Each year, children around the world beg their parents for permission to stay up until midnight to ring in the new year. And each year parents, woozy and sluggish from two weeks worth of Christmas cookies, actually consider it. This is where I come in. Think of me as your own personal Doc Brown from Back to the Future, stepping out of my DeLorean, manic and wild-haired, screaming portents of doom. "Marty! Listen to me! Don't let your kids stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve!"
You don't actually need me to tell you this is a terrible idea, right? You just need me to agree with you so that you don't foolishly convince yourself otherwise. I get the impulse! Maybe you're still caught up in holiday magic. Maybe you have fond memories of staying up to watch the ball drop in Times Square and want your kids to have the same experience. Maybe you just want a nice memory with your little one(s) on New Year's Eve.
Don't do it. It's a trap.
Look, are there some families that can pull this off? Yes. But it's the classic "If you have to ask the answer is no." If your kid can handle staying up until midnight, it's because they've done it before, so it will be a given that they'll do it this New Year's Eve. If your kids ask, it's because they haven't done it before and, you guys, now is just not the time to give this a whirl.
Which sounds like more fun: overtired kids impatiently whining their way to midnight or excited children celebrating with the whimsical Irish animals of Puffin Rock and in bed by 8:45, none the wiser?
Let me put it this way: do you really want to start the new year with an extremely cranky child who, I promise you will still somehow wake up at 6 a.m.? This will set into motion a chain reaction that will take days to correct. And did we forget that school is starting back up in a few days? There's no way they'll be back in their usual groove by then, not with your luck. And even if they don't go to school yet, you have to go back to work on January 2. Do you really think having a child that far off schedule is a good idea before heading back to reality? It's only going to make this already difficult transition even harder. Why on Earth would you do that? Honey, please: love yourself.
But there's hope! A way to have it all — happy children, happy parents, and a good night's sleep. An ancient, time-honored tradition that has made parenthood a pleasant, enjoyable, even magical experience from time immemorial.
Lie to your children.
Tell them it's midnight when it's, like, 8:30. You can do this the old-fashioned way by changing the clocks around your house or you can use 21st century technology! Go ahead and stream New Years Eve celebrations... in another time zone! ("What's that, kids? No, the Acropolis has always been right here in New York. Yeah, I think it's in the Bronx, near the zoo...") Or turn once again to your favorite co-parent, Netflix, which has a variety of specially created content that allows your kids to ring in the New Year with their favorite characters literally whenever you want. Which sounds like more fun: overtired kids impatiently whining their way to midnight or excited children celebrating with the whimsical Irish animals of Puffin Rock and in bed by 8:45, none the wiser? Not only are they happy but this plan leaves you with plenty of time to enjoy a kid-free evening however you see fit. You can still go out! Or have a few friends over for a glass of champagne in front of the TV! Or, let's be honest, go to bed well before midnight because you're very comfortable with the fact that you're old and boring and need a solid eight hours of beauty sleep if you're going to function the next day.
But you're skeptical. "That won't work!" you say, "They'll definitely know it's not midnight!"
Oh ye of little faith. How do I put this delicately? Children have absolutely no concept of time — an extra half an hour past bedtime can definitely feel like four to them, especially when they're excited. You should take advantage of that fact for as long as humanly possible.
It's been a year, but look at you! You've chugged along, crushing the parenting game. Don't stumble at the finish line. End the year right: by fooling your children for their own good. It's not gaslighting if they don't notice!