8 Reasons NOT to Give Kids a Bedtime

8 Reasons NOT to Give Kids a Bedtime

8 Reasons NOT to Give Kids a Bedtime

My children have no bedtime.

All four of them.

Apart from a short period with our oldest two where we fell into a bedtime habit before realising our mistake, it has always been this way.

From birth, through infancy, as toddlers (which some of them still are), and into childhood, they have known and trusted their own bodies.

While many people think children are incapable of this kind of decision, they prove to me every day that is untrue. Even very young children, when free from control, make decisions that are beneficial for them.

In our house, bedtime is not a bad thing. Everyone happily announces when they are ready for sleep and enjoys going to bed. Yes even 1-year-olds and 3-year-olds.

8 Reasons NOT to Give Kids a Bedtime

Bedtime doesn’t have to be a struggle or a fight. Instead, it can be an opportunity to support a child’s autonomy and learning about themselves.

8 Reasons to Ditch Bedtime for Good…

1. Children are capable of listening to their bodies

Sleep is a biological function. We all need it! So it makes no sense that people would require others to decide on a sleep schedule for them. When you are tired, you sleep. Newborn babies are very good at it. So what changes as they grow older?

Problems arise when adults try to control their children’s sleep in order to make it fit an idea of how they believe children should sleep. In non-Western societies, children have far fewer sleep ‘problems’ (or maybe more accurately parents are less troubled by their children’s sleep), likely due to the fact that they are far less controlling around sleep. In these cultures, infants sleep when tired, on or next to a caregiver instead of separate, they breastfeed on demand, and night waking is accepted.

“I can’t help noting that no cultures in the world that I have ever heard of make such a fuss about children’s bedtimes, and no cultures have so many adults who find it so hard either to go to sleep or wake up. Could these social facts be connected? I strongly suspect they are.” – John Holt

8 Reasons NOT to Give Kids a Bedtime

When we try to control a child’s sleep and force them to bed at set times we interrupt their learning about their own bodies. They may begin to distrust themselves, believing that others know their body better than they do and that what they feel is unimportant. Eventually, they may lose the ability to hear their body’s tiredness signals, having had that opportunity regularly taken away from them. Children without control are very capable of knowing when they need to sleep, and less likely to resist meeting their own needs. Sure, they may require help or company to get to sleep when they’re ready, but that is different from deciding for them when they must sleep.

“…children seem to have a remarkable capacity for self-regulation. Unless, that is, we try to run their bodies for them.” -Alfie Kohn

2. It’s counterproductive

Ever heard of a circadian rhythm? That’s our internal body clock which regulates periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day and night. The thing about this is, it’s endogenously generated, meaning that it originates from within our body. It can be influenced by light and temperature, which is why we sleep during the night and wake during the day, but not much else. In that case, there is no need to dictate to anyone when they should feel sleepy, their body has that covered. In fact, it’s counterproductive! Trying to put a child to bed who is not sleepy is fighting a losing battle. Instead of the rest you are after, all you end up causing is more stress for everyone.

3. Creating unhelpful sleep associations

Have you ever laid in bed unable to get to sleep? Your mind incapable of switching off, and the longer you lay there the harder it gets to find sleep? Do you know what advice they give people suffering from insomnia in those situations? Get up out of bed and go back when you feel sleepy. Lying in bed thinking, worrying, upset, or busy doing other things is not good sleep hygiene. After many hours spent lying in bed fighting bedtime, children who are forced to bed unwillingly are likely to associate sleep with negative feelings. In the pursuit of ensuring children get enough sleep, we may actually be setting them up to dislike and resist it.

8 Reasons NOT to Give Kids a Bedtime

4. Children have the right to decide when they will sleep

People have a right to bodily autonomy, and children are people too. How would it feel for someone else to decide when you should go to bed every night? Frustrating and disrespectful no doubt. It is the same for children. Children have the right to decide when they would like to sleep, which is not conditional upon them meeting your expectations.

I wish children could grow according to their natural pace: sleep when sleepy, wake up when rested, eat when hungry, cry when upset, play and explore without being unnecessarily interrupted; in other words, be allowed to grow and blossom as each was meant to.” — Magda Gerber

5. Learning good habits

Many people are under the assumption that to teach children that they need to get adequate sleep, they must force them into a schedule. But this is not teaching them anything except to obey orders. What happens when someone is no longer around to tell them what to do? How do they know what the best choice for them is when they’ve never had any practice making it? The way we learn to make good decisions is by being allowed to make them. By making mistakes and learning from them. By figuring it out on our own, with support if needed. Being allowed to feel tiredness after staying up too late is not a life threatening situation! Let them work out their own sleep needs by being the ones in control of their decisions.

8 Reasons NOT to Give Kids a Bedtime

6. More connection

Evening is commonly known as the most difficult time with young children. There’s dinner and baths and stories and bedtime to get done in the small amount of time after work. Getting rid of a set ‘bedtime’ really helps slow things down and gives you more time together as a family. There’s so little time for working parents to connect with children in the evenings amongst this rush. When the time isn’t limited, things can go much more smoothly. You’re not working towards a certain time and trying to cram everything in. Kids want to connect with parents at the end of the day, especially if they have been separated. I often wonder if the problems so many have with getting children to stay in their beds is because they’re just craving that connection time. Slowing down and meeting everyone’s needs means that everyone goes to bed happy and is not resisting sleep!

7. Flexibility

8 Reasons NOT to Give Kids a Bedtime

Having a set bed time is so restrictive! What if you have visitors? What if you want to have a family movie night? What if you’re out at an event and can’t get home in time for bed? Ditching bedtime is just so much more flexible!

8. No power struggles

Giving up bedtime means no more nightly fighting or power struggles which so many complain of! This means a more peaceful home for everyone. Sleep doesn’t become a battleground or place for children to fight for their right to autonomy.


There are so many great reasons to let go of a set bedtime! Ultimately, it’s about respecting children’s freedom and autonomy, with the added bonus of more peace and connection for everyone.

Still have doubts? Here’s some more reading that might help…

8 Misconceptions About Children NOT Having a Bedtime

What does bedtime look like for autonomous kids?

Why We Ditched Bedtime

20 Ways to a Better Bedtime




8 Reasons NOT to Give Kids a Bedtime

8 Reasons NOT to Give Kids a Bedtime



July 18, 2017 at 9:50 pm

It’s a great idea, but a lot more difficult with kids who go to school, parents who work in the morning, etc.

    March 22, 2018 at 2:43 am

    it is but it makes kids more grumpier

      Kady Merk
      May 21, 2020 at 4:55 am

      So we tried this with my son and his best friend. They stayed up all night and never went to bed. Its 3pm in the afternoon. One fell asleep at 2pm, 1 hour ago. The other fell asleep at 9am. They are 8 years old. They are both still asleep and I was not able to run the errands I needed to do today. This is the worst advice in the world. Kids are kids and parents are in charge for a good reason. Enough with the kids know best bull.

        June 6, 2020 at 5:38 am

        Agreed Kady. I wanted to try this method this week. My eight year old son went to bed at 11 AM three nights in a row (or…days?) and slept until 5-6 pm. He is sleeping as I’m writing this.

        No bed time might work for reasonable children, but my son is stubborn as a bull, and all his xbox Online friends play at all hours of the night and day. So yeah…this is terrible advice for anyone with super active boys. Lol.

          June 28, 2020 at 12:18 am

          Agreed. This is possibly the worst advice possible. This is what creates a irresponsible child who feels intitled. Exactly what is wrong with many “sensitive” children today who have a “do what you want upbringing “ if it works for a week its because theyre bodies are still used to the bedtime. After they lose the habit it becomes a hot mess and its lazy parenting .

          June 28, 2020 at 12:33 am

          I’m pretty sure letting your kid play xbox all night isn’t what this article is about.


July 19, 2017 at 10:37 pm

I believe there is another reason we’re so obsessed with putting our kids to bed at a certain time and it’s due to the poor work/life balance we have in our culture, often with both parents working and everything outside of work hours being rushed, causing our to feel burned out and NEEDING our offspring to be in bed so we can get the peace and quiet we feel we need.
I think these a generational nature to this too, in that we are still a Victorian hangover period, with parenting practices (ones that make adults lives and children’s lives very separate) being inadvertently and often unknowingly passed down from parent to child, parent to child, and so on (read up on ‘Attachment Theory’ to understand more about this).

July 20, 2017 at 4:27 am

Sara, I love reading all your posts and they help me strive for a more respectful approach to parenting. I find myself struggling everyday but try to assure myself that at least I’m more aware and am trying to better myself! My husband and I struggle with bedtime and naps with my 3 year old. I sometimes wonder if we didn’t “force” it maybe things would be easier for everyone…but when she hasn’t had enough sleep she is in constant tears, very demanding, and worst of all, are the constant struggles between her and her younger sister that don’t end. I don’t know how to turn that around…I am afraid of what the transition period would be like. What was it like for you during the change with how you handled sleep with your two oldest? Have you written a post about that?

    July 20, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Ah yes, the fear of the transition; I can sooo identify with that! Our 3 year old has just got to the stage where she’s OK without a nap for a few days a week so we can leave it up to her to decide now. At night times I snuggle in next to her while she drifts off, but I almost always instigate that as I know she’ll just want to keep playing until she’s then overtired and would really struggle to fall asleep. I often wonder whether we need to go through that hell for a week for her to learn for herself that she needs to listen to her body and prioritise it over play, but without the certainty of that ‘working’ i’m to scared of how that week (or more!) would be. So, also really looking forward to Sara’s response!

July 22, 2017 at 1:38 am

What if it’s midnight and they still won’t go to sleep? Our children haven’t had a bedtime but nights are HORRIBLE because I turn into a witch @9, seriously…I feel it switch on the dot without looking at a clock. How can I help this situation? I have tried going to bed early myself and it backfires on me and kids think they can come in bed and jump around etc. They have always slept with us. I have a 6 month old who sleeps with me too so it makes it even trickier. I try reading books and my kids fight over who’s book gets read first then we all fight and turn out the lights mad and sad. I like e mornings though because everyone is fresh and new and all happy cuddles. I would like e some more advice on this topic of how to go about it if you don’t have a strict bedtime.

July 23, 2017 at 3:52 am

So how do you do this then? What do they say and what if they’re awake until 10pm? And you’re deathly tired? I want to give this a shot but I don’t know where to start.

    July 24, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Personally, I get suggestive as it gets too late ‘do you want to go to bed yet?’ ‘its getting very late’ ‘arn’t you tired?’ ‘do you want to just sit in bed, mummy is tired’

July 24, 2017 at 4:25 pm

This makes me feel so much better! I thought I was just being a lazy mum! I found trying to make my kids go to sleep was so stressful, that I gave in, and just let them go to bed when they are ready. My 1 year old tends to ask to go to bed around 7:30-8pm and my 3 year old likes to go to bed around 9pm, if they have a big day they will ask to go to bed earlier. I find it lets them decide their natural rythem, as they will wake in the morning according to how much sleep they needed.

Bryce Warden
July 30, 2017 at 1:32 am

Sounds sweet unless you have multiple kids on different schedules and yet the adults still need to get to work on time, attend meetings, appointments, etc those pesky real life things that require people to be somewhere at a certain time.

August 1, 2017 at 10:37 pm

Sorry. I don’t agree. Kids stay up super late at times and won’t go to sleep. Kids need a bedtime routine. Adults need time to themselves after a long day at work and then playing and feeding the kids. They’re exhausted. We don’t have the energy like we used to when we were young. This article is insane. No way in hell would I follow this advice. I’m a nurse’s aide and I work full time 8 hours a day (sometimes 16 if needed). My husband is deployed overseas. On top of that, I go to school part time. My parents or my MIL watches them when needed. You think I’m going to let my kids stay up as late as they want? No. This article needs to rethink its priorities especially involving parents who work long hours. #areyouinsane #sorrynotsorry

    August 2, 2017 at 7:41 am

    My priorities are respecting everyone’s needs and autonomy. People have a right to decide basic things for themselves like when they feel like sleeping.

    November 10, 2018 at 4:24 am

    Does this woman know what kids are looking at while the parents go night night? I worked in a middle school with exhausted kids who couldn’t do their classwork, they were too tired, grumpy and disruptive…also watched porn while mommy and daddy got their beauty rest, and yes they bragged about it..sorry, but not sorry ! this is stupid irresponsible parenting!

    July 10, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    What’s your problem?! I know this post is old but geez you are full of judgement and anger. Some of us have chosen to prioritize our children’s autonomy as people not as pawns in our busy lives. I don’t think the excuse that people are busy with careers is valid. At all. I don’t believe in sleep “training” either since that’s just for the sake of the parents. Ps I have a career and I still let my child decide when she’s tired. I don’t force a schedule. You do you but don’t be pissy about what others do. Calling it insane come on now. Maybe you would be happier working less and spending more time not stressing schedules.

    February 28, 2020 at 10:35 am

    I have never had a bedtime for my kids and everyone gets plenty of sleep. I do allow them to eat what they want (from the choices provided…I do the shopping and cooking, they decide what and how much of what I make they want to eat). My kids are now 21 and 9. We all go to sleep when we are tired and wake when we have to/want to. If we didn’t get enough sleep (my 21 y/o working 3rd shift has thrown us off), we nap if we need to.

    We have always had a bedtime routine (brush teeth, stories, tucking in, cuddles, prayer, etc.). It changes over time. We just begin it when the child is ready each night. No battles or power struggles, no need for cajoling or rules or bribes or punishments. Simple and easy, and everyone gets the sleep they need.

August 17, 2017 at 12:19 am

Your right on the fact that kids at some point have to learn. But the reality is that not giving your kids a bedtime or allowing them autonomy as you call it is in my opinion lazy parenting. While yes it is great for kids to learn the cues of their bodies. They also need to be taught. By allowing them to go to bed when they want and wake up when they want isn’t reality. Only those that are unemployed can wake up whenever they want. Those with jobs have to be at work at a certain time. They get told when they have t wake up and are essentially told when they need to go to bed. For example, I have work at 7 in the morning, the doctor and research suggests I need 7-9 hours of sleep therefore I have to go to bed by midnight to get up in the morning.

Next it will be kids have the right to decide if they want to go school or if they want to eat. Kids are kids and Parents need to teach them that they need to sleep at certain times, eat at certain times.

For now I will keep the bedtimes and their routines in place because I am the parent and they are the child. Secondly when we do let our oldest stay up later he ends up being cranky and whiny the next day. Thirdly, I work, go to school full time come home cook, clean, go coach gymnastics then come home and snuggle with the kids and put them to bed. I need quiet time for myself before I head to bed so I can get up and do it the next day.

    September 30, 2017 at 8:13 am

    I think it was quite clear that this is written from a homeschooler’s perspective, where having to be at school/work on time in the morning isn’t an issue, therefore allowing for that little bit of flexibility.
    No need to call it lazy parenting just because one aspect of child’s life is not being dictated by an adult.

    September 30, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    And also, you seem to have missed the point about teaching children self-regulation / creating learning opportunities for your kids to learn how to manage their time properly, e.g., listen to their body, accept responsibilities etc, instead of relying on an authoritative figure telling them they must do as they’re told.

      October 20, 2019 at 6:52 pm

      I let my first run our sleep time for her first 2 years. She woke hourly for breastfeed for those 2 years. Sometimes I would be crashing in and out of sleep by midnight, and she’d be PLAYING IN THE DARK, clambering over me for anywhere up to 4 am! I was so beyond resentful exhaustion something had to change when I was pregnant with second. I read the big book of sleep, learned about routines, and nearly 3 years later, SO HAPPY I did. I have A ROUGH time of night for bedtime, which fluctuates depending on tired levels/days events. But most nights kids are happy asleep by my side between 8 – 9. Then I finally have some quiet to do chores, schoolwork, hubby time, and me time.

      Some nights are awful, but most are good. I do crave the quiet at night though, after full time mumming every day.

      Also, I am intending to homeschool, but I didn’t pick up that this article was for homeschool families.

      I know someone who believes their kid from age 3 – 6 has ever needed more than 5-9 hours sleep at night because he’s TERRIFIED of being alone and will not sleep alone. I know for a fact this is wrong as he’s lived with us multiple times and we can get him to sleep well, despite his intense traumas.

      Article makes some interesting points. I think being able to sway like a strong tree, firm but also flexible, is best.

    February 28, 2020 at 10:42 am

    I can tell you that this method works just fine even when people do need to get up at a certain time in the morning. We have had very different schedules through the years, sometimes needing to get up by 6:30 every morning, other times not having a set time we need to get up, and our sleep rpoutine has adjusted just fine. When we have to get up earlier, we are tired earlier and the kids and I go to bed earlier. Naturally, without me having to enforce anything or make a set time.

    I homeschool, but there have been times my kids have had classes in the mornings or when one of us had a job to get up and go to each morning. Whatever the schedule, we have done this method of no bedtimes for 21 years now, and it works fine. Usually everyone settles into a routine going to bed at the time that works for them. (I will say that having my oldest working third shift has thrown everything off a lot for all of us, but we manage).

September 18, 2017 at 12:35 am

I would really love to try this, my daughter was 2 in June. I think it would result in lots of late nights, which is fine, but we all have to get up and out of the house early-ish in the mornings…. My daughter often needs to be carried to sleep, her mind keeps running while her body needs to stop.
Any advice would be so gratefully received.
We co-sleep too, anyone who doesn’t is missing out IMO 😁

Tom Franklin
December 8, 2017 at 9:29 am

What if the toddler is going to bed at midnight? Is that good?

    December 8, 2017 at 10:32 am

    If they don’t need to get up early for school, i.e., they can get plenty of sleep, what would the issue be?
    Although the presumption is that, as with most adults, their natural response will kick in with sundown, so that unless you live in, say, Stockholm, your kid will be sleepy well before midnight.

Kathryn Seip
January 12, 2018 at 12:13 am

I absolutely love this article. I have done the exact thing for over 25 years. I have NEVER had a bedtime for any of my 6 kids, ages 25, 23, 21, 14, 8, and 6. I also NEVER had any nap times for them as babies/toddlers or any age. They would sleep if they were tired and if not, they didn’t sleep until they were. The oldest 3 went through public school and 2 of them on the college and all 3 onto jobs. They have self-regulated their own sleep to whatever worked for each of them. It has worked very well for them. My younger 3 are being unschooled, and they also have been given the control over when they sleep. It is winter in Michigan, so their sleep tends to shift to staying up late and sleeping in late, which is not a problem. They still get as much sleep as they want and need. As we approach our Disney World trip in March, I hope that they will gradually shift their sleeping to earlier, so we can take advantage of the park hours. I mentioned this to an old-fashioned person, who chimed in about how he felt they ought to have their sleeping changed all along. I’m so glad that we are free to make decisions with our own kids. I cannot imagine someone else controlling when I sleep. I certainly won’t control when my kids sleep. A neighbor of ours puts her kids to bed while the sun is still up and one day she yelled across the yard to my son and one of his friends that were playing, “Don’t you have a bedtime kid?” It was because her kids were forced to be in bed at an ungodly insane hour and they heard the other kids laughing and playing on the trampoline. No, we are proud to say that we don’t have bedtimes. It works very well for us and we are able to make adjustments for events and activities that we choose to do.

February 3, 2018 at 4:34 pm

My 3yo daughter enjoys bedtime and tells me when she wants to go to bed… which is usually around 8pm… because I created a peaceful routine with her since birth… because I am her parent. Children trust their parents to know what is safe and healthy for them until they can form opinions about their health and body on their own, or at least question your logic and employ critical thinking on their own behalf. That trust is critically important. ‘This is hot, you will burn yourself if you touch it.’ My daughter trusts those words. I mean, yes, she could choose to touch it anyways… that’s body autonomy. Our brains develop rapidly as children. Even so, concepts need to be delivered at a rate appropriate for your specific child’s level of comprehension. ‘Do you want candy or broccoli with your dinner?’ Health benefits; Not something a young child can much grasp. ‘Are you ready for bed or would you like to stay awake unattended until 2am while everyone is asleep? Up to you.’ Cognitive development and supervision; Not concepts small children can grasp. A healthy sleep routine is as important as any hygienic practice. Poor sleep patterns affect weight, attention span, mood, and memory retention. Clinical psychologist Candice Alfano found there is a link between lack of sleep, ‘being tired’, and depression later in life. There is a balance between showing a child how to make healthy choices, providing an example, and then allowing them to experience and recognize on their own the benefits they’ve trusted you to make since day one. Body autonomy is a delicate subject that shifts with every age… respecting their body is something that will happen naturally as their brain and body develop. As children discover new facets of their character, body, and spirit they will indirectly communicate with you what level of body autonomy they’re eager to experiment with. The goal is to let them find what feels best for them after you’ve demonstrated and adhered to a stable and healthy routine. The goal is to raise adults who are capable of making healthy decisions because they have a passion to do so, because they have learned the importance of treating themselves with thought and care… not to simply make choices for themselves because they feel a certain way and can. The goal is to pass the torch during every beautiful stage and chapter of their life with you as their guide. So, I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

    February 3, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    You make a very reasoned argument re bedtimes and candy. I agree with you that those are the ideals for all children that are raised the Western way.
    You are right that 3 year old doesn’t understand the concept of health. But a child who is trusted be fully autonomous over the food intake since birth will ‘know’ (feel) what food is or isn’t ‘right’ for them at any given moment. Just like as adults we ‘know’ when we’ve had enough sugar / coffee etc. But a child has to re-learn that as they get older. I say re-learn because it is something that they are born with, which we force them to unlearn by telling them to ignore their own bodies by telling them when and what they can / can’t eat.
    Likewise with sleep. It sounds like what you have with your 3 year old is great. But as you say, you have given her a routine since birth. So she has had to learn from the word go to trust your judgement instead of her own. In tribal communities babies and children sleep whenever they want. They are not put on a routine. This would be VERY inconvenient (almost impossible) for many of us in the West, so I fully sympathise. I also have a rough routine for my daughter. But for those for whom it is not so inconvenient, who have the time and space and support to be able to allow such lack of structure, it is not only possible but healthy to allow the child (at any age) full autonomy over their sleep, because they never have to unlearn to trust their own innate feelings on when to sleep, which they were born with.

February 21, 2018 at 7:08 am

What if your children are almost falling asleep playing a video game, but force themselves to stay awake, yet have to be up by 6:00 am to catch the school bus after staying up til 2:00 am? Just take away the video game?

May 11, 2018 at 10:07 am

I mean… sure. If you like: Let your kids decide their bedtime! They’re your kids, after all. But research shows that they’ll likely be the most annoying kid in any given situation. https://melmagazine.com/letting-your-children-pick-their-own-bedtime-is-terrible-for-them-and-for-you-88bbb02f2043

July 21, 2018 at 5:08 am

Not saying this wouldn’t work but…it won’t work with my son, who has ADHD. He is completely backwards on almost everything. Stimulants like caffeine calm him down and when he gets tired, he goes feral. His brain is already trying to work against him with every other thing he does, he NEEDS a structure and routine to bedtime. Just saying, if your child/children have ADHD tendencies this may work against you.

    August 12, 2018 at 7:19 am

    I get this whole self regulation and I love the idea behind it. I have tried a consultative approach with my six year old son, but it really doesn’t work. I tried it various times and he will either stay up and watch tv until around midnight or fall asleep on sofa(which is another issue). He still has school next day. If I let him self regulate other things such as food.. he would scoff sweets and ice cream or other non-nutritious items. I suspect that the person writing this have children that have that inclination already to self regulate.. i have tried everything to help my son to self regulate but nothing really works. I know because as an adult I find it hard to self regulate myself and know where he got his genes from..

    September 12, 2018 at 12:52 am

    You’re sooooo dumb of course it would work!!!

September 2, 2018 at 9:26 am

My grandpa told me when he was a child there was no set bedtime or wake up time. From the early age of 6 his father always said “I don’t care when you go to sleep but your better be up soon enough to help milk the cows before getting on the bus”. Grandpa said he quickly learned he had to be in bed by 5:30am to accomplish this, and he knew his mom and dad weren’t going to badger him to go to bed or get up. If he slept in than he spent the morning hungry, caused the family to lose some of their only source of income (milk and butter) during a great depression which directly effected him, or he’d miss school and risk being illiterate. His parents sounded both strict and laissez faire at the same time.

Shannon Staudt
October 31, 2018 at 4:46 pm

We meet in the middle. I don’t tell my kids they have to go to sleep but I turn off the internet at 9, I tell them they have to be quiet and I turn off data so no texting with friends. The latest they fall asleep is 1am and they are teens so that’s pretty good. They get their autonomy but I help them make positive choices by limiting the freedom in a responsible way.

    February 7, 2019 at 4:00 am

    nonoonononono dont do that you will make them mad and then they will develop negative feelings for you, lasting past their “phases”

December 22, 2018 at 7:19 am

Sounds like you are just trying to justify lazy parenting. Your kids are not your equals. They don’t get to do whatever they want just because they can “make their own choices”. It is your responsibility as a parent to make sure they are taken care of and healthy, and that includes enough consistent sleep. Sometimes we have to make decisions that are not well received by our kids because it is ultimately best for them.

December 29, 2018 at 6:02 pm

Yeah, I have a bedtime, but I just sit in bed on my phone, video games, or reading anyways. Even right now, it’s 3 am, and I don’t wake up tired, grumpy, or even that late. I completely agree with this.

January 10, 2019 at 11:59 am

This is the most ignorant and irresponsible parental advice I have ever encountered . As a psychologist and life coach , I have observed the devastating results that lack of parental guidance discipline and bed time routine have on children and teens. Sleep is one of the most important factors for healthy brain development. Everything – from cognitive functions to physiological and emotional responses depends upon a healthy amount of sleep. What kind of a parent leaves it up to their children to decide when to go to bed? Apparently , a parent who needs to expand her knowledge of conscious parenting, healthy boundaries and children’s wellbeing.

    January 10, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    A parent who respects her children. Your comment shows your complete lack of trust in and understanding of children. If you read the linked post about what bedtime looks like at our house you would know they usually go to bed at 8pm *gasp*. How irresponsible.

January 11, 2019 at 10:31 am

I want to say that many parents do certain things NOT because they are conditioned but through some trial and error they find it to be the only solution. So, it would be more productive to write articles on the real way to calm kids / enable them to proclaim their own bedtime. we parents crave that. I’m sure you realized we have tried to maneuver around the whole yelling and the resistance? We are parents, our hearts also break when we upset our child, we don’t prefer this scenario. But we also know they are rubbing their eyes, feel sleepy, will be absolutely hysterical soon because they are sleepy but they are simply putting in all their effort to stay awake.
So… I don’t have a method to help her except forcing them to sleep.

January 16, 2019 at 11:03 am

Every point this article makes is purely speculation. My child has a bedtime, but that doesn’t mean it’s a negative thing. If she’s tired enough, she will go to sleep right away. If she’s not quite tired enough to go to sleep right away, she talks to herself and plays with her stuffed animals and looks at her books until she does drift off to sleep. I think an appropriate bedtime is respectful for a child. It is a suggestion that should leave the ultimate ending up to the child. A bedtime says, I am going to set you up for a good night’s rest by putting you in your bed *before* you are tired. That way, when you are tired and feel it necessary to drift off to sleep, you are already bathed and dressed and snuggled and ready to do so on your own terms. I do agree that our society is extremely caught up, borderline obsessed, with our kid’s sleep and that abiding by strict schedules can be detrimental. But having a standard bedtime is not an issue like this article makes it out to be. There is such a thing as stimulation and once that is taken out of the picture, a child may decide they’re more tired than they were while in the stimulated environment. A bedtime is simply placing them in a less stimulating environment so they can better be in tune with their body’s desire to sleep.

February 7, 2019 at 4:32 am

uhtjuhgy huhufydrhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhuh nonononononononononononononononononononononononon mon ami yall are stupid. children need to be able to know when they are sleepy, not when you want some alone time. go upstairs and watch television or something. sont mak eyour child go to bed because you “want some alone time.”

    December 12, 2019 at 2:24 am

    What if the kid is sleepy but does not want to go to sleep because she/he wants to play more? So, the kid ignores the biological tired signals to force the body to keep awake to get more time to play? If I do that myself sometimes and I get the consequences next day is perfectly possible that the same could happen to a kid, so as a parent I should simply let the kid be on their total freedom and get the consequences the next day although that is not good for their health? You say that a sleep deprived kid is not a health problem but I disagree. Lack of sleep can conduce to a lot of health serious problems that is well documented for a lot of research. The same happens to let the kid eat junk food for example. The act of eat junk is not a health problem itself but can lead to a lot of health problems.

      January 2, 2020 at 12:51 am

      Couldn’t agree more. I am blown away by the people commenting saying they let their 3 year old decide because they know their bodies best. Yes fine, let them pick out their outfit, what toy they like, but when it comes to health decisions like sleeping and eating, they don’t know what’s best for them. My daughter would eat candy and nothing else all day if I let her.

Kirsty Coleman
March 12, 2019 at 9:10 am

I’m so happy i found this post. I was starting to think we were the only ones parenting like this. We believe is allowing our nearly 3 year old girl to make choices for herself where she is able and doesn’t put herself or others in harm. This does not mean we do not discipline or teach right from wrong. She is currently asleep on the couch next to me as she wanted to sleep there instead of bed, having decided she was tired at about 10.30pm. This afternoon she had a 4 hour nap as she was tired after preschool. We let her choose foods (luckily she likes a lot of healthier food), outfits, activities she would like to do etc. My partner works full time, I work part time and she goes to preschool twice a week so it is doable around other commitments. I think it is cruel to force a child to go to sleep when they are not tired, we step in and assist her to sleep when she gets overtired/too wired as her mind is processing things constantly and can’t seem to shut down. Again, nice to see I’m not the only one.

    April 18, 2019 at 9:22 am

    You really keep your 3 year old up until 10:30PM?! I think that’s cruel..

      Kirsty Coleman
      April 18, 2019 at 9:55 am

      Did you read what I wrote? I didn’t keep her up, she was awake and not tired as she had a long afternoon nap. When she started showing signs of tiredness I asked if she wanted to go to bed. She said she wanted to sleep next to me on the couch. She fell asleep, I watched TV and then carried her up to bed when I went. I think it is cruel to force someone to sleep when they are not tired, restrict naps etc.

March 17, 2019 at 4:22 pm

This sounds like my own personal version of hell. My kids are in bed asleep by 7:30 every night until 6 the next morning. There is no fighting or struggle they know what time bedtime is and they go to bed. They are happy during the day and we are always complimented on how happy and behaved they are. We don’t have to discipline. All my friends kids with late nights or no bedtimes are overtired, cranky, acting out and generally pretty awful to be around.
I had no bedtime and it led to awful sleep patterns that it took me years to correct. It’s hard to hold a job if you don’t know how to sleep at an appropriate time. Teaching my kids healthy sleep hygiene is a gift- one I wish my parents had given me.

April 12, 2019 at 11:34 pm

Dear Happiness is here blog team,
You write an great article on toddler bedding. I read whole article and I’m amazed; it is a informative article. I hope you will share more information with us in future. Thank you.

Love and Regards
Ethereal Jisan

April 18, 2019 at 5:29 am

My husband and I are in bed by 9:30 pm due to graduate school and work. My son resists sleep at every cost. He has gladly stayed awake doing whatever he could to disrupt us after sleeping hours (he likes to get a rise out of us when we’re exhausted, and yes, being a nurse and dental student can be exhausting). In all 3 years of his fiery little life he has not once fallen asleep outside of a structured, seemingly forced bedtime or nap time struggle. Never drifted off while playing or at the dinner table like everyone else’s calm children. Tips on getting a kid excited for sleep?

May 2, 2019 at 11:37 pm

Thank you for this! I don’t have a mom or family to consult in with raising my son…. so most of my parenting is intuitive. He has never had a “bed time”, especially since my partner doesn’t get home from work and done showering until 7:30 pm. I’ve tried, on the insistence of friends who “can’t believe I let my son stay up until 10pm!” To get him in bed earlier…. but I find it just makes me a slave of this mission to get everything done by x o’clock. There is no flow to it. So I’m trying to not let friend’s comments about his bed time get to me, and really appreciate you sharing your children’s sleep habits.

My son is the happiest of babies, btw…. people can’t believe how chill and cheerful he is 🙂

May 21, 2019 at 2:50 pm

Didnt a study come out of Canada saying this does not work. Looked at 1600 odd children. That even reminding kids to sleep led to insufficient sleep.

Only method that worked (kids getting required healthy amount of sleep) was enforcing a bed time.

Where is the study on this method of thousands of kids to show it works? Would be fantastic to see it work large scale.

June 23, 2019 at 7:57 am

Um….has anyone with an actual job or schedule ever read this and thought it was a good idea?! I have a stepchild with whom I do not have the authority to set rules or enforce bedtimes. And my spouse has a “no bed time” policy with her. You want to know how that goes in real life? She stays up until 12-1 am eating crap and playing video games or watching movies while keeping the rest of the house awake. And then is a grumpy tyrant the next day because I will not tiptoe around her in the morning morning when I get up for work. No one wins in this situation. It’s only this way because her real parents do not no how to be parents and act like adults and I have learned to stay out of it for my own sanity. (Not worth the battle for me- there is no benefit) she is 9, and hasn’t had a bed time- ever. So, she is way behind intellectually, twitchy, tired, air headed and has a deer-in-the-headlights look all the time, and tries to up her energy with sugar. All around unhealthy. But hey- 9 year olds know best right? At least she is listening to her body, right? Ya- really healthy. I was online looking for support in coping with this issue and was floored to find that there are others out there actually recommending this as a good idea. SMH.

    Kirsty Coleman
    June 23, 2019 at 8:12 am

    Myself and partner both have jobs and we have scheduled activities during the week. We follow the no bedtime rule and our 3 year old is advanced for her age. Its not about the time she goes to bed it’s that she has enough good quality sleep. I dont think that you are being very respectful not trying to be quiet in the morning. At the end of the day she is a child and it sounds like you are knowingly waking her so she will be tired/dazed and finding it more difficult to learn etc. At 9 years of age she should be understanding that she needs to respect everyone else in the house too and if that she wants to stay up late she does it quietly so as not to disturb everyone else. In terms of eating crap, she can only eat crap if it is available to her. Provide healthy snacks to graze on.

    July 3, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    Right???!! Thank you!! I couldn’t believe it either. I’m sorry to hear that your partner hasn’t set boundaries with you as to your role in parenting the child that you are living with though.. that’s ridiculous to me. You have some defaulted rights to be some kind of figure to her as an adult alone, but a step-parent? You should be able to assert your ideas and voice when you are concerned, especially when the child’s health and well-being are at risk, and when her behaviour is disruptive to herself or others. You should also be able to say enough is enough. The needs of the adults in the home are just as important as the child’s. If the adults are tired and grumpy, then the children don’t get as good care as they otherwise would. It’s not beneficial to anyone for you to have no role in her upbringing.. especially since it sounds like you will be in each other’s lives for a long time, assuming your family situation doesn’t change. A 9 year old ruling the roost? Not in my house! And if you feel the same way, IN YOUR OWN HOME, you should have a say. My god.. what kind of teenager will she be if she has no boundaries now??

    I totally understand the whole ‘choose your battles’ concept though.. I have to do that with my ex. Some things just aren’t worth fighting about. I learnt that the hard way. So I hear you.

    I do hope things get easier for you, and that perhaps your partner comes to his/her senses and realizes you should have a voice as a stepparent. Key word being PARENT. (There’s a reason it’s in there!) If not, I just hope things get easier in general. I feel for you!!

    Take care!

    July 10, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    I have a job and a toddler and for us this is a fantastic idea and it works! Sure I don’t get a lot of time to clean up the house etc but sometimes she’s tired at 630 and she goes down immediately other times like tonight she’s not tired until 915. We tried at 7pm nope. At 915? Instantly asleep no protest. For us we didn’t expect to get a lot of sleep for the first 3ish years and go on her schedule when we can. We don’t believe in cry it out though and we sleep in same room.

    August 10, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    GIRL PREACH!!!! I have a step son too and in the SAME exact situation.

    Kids are annoying after a while. Point blank. We as adults need time to ourselves & no it’s not as simple as turning on the TV to tune them out. I guess you can throw good sex out the window, too right?
    Anyone who says my kids don’t need a bedtime obviously doesn’t have a great romance, right? We literally have to lock our doors and stfu during the summer because my spouse doesn’t have a bedtime rule. Keep yourself happy, energized, go on date nights and give yourself a g*ddamn break.

    Kids need bedtimes. Kids are wonderful, yay, but let’s be real… can get very annoying. Especially for a step parent. I have a daughter of my own too. She indeed, has a bedtime.


July 3, 2019 at 7:49 pm

I can’t believe I’m not seeing more comments saying how silly this is. I get not being a stickler, as I am absolutely not. But I’m also a single mother of 3. My children, each and every one of them, would stay up all night if I let them. They get tired but they don’t care because they’re having fun and they want to keep going. This has been proven time and time again when a) New Year’s Eve rolls around and we stay up until 3am playing board games and I’m the only one who wants to go to bed or b) if I accidentally fall asleep on the couch and wake up at 2:30am to my 7yr old playing a game or watching TV. They need some kind of regulation. Besides that, parents, not just single mums, ALL PARENTS, need a significant amount of time at the end of the night to do a few chores in silence and unwind however they can. It keeps us sane. Or maybe I’m the only one who needs time at the end of the day to relax in the quiet? Perhaps I’m the crazy one.. but this honestly sounds insane to me.

    July 10, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Maybe it depends on the child? My 18 month old sometimes goes to bed at 630pm other times 9on. I tried for a consistent bedtime of 700 and it just fails. If I put her to bed and she’s obviously not tired I bring her back downstairs and she plays for another hour or two and I try again when she seems ready. But as she gets older I will personally have a bedtime for her so she isn’t tired at school etc. it will be on the later side though….ya I would not want my kids up till 2am either!!

    March 12, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    The difference is those are a few days, or single instances in time. Kids naturally realize that going to bed late every night is HURTING them, so they naturally even out and this results in LESS stress for parents than having to fight them to go to sleep. And is forcing your kids to go to bed early really helping them? No, they’ll only grow to resent you, especially because they’ll grow less and less tired at bedtime as they grow up (and suddenly jumpstarting this bedtime to about thirty minutes or an hour doesn’t help). Teenagers, for example, don’t produce sleep hormones until 11 at night, and if you try to regulate their bedtime to earlier than that, they won’t be able to fall asleep or they’ll find other means of entertainment in their rooms. Letting them go to bed on THEIR schedule is really beneficial to everyone involved — and like the article says, OUR society is the anomaly here. Many other cultures don’t regulate bedtimes and have lower rates of insomnia.

September 11, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Wie man aus € 3.000 € 128.000 macht:

Jazmin Pugh
September 26, 2019 at 12:37 pm

How does letting them go to bed when they want, create a productive schedule everyday?

November 5, 2019 at 11:59 pm

Unfortunately the science does not support your conclusions Sara. Empowerment is great. However, children need structure. Facts; science; statistics show us that children with irregular bedtimes are at greater risk of suffering developmentally and behaviorally. If you don’t care about your children’s well being, feel free to give them full autonomy over bedtime. I feel bad for parents who do not know any better and turn to your website for parenting advice. I guess reader beware.

    Also Sara
    November 6, 2019 at 12:13 am

    Whoa, you just had to go all the way in and presume her negligence, didn’t you now?

    Why don’t you instead provide some citations for that science you’re mentioning, so we can read up on the sample demographic and what they did and didn’t control for in the research design and then see how that relates to the example above?

    November 6, 2019 at 7:05 am

    The people I feel bad for are children whose parents assume the worst of them constantly. If you read my post about what bedtime looks like for us you will see they literally go to bed around 8pm every night. *gasp* how neglectful of me. This is their self chosen bedtime. This is them following their bodies. Why? Because children are capable and trustworthy and want to be healthy. You never get to know that if you assume the worst and control them before they get a chance to try though.

November 12, 2019 at 10:42 am

This pseudo-science rationale is interesting. All the power to you / your kids and good luck but the simple fact remains that there is a vast, well documented body of work across the globe, based in data and facts / not personal experience that suggest a sleep routine for your kids is better. Better for development, better for memory, better for behaviour etc. Again, not my opinion, and not just one research study but there are literally hundreds.

    November 16, 2019 at 11:41 am

    Go ahead and quote them then.
    Specifically how a predictable sleep and wake time, with 10 hours sleep, is still not healthy without adult force and control, as I assume that’s what you are saying if you read the article and others linked properly?

James Borst
December 18, 2019 at 12:00 pm

It is interesting that you recommend allowing the kids to make the decision whether or not to sleep so that they can learn from mistakes. My wife and I have a three-year-old daughter who doesn’t sleep through the night. We may also consider reaching out to a pediatric sleep consultant or someone like that for recommendations.

January 2, 2020 at 12:45 am

Children don’t always know what is best for them. They don’t know that they’re grumpy or feeling crappy because they didn’t get enough sleep. Even some adults don’t realize this….. it’s up to us adults to guide them and give them the best chance possible. Studies show sleep in infants/toddlers affects their brain development. The more sleep they get the better for their overall health.

January 2, 2020 at 2:13 am

Really? How long do you think her dietary choice would last until she’d be sick of candu?

    March 12, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    When they start getting sick because of it, or get sick of eating the same thing over and over again– which would only take a few days. People naturally balance themselves out, no matter the age, and even if a candy-only diet or going to bed super late is fun for a day or two, they’ll realize the effects and change their behavior. This creates way healthier habits than forcing them to go to bed at a specific time, because it shows them there’s a reason behind their parents’ concern. They learn and grow from this. Speaking from experience here.

January 4, 2020 at 3:24 am

Is this a joke?!? Because I am literally ROTFL! I’m guessing this gets filed next to the don’t vaccinate your kids articles!

    March 12, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Hmm… is this based on how you were raised or your perception of how the world operates, or actual research on this topic? Seems like the former.

January 19, 2020 at 5:59 am

If your child has to wake up at 6:00 for school they will probably be tired long before midnight.And if they aren’t it won’t help to force them to go to bed as they will probably stay up anyway using their phone or reading a book or something.

April 18, 2020 at 3:49 pm

I love to follow your posts and agree with a lot of what is said. They don’t however seem to take in to account all kids with SEN? My little boy would stay up until the early hours of the morning without a bedtime. I didn’t set a bedtime until he was 4. He has never once said he is tired. His sister on the other hand this would work with as she always tells me when she’s tired. He will happily stay awake way beyond it is obvious he is tired and his behaviour deteriorates. A bedtime was introduced as his behaviour is far better with a good nights sleep. I have to help him recognise when it’s time to wind down and teach yoga techniques etc to help him relax and let his mind stop whirring at a million miles an hour. Just like school isn’t a one size fits all, allowing all kids the freedom to chose bedtime is also not a one size fits all.
The more important message is surely that we aren’t all robots and different things work for all of us and it is about recognising what works for each of us.

Leigh Baggott
June 1, 2020 at 8:32 pm

I enjoyed your content, the whole article is written very well. I have been searching for informative regarding the sleep subject and this really helped me. I have always struggled with getting a good nights rest I am not sure why either. Sleep drugs have always made me feel worried as they can have side effects. Thank you again stay safe and wishing you a lovely day.


December 14, 2020 at 3:37 am

So what time do your children go to bed then? My only concern with this style, is that, we live in a society where children don’t get enough sleep, with the demands of school and social and extra curricular activities…they already are working hard and need to be able to train their bodies in the importance of sleep. Older children will often succumb to staring at a blue lit screen which actually screws up the internal circadian. And what about those kids who are born as night owls…you have to help train their bodies into a normal circadian so they can be a healthy functioning part of society as adults.
I do believe in autonomy. I do believe that children should be able to choose what they want to eat and dress and be able to express themselves freely and openly. But sleep is highly crucial and I think it’s something that should be “molded” rather than free flowing.
Another question. What if you kids go to bed later…that means your going to bed later.
Even with my daughter’s at 9 and 13, I still feel inappropriate going to bed until they’re sound asleep. …but im also a highly sensitive person and started my parenting journey using attachment techniques.

Anyways, just wanted to probe a bit more! I’m curious.

I would like to give my children this opportunity…maybe when older .. and it would be the greatest gift to just get any extra time with my kids..but for now. Bed is 830 on dance nights and 10 in the others…. sleep is far to crucial

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February 9, 2021 at 8:26 pm

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March 26, 2021 at 1:51 am

I think this advice is wonderful if you have a kid who will listen to their own body, and knows to not stay up all night playing games or watching tv ect. Kids are all different in their own ways, therefore I think that if your kid can not handle having a bedtime and just stays up playing video games all night than you should not follow this advice. But if your kid can handle this I think this is great advice. (Disclaimer) I am not trying to say your kid is not good enough or does not listen, I am trying to say that some kids will know how to listen to their body and if your kid does not know how, they will learn eventually. 🙂

August 5, 2021 at 10:08 am

Hi! I really enjoy reading about you and your family. I have been following your journey for about 6 years. What you do with your family is very beautiful and I respect your values and priorities. Not all of what you do works for me, but truly appreciate your perspective. As I was reading though the comments and was really bummed and the close-minded reactions to your respectful parenting style.

Hello from Atlanta, GA

September 1, 2021 at 1:53 pm

I have tried forced bedtimes to fit into society norms .. it was the worst.. I also hate the method of leaving baby to cry in crib.. doesn’t work for me. I follow my daughters cues and encourage her to lay on the couch and relax while we watch a Disney movie she’s 3..or we cuddle in my bed and other times I just tell her it’s quiet time and to hang in her bedroom quietly and that also helps her fall asleep if I can tell she’s very tired and she falls asleep on her own. I tuck her in her bed and that’s that! So glad there are other nonjudgmental moms out there! I struggled to be perfect in the beginning. But these are your kids and you do what’s right for you!! & to those moms that have kids playing video games all night.. this is obviously not about that respectively.. do what works for your kid! They are all different and at different stages.

Kristi Fagen
November 14, 2021 at 5:21 pm

I could not agree more. For those of you who are knocking this… it obviously can’t be a 1 time thing after your child turns 8. Of course if he has a sleepover and he and his friend stay up until 3am, the first time they have ever had freedom, well your outcome will be a negative one. This mom is not saying put your kids to bed at 3am. She’s saying that kids know there bodies and forcing them to go to sleep the same exact time every night no matter what can back fire. My kids also choose. Of course with in reason. They know their bodies. Smartest article I have ever read. Thank you

January 8, 2022 at 6:03 pm

What world do you live in 😂. This is the most ridiculous blog post! You must not work and have to get up for a job in the morning. Let me guess, stay at home mom, home schooled kids who also get to decide what they learn every day. Kids need a schedule and a good nights rest. So do moms and dads.

March 3, 2022 at 5:34 pm

Hi Sara. Always enjoyed your articles. I came to this article after listening to Michaeleen Doucleff’s “Hunt, Gather, Parent”. She had a small chapter about her successful experiment with letting her 3yo to decide when to sleep so I want to learn more. My daughter is also 3 and has been struggling every night for bed and wakings. Can you share a little bit more about how you do it exactly? I would love to learn more. Thanks, and I am so sorry that people are leaving so many mean comments over the years.

March 12, 2022 at 12:49 pm

It’s not lazy parenting. It’s relaxed, though. Hubby gets home late and so we stay up late. We eat, chat, laugh and share our days around the dinner table. They hang out in the kitchen, watch a movie and each one goes to bed when they want. My eldest goes to bed around 9pm, my 16 year ald around 10…goes and takes a shower and lays in his bed reading and goes to bed. My 14 year old stays up with me as I clean (see how that’s not lazy parenting!) and he talks to me and he goes to bed when I do. He likes to be with me. Around 11-12 we go to bed. He sleeps in, my oldest gets up at 7am with me and my 16 year old gets up around 7:30am. We make breakfast together, wake up the youngest and get started on our day. We don’t yell at each other, everyone is happy and they all seek me to give me a kiss goodnight when they’re ready. Absolutely ZERO struggle. We’ve never had a problem with bedtimes. As far as X-Box…my son decided he didn’t want to be on it much anymore, so that’s not a problem. I also announce 5 minutes until I take phones away. They are able to say goodbye to friends, finish articles or whatever and I set the phones in the hallway.

June 4, 2022 at 6:12 am

This is not sound advice. A child left to put themselves to sleep on their own will most likely stay up until they drop. My 10 year old doesn’t want to go to sleep, buy if we didn’t force a bedtime, she would be under-rested everyday and have trouble focusing at school. Children NEED a set bedtime.

November 3, 2022 at 5:44 am

I am always interested in these articles that are so polarized. In the comments, many act like they are being forced to take her advice. I have 4 kids, and anyone with more than one kid knows that every situation and kid is different. My oldest and my youngest have ADHD, and bedtime is a struggle. (we’ve always had a bedtime. no one has to sleep, but they need to be in their beds laying down) Now that my oldest is in middle school, he can be up as late as he’d like, as long as he stays in his room (internet and devices are put away and off at 8pm). My two middle kids love to sleep. They will ask to go to bed early if they are tired and are happy to go to bed at bedtime regardless. My oldest and youngest don’t want to sit still long enough to sleep. (someone recently gave me the advice of having a lava lamp or aquarium to help them actively calm down, can’t wait to try it! but I digress. Bottom line is, you can set a boundary without being controlling, and its okay having bedtimes. I personally have never seen it successfully work without bedtimes, but I imagine there is a lot in this world I haven’t seen. Make decisions for your own family and do what works for you.

January 17, 2023 at 5:44 am

Totally agree. These reasons are exactly why we ditched bedtime. It wasn’t worth the stress and anger that everyone eventually worked up to. Even my 1yr old goes to bed when we do as he also fights us at night if we try too early. He also wakes up when we do. My kids aren’t tired in the morning and everyone gets more than the required amount of sleep. My kids are wise with their bedtimes especially if they know they need to get up earlier than usual. We haven’t fought bedtimes since our oldest (10) was really little. Our evenings may not be spent together as a couple but they are definitely less stressful and go at a more relaxing pace. Thank you for this blog.

April 8, 2023 at 7:51 pm

Gentle reminder that parenting is a spectrum and what works for some will not work for others. And that’s okay. I think the underlying message is that respecting our children as full humans can lead to a healthier relationship and understanding of and within themselves. Also, kiddos are much smarter than our society tends to give them credit for. They may not make the “best” decisions because they are still learning, but I know plenty of adults who make very poor decisions and don’t necessarily/always have the “excuse” of a still developing cognitive brain functioning.
Empowerment is the ultimate goal, in my opinion. Whatever that may look like for your family.

May 1, 2023 at 9:45 pm

This is an amazing resource for new parents. I have found the tips and advice to be invaluable in helping my kids understand why they need to get enough sleep every night. The explanations and examples are clear, concise, and useful.

Melinda Marinko
August 21, 2023 at 5:31 pm

My daughter and grandson live with me. She works swing shift Thurs thru Sunday and I work 8 to 5 Monday thru wed and 7 to 3 Thurs & Friday, and take 30 min lunches. My grandson doesn’t have a bed time and it is hell for 2 to 3 weeks then for a week he’ll fall asleep soon after she leaves for work then sleeps until she gets home and then it’s hell for her because she gets no sleep. I start winding him down turning off screens, shutting down lights, doing bedtime routines, I put on Guide to Sleep on Netflix and that’s actually worked, or he would have went to sleep at 11 anyway. I lay down with him and he just waits until I fall asleep and then he gets up and goes to play and I wake up sending he’s not there, not meaning to fall asleep myself because I have things I need to do, in a full panic. My daughter laid down with him after being up all night and once she fell asleep, he ran out the front door and down the street. He had figured out how to unlock it. We have plastic covers on the door knobs now but that was a bad day. It could have ended very badly. The author of this might have perfect little kids, or she and her husband have enough income that her writing gig is enough and that means she makes her own hours. It isn’t practical or realistic to say kids know their bodies and will fall into a rhythm with everybody else. It hasn’t worked for a kid that’s never been given a bedtime. If you think struggle of enforcing a bed time is hard, consider getting no sleep at all some weeks, or worse, when you can’t keep up the kids schedule and you fall asleep and he runs out the door and allows a stranger to put him in their car. Thank God it was a good stranger. Enjoy your comfortable, at will life blogger, the rest of us will continue to struggle with finding the balance between letting go of control issue tyrant methods of our grandparents and a liberating children to embrace their autonomy.

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