One of the best pieces of parenting advice I ever received was this: Put your kids to bed early. “Sleep begets sleep,” my sister told me. Later, I realized she was quoting the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child, which explains that the more a child sleeps, the better she sleeps.
For me, it wasn’t a hard decision because, by the end of the day, I was exhausted and bedtime couldn’t come soon enough. I couldn’t understand why anyone would choose to keep her kids up late. When would you get anything done or, you know, have one single solitary uninterrupted conversation?
Here at Today’s Parent we’ve been talking about sleep a lot lately, with our February sleep issue on newsstands now (see if you recognize the cutie on page 14!). I had the chance to talk to experts about nightmares and night terrors, bedtime stalling tactics and the plight of parents of early risers, and you’ll find lots of helpful info packed in those pages.
There’s also been talk in the media about bedtimes and screen time — more specifically, that TV is stealing precious shut-eye from our kids. Check out our Editor-in-Chief Karine Ewart sharing advice in this CityTV segment.
My kids, aged six and four, go to bed at eight and wake up around seven a.m. — if we’re lucky. I’ve always been grateful that there are no complaints about bedtime (finally — something there are no complaints about!), except if we deviate from the routine, which includes books and lying with them to chat for a few minutes. Another thing that used to play a big part in our bedtime routine is TV. I remember that The Backyardigans was on Treehouse at seven, so my girls would need to have their pajamas on and teeth brushed by then if they wanted to watch. When it was over, we’d move on to books and cuddles, then lights-out at eight. Though I often heard TV before bed isn’t good for kids (or any of us, really), we found it calmed them and helped our routine go more smoothly. (Another great piece of advice: Do what works for you!) With more evening activities these days, the girls now only occasionally watch TV before bed — it’s the books and solo time with mom or dad they don’t want to pass up.
There are times they stay up later — on a Friday movie night or when we’re sleeping over somewhere — but generally, they’re ready for bed by eight and I’m (still) quite ready to wrap up my parenting by that time, too. We haven’t reached the stage where if they stay up late, they sleep in. It’s nice in theory, but more often than not, they get up even earlier if they’ve stayed up late, and then we all suffer the next day. And I don’t believe in bringing on any unnecessary suffering.
Do you think your kids get enough sleep? What does bedtime look like at your house?