Oh, bedtime — is there no parenting ritual so sacred and at once so infuriating? Between getting your child ready for bed, story time, pillow and stuffed animal fluffing, and when they actually fall asleep, enforcing a bedtime can take herculean effort and hours of dedication. Seriously, just ask any parent how early their kids have been going to bed this summer when the sun is still up past 8 p.m. That's why this kids' bedtime chart has gone viral — most parents find it wildly ridiculous.
Creative Child Magazine shared the kids' bedtime chart on its Facebook page earlier this month and people have a lot to say about it — it's wracked up nearly 700 comments and has been shared more than 9,000 times. Upon first glance, this bedtime-by-age recommendation chart seems totally reasonable — especially if you've never had children. And maybe it's something parents can aspire to.
According to this chart, my 4-year-old son should be going to bed by 7:30 p.m. each evening. Pardon me, I need to catch my breath to stop from laughing so hard. Some nights we're lucky if we get dinner on the table by 7:30, let alone our amazingly active preschooler anywhere near his bedtime routine. But this bedtime chart only gets better.
The recommended bedtime increases by 15 minutes for each year of childhood — all the way up through age 18. Because if there's one thing I did when I was 18, it was listen to my parents about when I should go to bed — which, according to this chart, should be at 11 p.m.
Also, can we talk about the younger end of this chart, where it says 2-year-olds need a bedtime? While it's true that most parents have some kind of a bedtime routine figured out by age 2, trying to stick to a set time is nothing short of impossible. Hats off to the parents who can manage to consistently get their 2-year-old toddler into bed at the same time every night — care to share your parenting wizard secrets with the rest of us?
In all seriousness: Bedtime recommendations are just that — recommendations. How much sleep your child needs definitely changes as they grow, but a single chart of 15-minute bedtime increments by age doesn't realistically address this part of their development. The chart makes no mention of how many hours a 4-year-old needs to sleep versus a 14-year-old. (If you're curious, WebMD says 3- to 6-year-olds need about 12 hours of sleep per day, while kids 12 to 18 need just nine hours of sleep per day.)
Not to mention the fact that every day is different: Factors such as daylight saving time, illness, travel, your child's mood — and about a million other little things — can all influence whether your kid falls asleep watching Moana for the 900th time on their iPad before dinner or they come running into your room at 12:30 in the morning and they still haven't yet closed their eyes.
So, though the bedtime chart is useful in theory, and might set great goals, parents shouldn't fret if they can't meet it. And to any parent whose on bedtime duty tonight: May the odds be ever in your favor of getting your little one down on the first try.