The great Super Bowl debate: should kids stay up to watch?

A late night Super Bowl party on Sunday can lead to a very slow Monday morning.
A late night Super Bowl party on Sunday can lead to a very slow Monday morning. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Okay, so this isn’t a debate I have spoken out loud for fear that my children will disown me, but inside my head the question has been bouncing around: Is it okay to let your kids stay up well past their bedtimes on a school night for a football game?

Super Bowl 50 kicks off at 6:30 p.m. and is expected to last 4 hours, bringing the end of the game close to 10:30 p.m. By the time you shut it all down, brush those teeth and tuck them in, it’s already 11 p.m.! My youngest goes to bed at 8 p.m. most nights…and I’m wondering just how miserable Monday morning is going to be after all that (hopefully) celebrating.

To get a little reassurance and guidance, we posed the question to our blogger pediatrician, Dr. Rhonda Patt, of Charlotte Pediatric Clinic, and Juliet Lam Kuehnle, Licensed Professional Counselor at Southeast Psych.

For Dr. Patt, (who said with both Panthers and Broncos fans in her family, everyone will be watching at her house), it really comes down to the ages and abilities of your individual child. Think about how well they function after a late night and go from there. "Most middle school and high school children will be fine but should go to bed on the early side the next night. For the younger ones, make the decision based on what you know about your own child."

As Kuehnle notes, "a single night of less sleep is not going to cause any lasting issues." Everyone might be a bit more irritable the next day, but in her opinion, the benefits outweigh all of that.

Benefits? What benefits?

Kuehnle points to the camaraderie formed in watching sports, especially with an event this big. Families bond over shared memories and kids’ own sense of sport can expand. "By allowing your kid to be a part of that conversation and to be invested in it Sunday night, it will be a socially connective thing for all of us, kids included." Think about it. What you’re discussing at the water cooler on Monday morning, kids are chatting about on the playground and in the lunchroom.

She also thinks that being a part of the city’s fan base shows our kids that not only are the players and their dedication worth watching, but that the fans are an integral part of the team’s success as well. This also helps our kids dream even bigger about being part of a team and following a role model to work hard and reach the big stage.

So if they’re crabby Monday morning and you’re extra tired, is it okay to head in to school a little late?

Not so fast. Dr. Patt and Kuelhnle both recommend sticking to your Monday morning routine and adjusting as needed by allowing for additional naps, skipping extracurricular actives Monday afternoon or going to bed early Monday night. That is, of course, if they are not still bouncing off the walls from a city-wide celebration of winning the Super Bowl!