7 reasons I want my kids awake after bedtime.
Picture it, you put your kids to bed. You’ve done the whole bedtime routine. Teeth were brushed, songs were sung, and hugs exchanged. You shut your child’s door ready to tackle the rest of your evening. When about 20 minutes later you hear a little voice singing from the bedroom. Your kid is not asleep. That’s okay. It happens to Ben a lot. I make sure he is indeed in bed, but then I leave him to his own devices. I actually think it is good for him to have this special time. There are benefits to this special time. Here are 7 reasons I want my kids awake after bedtime.
Reasons I Want My Kids Awake After Bedtime
Kids need time to wind down
I need time to wind down before bed, and I know my kids do too. However, my kids aren’t really great at creating that downtime for themselves. They love to play and run around. Our evenings are not exactly quiet. It would be a good idea for me to create a more soothing evening routine, but that is easier said than done. We love our evening play time! And sometimes it just isn’t feasible. Going to bed and getting to relax in the dark soothing quiet? That I can do every day. Keeping an early bedtime gives my kids that quiet awake time to settle into sleep without being awake too late. So if I hear my kids awake after bed I leave them alone to unwind.
It provides quality imagination time
That time when your child is laying down not doing anything but not asleep yet is a special time. Their minds can just be free. I hear Ben making up songs and stories, talking to himself about his day. This time before he falls asleep is special. His mind is free to imagine and create worlds of his own. That is a joy of childhood that I don’t want to take away from my children.
It forces kids to learn to handle alone time
While having the freedom to explore your imagination is a wonderful thing, it can also be tough to just be alone and still with your thoughts. Being able to just be with your own thoughts is a skill, and this time before children fall asleep is the perfect time to practice this skill. I think this time can be especially helpful if you have a very extroverted child. It gives them a chance to practice being alone in a safe and comfortable environment. This also boosts patience as they wait for sleep to come.
They are still resting, even if they are awake
Even if my kids are not sleeping, they are still laying down and resting. That is important to note. If I kept them up they would still be running around and playing, which is not restful. Keep in mind that their bodies are still getting valuable rest time, even if they aren’t actually asleep.
Sibling bonding is taking place (aka the twin factor)
When siblings share a room you know there will be some chit-chat after dark. Ali and Sammy share a room, so they often giggle and babble to each other after bedtime. It is so sweet and I think it is an important sibling bonding moment. I know they are not always going to fall asleep right away. Because of this, I build in some time for them to have their fun. Staying in bed and trying to sleep are discipline issues that need to be handled. I am not going to let them have a party. But I don’t mind if they share some moments with each other. Early bedtime lets them still get the sleep they need, and they get to enjoy sister time too.
Adult time matters too
Let’s be real, we adults need our downtime at night too. My husband and I don’t get that time if our kids are up too late. I function better with more evening time, more gets done around the house, and I am a better mom to my kids. Your needs as a parent matter too, and if an early bedtime means these needs are met then that is what we will do. Children are not going to suffer by being in their safe and comfy bed a little earlier to help their parents keep their sanity.
It helps me prioritize sleep
Focusing on early bedtime helps me remember to prioritize sleep. As kids get older and don’t fall asleep as quickly it is easy to think they just need less sleep. Letting bedtime inch back seems innocent enough, but before you know it a later time is just what you do. Keeping the early bedtime reminds me that sleep matters, and that kids need a lot of sleep still. It is much easier to maintain a good sleep routine than start a new one after being more lax. I value sleep and want to make it a priority for my family.
While I don’t mind if my kids are awake after bedtime, I do want to toss out a few caveats. This is for older toddlers and children. I don’t like my babies to be in bed awake for a long period of time. They need so much sleep and get overtired very easily, so being awake that long means a schedule change should be considered. The occasional time awake doesn’t bother me, but I don’t want it to be a habit for my babies. (Learn about the sleep hierarchy in babies to help with bedtime: Sleep hierarchy in Newborns.)
There is a common sense length of time that I don’t mind my children being awake. I think being awake even up to an hour or so is fine. But if my child were up for two to three hours we need to look at their activity levels during the day or consider a schedule update.
Finally, being awake is allowed, but that doesn’t mean discipline goes out the window. My children are not allowed to have toys, books, or anything else in bed with them. They cannot be too loud, and they must stay in bed. Rules still apply and sleep is the goal, but I can’t punish them for being awake.
Staying Up Can Be Good
As long as discipline is maintained and my children stay in bed, they don’t have to be asleep. Those quiet moments alone in bed can be valuable times. So next time you hear your little one up making up a song after they are supposed to be asleep, try just letting it go. There is something special going on there.
Here is the schedule for the week! All these awesome and wise women are talking about sleep this week. Take advantage and read up!
Tuesday: How To Drop to One Nap
Wednesday: Team Cartwright
Thursday: Christine Keys
Thursday: Wiley Adventures
Friday: The Journey of Parenthood