I’m not sure exactly what parenting philosophy I’d be described as following in my parenting journey. With a two-year-old son and a ten-month-old son, I’ve learned that there are some things I’m pretty laid back about and some things I’m pretty strict about.
One strict rule in my house is bedtime.
At 7:00 p.m. sharp, both babies are on their way upstairs for bed. Every now and then they get to stay up late, like when we go to Barons baseball games or out to dinner with friends. But if there’s nothing special going on, 7:00 p.m. it is. On the dot.
Why 7:00 p.m. and why am I so strict about it?
This is the time that works with our schedule. My husband leaves for work in the morning at 7:00 a.m. He wants to see the kids before he heads out for the day, so we get them up at about 6:45 a.m. Knowing that I’d like the kids to sleep about 12 hours at night, 7:00 p.m. is the perfect time to put them to bed.
It sets up a routine for the future. I want my kids to know that when it’s time for bed, it’s time for bed. No amount of begging, asking for water, or demanding more books is going to delay the inevitable. They will know that from as early as they can remember, they have had a bedtime that was adhered to every night. Now, I can’t see into the future and know how well an independent preschooler will handle this, but at least I can set up a good foundation now.
It allows for much-needed Me Time. I am a stay-at-home mom. I am with these children all day, every day. By the end of the night I can get tired, cranky, and just tapped out. By having a bedtime that is this early, I have some time to handle self-care. I get to watch reruns on Netflix, read a book, catch up on chores, or do some studying. I get to take a breather and feel refreshed to take on the next day.
It allows for much-needed Couple Time. I strive each day to stay connected with my husband. Sometimes I need to remind myself, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, that we were married before we had kids and we’ll still be married when the kids are older. We need time away from the kids to reconnect and stay close as a couple. Being a stickler for bedtime allows us to have that time. We eat dinner as a couple and spend a few hours together without having babies interrupt us every minute. It’s good for our marriage, which, in turn, is good for our kids.
It allows me to do things outside the house. Like most moms, I still think about my kids even when I’m not at home. I want to know that whoever is watching my kids — whether it’s my husband, a babysitter, or a family member – is handling things and not getting overwhelmed. But when the kids are asleep by 7:00 p.m., there’s less worry or checking-in involved. This allows me to get some O’Henry’s coffee alone, or meet up with a friend for dinner, enjoy a fun moms’ night out, or be involved in church activities or Bible studies. These things are good for my sanity and my soul.