"What time do your kids go to bed?" she asked. So I lied.

I thought my children’s bedtime was pretty normal, until I met this mum.

I was bedtime shamed by another mother this week. We were trying to organise a dinner catch up and she said, “My kids are in bed by 7.30pm, how about yours?”

I didn’t want to answer.

Philip is 10. I put him in bed at 9pm but he doesn’t fall asleep until 10pm. Giovanni  is 6 and Caterina is 4. I put them in bed by 8pm and they fall asleep at around 8.45, 9pm.

So I actually fibbed. I said, “Around 8.30, 8.45,” and she just feel silent, and blinked a couple of times.

In my defense, this photo was taken on our way home from a hectic day at the Easter show.

I know children ideally need 12 hours of sleep every night but Philip has never been capable of that. He has always fought sleep so I began to relax bedtime a little just to save my sanity. I decided to take a more relaxed approach to it and just encourage him to spend some quiet time in his room, give him a few minutes on his iPod, a bit of reading and then by 9.45, if he isn't asleep already I go in, turn everything off and tuck him in.

With Giovanni and Caterina it's the same. In bed by around 8.30 but they usually fall asleep later. They share a room so they chat and muck around for a while. By 9, if they haven't fallen asleep I go in, turn everything off and tuck them in.

I used to try and put them to bed by 7.30pm by the time we finish homework or come back from soccer practice and have dinner and spend some time unwinding, it's already 8. I don't know how mums get their kids into bed by 7.30pm every single night and I find the very thought of trying to do it with my three children completely intimidating.

So I've come to accept our less-than-ideal bedtime routine. Philip stays up later because he is older, the younger ones go to sleep, eventually, and we do all manage to get up in the morning as long as I open the blinds, put the TV on loudly and give them a few shakes.

Sometimes I imagine that if they did sleep for a full 12 hours they would be like little super-kids, able to leap tall buildings etc. They'd be at full capacity, with complete concentration thanks to their restful nights, they'd be smarter and easier to reason with.

Actually, that sounds a bit creepy. Might stick to the later bedtime after all. If they weren't a bit grumpy in the afternoon it would be a bit of a shock.

What time do your kids go to bed? Do they all have the same bedtime?

If you'd like to make your children's bedtime stress free, here are 11 excellent tips you can use tonight:

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5 ways to deal with a toddler who thinks bedtime is a choice.

This riff about kid's bedtime is everything.