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Hoping to do away with bedtimes eventually

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Summer is coming, the girls are getting older (5.5 and 7).  I keep trying this every year about this time, but they just really have needed regular bedtimes.  Sure enough, the gorgeous evenings would suddenly be filled with meltdowns within 1/2 hour after regular bedtime.  So, we've tried it but it has never worked out on a regular basis.

 

Still, I keep hoping...... wanting to try listening to when they want (and are able) to start calling the shots a bit more.  They are getting older, and at some point sooner or later I will have to have them awake until we turn in (pretty early, honestly).   I would love to give them that freedom, but I have always ended up being "on" all the time.

 

Any tips on how to make a transition?  I'm especially interested if you had bedtimes and set them aside.  Of course, I'm interested in every experience, especially in regards to not having to run interference between the kids.  This is the main reason we have strict bedtimes.

 

BTW, we homeschool, so it is not difficult for us to get enough sleep if we need it.  I have had trouble, though, putting them to bed late only to have them get up at the normal time.  Considering it gets light so early here near Solstice time, I worry about this.  (We still have a family bed and I just cannot tolerate blackening shades on the windows, so that is out of the question for now.  Yes I hate that more than I hate the early rising that has begun already!)

 

Any ideas?

post #2 of 24

It seems to me that they are calling the shots. They are telling you what time they need to go to bed but you don't seem to like the answer for some reason. 

post #3 of 24

My kids are 13 and 15 and have bedtimes.

 

We didn't used to have them. We were very free-form.

 

BUT I ultimately found that the structure allowed our home to run smoother. The actually time is of course far later than would be appropriate for your kids. And when they don't have commitments the next day, bedtime means they have to stay in their room and are not allowed to used screens.  This makes staying up less interesting (reading and drawing are less addictive than computer games and TV) and also means no sibling fighting (being overtired puts too much stress on their relationship).

 

My children have not yet reached the point in life where being told they can stay up til whenever doing whatever works out well for them or us.

post #4 of 24

My kids are 14 & 16 and have bedtimes. Like Linda, we all (kids and parents) find it useful. The kids have a regular pattern where they know what is happening, and so do we (the parents). It's also good to ensure that everyone has enough sleep. They also like the routine (even as teens) of a  chance for a quiet chat w/ Mama before lights out. The time is a couple of hours  later than it was when they were in primary school.

 

The bedtimes will vary by circumstance. For example, on long holidays they tend to be later (say 10:30 w/ lights out at 11) than during school weeks.  Or, a few times this year, when my eldest had had big tests or projects, I've told her to turn off her own lights when she's done.

post #5 of 24

For a long time we let dd sleep and wake up whenever she wanted because it was such a hard fight to get her to go to bed at the same time every night. I was just exhausted and angry every night so decided to let it go. It wasn't really a great solution as we ended up sleeping during the day often. I don't think very different sleep and wake times would work well for a family with multiple children. The biggest thing was making sure dd had 10 hours of sleep no matter what time she went to bed. That is the amount of sleep that was sufficient for her.

We were finally able to go back to a somewhat set bedtime and I think we all appreciate the routine. It makes it easier to do things as a family and make plans. Dd is more likely to decide she is tired and just put herself to bed at the appropriate time these days but that didn't really happen until after she was 10 years old.

 

If your kids are obviously tired and cranky at the same time every day and you can't really sleep later in the mornings then I see no reason not to be strict and tell them it is time to go to bed at that set time. I would count back 10 or 12 hours- or whatever they seem to need- from the wake time you desire and set their bed time to that. I would stick to it pretty firmly as long as it is getting everyone enough sleep.

 

post #6 of 24
For my older daughter, we have a flexible bedtime. So there is a bedtime but if she's working on something and wants to stay up later, we're very relaxed about it, but she does start thinking about bed at a certain time of night because she's used to it.
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Learning_Mum View Post

It seems to me that they are calling the shots. They are telling you what time they need to go to bed but you don't seem to like the answer for some reason. 

 

They do like the bedtime routine, but often balk at the bedtime.  In the summer especially they want to be able to stay up.  I would like them to be able to stay up if they want.  DH and I turn in early, so there really isn't a lot of time at the far side their bedtime to do much of anything.  We are pretty tired.  I would prefer if I could just have quiet time or something together in the evenings and then to bedtime and turn in together.  We haven't figured out, though, how to not have to run interference between the girls.  In the past years, when they stay up I have to be completely "on".  I'm hoping that one of these years they will be old enough to really understand when I say that I'm sitting down and reading for the evening.  But no, the last time I tried (pretty much this time last year), their problems naturally became my problems.  I get that as a mom I am always "on", but I think there could be some kind of wind-down time for us all.  This is what I'm trying to see if anyone found.

 

Occasionally when bedtime takes too long, I get frustrated and my patience gets thin because I have my mind set on that tiny bit of time after bed.  It makes me really cranky and short tempered.   I don't like that when it happens.  I do sometimes just go to bed with them, but now they are starting to ask to stay up again as the sky is still light when we turn in and the weather keeps getting nicer and nicer.

 

Your response seemed a bit short, BTW.  I am listening to their bodies which is why we have enforced bedtime up to this point.  Every year about this time when the weather starts to be fabulous, the same issue arises.  They want to stay up.  I want to allow them to stay up.  I feel they can be given some latitude to start tuning in to their own bodies rhythms, instead of relying on mom and dad to notice them.  I am seeking advice from parents who do allow their kids to stay up, what they do to help keep the peace and get that down time that we all need.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

For my older daughter, we have a flexible bedtime. So there is a bedtime but if she's working on something and wants to stay up later, we're very relaxed about it, but she does start thinking about bed at a certain time of night because she's used to it.

How old is she, and when did you start giving her this latitude?

 

post #8 of 24

I agree with PP that kids need some kind of structure. Bedtime is 8 pm here, as ds needs to wake up at 7 to go to school.

 

But we are flexible, especially now that ds understands when he's tired and that he needs sleep to be able to function the next day. For example, a couple of days ago he stayed up until 9ish to watch the hockey game with his dad. Sometimes he gets a really good book from the library and he stays up to finish a chapter.

 

When you DDs don't want to go to bed, you have to realize this is your problem, not theirs. You want to have some time for yourself in the evening (which is a very legitimate need). So you could tell them: " I need some quiet time in the evening because I am tired. You girls have the choice of your favourite activities, books etc. as long as they don't interfere with my quiet time. If they do, then you can't stay up late."

 

post #9 of 24

till first grade dd didnt have to wake up early. so her bedtime was midnight.

 

then first grade came and she had to adapt to an 8 pm bedtime.

 

since then she has flexible bedtimes on holidays. so friday and saturday if she doesnt have anything early in teh morning she can stay up till whenever she wants which is usually 11 pm but sometimes 1 or 2 or even the whole night. 

 

i notice during summer holidays our bedtimes are haywire, but its only because if dd loses sleep at least once or twice a week she catches up. 

post #10 of 24
Sweetsilver: She is 10 now. Her bedtime has always been 8, but we've always been flexible about it, and it's never been a problem for us. That might partly be a personality thing? She is usually tired and ready for bed at night anyway.

Edited: Now that I remember better, when she was very young she didnt' have a bedtime and went to bed when we went to bed. We didn't start the bedtime at all until she started school.
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 

Some kids just naturally seem to do well with no bedtimes, to be sure.  I remember my niece just getting up and saying "I'm going to bed" every night at around 8:00 through high school.

 

So far, the structure has served its purpose, getting the girls to get bedtime stories, get in bed and get enough sleep to start the next day.   I'm definitely thinking along the lines of quiet activities.  But I'm also trying to think why I am so uptight about this short moment of my day.  I'm seeing that I have plenty of time during the day when they are doing their time and I am not taking full advantage of those times mentally.  Maybe I'm still too vigilant when the kids don't need me to be.  Not that this isn't the crux of the issue, but I think it is part of it.  I just need to relax one way or the other.

 

 

post #12 of 24
I don't really understand the question. If you know your kids do better getting to bed at a certain time and you've seen that it doesn't work out when you don't do that, why are you looking for a way to fix what doesn't seem to be broken? Why not just keep putting them to bed at the usual time?
post #13 of 24

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post

I don't really understand the question. If you know your kids do better getting to bed at a certain time and you've seen that it doesn't work out when you don't do that, why are you looking for a way to fix what doesn't seem to be broken? Why not just keep putting them to bed at the usual time?

 

I can imagine why she'd want to (though I don't know OP's actually reasons of course).  My older son didn't have a bedtime until he was five.  Until he was 3ish, he almost always fell asleep around nine o'clock  --  like from the day he was born, like clockwork.  Then, at 3ish he started staying up later, sometimes very late, like midnight or so.  But I was a nightowl and he and I would sleep in until 10 or 11 most mornings.  It was actually a really nice schedule!  I did, though, feel like I needed some time off, like you're saying, so I just declared that after a certain time, nine maybe, I was done parenting for the day.  Of course, if he needed anything I'd handle it, but usually he didn't.  We each just did our thing, kind of like parallel play, which I rather liked.  If he didn't sleep in with me, though, I don't know that it would have worked.  

 

We started with the bedtime thing because he started school and I have to say that that is just about the worst part of a conventional school experience for me.  I do think we're all healthier and happier sleeping when we need to rather than around a school schedule  --  and a lot of the schools here start unbearably early, like 7:30.  So far we've been lucky with an 8:45 start time, but as of next year we'll have to leave the house before 8.  Gah!

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post

I don't really understand the question. If you know your kids do better getting to bed at a certain time and you've seen that it doesn't work out when you don't do that, why are you looking for a way to fix what doesn't seem to be broken? Why not just keep putting them to bed at the usual time?

 

It's the time of year that brings about this.  It's been almost a year since we've tried to allow the girls some leeway to call the shots on their bedtime.  The evenings get so light, and so beautiful that even I am tempted to want to just go with the flow.  Last year that didn't work the way I had hoped, so we went back to bedtimes.  rubidoux hits it right on the nail, though her situation is different.  While the bedtime routine is loved, the timing is sometimes fought, and I am always so impatient to just end the day that putting them to bed with the idea that I'd have some alone time at the end of it just doesn't feel like a good trade-off.  Also, dh and I turn in early, so it's not like I'm looking at 4 hours of alone time, we are talking 1 or 2 at the most after they are in bed.

 

In years past, I have just tried giving them leeway, but now I realize that if it is to work (and it might not, I'm open to that) I might need to be more proactive about it.  I was hoping to hear from parents who have relaxed bedtimes how they manage this part of their day to make it work for them.  Some of it is indeed the personality of the kids, of the parents.   But as I approach this glorious time of year, when 7:30 is the best time of the day to be outside, I just want to go with the flow and have it work more easily for all.

 

My girls are 5 and 7.  They want to go to bed with us, not stay up until all hours of the night.  Not yet anyway!

post #15 of 24

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

But I'm also trying to think why I am so uptight about this short moment of my day.

 

Because you're human and need downtime shrug.gif?

 

I homeschool too. I've have 3 kids and one on the way. My day is non-stop. I do get "breaks" where they are playing or working but I still have an ear open and am usually taking care of stuff so its not really a break.

 

My kids are in their rooms at 8 during fall/winter and 9 during spring/summer. I love them, but I would loose my ever loving mind if they were up until I went to bed.

 

I don't think being a parent means sacrificing every last bit of myself. I have needs too.

 

My only practical tip would be black-out blinds. I know you hate them but maybe they could be closed when your kids go to bed and then opened when you go to bed. That way the kids can go to sleep without the distraction of sun and blue skies and you still have light when you're sleeping.

 

Oh, and my oldest is 9 and just now at a place where she seems to be able to self-regulate when she goes to bed. She often reads in her bed or listens to music or stories between bedtime and when she is actually tired. I really think its an age thing.

post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucy Alden View Post

 

Oh, and my oldest is 9 and just now at a place where she seems to be able to self-regulate when she goes to bed. She often reads in her bed or listens to music or stories between bedtime and when she is actually tired. I really think its an age thing.

 

That's good to hear.  Someone else mentioned 9 and another 11.

post #17 of 24

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucy Alden View Post

Oh, and my oldest is 9 and just now at a place where she seems to be able to self-regulate when she goes to bed. She often reads in her bed or listens to music or stories between bedtime and when she is actually tired. I really think its an age thing.

 

I'm 42 and I'm still pretty bad about it.  I routinely stay up until 3 am even though I have to be up at 7:30.  This morning I overslept by an hour and got ds to school 20 min late (this has only happened a handful of times in the last couple of years, I swear!).  Now that I think about it, maybe bedtimes help kids learn how to self-regulate.  I don't remember ever really having a bedtime when I was a kid and my mother wasn't the type to be very good at that sort of thing. 

post #18 of 24

DD1 can not self regulate still, she is 9. Well, once in a while she will say she is tired but most of the time I enforce a bedtime. It does get moved out slightly in the summer, not by a lot because she won't sleep in to make up for it. After a while of that, I just end up with really grumpy kids. I used to not have a bedtime, we didn't do one at all actually until she was 6.5 and DD2 was 2.5, they just went to bed with us. Life is much better here with a bedtime!

post #19 of 24
My dd self regulates her bedtime on the weekends and in the summer. After nine I limit what she can do to reading and drawing. She has been able to do this since she moved into her own room in kindergarten, before that it just didn't work. If you can find a way to separate them while they do some quiet activities away from where the family bed is you might be able to give them the freedom to choose when to sleep without having to intervene to break up squabbles. If that doesn't work it may be something to have as a goal for when they move to their own beds or bedrooms, it may seem like a long way off but as they enter puberty they are most likely going to want their own space for a variety of reasons.
post #20 of 24

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rubidoux View Post

We started with the bedtime thing because he started school and I have to say that that is just about the worst part of a conventional school experience for me.  I do think we're all healthier and happier sleeping when we need to rather than around a school schedule  --  and a lot of the schools here start unbearably early, like 7:30.  So far we've been lucky with an 8:45 start time, but as of next year we'll have to leave the house before 8.  Gah!

this is the exact case with us. we have to leave the house around 7:30. if we could even leave an hour later it would really help dd. 

 

for us too that is the worst part of conventional school. 

 

during summer when we dont have school, dd regulates her sleep schedule. always has since first grade. and she is so much more a relaxed and happier child due to that. most nights she is fast asleep by 11 sharp. 

 

btw about the 'on' time. since dd was 5 or 6 i have asked for my time at night. let me tell you when dd finally took off with reading, i now have to bug her for together time. otherwise she has a nose in her book. many times our down time is together both reading next to each other. 

 

i think when ur older one starts reading, and enjoys it, it might ease things up a bit. 

 

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