I close the blinds and it’s still a little light outside. I hear screams in the streets of kids playing happily and I feel a tiny twinge of guilt. I was once one of those kids that played until dark during the summer. I have fond childhood memories of flickering street lamps coming on, and games of hide and seek with the neighborhood gang between rows of suburban houses.
But, now, I am strict with my kids’ bedtime, unless there is a special family event or holiday to celebrate. Even in the summer, my kids are in bed like clockwork.
While neighbors must think I’m too rigid and feel sorry for my poor schedule-abiding children; and family members frequently comment that it won’t hurt them to stay out a little later than usual; I know my kids best.
And here are five solid reasons I have absolutely no problem putting my kids to bed earlier than everyone else on my block. (Yes, even during the summer.)
They aren’t as crazy during waking hours.
The truth is, I get comments all the time that my kids are so well behaved. And they are (most of the time), but you take away their sleep and the result is a mix between something out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Shining. And, I’m not sure who plays the part of Jack Nicholson — them or me. It’s no exaggeration when I say my kids just can’t handle staying up late and still function the next day. They are a mess of epic proportions, and I remind myself why keeping them up is hardly ever worth it. Because as a parent, you pay for an over-tired kid — shreds of your sanity will quickly slip away the next day, while your 4-year-old melts down because his grilled cheese sandwich is too hot, or his elbow is too itchy.
It’s the only time my husband and I can talk to each other.
While we attempt to have conversations when he gets home from work, it’s akin to something like a CD skipping. We stop and start 327 times and get bits and pieces of an actual story until we finally give up and say, “I’ll talk to you in 18 years.” If we didn’t put our kids to bed early every night, I’m convinced that we actually wouldn’t talk until our kids moved out.
I like my alone time.
It’s fun to be productive without kids around in the evening, but it’s also fun to sit in bed and have a snack while watching my favorite shows on Netflix. Sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself is just veg out and zone out for a few hours (or minutes) before I pass out from exhaustion.
I’m just over it by the end of the day.
A big part of the truth to putting my kids to bed early is that I’m just over it by the end of the day. I’m convinced that a mom coined the phrase, “I can’t even” around 4 PM while a toddler clung to her leg and the oldest screamed, “IT’S NOT FAIR!”
By the end of the day, it’s just time. For all of us.
It’s just part of our routine, and it’s always worked.
Honestly, I have no regrets about raising my kids on a strict bedtime schedule. They are good sleepers aside from the occasional bad dream or need for an extra snuggle, and it seems true, at least for my kids, that sleep begets sleep. They are ready for bed at 8 PM and rarely beg to stay up late.
So yes, I’ll keep shutting those blinds when the sun is still up. And I’ll keep putting them to bed earlier than the rest of the neighborhood gang, so that their waking hours can be full of fun, temper tantrum free memories. (For the most part, anyway.)