Ideal bedtime for a family of 4??

Ideal bedtime for a family of 4??

parenting foundations

Question from a parent in my free Facebook Group (Respectful Parenting):


Searching for tips for tweaking the sleep schedule for 4 kids

Is it as simple as just putting them to bed earlier and waking them up earlier?

Some background: my kids are 2, 4, 6, and 8 years old. Up until they started school, we loved the fact that they weren’t really “early risers,” typically always sleeping in until around 7:30 am. However, this makes getting up for school pretty difficult. They’re often hard to rouse around 7 am.

Bedtime is typically between 8:30 and 9 during the school year (varies by child), but often the two oldest aren’t asleep before 9:30 or 10 some nights. My 6-year old is especially tough to get to sleep. She also has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder and has a lot of anxiety around school, so mornings can be very tough, especially if she hasn’t gotten enough sleep.

School starts at the end of August, but I think it might be time to get the ball rolling on developing a more school-year-compatible sleep schedule for all of them. We’ve gotten very lax over the summer with verrry late bedtimes so we have a lot of work to do!

Any tips? Routine suggestions? Desired wake time is 7 am (maybe a little earlier, like 6:45). What should bedtime be for those ages (8, 6, 4, 2)? 2 year old still naps, he goes down around 1:30 pm due to school schedules and wakes between 3 and 4.


This is the perfect time of year to start creating your family sleep plan to have good sleep each night before school.

Does this mean that the plan is going to work each and every night?? It would work in an ideal world; however, in our real world, there will be some great days and some not-so-great days. Every day is a new day!

So how can this family get started??

The first step is done! 

The first step is to figure out the ideal time to be awake in the morning to get out the door with minimal fuss. 6:45 to 7 am start is best for this family. So I would pick the 7 am start. If 7 am proves to not be enough time once school starts then I would back up morning awake time to 6:45 am.

Step 2 is to figure out how much overnight sleep each child needs.

There are recommendations based on age that does help with giving you a bit of a guide. I will state that not all children fall neatly into the recommendations so you have to find what works best for your child. 

What are the recommendations??

According to a study done by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 2016, the following are the recommendations for the amount of total sleep needed in a 24 hour period by age.

4 to 12 Months: 12 to 15 hours*

1 to 3 Years: 11 to 14 hours*

3 to 5 Years: 10 to 13 hours

5 to 12 Years: 9 to 12 hours

12 to 18 Years: 8 to 10 hours

*Includes naps so you subtract nap hours from the total sleep to get the amount of overnight sleep needed.


For this family I would be recommending the following:

2 year old: 2 hour nap with 10 to 10.5 overnight.

4 year old: 12 overnight

6 year old: 10.5 to 11 overnight

8 year old: 10 overnight

*Each recommendation may have to change slightly for each child. These are rough guesses based on the information in the information above.

Step 3 is to plan bedtime based on the hours needed and desired wake time.

2-year-old: 9:00pm Bedtime* if the nap is done by 3. Bedtime works best if it is 6 hours after a nap. If you want early bedtime you will need to reduce nap by 30 minutes which will allow bedtime to be 30 minutes earlier.

4-year-old: 7:00 pm Bedtime* if no nap

6-year-old: 8:00 pm Bedtime*

8-year-old: 9:00 pm Bedtime*

*This is when lights are out and the child is sleeping.

 Step 4 is to plan your evening so the bedtime (lights out and sleeping) is happening when needed. The ideal bedtime routine takes about 20 minutes to 60 minutes depending on your child.

As your child ages, their independence with bedtime increases. With increased independence comes the need for a bit more time for tasks to be completed. 

The older children may benefit from some independent reading before lights out. This is a great way for littles to wind down for sleep without using a screen. There should be no screens for at least 1 hour before bed but 2 hours is best. 


The above is a great plan but with all great plans comes the need to make changes for each family. If you are struggling with your nighttime routine feel free to book a free 15-minute call where we can chat about the ideal bedtime for your child.

If you want more help, you can book a mini consultation or join Parenting Foundations Membership where I answer questions as they come up.


Dad: Is he babysitting?

Dad: Is he babysitting?

Is he babysitting???

(insert my scrunched up “are you serious” face)

When our son is not with me, I have been asked if his Dad was at home babysitting?

Excuse me while I rant for a minute or two…  


No, he is not babysitting. He is parenting!

Why does this drive me nuts? I feel it downplays the role of a Dad.

It takes a village to raise a child. When there is a team that is parenting, all players are important. Their roles may be a bit different but just as important.

There have been many times through the years that I have not been home. Guess what?? Our son did great. Does it sting a bit? Yes, it does. I secretly would love to hear that he is struggling with me being gone; however, he did not struggle because he is taken care of by his other loving caring parent that knows him inside out and backward.

Dads have a different relationship with their children than Moms; however, their relationship is important as well. So can we please stop undermining the Dad’s role? No, he is not babysitting, he is parenting!!

Let’s take the time to celebrate the awesome Dads out there!

I will start this celebration by celebrating the awesome Dads in my life. My Dad was the cutest man with the greatest sense of humor. I have many great memories of him taking me to many different sporting events and dropping many one-liners that had me busting a gut! He never complained when he had to take me to the hospital for yet another injury! When I was down, all I had to do was call my dad. My mom knew by the tone of my voice so she would just pass the phone to him. He would say “keep your chin up”. There is something about his voice that just calmed me!

My Husband is a great example of a Dad that would do what it takes for his kids. When he hit his rock bottom he dug himself out and worked hard to show his boys that no matter what hurdle is in place, when you set your mind to it you can achieve it. He is a great example of a caring, intentional and supportive father!

My Father in Law was an awesome man that helped shape my husband into the kind and caring human that he is! You can see many of Mike’s traits in Steve.

Feel free to comment below this post about the positive qualities of the Dads in your life!



3 Magic Little Words

3 Magic Little Words

Do you ever feel like there is so much going on that you do not know where to start or that you will never get things accomplished? This can be the start of major overwhelm! And guess what???….


Many people go through this and it can be extremely stressful. As parents, this feeling can happen often. This is true for stay-at-home moms/dads, work-from-home moms/dads, working moms/dads, foster parents, step-parents, etc.

It even happens to me!! Yes, you heard that correctly. I am normal (at least I believe I am 😛 ).

Now that the cat is out of the bag, what can we do about it??

Perspective is important! Rethink the way you think. …huh????

When I find myself saying “I have to……”. The list becomes so long that no one will be able to accomplish it. Then replace “I have to” with…


Yes, that is correct. I will say “I get to prepare lunch”, or “I get to play with the little man”. You get the point. This word change helps immensely. Even at 3 am when our little man needs to be tucked back into bed.

So if you are in the midst of sleep-teaching your child, trying to figure out your child’s behavior, overwhelmed at work, and have a to-do list that is getting bigger by the moment please remember to breathe and say “I get to”.

This simple word shift can cause you to have a different perspective about the task at hand. When we are able to look at things in a more positive light the overwhelm reduces and we often feel better able to cope. I hope you are able to have a wonderful day and change your perspective if needed.

All the best!


It’s Okay to be a Little Playful

It’s Okay to be a Little Playful

parenting foundationsWhat does it mean to be playful? Why is it important? Why does it matter? 

Well, here’s the thing. You don’t have to be playful. If you don’t want to be playful, you don’t need to be playful. But when you add a little bit of being playful into your life, and especially into your parenting world, you will find that your children are a little bit more compliant and the overall mood is happier.


Yes, you read that correctly, being playful can add more compliance to your child’s reactions. 

Why does being playful have such an impact??  They’re having fun!

Now, does this mean that you need to sit down and play with your child all day long? No, it doesn’t. 

There’s a difference between being playful and playing. 

Playing is when you’re physically getting down and playing with toys, playing a game, and/or doing crafts. 

Playful is when you are being a little silly, being a little goofy, you make something you want your child to do into a game, and/or something fun for your child to do. 

Children between the ages of two and about eight often respond really well to playfulness.  

Older children may roll their eyes but they like it too. I am still playful at times with our 10-year-old. There is a time and a place for it. Heck, there is even a place for it with our 27-year-old.

Okay. So how are you playful? What do you do? 

There are so many things you can do! Here is a list of some simple things I do:

Use a silly voice

Run and hide from your child, then pop out


Make silly faces

Making silly noises

Hop like a bunny or walk like a bear

Drop a little joke


Here is a great example of being playful in action:


When our youngest comes out of the school and he is super serious looking or has that look of defeat on his face, I will turn and run away. 🙂


He then starts running after me. He will ask what I am doing and I will tell him “I am running away from you”!  By this time, he’s laughing a little bit, he’s able to take life less seriously. And then we can actually talk about what’s going on. 


Another example is when our youngest was little (now I would not be able to move) I would ask him if he wants to use his feet or my feet to get to the bathroom. He usually choose my feet and then he would put his feet on mine. Then I would hold his hands and walk to the bathroom with his feet on top of mine.

Let’s face it there are many adults that can benefit from being a little playful. Sometimes it can be a lot of work for us, though. So take it with a grain of salt and do what you can. 


There’s a time and a place to be playful. There will be times when you need to be serious. 


Embrace being playful and bring a few extra laughs into your day!


Be the Parent You Want to Be,



**Did you know that Parenting Support from Brenda McSween at Parenting Foundations is just a few clicks away? Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, I answer questions from parents via my membership website. Click here to learn more. Not interested in the membership, you can book a Mini Consult (1-hour call and 2 follow-up emails). Looking forward to speaking with you soon.


Temper Check

Temper Check

There is no better time than now to do a temper check…Say What??

No, I am not going to take your temperature or ask you to take it. I am however going to ask that you really pay attention to your temperament.

The way you handle change, sounds, smells and so much more can all be related to your temperament.

The same goes for your child.

A child’s temperament can be the same as yours or completely different.

Temperament is described by many people as the way we respond to things in our world.

There are 3 basic types of temperament that are commonly discussed. The types of temperament are as follows: easy-going, slow to warm, and active (sometimes labeled as difficult but let’s keep the label type positive).

With our youngest, he is very active at home. At school, he is slow-to-warm or easy-going. With his active at-home personality comes a great deal of reaction and emotion. We often give him lots of advance warning of things to come and when changes are happening it is important to have some of his creature comforts readily available.

With children that are slow-to-warm back to school or daycare can be a very tough transition. One proactive thing to do is to make sure you allow for a great deal of time during drop-off. If possible taking a few minutes to play in the playground after school will help as well.

Easy-going little ones often do not need a great deal of preparation and they just go with the flow easily that we may forget to do something that we have promised which will backfire after time.

If you and your little share the same type of temperament, you will understand what your child is going through and you may be experiencing the same things yourself.

If you and your child share a bit of a different temperament in certain situations you may find it hard to understand why your child is acting in the manner they are. This is the time to try to put yourself in your child’s shoes. Really think about what they could be experiencing. This allows you to respond in a way that can help your child and it will take the pressure off you to fix it. Sometimes we just need to sit with a person until they are able to cope.

This is a subject I am very passionate about helping parents understand! I strongly believe that once we understand what is actually occurring for our child we can be way more proactive in reducing the number of meltdowns or difficult behavior our children experience.

So is your child easy-going, slow to warm, or reactive??

If you require further support, feel free to book a free 15-minute consultation with me to discuss how I can help.


All the best,