Being asked this question on Quora, I find it funny that it’s one of the challenges I’m facing right now with Ruby (my 2yr old).
ANSWER: Same as it’s been for my 13 children: 7pm
Now you should know that this was ‘bedtime’, but not ‘lights out’—and there’s a specific reason for this.
Mom and dad need their down time as well each night. We care for, love, deal with and tend to the needs of the children throughout the day. Children need to understand the importance of mom and dad having time together, to have ‘grownup’ conversations, and to unwind, so we can recharge out batteries for tomorrow.
7pm is when the children are dressed for bed, brush their teeth and the little ones have their story time with mom / dad.
Then they are put in bed, in their rooms, where it is now “quiet time”. Except for going to the bathroom, and the ONE drink each night (because that drink excuse becomes manipulated), they stay in their room. They are to be quiet—meaning they can read, draw, play cards with one another, and my children even like to sing together—but it’s NOT to be heard outside the room. Only peaceful—winding down activities.
At 8:30pm, it’s ‘lights out’.
I had that growing up, and I have instituted it in my family for 30+ years and still do it today—as my youngest of the 13 is only two.
Having structure has always been a blessing, and my own children are using versions of this in their own families.
Hope that helps.