#621 Staying up past your bedtime when you were a kid

Nobody likes bedtimes.

Nope, nothing’s worse than lying under the covers in hot, flannel PJs with wide, unblinking eyes while the late autumn sun slowly droops outside your window. As the sky fades to a burning orange the streetlights flicker on, the moon pops out, and eventually the thin crack of light under your door flicks to black.

And then you just lie there, staring at the ceiling, flipping your pillow, tossing and turning, aching and burning.

Nobody likes bedtimes.

Come on, whether it’s mom chasing a giggling, diaper-clad junior around the coffee table or dad forcibly finger-peeling Xbox remotes out of pre-teen paws, it’s all the same when you’re a kid. The fun stops when the head drops.

Yes, bedtime is the secret, locked gateway to a magical mystery tour of late night television, dark downtown scenes, and unknown journeys into all things strange, exotic, and sinful.

But it’s that buildup and curiosity that makes it great when you finally do break on through to the other side.

Do you remember birthday sleepovers where everybody drank Cokes after 9pm and watched R-rated movies? Did you have faraway little league tournaments where parents cracked beer coolers after the game while kids terrorized the hotel whirlpool and sauna? Did you celebrate New Year’s with cousins all shaking hips and eating chips as the next year hit?

Staying up past your bedtime when you’re a kid is like getting on a rickety roller-coaster and riding it down a dark tunnel heading somewhere you’ve never been and were always told not to go. But then you find sugar rushes, skinny dips, heart-to-hearts, and non-stop giggles all waiting for you deep in the blackness, just around the bend.


Photos from: here, here, and here

46 thoughts on “#621 Staying up past your bedtime when you were a kid

  1. This is pretty much the sole reason I work second shift now. I still love the feeling that I’m up too late!

    1. When I was little (like 2 or 3), my mom and I went to my grandparents’ house for a weekend. I was up pretty late and mom assured my grandparents that I was NEVER allowed to stay up that late at home! The tv was on and the “buh-duh-duh-duh” Tonight Show theme song came on. Without even looking up from my toys, I said “heeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!” :D Poor momma!! I guess I’ve always been a late owl!

  2. Hah! I just began a sleep schedule the other day that involves me waking up at around 11pm and going to bed at 4pm. Nice.

  3. Wow I just caught up on 1000-621. Quite a hike. Pretty AWESOME stuff here though!

    And to comment on this, I remember being young and begging my parents to let me stay up for the end of Red Wing’s games. It was always a treat when they did.

  4. I always find it funny when people complain that their kids wake up at 5am. Then you ask them what time they go to bed and they say 7pm.

    1. I know people like that too! I have never understood that. And then if you visit them, you have sneak in at 8pm because if Jimmy hears the door opening, all bets are off!

      1. yeah, but I’ve come to realise no matter what time you put a kid to bed, most of them will NEVER sleep in! Example: we had my boyfriend’s nephew over one night and my boyfriend let him stay up til 4 IN THE MORNING to play legos!! He woke up at 7!!

  5. Wow, just got blasted with nostalgia! Staying up late did used to be something special in childhood. Now, in college, it’s an unpleasant chore to do homework – except for the 24 hour improv show I went to! Staying up all night to watch improv theater, through dawn and into the late morning was magical.

  6. what a memory blast that is, indeed!
    staying up until early morning when my eyes are closing just to say you watched the sun come up…
    endless sleepovers including junk food, naughty stories, lots of giggling and of course late night sleeping!
    i think i love sleeping too much these days to even consider the above options:)
    dear job, oh how much i love thee….

  7. I LOVED staying up past my bedtime, I set up a little cubby underneath my bed where I’d read by torchlight and snack on food I’d stowed away during the day. Ahh those were the days.

  8. Even as a kid I was a night owl. Staying up past bedtime was such a thrill. The world stops and you hear the little fairies from the story books and you even see them too, if you believed that’s what the stars were. Staying up late’s great now, but nothing like it was then.

  9. I agree with Jules, its still fun staying up past bedtime as an adult. And my favorite memory as a kid was staying up to watch LA Law. OK, maybe I didn’t have much of a life.

    1. Ha! That’s great! I used to sneak out of my bed and hide behind the couch to watch Moonlighting and Bosom Buddies (I’m totally dating myself, aren’t I?).

  10. I looooved this as a kid.

    Now I love the opposite. Getting to bed before 9:30 leaves me a feeling of such accomplishment and showing the world that I’m a responsible adult. I get optimistic about a productive day at work (yeah right) and for once having my eyes open at least 90% in the AM.

  11. I remember the first time my mom and dad let my sister and I stay up while they went to bed. We thought we were so cool! We watched Saturday Night Live and I think we both were asleep about 15 minutes after my parents were in bed, but it was awesome!!!

  12. When I was really little, my favorite was when I was allowed to stay up late to watch Amercia’s Funniest Home videos :)

  13. Haha my experiences of staying up late as a kid were never that fun. you make them sound magical. staying up late is fun now, though.

  14. Haha! I used to sneak out into the living room to catch some late night shows.

    I remember i’ll cover my mother’s door gaps with towels before switching on the television. LOL!

    Years later i was told by my mother she knew it all along. =.=”

  15. Oh my goodness I love this!!! This is SO true!!!! And how about hiding that flashlight under your blankets just so you could read your favorite bedtime book? My favorite of all the ideas posted so far. Thank you publishers for this post! And for never failing to make my day. Love it.

    1. Definitely, I used to read by the hallway light. It was right by the doorway to my room, and my bed was right by the door. It was bright enough so could read ANYTHING.

      Then my parents caught on, and made me turn it off. So I started reading by the bathroom light. It wasn’t as bright, so I’d read Judy Blume books over and over (even though I’d outgrown them) because they had font large enough to see in the dim lighting. It’s amazing I’m not blind (if you believe the old wives’ tale.)

      I never used a flashlight. Probably fear. I knew I’d get in TROUBLE if they caught me.

  16. My parents knew I’d try to stay up as late as possible growing up, and they used this to their advantage. If I got good grades, they’d let me stay up 30 minutes later. Or, they’d ask me to clean one of the pets’ cages five minutes before I was supposed to go to bed.

    My best childhood memory is actually the time I had to draw a bird for my grade to homework. I reproduced a sticker of Flit from Pocahontas so accurately that my dad thought I’d used a stamp, and as a reward he let me stay up until 10 pm! (My actual bedtime was around 7 pm at the time.)

  17. Good site. I got a lot of good material here. I have been watching this thing for awhile. It’s fascinating how it keeps changing, yet some of the core elements remain the same. Have you seen much change since Google made their most recent acquisition in the field?

  18. As a little kid, staying up past my bedtime gave me a pretty epic high. But now, as a 14 year old, my mum has recently set my bedtime to 10pm so I can catch up on 6 months of sleep. Going to bed 2 hours before the time I used to induces a smile on my part, as well as astonishment. :)

  19. LOL. One of the most frustrating things was trying to teach my much younger brother to be quiet if he wanted to stay up later.

    There’s 13 years between us. I used to feel so bad when he’d have to go to bed because he’d get upset (especially since I didn’t have to go.) So I’d try to help out by not reminding them.

    But he’d always play so LOUDLY, and then they’d notice him… and away he went.

    I told him over and over again to PLAY QUIETLY if he wanted to stay up later, but he just couldn’t do it. Maybe it’s a boy thing.

  20. Okay, for people who suffer from insomia, this isn’t the greatest news, is it? If I wasn’t on such tight schedule, I might be able to relax and enjoy some late night being-awakeness. But usually it’s only fun when surrounded by your friends. About the R-rated movie thing? Well, we didn’t watch something THAT extreme when I was younger, and we didn’t end up watching the whole thing anyways. But I DID get ambushed by blankets and giggling people.

  21. I think that majority rules is better because it only has to be 51% have to agree to be passed. If they used consensus it could possibly take 20 years to decide. Using majority rules is also better because the law might be great and could be a pass. Also says:

    I think that majority rules is better because it only has to be 51% have to agree to be passed. If they used consensus it could possibly take 20 years to decide. Using majority rules is also better because the law might be great and could be a pass. Also if you used consensus it could not be passed and people could not get that law. Majority rules is much fast than using consensus.

  22. It’s like staying up the night before Christmas I never got any sleep as a kid, and my sisters and I would create secret places to try and see santa! It was awesome!

  23. Staying up late as a kid was awesome…the fact I usually can’t sleep at all now isn’t though! :D

  24. This is so awesome!! I always stay up late playing on my iPod or watching movies! One time I stayed up until almost 7 in the morning.

  25. The best part is eating junk. No you would NEVER eat a full bag of high fat chips during the day! But once the sun sets the bag is torn open!

  26. Did that for the Royal wedding today! But it’s easier when you’re a kid!!! Now I’m soooo tired!

  27. In the 80’s, I was a horrible single-parent to 2 beautiful daughters, who “Light up my life.”
    On the weekends, one night at least, I’d pull out the hyda-bed, drag “our own pillows” and blankies out; make them cuddle up with popcorn, me and a video or two.
    “Later”, they’d start saying stuff like, “Okay, mom, we’re tired now, we need to go to bed now,” and I’d whine back, “No you can’t be. Ahhh, come on you two, hang in here; just a while longer, PLEASE!!!”

    1. These were some of the best days of all of my life!!
      When they were older, hearing the giggling, most the time was really awesome too! We always had the open-door policy flop house/house full and dancey of children and friends of all ages. Loved these times!

    2. I want to do something like this one day with my kids, but Zach is still at the stage where he won’t sit still to watch an entire movie. I’ll do it with Lilly though, soon. We’ll make it a girls night.

  28. My daughter loves the weekends when I let her stay up half an hour more. On good days she gets more time, but just those 30 minutes makes her happy.

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