My Family Ditched the Bedtime Thing

My kids have no bedtime. No, they’re not teenagers. They’re nine and seven.

My kids have no bedtime. No, they’re not teenagers. They’re nine and seven.

It’s funny, because if you ask any of my family or friends, they’d tell you that I was THE most anal person ever about bedtimes. If my son went to bed 15 minutes late, he’d be up for the day 2 hours early. Screw with naps? Might as well write the rest of the week off.

We’ve pretty much thrown bedtime out the window though.

I guess, if we want to get particular, they do have a bedtime, a time after which they are to be in their rooms and in their beds. If we hear them, we call lights out. But if they’re quietly reading, we turn a blind eye.

I didn’t have a bedtime as a child. My mother might tell you we had one that my brother and I ignored but I don’t remember my mom ever coming in and saying lights out. My brother and I were both avid readers and loved ending our days in the world of literature.

I find it difficult, no, impossible to see my kids reading and say “put the book down.”

My kids are walking proof that the way our kids respond to messing with bedtimes as babies doesn’t mean that’s how they’ll be as they grow. Maybe I’m making up for all of the times I left parties early or didn’t go places at all, because my kids needed to be in bed at a certain second, lest the earth crumble beneath their feet.

Now, the last thing I want to do is be a stickler at bedtime. If they’re farting around playing, chatting, using energy, it would be another story, but as they lay in bed, enthralled in their book, the last thing I want to do is interrupt. Sometimes, I’ll sneak up there and peak in and see if they’ve fallen asleep with their reading light on (it’s only happened once). But I love giving them the chance to decide when their bodies are calm and ready to shut it all down for the night.

I’m confident sleep gurus would tell me I’m doing it all wrong. That consistent bedtimes are vital for proper development.

They’re not tired. They’re not cranky. Dragging them out of bed in the morning isn’t any harder than it’s ever been before I let them pick when they turn out their light. It works for us.

So, my kids have no bedtime. They’re still young, and they know that bedtime means you can read but be quiet and don’t let mommy and daddy know you’re up reading. It’s better than the alternative, where I’d head upstairs at 11pm to find my daughter lying on the floor by the door in her room, reading by the hallway light. This way, she’s in bed, always passed out way before 11, because she’s resting in bed while finishing her day.

I admit I’m a path-of-least-resistance kinda parent. I very much operate under the premise that, if it ‘aint broke don’t fix it. I ditched the bedtime. I ditched the yelling “Lights out!!! Stop talking! GO TO SLEEP!” and running upstairs to check if they’re actually in bed trying to sleep. Now it’s hear no evil see no evil. You wanna read in bed until your eyes droop? Giv’er. Dream of Captain Underpants and Dog Man and Babysitters Club. See you in the morning.




RELATED: To the Parents With Kids Who Have a Million Excuses at Bedtime

Leslie is a professional writer and editor and mother to two kids who keep her on her toes. When she's not at her computer typing away, Leslie enjoys hitting the yoga mat (a new passion!) or discovering new shows to serial-watch with her husband.