My Number One Question Answered
Updated: May 11
Side eyes, skepticism, and a facial expression that reads "Did I really hire this quack?"
This is the best way I can explain the look a parent gives me when I say, "Bedtime will be between 530 and 630."
I'm sorry. You didn't actually think you were going to read a blog by me that didn't mention early bedtime, did you? Except, I'm not sorry at all. Early bedtimes are insanely beneficial for not only your child but you too. If you're new around here, this won't be the only time you hear me say early bedtime. If you've been around awhile, you've heard it before. Let me remind you of a few benefits:
Kids get their most restorative sleep before midnight, the more sleep you have in this time frame the better
Helps boost the immune system
Helps the body heal
Decrease in mood swings and temper tantrums
Less night wakings
Decrease in early risings
Increase in focus and ability to learn
And the list goes on and on and on.
Okay, so with all those benefits, why is it so hard to get everyone on board? Well, it all boils down to time. You know, that thing we literally have none of. It never fails, immediately after I explain why appropriate bedtimes are so important, parents will ask ...
"But when will I get to spend time with her? I feel like I'll never see her."
Trust me, I get it. Life is extremely hard to juggle and the feelings of guilt undoubtably will sweep in when you immediately get home, eat, and put your baby to bed all within a half hour. Long answer short, do the best you can. Studies show that as little as 20 minutes of extra sleep is beneficial. If you think it's time for your family to start benefitting from an earlier bedtime check out these 4 tips to help you make the transition.
1. Use the 80/20 rule
Kids, especially well-rested kids (meaning the ones who go to bed early), are typically good at handling a missed nap or a later bedtime. Just remember to use the 80/20 rule. This means 80 percent of the time you need to be on point with routines, bedtimes, and schedules. The other 20 percent of the time can be a missed nap or a later bedtime.
Note: I said later not late. I wouldn't recommend a bedtime past 8 o'clock until let's say college.
Here are some rules for the 80/20 rule:
Yep, I have rules for rules, what can I say?
Don't use all of your 20 percent in 3 days, space out the days that you allow a later bedtime or missed nap
Always think about yesterday's activities or what is coming up tomorrow
Remember 80/20 is just a guideline if your kid can handle 70/30 or needs 90/10 then do that, your child's behavior is your number one clue to rather you're meeting sleep needs or not
2. Assess quality and quantity
Like you, I love spending time with my kids. However, I do not enjoy it when they are being little twerps. Although we follow the 80/20 rule in my house, there are actually few times that I don't end up kicking myself in the rear for allowing the later bedtime.
More often than not dance parties turn into wrestling matches. Cute little voices turn into earth shattering screams. And requests for a third popsicle turn into a full on cat 5 meltdown.
So, ask yourself, is it really worth it?
Sometimes, it's just not.
3. Get out of bed
Ugh. The second thing parents don't like hearing me say. The vast majority of kids want to wake up between 6 AM and 7 AM, and unfortunately, that's completely appropriate. Just like our kids, we should be getting in bed early too. No you don't need to go to bed at 530, although sometimes it feels like you could, right? However, may I suggest sometime before 10?
For these two reasons:
Getting in bed early actually increases our productivity! So, that email that you would spend 40 minutes on in the evening when your tired ends up being a 10 minute email in the morning. It's a win win - more time in bed and more time to yourself.
You'll be able to shift time spent with your kids to the morning when they are cute, well-rested, and happy. I don't think I need to explain anymore about that. You gotta enjoy those moments when you can.
4. Enjoy your bedtime routine
More often than not bedtime with an overtired kid just plain sucks. They're running around like maniacs, won't brush their teeth, and won't sit still for a book. Not to mention the crying, fighting, whining, and stalling.
Why are kids so wild at bedtime anyways? Well, it's the same as us when we get a second wind. One second your body is literally telling you, "Hey! You need to go to sleep!" The next second, you feel like you can stay up binge watching [insert latest Netflix craze here] all night long. And, you do. And, you totally regret it in the morning.
If you choose an early bedtime you can make a shift from missing your child's sleep window and enduring the wild ride every night to truly enjoying bedtime routine. And, voila! You have more quality time with your baby and they get in bed at an appropriate time. Another win win for early bedtime.
Are you seriously struggling with bedtime battles, routines, and schedules? Book a call with me so we can chat about the ways I can help you.
Until next time!
Peace, love, and sleep.