Aug 082007

My daughter recently returned from her summer visit to grandma’s house. While recapping the adventures she shared with her cousins who live on the East Coast she managed to slip in the fact that my mother required her to be in bed by 9pm each night. This rekindled a conversation that she and I had late last summer. What, exactly, is the point of a bedtime anyway?

An hour or so of searching the web turned up hundreds of articles about the importance of bedtime routines, rituals, stories and music, but not a single reason why bedtimes, themselves are important. I did manage to find numerous articles on how much sleep children should have at different ages. However, each of these also pointed out that every child is different and their individual needs should be taken into account. My daughter is 11 and wakes up between 6 and 7 every morning without an alarm clock. 9 times out of 10 this wakeup time is not effected by her bedtime.

While I spent many weekends enforcing the 9pm bedtime, the rare occasions she was up later seemed to make no difference to her waking time. So, I asked her mother why, exactly she had a bedtime. The response: “so I can have some peace and quiet”. Finding no help there, I turned to a family friend and mother of three. Her response: “We don’t really have bed times, the kids just get tired at a reasonable hour.” Hence, no more bedtimes at Dad’s house!

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