Confession Time: I am not a fan of "baby-led sleeping".
I understand the logic behind it, I do. And if it works for you and your family, that's GREAT! Seriously! But it just doesn't work for my family. We are a stick-to-it kind of routine family. And we've found that it works for us to be that way.
Ever since our oldest (now 12) was little, we've had strict rules about bedtime. Bedtime is not a negotiation; this is not open for discussion. Bedtime is predetermined by the grown-ups, and it is a very special occassion when a bedtime is allowed to slip. There are few things that I'm strict about, but bedtime? Dude, I am a bedtime ENFORCER.
You might wonder why I'd write about bedtime in a series devoted to mornings, and the simple fact is that the cause and effect here are pretty well-connected. I've found that if I waiver on the bedtime routines? Man, do we suffer for it in the morning. It's not only noticeable, it WILL KILL MY SOUL.
(Note: I am slightly dramatic.)
Bedtime in my house is as follows: the 5 year old begins his bedtime routine at 7:30 p.m. with a bath or shower (since when do five year olds take showers? but mine does), followed by a thirty minute routine involving PJs, nighttime stories, and sundry ablutions. He is to be in bed by 8:15 p.m., with lights out no later than 8:30 p.m.
The 12 year old follows a similar routine - slightly more relaxed - with bath or shower at 8:30 p.m., then PJs, a quick discussion about his day, and lights out by 9:00 p.m. Now, here is where I've been coerced to relax my standards: I'm now allowing the 12 year old to stay up and read until 10:00 p.m. READING ONLY. No electronics, no phone calls, just reading. (And maybe it's because I've been so strict for all of these years, but he JUMPS at that extra hour to read. Anything that makes him eager to read? Dude, I'm all in.)
But the general rule of the house is that all children are in bed by 9:00 p.m. After that? It's time for grownups to not be Mommy and Daddy anymore. (Or to at least go on-call.)
The structure of this routine helps the boys know what's expected of them on a nightly basis, and it also helps them wind down at night and actually fall asleep at a decent hour. The good side is that they get a full night's sleep and are usually bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next morning, ready to go. The bad news? Is that any variation or deviation to this routine sends them reeling.
(So we rarely deviate.)(Also, our lives are kind of boring, admittedly.)
Are you a nighttime enforcer? Or do your kids decide when to turn in for the evening?