almost-4) generally go to bed around 7:30pm. We both work, but are home by around 5, have dinner around 5:30/6, then have a little playtime before heading up. We have early risers, so regardless of when they go down, they’re almost always up at around 6/6:30am.

    We’re in a super awkward phase nap-wise, though. One usually takes one, one usually doesn’t, so we do mandatory quiet time for an hour+ when we’re all home on weekends (mostly to save my sanity).

    All of the above is flexible, though. We do our very best to respect early bedtimes and naps, but if we have things going on we try not to stress the occasional later bedtime or missed ‘quiet time.’

  6. I love this conversation! I have a little babe – 10 months old, but I am very conscious of her schedule and sleep and she is happier for it. She sleeps from 6:45-6:30 or so and naps about 3.5 hrs a day. She is VERY active, so all the daytime sleep keeps her going with her busy lifestyle ;) :P

  7. We have two young kids (1.5 & 3) and both are in bed and asleep before 7pm. We’ve gotten a lot of grief for this from friends, but we know our kiddos are happier and better behaved because of it. We both work, so it means less awake time with them, which is definitely hard, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

  8. The trick to later bedtimes working? Blackout curtains! :)

    When my daughter was tiny, we did a 6:30pm bedtime and it worked really well for her. Now that she’s older and my husband doesn’t get home until late most nights, her bedtime is 8:30pm.

    Fortunately, with the blackout curtains she’s able to sleep until about 7:15am and then take about an hour nap most afternoons.

    Great topic!

  9. I like sleep discussions too, although I am more curious on the older kid side of things at this point in out parenting. When they were little, well our oldest 2, we definitely had set bedtimes and routines, however if we were traveling or with family/friends we would flex the schedule so we could all enjoy the special occasions! Now we have one starting high school, one in middle school and one starting K. The oldest one, we try to have in bed between 9 and 10 at the latest, the middle one is 8/8:30 and the youngest 7/7:30 (this is all the school year, summer relaxes a bit and we like to get outdoors later with the sunshine.) Our youngest is quite a bit younger than the other two, so her bedtime has not been as consistent as the other two at her age, but that is merely because of the activities of the older ones. I have had a few people say to me that our oldest goes to bed early…not to us, but maybe when compared to other kids?! I can’t fall asleep (even if I want to) until the kids are all in bed…what time are other teens going to bed?

    1. I have kids on the older end, and I can tell you it boils down to… what sleep can they get? I have a middle schooler and a high schooler. By the time they get home from after school sports/activities, it isn’t that long until dinner. We encourage them to take half an hour to do whatever they want; surf, check emails, read, anything to help decompress. We eat dinner as a family then they go to/go back to homework, which often takes hours. The middle schooler is usually in bed by 9:30 unless homework dictates he stay up later. Often it does. He gets up around 7 to allow time for a shower before school. We’re lucky in that he goes to a charter school that starts a little later than traditional public middle schools. My high schooler goes to bed around 10:00 unless she has homework that isn’t done. Impressively, she is up at 6, out the door by 6:28 to catch the bus to her school. High schools start at a ridiculously, ungodly early hour for these kids; 7:18. It’s all about what can they get. They’re always tired and live for the weekends.

      1. 7:18?! That’s insane. In our city in Canada, the highschools start at 9:30 am! This accomodates the sleeping patterns of teenagers and the buses (so the buses do the younger kids and then the highschool routes).

  10. Ours are 9, 7, and 5, and they all go to bed at 8. The little one gets up at 5:45 like clockwork. Doesn’t matter if she had a nap, went down late, swam all day, etc. Everyone is up at 6:30, summer or not. Even though 8 is early for a nine year old, she needs it, and she just doesn’t know its a choice. Also, they all have an hour and a half rest time in the afternoon during the summer. It’s necessary for all of our sanity.

    1. This is our house exactly. We have two kids, 9 and 7. They go to bed between 7:30 and 8pm. The younger one gets up at 5:45-6am like clockwork. It also doesn’t matter if she had a nap, went down late or swam all day. Our 9 yr old has asked for a later bedtime in summer, but we just explain that sleep is as important as eating healthy. They have an hour rest in the afternoon during the summer when they get home from summer camp. They are allowed to read, but no screens during rest time.

  11. J.A. from Amsterdam

    Totally early bedtimes here! Before 7:30PM please, for both my four year old and my five month old. Bedtime has crept to 8 PM around that time when the pre-schooler is ready to drop that nap, but otherwise always always bed early. We wake at 7 AM. Yes, my kids sleep! And naps used to be 12:30PM to 4PM. My five month old takes three two hour naps a day (he is a unicorn baby though).

  12. Our kids are 3 and practically 6 and they both go to bed at 7. I work part time and different hours every week, but my husband is always home at 4:30. If its a work day for me I’ll spend the day with them, and then go to work for a couple hours in the evening and my husband does supper and bed time. Or sometimes we are all home together and its still the same – 7pm. Our neighbours have three kids age 8,7,and 3, and they all don’t go to bed until 9 or 9:30. I don’t know how the parents do it. I need that time with my husband to refresh and recharge before our bed time at 10.

    1. Aside from the fact that my kids are 5 and 1.5, I swear I could have written this myself! I am baffled by families whose kids go to bed late because I NEED that time at night without them. Time for me to unwind, time to hang out with my husband and eat junk food, time to watch grown-up tv…

      I definitely wouldn’t mind kids who slept a little later in the morning, but not at the expense of my evenings.

  13. Very interesting discussion! We try to have our two kids asleep between 7.30 and 8pm. Our five year old wakes up early around 7am, the 1.5 year old wakes between 8 and 9am. She used to sleep until 10 or 11am in the winter, every day! After our son who was very hard to convince that sleep is a good thing that was very much a surprise. Our little one also takes 2 hour naps in the afternoon. When we have events going on we are flexible either way. As long as the kids are well behaved and happy they can stay up. If not, the tired one will have to go to bed when we deem it fit. And that might be at 6pm while there is a big party going on just outside. Thankfully they are flexible!

  14. I’m in the thick of it with young children right now (I have a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old) and we have also embraced the early bedtime. My kids sleep 7 PM to 7 AM, and the little one takes a 1-3 hour nap every afternoon. My 4-year-old also had to rest quietly in his room for at least 1.5 hours every afternoon. He doesn’t nap much these days but I think those 90 minutes of alone time help all of us recharge.
    I see a HUGE difference in my kids’ behavior when they haven’t gotten enough sleep. We do veer from the schedule for parties, holidays, of other special events, but I have to build in extra naptime of an earlier bedtime the next day to make up for the late night or else I notice a negative shift in their moods. I teach elementary school children and, honestly, I think half of the “difficult” kids are mostly just overtired!

    I have to admit a small part of me dreads my kids getting older and having a later bedtime. Right now I really enjoy the few hours of kid-free adult time my husband and I can enjoy in the evenings (he and I both work mostly from home, so even with a sitter who comes to entertain the kids in the afternoon we still have a ton of family together time during the day and it’s nice to have adults-only time in the evening to chat or watch an R-rated movie or whatever).

  15. Bedtime at our house is a firm 8 pm, sometimes earlier and rarely later. Boys are 4 and 2. The little one still naps (1.5 hrs at daycare and 3+ hours when he’s at home) and the older one has quiet time (typically books or ipad). The older one was a terrible sleeper when he was a baby (up 4-5 times a night every night and eventually slept through the night at 2 years and 4 months old) so we initiated a bedtime routine with him around 5 months (all the books suggested this to help him sleep through the night but, as I said, expected results were delayed by many months!). By the time we get home from work and daycare, dinner is typically on the table at 6:30 and bedtime routine starts at 7:00 pm (potty, bath, teeth, pjs, stories, hugs/kisses, song). Lights out by 8 pm, and despite an hour of getting ready for sleep, sometimes it takes a while longer for them to actually sleep (8:30) and other times they’re totally out at 7:30. I’d love for them to have an earlier bedtime, but with work schedules it’s nearly impossible unless I want to feed them mac and cheese for dinner every night (which I don’t). Also, we are close to the western edge of our time zone (MST), which means later sunsets. We have blackout shades, but they know the sun is still up! The last two weekends my 4-year-old has more-or-less put himself to bed at 5 pm one of the days. Totally agree that exhaustion leads to bad choices/behavior (for kid, mom and dad). It is SOOOO hard to get my 4-year-old to nap even though he REALLY needs it. Any suggestions?

  16. When my kids were babies and toddlers I would do the bath/story/bedtime routine between 7 and 7:30 each night. I work full time (and am a Single Mom by Choice so it has always been just me and them) and I would pick them up at 5-5:30 from daycare so we needed time for driving home, dinner prep and dinner and a bit of playtime before bed. I loved being with them but do remember always walking down stars and flopping on the couch with relief when they were in bed! I was very flexible with bedtime and adjusted as necessary for our social lives- my kids were always good sleepers (fell asleep easily and stayed in their own beds all night) so I never felt like altering the schedule was detrimental in any way.

    As they got older their bedtimes got appropriately later. 8-ish in early years of elementary school, then 8:30 is 5th grade etc. My 13 year old 7th grader currently goes to bed between 9:30 and 10 on school nights and by 11 on weekends, but there is tremendous variability. My 16 year old sophomore goes to bed sometime after I go to bed at 10:30 or 11 (I don’t know exactly when because I am asleep!) Both kids wake easily at 7:15 for school, so I think they are getting enough sleep (they leave for school at 7:30 after a quick breakfast of cereal – boys need so little “get ready ” time!)

    Interesting discussion – am enjoying reading about everyones schedules!

  17. We have 3 1/2 year old twins, and sleep has always been a priority for us. We are older parents and I think I would have died if I hadn’t done that. ha! So I let the comments and side-eyes roll off my back. People used to freak out when my kids were babies and toddlers, and they needed to go to sleep by 5:30 or 6:00 pm. But they have always been early risers, and when they were tiny, they were a hot mess if they weren’t in bed by that time. We don’t have a fixed bedtime and haven’t ever really; it all depends on when they wake up that morning and if and how long they napped. Easy for me to say, I know, since I’m a SAHM. So no one ever gets judgements from me on when they put their kids to bed. You just have to do what works for your family and roll on. In general, even if they do nap in the afternoon, right now I don’t ever put them to bed past 8pm, because they are still almost always up by 6am, and that’s a long day. I’ve learned my lesson that, after a couple of bedtime meltdowns.

  18. My kids had exactly the same long nap, early to bed schedule you speak of when they were little! Now that they’re much bigger we are still very regimented about sleep compared with all of their friends. My 12 and 10 year olds are in bed at 8:30pm and my 14 year old is in bed at 9:30pm (sports practice and exam studying are the only exceptions to the rule). They rise for school early, by 6am and are able to shower, eat and dress without rushing. They hate being tired and LOATHE rushing even more. This does mean we limit recreational television/electronics access during the school week, so that waking hours can be spent on homework, sports and hanging out with Mom & Dad.

  19. Right now we are in the 7:30 pm during winter/8pm during summer bedtime with our 2.5 year old son. We are totally in the same camp of leaving parties early to preserve sleep. We noticed a huge difference in behavior when he gets even an hour less sleep per night, so we are pretty strict about it. I agree with you- those precious evening hours post- bedtime are my most productive! :)

  20. Hannah Beth Reid

    A few years ago we instituted a 7:30 bedtime. Our 6 year old was having trouble waking up in the morning, so pushing up her bedtime slightly has been helpful in balancing her wake up time with our schedule the days we need to leave in the morning. It has also improved her outlook on mornings. ;) A new addition to our routine is allowing her to have books to look at in bed to decrease her interest in getting in and out of bed (automatic lights out for needlessly getting out of bed). And we talk a lot about
    Of course, we throw out all the rules with a new baby…they stay up late into the night with mommy and daddy, which was especially fun with our last baby because we could enjoy his baby-ness. :)
    Thank you for this fun discussion starter!

  21. My 7 yo still needs 12 hours of sleep so during the school year its lights out by 7 pm so she can get up at 7 am for the 8 am school start. Summer we aim for 8pm, but can be more flexible if something fun is going on. I know most of her classmates don’t get/ need that much as every time we are out late we run into someone from her class. It will be 8:30 pm and she will say Oh you’re out in the middle of the night too! HA!

  22. We have a 3 yr old and her bedtime is between 6-6:30 on days that she doesn’t nap and 8:30 on days that she does nap (2 hour naps). She wakes up between 6-6:30 no matter what time she went to bed the night before.
    We both work from home so we see her a lot and have the flexibility to do a 5 pm dinner. We definitely get grief from friends when we decline invites for things because of her super early bedtime, but I know that this is a phase like everything else in life.
    I also agree with the comment upthread that we are chronically sleep-deprived as a culture. Many of my peers get by with less than 5 hours a night. We tend to get between 8-9 consistently and it makes all the difference to us, but having a child that goes to bed so early means we can turn in at 10 pm and still feel like we had some alone time.

  23. We have two kids – a 9 year old and a 6 year old. When they were under 2, bedtime was 7 or 7:30. Now, it’s 8/8:30. All year long. Even if it’s summer, we all still have to keep our school year schedule since mom & dad both work full-time. Going to bed late just means everyone is cranky. Yes, we make exceptions now and then. But that usually means we toss in a nap the next day as they never seem capable of sleeping in! The 6 year old has a very set routine, the 9 year old is allowed a bit more flexibility (particularly now that he can read to himself). He’s also the kid that will straight up tell you he’s going to take a nap because he’s tired. The 6 year old? Would DIE before she volunteered for a nap. No matter how exhausted. Meanwhile: my husband will often go to bed at the same time as the kids and gets up at 6 every day. I’m rarely in bed before 10:30 and am usually up about 5:15 each day. Sleep needs vary from person to person and I try to take that into account as my kids grow. (He is going to be like dad, she probably more like me.)

  24. Now that my kids are 11 and 14, I aim for 9:30. But the eldest settles down something closer to 11:30. Drives me nuts because I do not think that is enough sleep for him. He is a stubborn one though. ;)

  25. I remember one night when our 4 children were young, finally getting the last one to bed and slumping down in the hallway and asking my husband if we really only had 4 kids because I was pretty sure I had put 12 to bed that night. Once they got older, sleep time turned upside down. The strangest change was Mom and Dad not being the last ones to go to bed. With church, school, and extracurriculars, my teenagers were usually in bed by 11:00om and up at 5:00am. It was a crazy time and I know they suffered from the lack of sleep, but I don’t know what they would have given up for more sleep. Less homework would have been the best answer.

  26. I love our early bedtimes. I have 4 year old twins and the goal is to get them to bed by 7 every night. We get up at 6 to get going for the day with work and daycare and most nights are pretty much get home, eat dinner, go to bed. I can completely tell when our kids are tired. And, of course, I love the adult time we get in the evenings. Weekend bedtimes are even earlier if we can manage it. We we’re having a tough go for a while with our boys, who share a room, having a hard time settling down. And man, were we all suffering for that. We have since instituted a sticker in the morning if they stayed in bed the night before and it has brought peace back to our evenings. Yay for early bedtime!

  27. I have a 15, 11, and 9 yr old.We gave up on rigid bed times after our third was born. The rush of trying to cram in dinner, baths, stories, and last minute homework by a certain time was always so stressful, especially as working parents. Not to mention, making sure the kids stayed in bed! We have found it way more relaxing to take our time during the evening, and everything usually wraps up around 9. When they were younger, they fell asleep immediately, and now they read in bed until they are ready to fall asleep or the high schooler finishes homework. Our day starts at 6:30/ 7 so it works out to be a solid 9 hrs of sleep.

  28. When our family was young I loved our early bedtime routine! I was very dedicated to our night time routine and my children thrived! They were so content with happy, easy going temperaments. Now my children are 13, 17, and almost 20. The 20 year old lives at college and does pretty good Monday – Friday with her sleep schedule. But weekends and summer she gets all turned around and sleeps till 12:00 or 1:00, but we talk about it and she knows she would feel better with more routine sleep schedule. My 17 year old wakes at 5:30 drug the school year to go to band before schools starts and he is totally sleep deprived, it’s a problem. We make goal for him to be in bed by 9:30 but it’s hard. My 13 year old is still on a good sleep routine 9:30-7:15. I model good sleep and have the house quiet, curtains closed, electronics off for myself by 9:30 and get up early to work and exercise. It is a balance as we grow as a family. Also we never fight about bed times, but keep warm and nuturing.

  29. We used to have a bedtime of 7:30 but it was mostly just stressing me out because we were missing it. Now bedtime is 8:00 for our 5 & 7 year old. That means reading stops at 8 so it’s motivation to be ready earlier to maximize reading time. My 7 year old is a bit of a gremlin so we try to stick to 8 because if we miss that window and he stays up too late he’ll turn into a monster. We’re not super rigid all the time (i.e. weekend visits, special events) but we know we run the risk of dealing with gremlins when we let them stay up later, sometimes we’ll mitigate with quite time/nap after lunch if we know a later night is coming.

  30. My 6 year old goes to bed at 7:30 during the school year. Towards the end of the school year it gets hard because it stays light so late. My daughter asks why she has to go to bed when it is still daytime! I know, I know! I should get blackout curtains!
    Having an early bedtime means that we had to forgo joining the soccer team this year, which had practice from 6:00-7:00 in the evening. Not a great time for kindergartners!

  31. How interesting. I wonder if everyone in the U.S. has such early bedtimes as it would certainly look like it reading the comments. :) This from a Scandinavian reader. Our kids get 10-11 hours of sleep every night (all of them, ages 8, 5 and 1) and I thought our bedtime was not too late as the kids are in bed by 8:30pm and asleep usually by 9pm. During summer this might be a bit later but the amount of sleep has to stay the same, otherwise the whole family suffers. Our kids have never been the best of sleepers so we’re very set to our bedtimes and bedtime routines.

  32. Great topic!
    As having an evening meal together as a family is really important to us, our kids are not early sleepers. I finish work around 4:30pm and collect the kids from their after-school-care by 5pm, which means we are not home before 5:25. My boys are aged 7 and 10.

    The kids then have time to play, they do their homework at the after-school-care. Only if a test is scheduled the next day I help my oldest study a bit. My husband only gets home by 7.30, I usually have the dinner on the table the moment he gets here. We take our time eating and chatting and one child has “kitchen duty” and helps clean up with Dad, while I play or read with the other child (we switch every other night). Therefore bedtime is never before 8.30 or 9 pm at our house. The rule is, that lights must be out by 9. They can either hop into bed at 8.59pm or go earlier and read or listen to a CD before sleepy time. Our older son falls asleep very fast, usually within 5 minutes after his head hits the pillow. His younger brother however is awake often until 9.30pm, but still is an early riser. He gets up with less problems than the rest of us.

    I feel the ideal sleeping time for my younger boy would be 9.15pm-7am, for my older son 9m-8 would be ideal. He needs more sleep then his brother, always did. My ideal sleep lasts from midnight till 8am while my husband would ideally sleep by 11pm and rise at 6.30. Everyone is a bit different, and in a family you have to work our your own routine.

    When the boys were smaller we also shared the evening meal, but we didn’t sit at the table and chat as long as now and there was no “kitchen duty” for them. Until they were 6 years old they were in bed with the lights out by 8.30. As toddlers they also only never went before 8, as they always had an afternoon nap which gave them energy.

  33. I’m here reading these comments, and I’m just thinking “Your kids sleep 12 hours straight?” Hah! I have a two-year-old who has slept terribly since birth. We even hired a sleep consultant a couple of months ago, which some small successes, but we’re back to him waking up frequently throughout the night. Even on nights that he has slept through the night (about a dozen times), he won’t sleep 12 hours, so there is no way we could put him to bed at 6 pm. We tried 7 pm for awhile, at the consultant’s suggestion, but it would often take him until 7:45 to fall asleep. We’re at 7:30-8:00 now.

    My other son is 2 1/2 months old, so he is still in a transition bed-time wise, but I usually aim for 7:30-8:30. By the way, he slept 7 hours straight last night, so he is already a better sleeper than his brother! I’m pretty sure he will sleep all the way through the night before his brother does.

  34. My 10 year old’s bedtime is officially 8:40 and she is usually always in bed by 9. She gets up during the week at 7:45. We are very flexible on Friday and Saturday nights, especially if we have family movie night or are out somewhere. I think that black out curtains really help.

    For me, I am a big fan of naps and even try to take a short one during my day in the office – otherwise I am tired and cranky for all of the rush/meal activities in the evening. Does anyone else out there take a nap at the office?

  35. Middle Schooler is usually in bed by 9:30 and up around 6:45. She’s a bear to wake up. I wish she was able to go to bed at 9, but like the other parents of tweens and teens have mentioned, homework is our biggest obstacle to getting enough sleep. She sleeps in on weekends.

    Preschooler is in bed by 9 and up by 6:45. No matter what we do he WILL NOT fall asleep before 9. He’s always been this way. This kid is unbelievably active and only takes a 1 hour nap, but even when we get him in bed earlier and he’s trying to fall asleep, it just doesn’t happen until 9.

  36. So far for our eight-month old, bedtime has been 8pm so she can have bathtime with Daddy once he gets home from work at 7. She goes in the bath around then and is feeding to sleep by 7.30ish (I can’t bring myself to stop breastfeeding her to sleep, it’s one of my favourite parts of the day). Then she sleeps until somewhere between 7 and 8am. But soon I’ll go back to work and daddy will be dropping her off to nursery in the mornings on his way to the office – so things will have to change.

    I’m absolutely dreading only seeing her for an hour or so in the evening before bed on the days I’m working – but I know that she’s a sad and grumpy little thing when she hasn’t had enough sleep, so I won’t push her bedtime back any later than about 7 in our new routine. The commute (we live in London) is absolutely the worst aspect of city living for us – so much precious time wasted!

  37. I’m all about an early bedtime, but compared to most comments my kids’ bedtimes were never that early! When they were little, I put them to bed at 8 and then they slept until about 7am. I never could get them to sleep more than 11 hours, but I didn’t really try putting them down much earlier. My first was a good napper, so this bedtime worked for us. My second would stay up so late. She never sent to sleep without crying until she was 2 or so. I stayed home with them except for preschool, so they could sleep later in the morning. I realized this was a privilege and I wouldn’t change one thing.

  38. I don’t remember when I put my kids to bed, but the napping phases were critical. I was happy when I was no longer a slave to the nap schedule. Now, I am not great about enforcing bedtimes with older kids 14,11, and 9. I need to be more disciplined. However, no tech in the kids bedrooms for sleep.

  39. always a struggle. My husband seems to need little sleep and I was known in college as someone who got mean after 10pm. I function best in the mornings and while it is still hard, do not mind getting up for a 5am run when meeting people. We try to get the kids to bed around 9pm during the school year and up by 7am. They are grumpy and mean almost all the time, so I know it is not nearly enough sleep. We have busy schedules and kids that want to stay up way late. In the summer I try to insitute a 10pm bed time. I have little support from my husband, not because he thinks it is a dumb idea, but because he does not realize how late it is. I was working one evening and whitnessed him popping corn and asking the kids what movie they wanted to watch. I told my kids they need to be in bed by 9:30pm this week and if they can manage to be nice and get up by 8am then we can push the time back later. They have to prove to me that they can behave and function on less sleep. I believe the late bed time for our kids began with our first when my husband was in school and working full time. If I put her down at 7pm she would NEVER see her dad, so she would nap, sleep in very late and be awake at 10pm when he got home from studding after working full time.

  40. My kids are young (3 and twin 1 year olds) and we have fairly early bedtimes. The little ones go down between 6:30-7PM. They generally wake between 5:30-6:15 because of the summer sun getting through even their blackout curtains. My oldest has his bedtime routing at 7:30. Depending on nighttime reading he usually has lights out by 8. We definitely get some side eyes about our bedtimes but I don’t care because I have some free time in the evenings. We can make it a bit flexible but usually only by an hour.

    My oldest was always a good napper but he’s pretty much dropped all of them. He still has quiet time in his room and occasionally he will fall asleep during it. The little ones are not great nappers. Their naps are generally pretty short: 30-60 minutes in the morning and ~60 minutes in the afternoon. However, their moods don’t seem to suffer from it much so I don’t push it.

    I was much stricter with my older kid than I am with the other two, but I still try to follow their cues and work to keep them relatively well rested. It’s harder though when kids are in different stages of sleep needs.

  41. My husband is from Iran and we live in Australia where bedtimes sound very similar to American, around 7:30pm for most families that I know with kids under 10. But in Iran it is completely different. The children go to bed when the adults do, which is usually around 11pm or midnight! They still get up early to go to school/work but have an extended lunch hour with a long nap in the afternoon (adults included). We have visited Iran when my eldest son was a baby and they all thought I was so funny going to bed at 10pm when all the little kids were still awake! But I just need my sleep! My mother in law has said a lot that she much prefers the earlier bedtimes that we have here. I know I would find it very hard. I love that bit of adult time after the kids have gone to bed! We are planning on visiting Iran again next year and I am curious to see how it will work with my kids while we are there now they are older.

  42. So funny that you mention it. I just had to leave my local farmers’ market at 6:30 p.m. with a tired, screaming four-year-old. I’m bummed because I was in line for street tacos, but 10 years ago (he’s the youngest), I never would have dreamed of being out and about at that time of night. My oldest two were always in the bed by 6:30 or 7.

  43. My almost 2 years old toddler has a sleep schedule out of the ordinary by many standards but it’s what is best for us a family. He goes to bed around 11pm at night (sometimes midnight specially during the weekend) he wakes up between 10-11am…he plays and then takes a long nap around 5pm (average 2 hours but he can take up to 3). He sees his dad every night and plays with him and we all have dinner together. He still gets plenty of sleep and so far transatlantic travel with him hasn’t been too tough (which takes place twice a year at least)

  44. My kids are 18, 17, 15, 13.
    For years and years they all went down at 8. We never introduced a later bedtime as part of a growing up ritual. Add to that the studies I read that say the majority of teenage moodiness is because they are sleep deprived, and I believe it!
    My high schoolers all attend a before school scripture study class too, so that made it easier to continue with earlier bedtimes. But my oldest who’s now graduated and I no longer put to bed, did not usually do extracurricular activities. The next 3 all play sports after school, so bedtime has now become more like 9. But I am a firm believer in enough sleep so sometimes homework doesn’t get finished! There is far too much homework given out these days!
    I love nighttime, since they were little ones, it’s my decompress time. My number one parenting advice is no matter the time, put them all down at the same time. It is hard to relax when there is still a kid up doing homework. Also if a kid doesn’t have to be sleeping as early, then they could read in bed until they needed to sleep.

  45. I’m curious to hear the rest of the sleep details on the super-early bedtime schedule. What time did the adults go to bed? When did everyone wake up? What was the bedtime routine like?

  46. I didn’t work outside of the home until my daughter started school. She usually slept from 10 to 10 (waking up for a quick 6 am feeding when she was an infant). I am NOT a morning person, so having a toddler crawl out of bed and begging for breakfast at 5 am every morning would have been misery for me. Now that she is a 4th grader and both parents work full time 8-5ish jobs, she usually goes to bed around 10 (up at 7). The sun goes down here close to 10 in the summer, so she is often up past midnight right now and sleeps until 10 or 11.

  47. Our 8 year old is in bed 8:30 sharp but does not fall asleep unt 9-9:30. We’ve always struggled with this. Weekends/vacations – she easily sleeps till 9:30/10. School days we struggle for an 8 AM wake-up.

  48. love this post! my 1-year-old son goes to bed at 6:00 pm (his bedtime routine starts at 5:30) and my daughter, age 4, goes to bed at 7:30 pm (her bedtime routine starts at 7).

    my husband and i love spending our evenings together, just the two of us – and it really seems to be the best possible sleep for our kids, too! if we put them to bed later, they wake up earlier in the morning. it occasionally gets frustrating to not be able to leave the house as a family after 5:30, but i know it’s short-lived and most of the time i really do feel like the benefits far outweigh the cons.

  49. I’m a stickler for bedtimes (and nap times when they were still taking them). We have an 8 and 5 year old and they’re in bed for quiet reading time by 7:45 with lights out by 8. We’re generally not ever more than 10 min late. They’re both earlier risers so they’ll be up at 6:30 regardless.
    I pick up the kids after work and we’re home by about 5:45. I aim to have dinner on the table by 6:30 – I try to water the garden, or play a round of backyard hopscotch while waiting for water to boil :) The Mr usually gets home around 7 and catches the tail end of dinner. Days when we’re having leftovers are easier.

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