My kids have never been great sleepers. They don’t seem to need as much sleep as many kids. The older two gave up their naps pretty early. My 7-year-old can easily go to sleep at 10 p.m. or later, wake up at 7 a.m., and be fine. My 2.5 year old still naps most days, but graduated to a later bedtime in order to keep the nap.
So bedtime had been around 9 p.m. here. But it never seemed to really be 9 p.m. I have been chronically underestimating how much time it takes to get 3 children into bed. I’d start pushing people upstairs around 8:30, but then everyone would be hungry, need another drink, want another story, etc. Bath night was worse.
About a month ago, I’d decided I’d had it with leaving the boys’ room at 9:15/9:30, particularly when I am solo parenting. I decided to move bedtime up drastically. On bath night, we now go upstairs around 7:30 p.m. On other nights, we are up between 7:45 and 8. Dessert as a topic is broached earlier in the evening (most nights). If we are up at 7:45, we have time for some stories, and the boys get themselves in their jammies while I put their sister down, and then I come in, maybe read them a story, say goodnight. I aim to be out by 8:15, and I’m usually out by 8:20. This gives me time to go downstairs, sit on the back porch, and watch the sunset. All by myself.
This has been working surprisingly well. I thought they would protest more, given that it is still light out at 8:15. One key realization is that they aren’t actually going to go to sleep at "bedtime" — and that’s OK. I came up at 9:15 when I heard something the other night, and all three were still up. But I don’t insist the boys stay in their beds with all the lights out. They can play, or read, or whatever. I wander up at some point to make sure the lights are off and push sleep a little harder, but if they’re in their room and quiet at 8:15, I don’t really care what they do in there. Their little sister likewise has a lot of toys in her bed now that she’s playing with.
It’s been quite nice to have some downtime on the porch before I go back on my laptop (or don’t work — sometimes I just keep reading out there). The sunsets have been lovely. I’m not sure this iPhone shot quite captures it, but I have a few more weeks before the sunsets will drift back before 8 p.m. I intend to keep enjoying them.
When’s bedtime in your house?