But if they're used to going to bed when they want, they aren't going to like these changes. So stay firm and be prepared for a few tough nights. And just think, you could soon have the TV (and the settee) all to yourself!
Warn them in advanceIt's only fair to let them know what you're planning and why. Explain that you don't think they're getting enough sleep and from now on, bedtime will be at a fixed time, every single night. They can complain all they want, but you're in charge and you won't be changing your mind.
Agree a reasonable timeYou can't expect a 10 year old to go to bed at 7pm, but he shouldn't be staying up until 11pm either. No matter what anyone tells you, (especially your child) children need more sleep than you do.
The actual amount may vary from child to child, but not by very much. Here's a guide to show you how much sleep they should be getting. Use it to help you set a realistic bedtime
5 year old - 10 to 12 hours sleep
6 year old - 10 to 11.5 hours sleep
7 year old - 9.5 to 11.5 hours sleep
8 year old - 9.5 to 11.5 hours sleep
Whatever you agree, make sure you stick to it
Give them a routineWe know how important it is for babies to have a routine, but older children still need a routine to help them relax and unwind. However, it has to be appropriate to their age and your lives. It should also involve things they like doing too. Reading stories together, or listening to story tapes can calm them down very quickly. So can a hot drink and a cuddle or chatting about their day.
Children also love hearing about what you've been doing, especially if they've been at school or you've been at work and they haven't seen much of you.
Whatever your routine it needs to be something you both enjoy and look forward to. Bedtime should be pleasurable, not a punishment.
Top tip: Ignore the phone during this time if you can. It will distract you both too much.