Last night, our kids went to bed around 9:30. Tonight, Anne went to bed around 7:30; Peter is still up (at 8:30) and will probably go to bed within the next half hour. Their bedtime tomorrow will depend on when and how many naps happen along with how late Grandma and Grandpa are able to stay.
This isn't really great.
Optimally, kids have a sleep schedule. One bedtime isn't necessarily better than another (within reason), but for good sleep, kids and adults do best if they have a consistent bedtime.
Could we get our kids to bed at the same time every night? Sure. I would have to sacrifice youth group, though, which is also the kids' special night out with their Daddy. On Sunday evenings with my family, we'd have to watch the clock and leave even if both kids were having a great time with friends and relations.
What about mornings? Couldn't we at least start each day at the same time to set the stage for naps happening around the same time? Yes, we could. That would be 7:45, which is the earliest we wake them (for Mass on Sunday). I could force myself to get up at 7:45 each morning, regardless of how much Anne was up during the night. We could wake Peter, our little boy whose morning mood swings rival his mother's at that age.
Science says a consistent bedtime and waking time make for better sleep. In our family, they would also make for grumpy children, weaker relationships, and resentful parents. What is best in an ideal situation is not always best for each family. Same applies with breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and any number of other parenting issues. Certainly feel free to share information, but don't judge. What is best for one is not necessarily best for all.