Last week was the first week of kindergarten! Many people asked me how on earth I’m getting my kids to bed at 7pm on the dot, so I’m going to break it down, because trust me it doesn’t happen by accident! There’s 3 important principles at play:

The 12-hour day: I want my kids to get 11-12 hours of continuous night sleep. Leela (age 5) is waking up at 6:15am and catching the bus at 7am. That means bedtime is 7pm the latest.

Working backwards: In order to get into bed at 7pm (meaning lights out, stories done, teeth are brushed), we start the bath and dinner at 5pm! It takes time to wind down from the day, and we don’t want to rush.

Prioritizing sleep: Since I believe sleep is really important, I say no to other things. No to 5pm tennis lessons that my friend asked us to join. No to seeing her papa at night, cause he gets home too late. The result is worth it, proof is in the pudding. She wakes up HAPPY, before the alarm clock. She gets off the bus HAPPY. She doesn’t fall asleep on the bus. She has tons of energy. She is primed for learning.

Here’s the exact schedule:

6:15am – wake up
7am – bus
3:30pm – return from school, play at home
5pm – bath
5:30pm – dinner
6pm – read books, brush teeth
6:30pm – ALARM goes off on my phone to remind me it’s time for bed. Leela and I retire to her room. From 6:30 to 7 we might read one more story, chat and snuggle, she does all her stalling and procrastinating. This is my favorite time, when she opens up the most. I set another ALARM for 10 or 15 minutes during this time, because I lose track of time easily.
6:55pm – I’m outta there. Yes it’s still light out, but thank goodness for blackout curtains.

I get a lot of questions from working parents about this issue of not seeing your kids in the evening. YES it really sucks. But there’s no way my husband can reach home at 7pm, and there’s no way I’m keeping her up till 9 or 10. I feel strongly that a small child should not be on the schedule of a working adult. Here’s how we’re managing:

  • My husband and Rumi drop Leela to the bus every morning, so they’re having those 15 minutes together.
  • We call papa at bedtime for a quick Facetime check in, or she sends him emojis on the phone. Or she might draw him a picture and leave it on his pillow. We often call grandparents at this time too, so family is on our mind!
  • Weekends! He takes the girls out alone on Saturday mornings (shorter outing) and on Sunday mornings (longer outing). To the park, soft play areas, bookstore and/ or breakfast.
  • Holidays! Luckily we have tons of holidays in India, so we try to do something special as a family.
  • We have an awareness that during this phase of life, it’s a perfect storm. Raising young kids coincides with the peak years in career. So there’s a knowledge that it’s an imperfect balance with tough tradeoffs. We do our best.

I hope that’s helpful!