Moms Get 1 Surprising Benefit from Kids' Early Bedtime

mom kissing child goodnight

Getting kids in bed -- and asleep -- is no easy feat! Negotiating getting those little teeth brushed, reading favorite books (sometimes twice!), and serving that one last drink of water can take a toll on any mom. But for those who can put the little ones in bed early, they'll reap mental rewards, according to science. 


So, how early is early? Jon Quach, lead author and research fellow at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, defines it as any time before 8:30 p.m. (Sounds good to me!)

More from CafeMom: 

In his study, Quach and his fellow researchers tracked thousands of Australian families starting in 2004 and followed up every two years. They collected data from parents of children starting at ages 4 and 5 and then again when they were 6 and 7 and 8 and 9. 

After analyzing all of the information gathered, they found that kids with earlier bedtimes enjoyed "better health-related quality of life" compared to their night owl peers. But, equally as important, their mothers also demonstrated improved mental health. Interestingly, moms reported better mental health regardless of how long kids stayed asleep -- it only mattered that they were off to bed earlier. That makes total sense to me.

Once you get the kids to bed, whether you choose to get some shut-eye yourself, respond to emails, get ahead for the next day, or just space out and laugh at Seinfeld reruns, the choice is yours, and it feels blissful. 

Now, of course early bedtimes aren't always possible for every family, and it certainly gets tougher as kids get older and have more homework or extracurricular commitments that require them to stay up later. And for parents who work outside the home, evenings can be the only chance they get to spend a chunk of time with their children. Not everyone wants to cut that special time short.

More from CafeMom: 

But if you're interested in reaping the awards of an early bedtime (or even just getting a few extra minutes to yourself), it could be worth it to get the kids in bed earlier, even if it's only by a few minutes. To do this, the National Sleep Foundation recommends creating a consistent bedtime routine that you can stick to each night, establishing a "sleep-friendly" environment free of electronics, and avoiding screen time after 7 p.m.

For any parent who's spent his or her evenings battling a cranky kid, it's not hard to see the wisdom in Quach's findings. I sure do. I'm sorry, but after 9 p.m., I'm tired. I'm done. That means I don't care how many adorable dog videos my kids have found on YouTube, I don't want to see them. Nor do I want an update on how the Yankees are doing this season. I just want them in bed! Even if they claim they're not tired, I still say "Go read a book!" and suggest they enjoy a little downtime on their own in the comfort of their own beds. 

Because, honestly, the longer we all stay up together, the crankier we all seem to get. And that irritability carries over into the next day. Making sure everyone is well rested and has a chance to savor a tiny bit of alone time -- especially mom and dad -- really can be the key to a happy household. 

As much as you might adore your kids' little voices and laughter, sometimes the sweetest sound you'll hear in your home is silence.

Read More >