I have a confession to make.
You see, I do a lot of writing here on this blog about how we need to stop judging each other as parents and start supporting. It is something I truly believe. And I have been pretty open about how we all judge sometimes, but we would do well to remember that every kid is different and they all need different things.
But ask any of my friends or family and you will hear one area where I am persistently judgy. If I see a kid, between the ages of about 4 months and well, let’s be honest, at least 4 years, out with their parents past 7pm I can’t help but mumble to myself/who ever is with me: “Put that baby to bed.” I let the under 4 monthers off the hook, because those little monkeys tend to not sleep in any recognizable pattern- so whatever. But for the over 4 month crowd, I strongly believe in early bedtimes. First and foremost because well rested babies are happier babies. And secondly, because we parents need a break. So when I see a Mom with a 1 year old wondering the mall at 9pm I think “Put that baby to bed.”
I know, I know, I know… they don’t all sleep the way my daughter does. And I totally get that many parents take their kids out at night because 1) they need to get out of the house, 2) taking babies out sometimes keeps them occupied and therefore they are sometimes easier to handle, especially when they are refusing to sleep. I get it. I am not saying you should all lock yourselves up in your house with your cranky 8 month old that won’t sleep. Really I get it.
But, I also hear a lot of parents complaining about how their babies won’t sleep during the dreaded 6pm-10pm time slot, only to hear the same parents talk about all the things they go out and do in said time slot. And I can’t help but wonder- maybe the kid doesn’t know they should be sleeping at that time because they always get taken out and their little senses stimulated by light, noise and action, which tells their little brains it is not time to sleep. Artificial light has a huge impact on our circadian rhythms not matter what age we are….. I am just sayin’.
I truly credit part of the reason my daughter did start sleeping from 6pm-6am (with a 10pm bottle) at about 5 months was that we always made that 6-10pm time quiet, calm and dim. (Don’t hate me.) We used to carry her around in a sling to encourage her to sleep and we would talk in hushed voices. We rocked her or walked around with her. We rarely played or did anything too stimulating. Eventually she figured out we were no fun between 6-10pm, so she might as well sleep. For a while, she even went to bed around 5, it was awesome! I would expect in the next year her bedtime will move to 7ish and I am hoping it will stay there until she is, um 12? Maybe that is being a tad unrealistic. 10? Just let me be delusional about that one, okay.
Yes, yes, I know. I am being judgy. But it is because I care! I care people! I want your little monkeys to sleep so you can get a much deserved break. I am being supportatively judgmental. That is so totally a different thing. Okay, fine, I am just being a hypocrite. I accept that. I am willing to take the heat on this one. I know we won the lottery, so to speak, on the sleep thing. I know that so many parents do everything they can to encourage the kid to go to bed and they just don’t. Because, well, again, they are all different. But that doesn’t mean that taking them out the mall at 8pm is helping the situation. I am just sayin’. So I stand by my word: Put that baby to bed!!
Okay, I have said it. Now feel free to proceed to disagree. Really, I won’t mind.