Some kids are just natural night owls, preferring to stay up as late as possible. In fact, researcher Andrew Lim, M.D., found that this tendency is genetically based. This means that if you prefer late night hours, chances are, so will your offspring. Don't worry too much about this tendency, though. The University of Rochester Medical Center recommends that children get 9 or 10 hours of sleep each night, but says that an occasional late night every so often won't really hurt. In fact, there are all kinds of exciting activities for kids who like to stay up past midnight!
1. Movie Marathon
If you live in a major city, you may have a local movie theater that offers late-night screenings. These are frequently offered on the Thursday night of a big movie premiere, so this is an activity better suited to summer vacation when it's possible to sleep in on Friday. If it's during the school year, or your town tends to roll up the sidewalks early, you can instead allow the kids to pick out a stack of rental DVDs and have their own at-home midnight movie marathon, preferably decaffeinated ones, if you have any hopes of their getting to sleep before the sun comes up!
2. Midnight Snack
A late-night trip to a restaurant can add an element of adventure to the fun of eating out. Perhaps your town has a diner that caters to night shift workers, or you could always try one of the chains such as Denny's and Waffle House that are known for being open 24 hours. If you don't have access to any late-night restaurants, your kids might also enjoy making a midnight snack run to an all-night convenience store such as 7-Eleven, or you could just stay home and have them raid the fridge.
3. Shopping Spree
Shopping for new clothes and school supplies becomes a whole lot more fun--and the stores will be a lot less crowded--if you go on a late-night buying trip. Walmart Supercenters, located throughout the U.S., are always a late-night shopper's paradise. Most of these stores are open 24 hours and they feature a wide range of food, electronics, toys and clothes that kids love to browse.
4. Seeing Stars
Send your kids outdoors at midnight to experience the night sky in all its starry glory. Print off a star chart for them and see how many constellations they can spot. They can start off by identifying the easier ones like the Big Dipper and Orion, and then use the chart to navigate to nearby constellations such as Taurus the Bull or Canis Major. Once the kids head back inside, you can look up and read some of the Greek myths these star formations were named after.
5. Night Games
Grab a flashlight and head outside to play a rousing game of flashlight tag. The player who is "it" holds the flashlight and counts to 10 while the others run off to hide in the dark. "It" then tries to find the players, and when he finds somebody, he shines the flashlight on them, at which point this person either becomes "it" or is sent to "jail" until all of the other players have been caught. You can also use the flashlight to play a midnight game of kick the can--take a can and designate this as "home base." This game starts off just like flashlight tag, only when "it" finds somebody, he calls this person's name and they race back to the can. If "it" reaches the can first, the person who was hiding then goes into "jail". Once somebody is in "jail", though, any of the uncaptured players can try to sneak up and kick the can. If they make it without being caught by "it", everyone gets out of "jail" and can go back to hiding while "it" has to go find the can in the dark and put it back where it was. When all the players have been captured, the first person to be sent to jail is now "it."
- Science Daily: Gene Distinguishes Early Birds from Night Owls and Helps Predict Time of Death
- University of Rochester Medical Center Health Encyclopedia: Is Your Child a Night Owl?
- CNN Entertainment: Final Harry Potter Film Set Records for Midnight Premiere
- Denny's: About Us
- Waffle House: Our Story
- 7-Eleven Newsroom: Open Around the Clock
- Walmart Corporate: Walmart U.S.
- Games Kids Play: Flashlight Tag
- Boise Weekly: Kick the Can
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images