The absolute best day in the universe EVER was the day I made an important discovery. It was the day I figured out that those crazy Other Parents, the ones I secretly mocked and swore never never never to be like, were really The Most Intelligent Beings on the Planet.
And why were these mockable parents so smart?
Because they had figured out The Secret of Sane Parenting. Which, in exchange for storing all the refrigerator art ever produced by your first-born (a more than fair trade, if you ask me, because hello, what were you going to do with it anyway?), I will divulge to you now.
I can tell you have a question. Several hands shot up. You there, in the back: “For me, or for my kid?”
Either has its uses, but I mostly meant your kid. Kid(s), plural, especially then. And at 7:00 pm.
“7:00!!!” you protest, “But—that’s impossible! We’re not even finished with dinner then, and we have soccer, and ballet, and homework, and and and—”
Silence your protests. All in good time.
The Pros of Early Bedtime:
1. Adults can parrrtayyy! Grownups need their alone time. This is the perfect way to get it. This may have been my #1 reason for maintaining an early bedtime once I joined the cult became a believer. Imagine all I got done, too!
2. Kids function better when they get more sleep. So what if it’s still light out when they go to bed? That’s what room-darkening blinds were invented for, to BS kids into thinking it’s nighttime. After a few weeks on early bedtime you’ll notice a decrease in tantrums, better eating, better school behavior, etc.
3. Did I mention the alone-time thing? Because it rocks. Remember what it was like before kids? Well, this isn’t like that, but it’s more like the best of both worlds.
4. You can be all superior to other parents who haven’t yet seen the light. *cough* No, that’s not actually a reason. You wouldn’t do that, would you?
5. They actually are cuter when they are sleeping. Who hasn’t stood there for a long moment, watching them sleep, just breathing in that moment? And would you rather do it at midnight or 8 pm?
Okay, Some Cons:
1. Sometimes going to bed early means they get up early too. Just be prepared. You know you’ve been meaning to start getting up at 6 anyway.
2. You can’t do family stuff in the evenings. It takes some reworking of the schedule. I had to get used to having dinner by 6 in order to get mine to bed by 8 (the 7:00 thing works best for toddlers and preschoolers, but it’s pretty hard to convince a 10-year old to go to bed by 7:00. If you can do that, let me know and I’ll gladly donate all that refrigerator art directly to you). And team sports, activities, TV, etc, well, you’ll think of something. It really is worth it to have that quiet evening time.
3. Sometimes they fall asleep with their heads in their plates. Yeah, so late afternoons/evenings aren’t going to be the most stellar times for your kids, who will be tired by then from having gotten up at 5 am more like 6 am. And if that’s your “quality time” with your kids, it’s going to be affected. You need to find balance, so don’t be afraid to play around with it.
Are you an early-to-bed or a let-them-stay-up-late parent? How does bedtime work in your family?
[img src Carla Peroni, with permission via SXC]