Mum explains why she doesn’t enforce a bedtime with her children, and how a bedtime routine and falling asleep in their own time works for them.
When I was a kid my brother and I had a bedtime. My parents were pretty strict about this, even if we weren’t tired. Once the clock ticked over to that unbudgeable hour it was, “Righto, time for bed”. And we both knew this wasn’t up for negotiation.
Now I’m a parent myself though, I couldn’t give a toss about bedtime.
But am I the odd mum out here? Do other parents feel this way?
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I don’t give a toss about bedtime. Source: iStock.
Sleep when tired
In our household sleep happens when it happens. Usually my little guys (aged seven and five) are tuckered out at a reasonable hour – perhaps what others may call ‘bedtime’? As such, they either naturally fall to sleep snuggled up to us in front of the telly, or get cuddled off to sleep in bed after a story (the later happening more often than the former).
On this point I acknowledge that they are not independent sleepers as the books have us believe is some huge parenting achievement. Personally, I think not needing/wanting a soothing cuddle before sleep is something they will simply grow out of. And I am damn well going to enjoy it until they do! I mean, those cute PJs only go up to a certain size, you know…
Because of this, the evenings are pretty peaceful in our house. Well, apart from the “eat your dinner” nagging fest that happens at the dinner table most nights. Sigh. We are a normal family! But I’ve never had to yell, “Get back to bed. It’s bedtime” or lose my sh*t over it being “past your bedtime!”.
Now I am not saying our way is THE WAY. I totally get it that many, many parents want to instil independent sleep habits in their kids, including sleeping in their own bed, on their own all night long.
I do understand the appeal in this, too. Gosh, to FINALLY have some grown-up time when bedtime rolls around, instead of lying next to a little body trying not to fall asleep yourself because the kitchen still needs cleaning up. Yawn. That would be nice!
But my kids’ dad and I must have missed the chapter on sleep when it comes to our kids. We are (shock, horror) more sleep aids than trainers. But this isn’t ideological so much as it just feels right for us. I am also the first to admit I don’t have any parenting fight left in me when the sun goes down to toe the bedtime line, either. I am done.
So snuggles it is!
RELATED: I ditched ‘bedtime’ with my kids
Snuggles are the best! Source: iStock.
Nightly routine still there
Even though my kids don’t have a set bedtime, they do have a sort of nightly routine. One that includes a bath, cleaning teeth and reading. My kids love the predictability of the wind down like any other.
So yeah, so long as no one is overtired, or resisting calling it a night because they would rather build a LEGO spaceship than hop into bed for a book, then I’m cool with them going to sleep when they are ready – in our arms and not because the clock says it’s ‘time’.
Who else does this? Or is bedtime an actual ‘time’ in your house?