The Great Big Bedtime Debate – why does it have to be such a struggle?

Oct 16 • Featured, Uncategorized • 1002 Views • 11 Comments on The Great Big Bedtime Debate – why does it have to be such a struggle?

Bedtime is a constant source of conflict in our house at the moment. Our evenings have descended into a cycle of nagging, cajoling, pleading and arguing, culminating with me shouting ‘GO TO BED’ at the top of my voice.

Personally, I think if a child is at primary school, then 8pm is probably late enough on a school night. For secondary, 10.30pm should be the cut-off. Apart from anything, the longer it takes for children to get to bed, the shorter your evening.

I’d love to get your views and tips on this. How do you manage bedtime, and what are your tips?

written by Liz Jarvis


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11 Responses to The Great Big Bedtime Debate – why does it have to be such a struggle?

  1. christel says:

    8pm the tv goes off in our house aand the battle commences! my son is 5 and my daughter 2 and a half. daddy takes Horrid Henry, because thats what son turns into when its time for bed, upstairs and mummy and daughter settle down with a bottle and a story downstairs, then when its all quiet upstairs the girls go up and snuggle into the big bed where we both fall fast asleep! not much couple time for us now for ages! but we wouldnt change a thing as we know we are so blessed to have them! at the moment this works for us and i am trying not to fall asleep so can go downstairs for some time with the husband.

  2. Single Dad says:

    Bed time is a discipline, I wrote an article recently about how children are seriously lacking in sleep and how it is affecting their performance at school. If you think back to your own bed times, how much arguing did you get to do with your parents? I can say in our house, very little. When we were told to go to bed we did. For single parents it is hard because you only get certain times with your child so you want to make the most of it but that would be for selfish reasons. The most important aspect is that a child is getting enough good sleep to enable them to get the best out of the next day. It is also important for them to learn to go to sleep on their own in their own bed, no getting into bed with them, allowing them to fall asleep on the sofa or any other pandering that means that bed time becomes a stimulation than the peaceful environment that it should be. As parents we are all guilty of setting habits for an easy life the issue with that is an easy life solution leads to a life of bad habits and usually has a negative impact on the child. The simple fact is you should control your child’s bedtime and not them.

  3. Amanda (cookiebird) says:

    Have always been very strict about bedtimes as sleep is so essential to children. Once we passed the baby stage, the boys were in bed by 7.00 pm. and then slowly increased as they got older. Now 11yo is in bed by 8.30 pm. and 13yo 9.00 pm. on school nights, later at the weekend. Bedtime routine is crucial, bath story etc… but you must stick to your guns and then enjoy the peace

  4. Surprisemum says:

    Little girl is 2 1/2 and bedtime isn’t too bad – the odd negotiation over the number if stories, but nothing too challenging, but sometimes I wheel out the ‘no wee and toothbrush: no story’ line. When camping I don’t bother trying to get her in bed, I wait unti she asks. (normally about 8:30) But, on the bad days it breaks my heart to be cross with her at bedtime, but that is probably my own what if something happens in the night fear!

  5. grit says:

    even home ed kids sometimes do not like bedtimes, so i can offer what helped round here. making the hours before bed as calming as possible; dim lights in every room; a routine which starts well ahead of the time it needs to finish; parental timekeeping (i come to see you three times then lights out); books in the bed. when they were old enough they took charge of their own bedside lights and had bedside clocks to follow. it is still an issue when they have to get up early the next day for events, but they handle their own tiredness now if they get it wrong. i think the more autonomy my kids have, the easier it is, but i do not see that either as laissez faire parenting nor as any side ‘giving in’. we don’t see it as a parent/child power struggle. we talk about what people want to do at bedtime more as a starting point for negotiating what suits everyone in the house and what is sensible and practicable to do. i guess it is easier the older they get and the more they can articulate what bedtime routine they’d like to have for themselves.

  6. Tina says:

    Son’s 12 now and goes to bed at 9.30 but he’s never had any problem getting up early in the morning (earlier than me!) I think that’s the key really – if they can get up bright and breezy then they’re probably having enough sleep for them. By the way Liz, I’ve moved to a new blog and you can find me at, rather than Woman Who Can doing the Having It All blog. I think I’m a blogging gypsy..

  7. Naomi says:

    We are just in the process of my 6 year old going to bed later as he is up at 530am some mornings so we have said bed at 7pm lights out 730pm. Tonight is the first night. I think so long as they are in their bedroom amusing themselves in a way you approve of then you can have your evenings.

  8. Erica says:

    Daughter is 4 and she’s in bed at 7pm on school nights with reading time (until 7.30pm). Same at the weekend but she can watch a film in bed and fall asleep whenever (within reason!)

  9. jay says:

    DISCIPLINE. Ours may only be 1 and 2, but we are really strict at bedtime, making sure both are in bed by 7pm, and no further interaction after 7:15. We’ve exercised it since birth, so they both know what to expect. Big Small is starting to try it one but we absolutely stand our ground, even if we’re doing solo bedtime routine. I always believe that they need to know who the parent is and who is in control of the situation. Ask me again in about 10 years though ;o) xx

  10. Whimsical Wife says:

    Well…. bedtime I know I’m capable of *doing* a great bedtime routine – ask boyo – bath, book, bed, sleep 7-7 every night. However, I also know that this doesn’t work with all children… girly for example the basic process of getting her from downstairs to upstairs, dressed in PJ’s, washed, actually getting into bed…. attempting relaxation techniques (oh yes I’ve tried them all) eventually she falls asleep at around 11:30 ish sometimes later…. then during the night gets up at least 3 times, nightmares, sleepwalking, having a drink, using the toilet, fancying a chat, general not tiredness. Followed by a grumpy morning… and the whole scenario repeated again night after night after night for the past 7 1/2 years…. Which just goes to show you can have read and tried and know about every sleep technique ever invented and still if the child won’t sleep they won’t sleep. And so my advice, be laid back, one day they’ll sleep….

  11. Liz Owen says:

    Hi Liz, I have MAJOR problems at this time, namely my 4 year old stays up longer than the 2 year old. Both have their own beds – I put 2 yr old (Poppy) in at around 7ish and then aspire top put 4 yr old (Issy) in at around 8ish (preferably before), but find that the brushing of teeth, the longer ritual of water, milk & grapes to be given, ensuring Tiana, Snow White, Arial and Monkey are all tucked up with Issy a bit of a challenge sometimes, as these could be anywhere in the house….over the last 2 nights now, Poppy has started to wonder around our rooms upstairs…we can hear the footsteps! We were up and down stairs last night 10 times….not sure how to deal with this, as Poppy won’t listen and we just have to wait till she finally falls asleep!


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