When the kids were babies I was blessed with good sleepers. They always went down at 7 pm, and I'd nurse again around 10 or 11pm before I turned in for the night.
As they grew into toddlers I kept the 7 pm bedtime routine. They may not have needed it, but I sure did. Much as I love them, by 7 pm (None of them napped. Ever. The downside of sleeping through the night I guess) I was exhausted, and I needed adult time, time to unwind, to have a conversation with someone who spoke in polysyllables.
Even once they started school, bedtime for years in our house was 7:30. I liked it. I love the feeling of tucking them in and knowing they were safe and sound until morning. And I loved having two good hours of relative peace (and sometimes cleanng) before I too went to bed.
It used to bother me that one day bedtime would be later. I dreaded it. But the inevitable happened last summer when long days of sun and activity stretched bedtime out sometimes until 9 pm and because there was no school, I let it go. When September rolled around, predictably the kids buckled at the thought of 7:30 bed, and we stretched it to 8 pm. A good deal for the youngest.
And now, I can't imagine it any other way. Evenings are relaxed and unhurried. There's time for leisurely dinners, walks through the meadow, a game, reading, even a bath before bed. They are older too, less needy. I like having them around and our conversations are interactive and interesting.
Most nights they're in bed by 8pm. Erik reads until 8:30. The girls until 8:15 or so. And it works. Beautifully.