What Time Do You Put Your Kids to Bed?

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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.

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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. Pingback: A Few Things – wildebee

  2. My 2.5 year old is asleep by ten pm and wakes up at ten am. He has a 2 hour nap. I will need to transition him to an earlier time before school starts. Why does school have to start so early? It’s going to be tough.

  3. Little kids can’t sleep too much! My son is 3 1/2 and we’ve aimed for an 8:00 bedtime since he was born. I admit that I’m a morning lark who was known to go to bed at 8:00 in my pre-parenting days, but this works for us. The exception is right now, near the summer solstice, when it just stays light so dang late. But for the other 10 months of the year it works. We all sleep 8-6 (sometimes I get up at 5 because I’m a monster) and then he takes a 2 hour nap midday.

  4. I am a single mom by choice, so I was working full time when my kids were little. We had a regular pick up from daycare between 5-5:15 home around 5:45. Then I would unpack from the day and make dinner and we would eat 6:15-6:30, bath around 7 then books and bedtime around 7:30. It worked for me! I was quite flexible and kept them up later if we had family or social events and it never seemed to interfere!. Both my kids were good sleepers and as they approached their teens, they set their own bed times without issues.

  5. We seem to be in the minority–our almost-3 year old and 8 month old start their bedtime routines at 8:30pm and are asleep between 9-9:30. We frequently fall asleep with them, and may or may not wake back up until morning. The baby sleeps until 6:30am, maybe 7am, and the toddler until 7:30am. The toddler has three short naps throughout the day and the toddler usually has one 1.5 hour one. It’s worked for us so far, but the toddler is getting crankier in the evenings as he’s fighting naps, so it might be good to push bath time back to 7:30pm or 8pm going forward.

  6. Now my twins are 8.5, bedtime is 7.30, they’re usually asleep by 8pm, if they’ve been unwell or overtired (especially when staying with relatives ect.) then bed gets moved up to 6.30, 7pm. Previous to this year it has been 7pm, besides when they were babies when it was more like 6.30pm. I let them extend this for special events occasionally, but I will have to follow up with a few days of earlier bedtimes. Summer also lends to later bedtimes, but later wake-ups as well (in school holidays, which is January here in Australia). My kids wake naturally before 7am, and have an alarm at 7.30am to get ready for the school day – which if they struggle to wake for I know earlier bedtimes are needed for a little bit.

  7. I have a 2 yo and 3.5 yo who sleep in the same room, which means that they usually go to sleep at the same time, sometime between 7:30 and 8 pm depending on whether the older one got a nap at school (the younger one always gets 1.5-2 hours at daycare). Blackout curtains are key, especially in the summer when it’s still light out at 9 pm.

    They wake up at 7 (or we nudge them awake) to get ready for the day, but on weekends we are a little more lax, letting them sleep in 15-20 minutes. If we let them sleep in too much they’re not tired enough to take a nap and then are little gremlins in the evening, not to mention we are tired from entertaining them all day. We definitely prize sleep and almost always choose not to attend events that could interfere with their sleep schedule. We don’t get to do quite as much fun stuff for these few years, but it’s temporary. Someday we’ll wish they slept more!

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