I recently read this article and started a lively discussion on a facebook group I’m on about the importance of early bedtimes. I’m a believer in routines and bedtime and while I frequently fall short in providing that structure, I’m usually spot on about bedtime. Out of my four kids, I had one great sleeper, one who didn’t sleep through the night until he was three, and the twins are okay sleepers that did well when I provide lots of structure around sleep. I’m sure there are the rare kids that require less sleep or that have a medical condition that disrupts sleep (my bad sleeper had complicated asthma) but 90% of kids are inside the bell curve of normal sleep. I don’t say this to make you feel bad if you don’t have a good sleeper – I mean it as encouragement. It can be fixed! If your child is sleeping less than the recommended limits, try an earlier bedtime.
Case in point – I sent my well-slept twins to spend the night with their grandparents last week. They didn’t nap that day and didn’t go to sleep until 10 PM (What what??) They woke up the next morning at 6:30 AM and were miserable. They took a good nap and still went to bed at 8 PM and woke up at 7 AM, the following day they didn’t nap and slept from 7PM to 7:30 AM. Sleep begets sleep folks.
I think it’s especially important when we have older kids at home to have time in the evening to spend with the older kids. When my son was still in high school, I fed the little ones as soon as we got home from daycare and then had a sit down dinner with the grown ups. It was a good way to connect and no teenager enjoys competing for your attention with cranky toddlers. And if your teenager isn’t home, I’m pretty confident in saying that you and your spouse/significant other could use some quality time without a little one.
Is sleep an issue at your house?