Most people seem surprised when I tell them that generally-most of the time our kids (aged 4 and 5 years old) are in bed at 6-6:30 most nights, our eldest (who is almost twelve) goes to bed at 8:30 and is to be asleep at 9, although it is later for him on weekends since he doesn’t climb all over my body like an octopus-child does.
If we’re out at a friends house, a dinner or outdoor activity we allow them to stay up of course because we’re not complete anti-social jerks, or if we’re having a family movie night they can stay up, but generally our kids can be in bed at anytime from 5 pm to 7pm at the latest even on a weekend, even in these intense school holidays (which personally is the time they NEED to be in bed as early as humanly possible.
Usually when people tell me they can’t get their kids to go to bed I feel a deep sense of sadness, because I know what they’re missing out on.
Just the other week, I was home alone with them and I had, had enough because all they did was cry and fight so I put them to bed at 4:30, one of them was asleep 15 minutes later.
It was the loveliest quietest night I’d had in a long time, and I kind of felt a bit bad, I was like, “Is this child abuse?”… can’t be right? It felt so wrong yet so right.
Most people I talk to either stare in awe or act like I’ve said something really offensive when I tell them we need the kids in bed at these times, then usually ask how?… and why?
1. Children around the ages of 3-5 need max 13 hours and no less than 9 hours of sleep a night, putting them to bed early is good for their developmental, physical and mental health. Need I say more?
2. I need my space and time, how would I ever take a bath in peace, eat snacks in peace if the kids are up ’till 9 at night? Fill your cup before you fill anyone else’s. You are just as important.
3. I need to spend time with my husband, uninterrupted, whether it be to just watch TV, sit in different rooms doing our creative projects, taking a dump or to have that sex we’ve been planning to have for a week. Time with your partner is incredibly important to keep the ship or shit running well. Connection and communication are the most important parts of mine and Dimmu’s relationship.
4. I need time with my eldest child, he doesn’t get much one on one time, because we are always occupied with the little kids, feeding them, washing them, picking them up off the floor, that kinda thing.. He needs quiet time too, even if I have asked him that it’s time for him to stop talking during yet another movie, his quiet time ain’t quite as quiet as mine.
5. I love my kids, but even a parent doesn’t need to be around them all of the time, and if putting them to bed early is good for you, its also good for them. They need rest as much as you do.
Is SO important. I’m a laid back kinda person, on the outside anyway. Most would say im pretty relaxed.
But inside I am a wound anxious mess, if someone drives a different way than I would, it makes me go a tad crazy. If we sit somewhere I wasn’t intending to sit in a cafe, I feel all put out and a little awkward, so anytime the kids routine goes out it causes a wrath of out of control anxiety inside me.
If they’re having a later bedtime at home because it’s movie night, I need a day to mentally prepare for that, my mind doesn’t allow for changes, no matter how peaceful.
So while routine is important for children to help them feel they are safe, it also helps them to understand time and also teaches them how to establish good boundaries.
It is also good for my own mental health, because it tells them, ‘no, its mums time now, you need sleep.’
Go the fuck to sleep you beautiful little angels.
Our routine isn’t complicated, it isn’t fancy.
I start cooking the dinner none-of-them-will-eat at either 4:30 or 5pm, once that’s done its bath time, brush teeth then story and straight to bed, one drink, one toilet stop but then its bed, no ifs or buts.
Every night Little Harli will ask “Can I have a song?”
“Which one?” I reply
And she always says “yes”, so I sing her ‘You are my sunshine’ and she knows its time for bed.
Leto always gets a quick chat, a hug and a kiss, no nose kisses of course because only dad gets those and then he’s down for the night. Find something that only you do with them in bed, a chat, a song, or tell them something you love about them, find something they can look forward to once they’re all tucked in safe and sound.
They do call out and we will always yell “go to sleep”, and sometimes one of them will even get up, much to my own disgust, but it is always back to bed. Because to remain sane, we need them to be rested, ready for their next day and we need our time.
It took us years of work for us to get to this point, but we are here and we are ever so thankful that we put the work in early on.
Allow for changes, pick your battles, remain calm and collected even when you’re about to punch the walls, the pillows or scream fucking fucks at the top of your lungs and did I mention to remain calm? But in getting those kids to bed when they need to be in bed for a good nights sleep means you’re not only taking care of themselves, but yourself too.
Like a help me help you kinda thing?
You never want sleep time to be a time where you get mad and frustrated, or mad and sad, because your children will associate bedtime with a shit time.
Bedtime is not a shit time, its a rad time mainly just for us.