And you know what? They’re better for it.
My kids are five and six. Their bedtime is 10pm. They’ve always gone to bed late, even when they were babies. It was something to do with their natural body clocks. They were always wide awake in the evenings, and then in the mornings, they wanted to sleep in. So we just worked with that and let them stay up. We brought in the 10pm bedtime when the oldest one started school.
Gasp. Horror. Bad parent alert.
Only… I think it’s good parenting. I think it’s been good for them to stay up late. I think it’s been good for us, as a family.
Kids in Australia generally go to bed really early. A study examining the average bedtime of young kids in 17 different countries, found that parents in New Zealand, Australia and the UK put their kids to bed before 8pm. Meanwhile, parents in a lot of other countries put their kids to bed after 10pm. Japanese kids, on average, get about an hour-and-a-half less sleep than Australian kids. Doesn't seem to have hurt them, does it?
Obviously every family is different. My husband doesn't get home from work till after 7pm - if my kids went to bed at 7.30pm, they'd hardly see him during the week. Also, my kids' school isn't far away, so they can get up just before 8am and still arrive on time.
I know other families are in a completely different situation. Some parents start work earlier, some kids need to be dropped at childcare, some families live further away from school. Some kids just need more sleep. I get all of that.
What I don't get is parents who close the bedroom door on their kids in the early evening, even when the kids have reached school age, whether the kids need the sleep or not. Are they doing this for their kids' benefit, or their own?
Letting my kids stay up late means we have relaxed family time together in the evenings. We hang out. We eat together. We listen to music. We play games. We spend a lot of time just talking to them.
I'm convinced that my kids have benefited from spending so many evenings with us. I'm not suggesting they're perfect kids, because they can be complete ratbags at times (usually when they've stayed up way past their 10pm bedtime). But they're fantastic company and they have really good vocabularies, which I'm sure has helped them both become great readers.
Of course, there are disadvantages - I haven't seen a single episode of Breaking Bad or Game Of Thrones. But the advantages make up for it.
Just don't call me a bad parent for letting my kids stay up late.
What time do your kids go to bed? Do you think this is a reasonable bedtime?
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