When should children go to sleep?

Photo credit: Pixabay

Sleep.... it is elusive here some times.  At least for us as parents of young children.

In our family we have come to recognize that each member of our family has a very different sleep pattern. It took us a long time to break from what main stream society tells us about how and when people should go to bed for the night. When should children go to sleep? When they are tired of course! G
oing to bed for the night is a bit different for us.  This is a chance to wind down, relax and prepare to fall asleep.

When the boys were younger I spent hours sitting in my boys' room each night trying to help them get to sleep.  One was tired, the other wasn't.  I was annoyed.  It just dragged on.  We tried being more strict. We tried everything....

Oops the photo is sideways.  But Daddy and TJ love to hang out a while a bedtime.

We realized that MJ is more of a night person like daddy, while TJ and I prefer to go to bed earlier and are fresh in the morning. So MJ started off playing with toys in bed (we tried to keep him quiet).  A major break through came when the boys asked for separate rooms again.  I was reluctant at first, but saw the great benefit for these two to have some space from each other.

Basically MJ listens to audio stories or dance music while playing Lego, Playmobil or stickers late into the night until he falls asleep.  Then daddy or I go empty out his bed and turn off the noise.  TJ on the other hand listens to audio stories or quiet music.  He looks at picture books for a few minutes and then falls asleep early.  We just go with it and somewhere in there we catch a short break for our selves.

Now of course with the baby I was just working with when he seemed tired.  Nowadays he seems reluctant to go for naps and bed, but does go right to sleep.  So I'll just go with that for now until we can see a need for change.

Amazingly we all might have missed out on a lot if we had insisted that they go to be early each night.  

MJ made little paper drawings of all the Super Mario characters one night
so he could play with his paper guys the next day with his older brother.
MJ does most of his deep learning late at night!! It's fascinating really.  This little boy who runs about like a Tasmanian devil during the day will settle quietly (okay not silent or anything, but quiet enough) for a few hours focused on a task in bed.  He comes up with the most amazing Lego creations, elaborate story lines, practices reading, writing, creating and more.  I am so proud of what he can accomplish.  I honestly wish we had more energy and patience to put in to mentoring him and working on the cool ideas he comes up with.

TJ enjoys special time with daddy in the evenings.  He likes to chat about his day and what is on his mind. He is full of questions that we are happy to answer.

What if they won't go to bed??

We do have that trouble some nights.  For the longest time everyone was waking up around 7am, but as the fall and winter wore on everything was getting later and later.  We were all cranky and tired.  So I talked to the boys about it.  We all discusses why we need sleep, how to help our bodies relax and get ready for bed, what our new plans might look like.  They agreed that the whole family needed to work together to help everyone have the opportunity for a good rest at night.  Since then it's been a lot better.  Instead of feeling like I'm nagging them to go to sleep, they understand that I'm gently reminding them.

Sure we have some days that go better than others.  Don't we all?  The point is not to stress about it.

Breaking from the 'normal' mold can be scary and awkward at times.  But really it is our family we are focused on, no one else. So why compare.  This is what works best for us right now.

How about you?  When do you like to go to bed??