7pm or bust, baby

I’ve stated before that I tend to be rather rigid when it comes to my children’s sleep routines.  I’ve progressed (slowly) to the point where I make exceptions (on weekends) for fun events, trips, or parties to their pretty standard 7pm bedtime.  Not that they always fall asleep at 7pm, of course, but by 7pm we are almost always in pajamas, snuggled up reading.  Sometimes, if they are tired, they will be asleep by 7:15, other nights they have been known to read in bed until 8.  Either way works, and they are pretty good about self-regulating their own sleep needs.  People laugh (hard) at me when I say that my 2nd grader goes to bed a 7, but the child then sleeps until 7:30, 7:45 most days.  He clearly needs the sleep.  And those who know him well can tell INSTANTLY when he is sleep deprived.

Against my better judgment this year, I signed C up for an activity at the library once a week that runs until 8pm.  It starts at 6, and I struck a deal with him that he could go, as long as we were out of the library and back home no later than 7:15, which of course really means 7:30.  And the day after said activity have been rough to date, but manageable, so I have allowed said activity to continue.  And then, last night, I had to be at A’s school at 7pm.  So I requested the assistance of a friend whose child also attends the activity that is scheduled way to late in the day for my taste, and she happily agreed to shuttle C home with her son.  Lovely.  Except when I arrived home at 8:20, he had just walked in the door.  And by the time C was asleep, it was TWO HOURS after his bedtime.

I didn’t freak out, much.  I shrugged and said “We will recover from this.  LOTS of 2nd graders go to bed at 9pm, this is SO not a big deal, it will prove me wrong once and for all and we will move on from my obsession with bedtimes.”  I patted myself on the back and declared myself cured.  At 8:10 this morning, I dragged C out of bed, threw clothes on him and handed him an English muffin, banana, and cheese slice to eat in the car on the five minute drive to school.  He cried from the moment I woke him up to the moment I dropped him off.  I happily went about my day, proud that I had finally overcome my fear of an altered bedtime schedule and confident that he would arrive home and prove that we had finally moved to a happy bedtime place.  I picked him up from school at 3pm and arrived home five minutes later to find a message from his teacher requesting a call back.  At which point in time she informed me that C had spent an hour and a half staring at a piece of paper instead of writing five sentences about his favorite sandwich, and then burst into tears and had to be sent to the nurse to calm down.

While I was conferencing with the teacher via phone, C was curled up on the couch crying again and begging to go to bed.  Which couldn’t happen because, hello, he needed to do his homework, plus the extra work assigned by the teacher to try and address the issue of his apparently lack of interest in completing his schoolwork in a timely manner.  Three hours later, I threw up my hands, sent C to bed, poured myself a hefty glass of wine and sent a lovely email to the mothers of C’s friends announcing that our evenings at the library were over.

My GOD, when does it get easier?  And do ya suppose I will ever live down my reputation as a bedtime fanatic?



  1. I’m not sure when, or even if, it gets any easier, but NO you will not live down your reputation at the bedtime fanatic. lol

    I started out being strict with Amber and have gotten more and more lax over time. Unlike your son, mine needs very little sleep. He stopped taking naps at age 2 and wakes up around 6:30 am every morning whether he went to bed at 8:00 (our standard bedtime) or 10:00.

    The girls will sleep in if I let them, but not by much and I usually have them to bed by 8:00 (7-year-old) or 8:30 (10-year-old). My oldest has always been the one who needs the most sleep but I wouldn’t describe it like your son.

    So anyway … good luck with that! lol

    –Tea and Bon Bons

  2. Your kids so clearly are in need of the sleep, I don’t see why you’d ever want to give it up.

  3. Keep with it, you know them best and know how much sleep they need. My kids go to bed 7:30 on the dot. I like that nice early bed time and plan on keeping it that early for as long as possible.

  4. It is not so much that I want to give it up, but the amount of homework C is getting, combined with his early bedtime, makes it rather hard to do any after school activities. Even worse is having a friend over, as by the time the friend goes home it is generally dinner time, which leads directly into shower/bath, PJ’s and books. If he could just last an extra 45 minutes or so, it would make the homework a lot easier…

  5. I’m jealous. I wish my kids would go to bed at 7. Then I wouldn’t have to stay up late just to get some time to myself in the evening!

  6. Well, it’s pretty darn clear that your kid needs the sleep, so I don’t know when you’re going to be able to change your schedule. We have to get the kids up at 6:15am and we struggle to get them to bed by 8pm. I hate feeling like they’re sleep deprived, and I wish we were better about hitting that magic deadline.

  7. No idea when it’s going to get better–but you don’t sound like a bedtime fanatic to me; you sound like someone who knows her kids. I write as someone who is taking her first grader up for baths at 6:30–and I am not sanguine that 2nd grade will be much different.

    I know what you mean about the after school activities, though. We don’t do much of them, either–but even playdates can be complicated, in terms of running up against dinner. And this is in a grade w/o homework.

  8. I agree that kids need to go to bed at decent hour. Parents needs need to have some fun with their kids. Maybe you could look into daytime activities on the weekends that do not affect school days. I sure if you do your “homework” you’ll find something. Good luck.

  9. Oh man Caroline – I can so sympathize with you, although my problem is the other way around. My kids are notoriously late to bed kids, Aidan is sometimes up until 9:30 or 10:00pm on a school night and is easily up at 6:00 to 6:30am. Claire is beginning to show signs of the same pattern and has all but dropped her nap entirely. I guess the bright side is, my kids don’t normally crumble at the whole lack of sleep, but then again, I get absolutely no time to myself whatsoever. I’m not sure what’s worse, but I would suspect the melt-downs would most certainly get the better of me. As far as being a bed-time fanatic, I think you do what’s best for you and your kids and stick with it. I may have thought people were crazy with respect to their kids and their “schedules” but that’s obviously before I had them. Good Luck there my friend, I’ll raise a glass of wine in your honor! (PS. Haven’t read your blog in a while, thought I’d check it on a whim tonight)

  10. I so feel your pain. I am the steadfast 7pm person as well, but since Summertime when we let J stay up until 8pm sometimes 9pm he begs every night to stay up a bit later. We have agreed that 7:30pm is the magic time, but on those nights that he stays up until 8pm, I pay. I pay with tears, crankiness, snappy tones. I pay and pay and pay. I won’t do evening activities either because I don’t want my son to be the one crying in class because he is tired. There are plenty others to do that for the teacher.

    Wine helps too 😉

  11. I think that you get props for knowing your kids and knowing when to pull the plug.

    We were supposed to go out to dinner tonight. Taxman got delayed at work. AM hadn’t napped today. Rather than take the kids out (out! to a restaurant! was I smoking crack???) for dinner at 6:45, at 6:45 they were fed and in PJs and AM was dead to the world at 7:02.

    Gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.

    My issue of late is getting Miss M to go to sleep–she’s fine with getting into bed to read, but she just wandered out here at 8:50p, almost an hour after we turned off her light. It will be impossible to wake her tomorrow.

  12. Chichimama, you are preaching to the choir here. We have the same bedtime as you. Every night, unless someone’s sick or something really unusual is going on. Kids this age NEED 11-12 hours of sleep of night, and that’s a fundamental biological need that can’t be messed with, or crankiness, hyperactivity, and worse, result very quickly. I sometimes think that a lot of the diagnosed ADD/ADHD is really sleep deprivation, maybe combined with a diet too high in junk and too low in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

    You are doing the best thing for your children, and really for you and M, too. After work or chasing kids all day, you need the evening together. So enjoy 🙂 I just read the most amazing book called _The 7:00 Bedtime_, by Inda Schaenen. It’s a great (and easy) read for when you need support for your early-bedtime method. I’d be glad to drop my copy in the mail for you if you’d like!

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