My toddler has a late bedtime. I may even be playing it fast and loose with the term “bedtime.” My husband and I try to get our 2-year-old to bed by 9 p.m., but really, what time she actually goes to sleep is anybody’s guess.
We’ve taken a lot of criticism for this late bedtime, but for our family, it works. Sometimes, when other parents ask me what time Reese goes to bed, I’m tempted to lie to avoid a horrified reaction and a lecture. But I’m usually truthful. I’ve pretty much heard it all from these well-meaning but annoying critics.
I’ve been told I need to put Reese to bed earlier because toddlers require much more rest than she’s getting.
I’ve been told she’ll fail miserably in school if I don’t make her hit the sack by 8 p.m. or earlier.
I’ve been told I’m cheating my husband out of quality bonding time by letting Reese stay up and play.
I’ve been told my daughter’s energy levels will plummet and she’ll forsake her toys and games in favor of television and video games.
And, of course, I have an answer for each of these sad-sounding scenarios.
Reese gets plenty of sleep. She snoozes from about 9 p.m. until 7 a.m., when I wake her to get ready for day care. In the afternoons, she naps for two or three hours. That’s about 12-13 hours of sleep per day. I see no problem with that. Others, however, disagree with me. Some seem to consider a late bedtime as egregious as dishing up candy, chips and Coke for dinner.
As far as her academic achievements go, we’re quite pleased so far. Reese’s teachers consistently tell us that she’s one of the brightest students in her class. According to her pediatrician, her speech-language development and communication skills are a good six-to-nine months ahead of schedule. She can get halfway through the alphabet, count to eight and verbally identifies colors, shapes, textures, animals and emotions with the best of them. She’s also growing like a weed and has always been in the 98th or 99th percentile for height. So, no complaints here. Also, no worries.
Maybe it is true that I don’t spend enough quality time with my husband, but show me a husband and wife with young children who are able to set aside enough couple time. It’s practically an impossibility, no matter what time your children go to bed. And even if Reese did go to bed earlier, I’d likely just spend the extra time tackling chores and tasks I never seem to get to.
Oh, and the supposed “plummeting energy levels?” That’s laughable. No one has ever complained that Reese lacks energy. Aside from the occasional typical toddler tantrum, my girl is usually happy, animated, curious and agreeable. I couldn’t ask for a sweeter 2-year-old. I’m not at all concerned about her screen time because, last time I checked, parents control how often their children watch and play with electronics.
Each family needs to cultivate a routine that works for them, and we’ve found ours. I’m comfortable with it. Others should be, too. Because of my demanding work schedule and commute, I’m unable to get home before 7:30 p.m. That gives me an hour and a half to get dinner on the table, bathe and dress Reese, spend a little time playing with her and reading books, administer her nighttime allergy medicine and tuck her in. There’s really nothing I could do to get my toddler in bed any earlier. So, it looks like 9 p.m. will be sticking around for a little while.