Having children changes everything: from the kind of car you drive to what you eat for dinner, from what clothes you wear to what movies you watch, from what you will find in your couch to what sleeping in means. And every parent has part of a person that they had to say goodbye to once they became parents. Before kids, I loved to sleep in. Lazy Saturday mornings making a gourmet brunch sound familiar to anyone else? To be completely honest, if you asked Mr. Dreamer, he would tell you that I slept in everyday! And while I am sure he is exaggerating, I am also sure I was definitely not a morning person in my before-children life. Boy did my children change that!
In fact, for an entire year my son would wake up between 5-6 AM. I am proud to say that our entire family became morning people. Once he started sleeping in till 7, or even later (gasp!), I even admitted that I missed our early mornings before Mr. Dreamer went to work. I was able to get so much done in the early mornings. And I learned, through the help of my child, that it really is true that the earlier you wake up the more time you have.
But the ABSOLUTE VERY BEST part of having an early riser was having an early bedtime. There were times it was as early as 6 PM! Dr. Marc Weissbluth in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, recommends a bedtime between 6-8 PM. He says the best sleep children get is often at the beginning of their night. Therefore, putting a child to bed earlier is the best way to ensure he is getting the sleep needed.
For those of you thinking, “Why didn’t she just put her kid to bed later so he would sleep in?” Trust me we tried that. And we tried every possible solution. Some babies are just early risers, and my son was. But since he was naturally an early riser we knew that an early bedtime was crucial for him.
So many people complain about how inconvenient it is to have to be home at an early hour for their child’s bedtime. I get it. Evening outings can’t last as long as you like. My family is always the first to leave a family dinner for the sake of preserving bedtime. So while it is easy to have a negative Nancy perspective on early bedtimes you can also switch things up and use these early bedtimes to your advantage.
Here are my 5 reasons an early bedtime is a must at our house!
1. Invite Other Couples over to Your House after Bedtime:
When kids are in bed early, it is easy to invite others over to your house to socialize. We would often invite other couples over for games and/or dessert. We got to know some amazing families that way and developed some great relationships.
2. More Opportunities for Date Night with Your Spouse!
While family outings may need to end early, the night is free for date night! Getting a babysitter to watch sleeping kids is the best kind of babysitter to get! Sometimes we would hire a babysitter and pay them a little less but let them do their own thing (watch a movie, read, or homework). Other times I would pay our regular rate but have them clean my house because they didn’t have any kids to watch. Clean home and a date night?! Could the world be any better?
3. More Time Alone Means More Opportunities for Sex!
Let’s be real and honest for a minute, OK? One thing kids change is your sex life! I am not talking about quality here, I am talking about where and when! Once your kids live in your house you are pretty much confined to your room and only during their sleeping hours. Putting your kids to bed early gives you some grown-up time to reconnect physically and emotionally.
4. A Well-Rested Child Is a Happy Child!
As Dr. Marc Weissbluth pointed out, children who are well rested are happier. And well-rested children tend to go to sleep between 6-8 PM. It is amazing how much a whiny and clingy child can ruin every part of your day. I can’t even stand to think about it because it makes me feel sad. So back to happy children who sleep! I would pay good money to have a happier, more flexible child. Luckily, I only have to get them to bed early!
5. Time for Self-Care
I know many experts explain that children need more sleep because they are growing and learning at such a rapid rate. And while I am sure that is true, I think the real reason babies and children need more sleep than adults is because adults need time without babies and children. Adults need time to talk like an adu