As we all know, getting kids to sleep isn't always easy ("Can I have another glass of water?" "I have to go to the bathroom," "Can you read one more story?"), but parents can feel good about the fact that a new study recently found that early bedtimes are best for kids, regardless of when they wake up — and not just for the little ones, but for moms too.
The study, which came from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, found that the ideal time for early school-age kids to go to sleep is 8:30 — and that's asleep by 8:30, not first heading up for stories, monster checks and bathroom breaks at 8:30. Researchers found that children with bedtimes on the earlier side had "better health-related quality of life" compared to children who didn't. And their mothers had improved mental heath. This finding was true no matter how long the kids slept — going to bed early was the crucial part. And if that's not enough to convince you, another experiment conducted by the National Sleep Foundation had kids go to bed later than normal for a week, and during that week, their teachers rated the kids as having "more academic problems and more attention problems," despite not knowing that the students had lost sleep.
There are plenty of aspects of these studies for parents to love, but one of the best things about the former is that it takes moms into consideration. Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children, but so much of that is a result of the parents' health and well-being. It's a two-way street. You know the saying "happy wife, happy life"? It should be "happy mom, happy kids."
Think about it: When you're exhausted and overwhelmed, would you say you're on your parenting A game? Probably not. And on the flip side, when you've had time to organize, plan and/or decompress, don't you feel like you're better equipped to deal with anything from a toddler tantrum to a phone call from the school? We, of course, can't force our kids to go to bed if they're not tired, but it's important to remember that so many things with parenting should take parents into the equation also. While it certainly isn't about it, it definitely starts with us.
Take breastfeeding, for instance. We all know that it's what's best, healthwise, for a baby. It's called Liquid Gold for a reason. That said, it's not always what's best for mom. What's better? A happy mom bottle-feeding her baby, or a resentful, stressed-out one trying to breastfeed?
Lastly, isn't it nice to hear a straightforward answer about the "ideal" bedtime for kids? When it comes to bedtime, things always get so murky. We wonder if we're putting our kids to bed too late, too early, and of course, when we hear that our friend's kid's bedtime is wildly different from ours, we wonder if we're making the best choice. 8:30. Plain and simple.
So the next time you're wondering if you should keep your kid up a little later since they slept in that morning, don't. Or at least don't feel bad about bringing them up earlier than you otherwise would have.
And hey, enjoy that free time you have. You deserve it.
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