In June and July, the sun doesn’t set in Minnesota until around 9:00 at night, and there’s light in the sky long afterward. My kids have no idea. Whether the sun or the moon is shining out their window, they’re both in bed at 7:00 pm.
I can hear the neighborhood kids playing outside hours after my girls go to sleep. But I’m not budging. I’m a stickler for schedules, and with good reason.
- Happy Kids = Happy Parents
The key to a later bedtime is sleeping in the next morning. No school means there’s no set time the kids have to be awake, but no one told their bodies that. Come 6:00 am, it’s rise and shine in the McGregor house. That internal alarm clock kicks in 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. We tried putting them to bed an hour later, thinking they would adjust and wake up an hour later. Like a lot of parents with a great idea, our master plan backfired on us. They still woke up at the same time, and then we had two tired kids on our hands. Experiment over.
- Nothing Good Happens after 7:00 pm
One of the keys to bedtime is a smooth transition time. Kids shouldn’t be exercising or doing a lot of activity for at least an hour before bed. While there are great wind-down activities, like art projects and reading books, I would venture to guess the majority of families are spending this time in front of a screen. Sleep has greater benefits than TV time, so if this is what’s happening in your house, why not shift to an earlier bedtime?
- Traveling is Tiring
When families with small kids come home from vacation, they look like they need another vacation to recover. Traveling is tiring enough, but many parents make it worse by letting the kids stay up late. Now, they’re not only tired from traveling, but they’re doubly exhausted because their sleep schedule is off. Whether my girls are tucked in at home or in a hotel bed, the key is that they’re tucked in at 7pm.
- Me Time
When I’m with the girls, I try to really be present. That means putting away my phone, ignoring emails and spending quality time together. After bedtime, it’s Mommy time. I can catch up on work, take care of household duties or maybe even put my feet up for a few minutes. With an earlier bedtime, I’m able to get stuff done and move up my bedtime, so I’m ready to go at 6:00 am.
- Summer is NOT Eternal
As much as we wish summer would last forever, it won’t. Come September, we all will have to wake up in time to get to school again. While the kids will be adjusting to a new classroom, they won’t have to worry about adjusting to a new routine. It’ll be business as usual in our house.
To parents who play loose with bedtime in the summer, I say “Whatever works for you.” But don’t ask me to join in. It’s ‘lights out’ in our house, even if it’s not ‘lights out’ outside.