Bedtime. Say it quickly and it seems so simple and straightforward. It’s just the time you go to bed, isn’t it? So why is it so damned complicated for my kids?

Until my eldest left primary school, the boys’ bedtime was allegedly 8.30pm. Although, even then, it wasn’t unusual for them to be awake until nearly 10pm. Which wasn’t ideal considering my younger son was only 8. At that time, my daughter’s bedtime was around 8pm and she fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.

But as soon as my eldest left primary school, it all started to unravel. Because going to bed at 8.30pm wasn’t cool. Nor was going to bed at 9. For a long time we failed to set any proper rules and bedtime started to drift for all three of them. Suddenly my daughter was going to bed at 8.30 or 8.45 and the boys wouldn’t even bother turning their light off until 9.30pm, despite repeated requests.

All that was supposed to change with the house move and separate bedrooms. A bigger house without us all on top of each other, plus the boys having televisions in their rooms for the first time, was supposed to make the evening more pleasant. If they wanted to watch TV after 7pm, they could watch their own TVs in their rooms, leaving the lounge telly free for us my husband.

And there would be simple bedtimes that everyone could understand:

  • Daughter – lights out at 8.30pm, in bed reading at 8.15
  • Younger son – lights out at 9pm, in bed reading at 8.45
  • Eldest – lights out at 9.30pm, in bed reading at 9.15.

At weekends my daughter’s lights are supposed to go out at 9.15, so she can watch the Saturday night crapTV she likes to watch before bed, and lights out for both boys should be 10.

PicMonkey bedtimeCollage

So why is my daughter still up at 9.15 on a week night? Why is my younger son still wandering around drinking milk at 9.30? Why is my eldest yelling that he’s not turning his light off until half an hour after his brother because it’s NOT FAIR that his brother has gone to bed later than he’s supposed to when he still has to go at the right time? Why is my younger son blatantly chatting in his brother’s room or sneakily watching a DVD at 9.45? Why is my daughter shouting to me at 10pm that she can’t get to sleep? Why is my eldest still reading under the covers at 10.45pm with a torch?

I don’t know. I wish I did. All I know is that it won’t get any easier. It’s already not unusual for Daddy to be asleep before the kids. I knew this would happen one day, but I rather hoped it wouldn’t be while two of them were still in primary school.

Anyone else have these bedtime troubles with tweens? And does anyone have any tips for getting kids to stay in their rooms with their lights off at bedtime?

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Oh hon I feel for you! We have small children witching hour and night time antics to contend with, which isn’t the same but is exhausting. Guess it doesn’t necessarily get easier as they get older, you just get a new set of challenges. Good luck with getting yours on track again.

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    • Thanks very much, it definitely is a different set of challenges! I was lucky with my kids that they were all sleeping through from six months (some of them earlier), but actually getting them to bed has been difficult for a while now!

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  2. Z is only 3 and will regularly get out of bed wanting stuff. Mostly as a cunning way to get out of not sleeping. And God forbid we take his socks off and he realises…”where’s myyyy socks!!!!” I always wonder what our neighbours must think of us.

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    • Aaagh! It’s so infuriating! My daughter will wear socks in bed too, why?! I can understand it in winter, but not at this time of year. Next thing they’ll be saying they can’t sleep because they’re too hot!

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  3. I can well imagine that it gets worse! I remember my dad driving out at 1am to pick me up from clubs (and I know clubs stay open a lot later these days!). I’m not quite ready to say ‘it doesn’t matter, go to sleep when you feel like it!’, but I’m sure that day will come!

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  4. I’m lucky with my tween….She’ll go up to bed at about 8pm and read or watch tv and is always asleep by about half 8….It’s my 6 year old I have problems with! She thinks sleep is for the weak! lol

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    • Very impressed by your tween, but sorry to hear about your 6 year old!

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  5. Our boys share a room/telly so they watch a film from 7 (it’s usually the youngest that chooses while his brother watches YouTube) telly off about 8:15 or 8:30 & reading for 1/2 an hour or so, sometimes the oldest will read for longer, youngest is asleep within 10 mins!

    Daughter has the same rules, tv, read & then sleep.

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    • That sounds good, seems to work well. The idea of the telly in their bedrooms was supposed to encourage this, but all it’s encouraged is Xbox – and moaning about their TVs because they don’t have the selection of programmes on the main one in the lounge!

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  6. I hear ya! Our house is very much the same, which won’t surprise you at all. I did have a little wry smile at the ‘eldest is shouting that he won’t go to bed until half an hour after his younger brother’. This is what happens here and then everyone’s bedtime is pushed back later and later. grrrr! The only difference is that we don’t allow any kind of screen in bedrooms (even for 14 yr old). I’m not sure how long that will last but I do think that screens hinder switching off of the mind, just from personal experience. Maybe try that for a while and see if it makes a difference? Good luck!

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    • Thanks! I put my foot down on the ‘half an hour later’ issue, which means that the younger two go to bed late, but my eldest usually goes on time, much to his disgust! But two wrongs don’t make a right. They didn’t used to have screens and now they do – it hasn’t made any difference at all, they’re still awkward! The Xbox gets taken off them for other reasons though if they’re naughty.

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  7. My ten year old is very good actually, he goes when told, which is 9 on school nights, 9.30 at the weekend. No idea what the teen does, can normally still her giggling coming from her room when I go to sleep- and you know all about my toddler- have a feeling our evening battles with him will be a feature of the next ten years or so!

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    • I feel your pain with the toddler, must be hard work every night. I guess you reach a point with teens where you have to leave them to make their own decisions, but we’re not there yet. I’m very impressed with your 10 year old!

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  8. Oh blimey. I have all of this to come and it scares me. My boy is too little to notice the girl is going to bed later but I can just see it all kicking off this time next year. It is going to be a nightmare. We are considering getting them to share a room as well after Christmas. I imagine sweet little sleepovers where they snooze away. In reality? Bet the scream all night and wake each other up! Good luck lovely xxx

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  9. Oh yes, I have the same problem and bizarrely I have a post half written on a similar subject. I find that bedtimes are easier in the winter but during the summer and spring it all goes pear-shaped completely. R thinks he should be able to stay up until midnight and deliberately keeps his brother awake knowing full well that he needs his sleep. A isn’t to bad at going if I take her to bed but still wakes during the night so yes I wish my lot would all go to bed at a reasonable hour.

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    • Sounds like a nightmare with your boys! The summer definitely is harder. I hope A at least starts sleeping all night for you soon.

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  10. Hi Sarah, same here… I get fed up of saying the same things lots of times….

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    • Drives you mad, doesn’t it?!

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  11. I can only imagine. My son is just 11 month and already I seem to have given up on bedtimes. Since the sun has come out he just does not want to sleep no matter what I do. If I start getting frustrated I just give up for the evening and maybe the next few days. Getting in to a routine is hard 🙂

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    • Oh dear, I can feel your pain! It is so hard getting into a routine, but it’s important to do it if you can manage it. Good luck!

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  12. Ooh! I feel my future being predicted here!!
    Miss 6 held a long speech during our California road trip on why she definitely needed a different bedtime than Miss 3… She was convincing! The madness began…
    All of a sudden, they’re BOTH going to bed later, and the ‘small’ adjustment has been a figure of our imagination and not a scratch on reality!

    I really believe you’ve made the BEST beginnings… That is to say, YOU HAVE A PLAN!!!
    – That’s a great start 🙂

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  1. Fresh Five Week 55 | Tots 100 - […] post I really related to this week was Bedtime by Sarah at Mum of Three World. If you’re lucky there’s a short…

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