My Teens Still Go To Bed Before Yours, And Here's Why

hsyncoban: Getty

“No one else has to go to bed this early” is a phrase I’ve heard from all three of my kids since they started talking to their classmates around the water fountain at school.

When they were elementary school, bedtime was anywhere between 6:45 and 7:30 depending on how they were acting and how I was feeling. It meant we ate every night at 5 p.m. on the dot so my kids had time to digest and get the last of their playing in for the day.

It worked for us; they fell asleep after the usual 10 requests to get a drink and check for animals under the bed and ask questions about snakes.

They were able to wake up on time and function better throughout the day when we kept to our sleep schedule than they did if I was more relaxed about bedtime because of an event or special occasion. I’m not saying they acted perfectly or it was flawless routine, but it was a hell of a lot better than if I let them stay up later.

There were times I wondered if I was too uptight, especially after listening to other parents talk about letting their kids stay up a few hours later than mine.

I’d try to to let bedtime slide a bit, but it didn’t work. Like, at all.

Some kids can handle it beautifully and are born natural night owls, but my three kids were not cut from that cloth. They couldn’t stay up late when they were babies. We failed again after trying when they were toddlers when I wanted to go to a movie or swing to Target after dinner. And now that they are teenagers, the game still ends the same (namely, with an early bedtime).

Because everyone — and I mean, everyone (including me) — has a meltdown if we aren’t getting enough sleep.

There’s nothing like the regret that hovers for a day (or 10) when your child has skipped a nap or gone to bed late. The impending doom of the aftermath of a late bedtime was always enough to motivate me to leave a school function or party early. I hated when my kids were miserable, and I’m pretty sure they did too since they felt the need to throw their body on the floor.

Bottom line: If I missed “the sleep window,” we would soon be entering into the gates of hell.

Now that they are 15, 13, and 12, they go to bed by 9 p.m., which is earlier than the entire universe and I don’t care. It’s worth it to me for us all to turn in early despite their protests every night.

First, all of my kids need plenty of sleep and even though they are older, their lack of sleep still affects the entire family in a huge way.

In fact, every time they have a sleepover, the next few days they are walking hurricanes who are so moody I’m tempted to lock them in their room and bring them food until they’ve caught up on their precious ZZZs.

Also, I need to turn in early since I am at my best when I get plenty of sleep and can put up with their shit in a classier fashion. I’ll be damned if I am going to go to bed and let my three teens have the run of the kitchen with their heads in their devices and go to bed whenever they want because we all know that’s exactly what would happen.

I’ve tried letting them go to bed later on school nights as they’ve entered middle and high school (10 p.m. to be exact), and it never fails: within a few days I get a call or email from school alerting me one of my kids is having trouble concentrating, talking out of turn, or just being an all around asshat in class.

After seeing this sleep schedule from a teacher that went viral and caused a shit-ton of commotion (some agreed, others found it ridiculous), I think the reason I’ve always been strict with our sleep schedule is because it worked for us and our family life. For other families, it might be damn near impossible.

I’ve always been a SAHM mom or worked from home so, yes, it is easier for me to feed my kids and get them to bed earlier. I don’t have a commute, so I can start dinner at 4 p.m. if I want to, and I’m able to see them more during the day because of our situation, so the wanting to keep them up later to spend more time with them isn’t an issue.

Not everyone is able to do that and if I had a job I had to get to every day, things would be different and I might let my kids stay up a bit later. (Then again, maybe not.)

This is what works for me and my family. It’s just not worth it to let them stay up later just because they go to bed earlier than everyone else. They can complain all they want — I’m not caving.

Honestly, the backtalk and moods I get to witness from them when they do stay up late is way worse. So I have no problem making them feel incredibly deprived and ripping their devices away from their cold hands, or interrupting their FaceTime call to tell them it’s time to go “Night-Night” if they don’t shut it down the first time I ask because their bedtime is “so embarrassing” and they don’t want anyone to know.

Because we all know what’s more embarrassing is being a mother who can’t function with bags under her eyes while her kids act like shit stains all the time just because they aren’t getting the sleep they need.