Friday, August 12, 2011

What is the right time?

As I sit here writing this at 9.15pm, I can hear a baby crying, no sorry screaming, and its not the first time this week that I have heard the same child crying about this time of night.  And either the child is in pain or is just plain tired. 

Here in Portugal, they have the habit of keeping children up later, it's just the way they live.  But when I hear that at this time of night I cant help but think if it is a good thing for child or parent.  I know people who's youngest children are aged within weeks of ours and as ours goes to bed at 7/7.30, theirs goes to bed at 11, yes 11pm!! That's almost later than my bedtime.  I put my toddler to bed as she shows me she is tired, which is normally between 7 and 7.30pm.  But also apart from being better for the child, what parent wants to be up with their child until late, dont they want a break, a little peace in the evening, I sure do!

I feel sorry for these obviously tired children that either the parents cannot see or dont care or the child just adjusts to it. When both my children were in their first weeks, their bedtimes were later as they learnt their days from nights, but once they did, I learnt to see the pattern, especially with my second of when they were getting tired.  And they both formed good sleeping habits, going down around 7-8pm and sleeping a minimum of 12 hours, perfect for me!

Personally I have never understood how a child can keep what are to me, 'adult hours', I dont think you should drag a child out late at night just because it suits you.  Get a babysitter or dont go out.  But this is just my opinion, obviously some parents see no harm in it, but what happens when a child reaches school age and is still keeping the same hours or even later, as normally it goes that as a child grows their bedtime gets later?  So a child goes to bed at 11pm to get up for school at 7 - that's not enough sleep for a learning/growing child, barely even me.     


  1. Hi Christine,

    I am from a UK online parenting magazine and would like to talk to you about your blog. Would you please email me at if you are interested.


    Grace Ricciardi

  2. Totally agree with you. I've always kept mine in a routine, which we do tend to relax a little in school holidays, but children need their sleep, how can they have enough energy to grow and learn if they don't get the rest they need. Think some patents try to make children fit their lives rather than change a little to better suit the child. Great post. Nat

  3. I also agree. My son who's 6.5, can't understand why he can hear all these kids out and about and he has to sleep. BUT, as soon as he put his head on his pillow he is gone.
    I must say that this difference night time routine us and the general Portuguese population, can be a bit of an issue, as my sons sports activities starts when I would normally put him to bed!
    But we have managed to find a middle way for those days.
    I don't think I could cope, if I didn't get a couple of hours for myself before bedtime.

  4. I'm one of those selfish parents that puts their children to bed early so that, amongst other things, I can get a bit of time to myself but also because they are tired by the end of the day (and mine don't sleep well if overtired which is not a good thing)

  5. Thanks for the comments, glad to see Im not the only one who thinks like this. It is just a cultural difference, but one I cannot get my head around or get used to. I see no logic or benefit to anyone to have tired, unhappy children.

    I dont think it is selfish at all to put your children to bed early or at a 'normal time'(child time to me) and to give yourself some time in the evening, just to give yourself a break and some 'adult time'.