5 Reasons Why I Am A Bedtime Nazi

bedtime featuredYou know the one. The friend who declines invitations because it interferes with her children’s sleep times. The one who makes a mad dash from any fun social gathering when the clock strikes 7:00pm. Yep. That’s me. I am a children’s bedtime Nazi and here’s why.

Alone time

My husband and I get at least 2.5 protected hours EVERY NIGHT for just us. Let that soak in. No kids … just us. Sometimes, we spend that time together and other times, we use it for the alone time we crave. We can catch up on our overflowing DVR, sit on the porch and enjoy a glass of wine, go to the gym (only one of us, obviously), etc. You get the idea. Kid-free time is sacred to parents of toddlers. Because our children are asleep by 8:00 pm, that gives us plenty of time to refocus and regroup in order to face the next day with a two year old and threenager. The struggle is real.

Happier children

I don’t know about you, but when my kids are tired, they are cranky(er). The temper tantrums are ramped up, and we are all on edge if a nap is skipped. Unless we are in Disney World, and then all bets are off. But on a regular day, naps are not skipped and bedtime is not pushed back. My kids deteriorate in front of my eyes when they are awake past bedtime. (Which for us, begins at 7:30 p.m.). No one is having a good time, so we might as well put them to bed and circle back to #1, am I right?

Routine and predictability

I am an attorney, so it comes as no surprise that I thrive on lists, structure and organization. I operate my household that way because it is the only way that feels natural to me. I do think my children benefit from knowing what to expect out of their day. With the exception here and there (festivals, birthday parties, dinner parties etc.), my children know that every night they eat dinner, take a bath, watch a t.v. show (or 2) in mommy and daddy’s bed, and then it’s in their beds for story time, prayers, lullabies and off to sleep. We have found that if we drop any of those activities, bed time is infinitely harder. As in we get called back to their rooms because the covers aren’t just right, or they need just. one. more. sip. of. water. If we stick to the routine, they are truly happier. And alas, their parents are too.

Well rested

We can go on date night and still get a good night’s rest. I like to have my kids pretty much ready for bed when our babysitter comes over for date nights. That means we usually leave the house around 7:00. Plenty of time for cocktails and dinner and even more importantly, to be snoozing before midnight. Can you tell I love my sleep?? I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. Just ask my family.

Healthy habits

As all parents do, we try to practice and instill healthy habits. That means we cannot get dessert if we don’t eat our meal, we have to eat our vegetables, and outdoor playtime is as vital as sufficient rest. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that toddlers get 12-14 hours of sleep every day. I believe it is also recommended that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. My kids get 13 hours of sleep on average, and we get approximately 7-8. I think that is what you call a win-win.

I absolutely believe that there is no one right way to raise children. We all do our best, and that is enough. But what I do believe is that children need their rest, and if they are getting what they need, then you should also be reaping some of the rewards.

When I worked full-time, out of the home I often felt guilty putting Mark to bed at 7:30. It meant we only had a couple hours together from Monday through Friday. As with most parenting decisions, I had to take my “wants” out of the equation and do what I felt was best for him. I am so thankful I did. The guilt for not doing so, well I can just add that to the pile.

A Note From The Author ::

(Added on April 13, 2016) I am writing in response to a very small group of readers who have accused me of being an anti-Semite (via personal Facebook message). While grotesquely untrue, I think the nature of those allegations warrant a response from me. I am an American AND I have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage (edited because my previous language suggested the two were mutually exclusive). I believe wholeheartedly that you do not have to be Jewish to be heartbroken and horrified by the Holocaust. Not only have I been accused of professing anti-Semite ideology, I also have been accused of helping the movement that denies the Holocaust. Those are powerful accusations coming from behind the protection of a screen and keyboard.

I am a mother. I could be your neighbor. I could be sitting across from you at Bible study or soccer practice. I am struggling just like you are. I do not have hate in my heart. I am also a writer and well-aware that when I publish my words, they have impact. I fully accept that responsibility.

What I do not accept is that using a 1990s pop culture reference from one of the greatest shows of all time (SEINFELD) in a blog post is reducing the Holocaust and its 6 million+ victims to a trivial event. The blog post is about sleep training. The title is a Seinfeld reference to the “soup Nazi.” The word “Nazi” in this specific context is used to make light of my own strict and militant sleep training tactics. Context of a word matters deeply.

I am sorry if the use of that word in this specific context triggered emotions for some of our readers. My intent was never to do so. If we could all consider intentions and an author’s purpose and meet people where they are instead of expecting the entire world to be like-minded, we might actually be more civil to each other instead of spewing hateful allegations on the internet and assuming we know people’s motives.

60 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Amanda,I am mom of two from Slovakia.I am one of few of our friends that put kids to bed at seven…but you read my mind.we have time for ourselves,and kids are well rested. Yes,thy wake up early,but its worth it. My husband gets up at six for work,so they get to see him before he leaves and also we don’t have to wake them up for kindergarten and that counts;-). Would never change;-)

  2. Our kids (almost 3 years old + a 6 month old) both go to bed around 6 pm. We LOVE it. They both naturally fell into this rhythm around 3-4 months old.

    The baby is still nursing and wakes up during the night, and doesn’t take a bottle, but I’ve worked it out so I can nurse her and put her down at 6 pm, then she sleeps until at least 10 pm before needing to nurse again. So we can go on a date, or I can go out by myself, in the evening, as long as I’m back by 10 pm.

    I don’t know how people function without their kids going to bed early. I am able to get stuff done in the evening, or relax with my husband, or by myself, as you mention. I find it helps me to focus better on the kids during the day, because I don’t have to do everything with them underfoot, since in the evening I can work on personal projects, make sure the house is in order, watch tv, etc. The same goes for my husband – he spends an hour with them in the morning before work, and then we have a focused dinner and bedtime, which he can spend with them, knowing he’ll have the later evening to do any personal tasks. It also helps our weekends to be more focused on family time for the same reason.

    To the comment someone said about “isn’t this why we have kids – to spend time with them?” Not for me! We had kids because: they’re a blessing from God, because we want to raise healthy kids to serve our world, because we do our part in repopulating the human race… I sure enjoy time with my kids, and spend hours with them, but that’s not our primary motivation. 🙂

  3. Amanda…..as an old pro (30, 28, 20 &16….AND a Nana!), I found your column wise and so very relevant. Good on you for your great parenting decisions regarding this vitally important part of childhood. When my children were very young, I followed the same routine as you have set for your wee boys. I could have all the patience in the world with my toddlers during the day, but if they weren’t bathed, snacked, cuddled, read to and prayed with by 8pm, my own spiral into a meltdown would begin! The days are long with small children and everyone needs their rest by the end of it. I’m a nurse and although I only ever worked part-time, my 12 hour shifts would have me getting home after their bedtime. As tempting as it would have been to have them stay up until I got home, the fallout from the change in routine just wouldn’t have been worth it. I would always creep into their rooms when I got home to whisper goodnight and kiss their sleeping little faces, knowing that this routine was exactly what they needed most. Their tired little bodies need sleep to repair itself and grow strong and healthy! As a nurse who deals with babies, I’ve seen first hand what happens when these little ones don’t get the proper sleep they need. My best friend, who had 3 young children at that time, would routinely let them stay up until 10-11 pm, every night, and then complain bitterly to me that her children were “always, always sick and I don’t know why?”

    You are a wise young mom to understand that we need that quiet time every evening to keep ourselves and our relationships sane too. The entire family benefits from these routines. I can also tell you that my son is a stickler for this with my 1 year old granddaughter….and interestingly enough, he tells me that he remembers his bedtime rules and routines and has admitted he felt safe knowing what was going to happen every night! So there’s a full circle for you.

    Like yourself, there was flexibility for special occasions and holidays. I believe our children are better for these comforting parameters in their lives….it allows them to thrive and grow to their full potential. You’ve got a great head on your young shoulders mama….keep it up!

  4. Couldn’t agree more! It’s like you were in my mind writing this article. Thai has been my most FAVORITE article I’ve read! Thanks so much for sharing. Hopefully new moms will read this and understand just how important sleep is for little ones. A birthday party is not more important than my child’s health and any friend that does not support me and my parenting decisions isn’t really a true friend, in my opinion. ?

  5. I completely agree. This is a decent article, with good points. The title is completely insensitive and totally offensive.

  6. Thank you for this great article. I always try to get my child to be around the same time (give or take 30 minutes) and try to make sure they get their naps. We make it to most events are late. Our friends understand. We are also flexible and teach them to be flexible.

    I am so sorry that you have received certain rude comments that to me are judging you. That is not OK. Since when did it become OK for someone to be so rude to another mom who is brave enough to express her choices and decisions? I don’t judge you, the mom who doesn’t follow a bedtime routine at all. This is what makes motherhood so hard on he eyes of other mothers. I was astounded and disappointed by the level of criticism. Now about the word Nazi: Iy was not Intendend in a negative way.
    Thank you for sharing!

  7. To the author, whose response to complaints regarding the term “Nazi” in her title and post has shaken me:

    As a fellow attorney, I’m appalled that you would choose the term to describe your parenting style. We lawyers have been charged with mastery of the English language, its nuances and subtext. You have failed your profession.

    As a fellow mom, I’m saddened on several levels. As I write this, I worry that although you now realize, in your heart of hearts, that it was wrong–you cannot accept responsibility for your wrongdoing. You are sending a message, whether you realized it or not at the time, that because someone on television has normalized something, its somehow socially permissible.

    These two mistakes are not what you want to teach your children. They should know when they should own up to their mistakes, and they should know that (of all things!!) a TV show and a comedian are not people we should model our morals and ethics against. Have you ever heard of “L’affaire Dieudonné”? This is not about being overly-sensitive. Its about being sensitive to others. And that’s a good lesson for our kids. Knowing that just because someone on TV did something, doesn’t make it ok. Ms. Bensabat, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that when your child sees violence on TV, you have to tell them its wrong. This is no different. I fear that you do not see the parallel.

    Below are my thoughts on your Author’s Note, I hope you will reconsider and rename your well-intended article.

    “I am writing in response to a very small group of readers who have accused me of being an anti-Semite”: In all of the posts, no one has said you were an anti-Semite, everyone (from a variety of backgrounds) has simply asked you to remove the term. If someone did say you were anti-Semitic, they are wrong, but realize they are hurt.

    “I am an American, although I have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage”: Sadly, I think you need some education here. You can be both American and an Ashkenazi Jew. Like me. and millions of other Americans. Just like you can be Chinese. And American. Imagine that! Not sure why you chose to say “although”….

    “I also have been accused to helping the movement that denies the Holocaust”: By normalizing the word, and using it loosely, you are allowing the world to use the term “Nazi” in ways it should not be. Have you ever met a Holocaust denier? I have. Any inch for their cause helps.

    “Those are powerful accusations coming from behind the protection of a screen and keyboard. I am a mother. I could be your neighbor. I could be sitting across from you at bible study or soccer practice”: I hope that if you are, then we can talk, and you can be honest with yourself and admit when you are wrong. We all make mistakes. Its how we handle them that counts.

    “using popular culture reference from one of the greatest shows of all time (SEINFELD) in a blog post”: Again, hiding behind pop culture isn’t really a good argument. Nor does it help make a case for ethical parenting.

    “I am sorry if the use of that word triggered emotions for some of our readers. My intent was never to do so”: I fully believe you had no intention of hurting anyone. Thank you for apologizing. Now you must act, or your words are meaningless.

    • Abby,
      thank you for your thoughtful comment. I am sorry for suggesting that being an American and of Jewish descent were mutually exclusive. It is not at all what I meant but understand that my words suggested such. I am also sorry for the title of my post to have shaken you. I wrote this post with no ill will or ill intent. I stand by my words as comedy although I respect your position and beliefs. I am sorry that my article caused so much anguish. I don’t think we need to bring our capabilities as parents into question as I certainly don’t doubt that you are doing your best. I think all mothers are. Thank you and I wish you and your family well.

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