Any advice on toddler bedtime?

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thenightisover

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Any advice on toddler bedtime?
« on: April 18, 2018, 10:47:48 AM »
I have no idea what time the toddler goes to bed at ex's place. He once told me that he had no control over when she goes to sleep. Another time when I picked her up and she was eating candy he told me he does whatever he needs to do to keep her happy.

I never reacted to the candy.

I've tried to deal with the bedtime thing as best I can. When he has traveled for work and I've gotten her into a solid routine she wakes up happy and smiling. But after his long weekends with him she seems to be exhausted and readjusting her bedtime earlier so she can wake up fully rested just isn't happening. I've reacted to his lack of information and cooperation by providing him very detailed information about her sleep. But I don't think that's effective either because things simply aren't improving.

What can I do? So far the only things I've though of are being 100% consistent with her when she's on my time. At the same time, I worry about giving her poor sleep hygiene by putting her to bed too early compared to what he's shifted her natural bedtime so it takes forever to fall asleep and she doesn't associate the bed with pleasantly falling asleep. And the other thing I've thought is she'll get older and this will get easier...but then what if because he just shifts her bedtime back again and until she takes control of her own sleep she's left perpetually tired through her childhood?

Do I stop sending him detailed breakdowns of when she goes to sleep? Is there anything else I can do to help her sleep well?

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Locked_out

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Re: Any advice on toddler bedtime?
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2018, 01:31:19 AM »
I have this same issue and I know itís tough. It basically boils down to whether you two are going to be able/willing to ďco-parentĒ or not. I had hoped to co-parent with my ex when we first split, but have had to accept that thatís not happening and is never going to happen. I have had to let go and move towards parallel parenting instead. What he does, even if I think he is a crappy parent, is his prerogative in his home. I can only provide routine, stability, and structure during my time and in my home. If he is willing to cooperate and work together, lucky you! Mine does whatever he thinks will annoy me the most (like allowing our preschooler to stay up past midnight on school nights, skip naps, etc.) but then wants to ďco-parentĒ when it backfires on him and he is left to deal with cranky meltdowns without me to save him from it. I finally told him outright that he is free to parent how he wants at his house, but at some point needs to recognize the consequences of his choices.

Of course, I am not referring to anything that would put our child in danger, then I would absolutely step in. But, the day to day stuff is on him during his time. I donít call him every time our child has a tantrum at my house. I deal with it.

And our child seems to have adapted to the differences in structure between our two homes. It is hard sometimes to get her to bed at a reasonable time, but consistency is key.

At this point, itís not that big a deal, but I worry about how this will affect our child when she starts school in the fall and has to be up and ready much earlier than now. Also, no more naps at school to catch up on sleep she may have missed at his house.

Have you got a court ordered parenting plan yet? Not sure where you are at in the process, but as anyone here will tell you, you should document everything thatís happening, so you can note patterns of behavior and what-not.

My advice is to keep what youíre doingóprovide structure and consistency in your own home. It will drive you crazy trying to control what he does at his (and gives him a tool for manipulation and a means to get to you).

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thenightisover

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Re: Any advice on toddler bedtime?
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2018, 02:41:46 AM »
We are still working through the divorce and have temporary orders.

I...a midnight bedtime for a toddler, wow, that's tough. I'm fairly certain ex has never put her to bed that late so now I'm feeling like a bit of a whiner :P

The co-parenting is civil on the surface. It is just the legal process that he's dragging me through that is the nightmare. I wonder if it will ever end.

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Locked_out

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Re: Any advice on toddler bedtime?
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2018, 04:14:30 AM »
Haha. I know how it is. If you read some of my more recent posts, youíll see I agonized over bedtime as well. And yes, it still concerns me. But, I have learned (still learning) to surrender that control. I canít control what he does. And frankly, it irks him when I let go of that control, because then he has nothing to ďdefy.Ē And he hates that because he NEEDS constant conflict with me. But, I do it for my own peace and peace of mindónot to get unde his skin.

However, if it ever becomes an issue where it is impacting our child in a negative way (eg. chronic tardiness to school because they canít get up on time from staying up too late), I think I will have a better chance seeking legal recourse. And I will. But, for now, I just let it go. And letting go feels damn good!

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turtlemama

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Re: Any advice on toddler bedtime?
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2018, 11:32:40 AM »
I can totally sympathize.  It is impossible to co-parent with my exuNPD, I have also resorted to parallel parenting. My exuNPD has no respect for DSís bedtime and it definitely affects him. His preschool teacher had noticed a difference when he had a weekend with Dad. It takes many days to get him back on schedule, and he is 6 now! The lack of sleep really affects him. Plus the unlimited screen time, and whatever else goes on over there.

My exUNPD couldnít handle the parenting himself either and almost every weekend was dropping DS off to his motherís for an overnight, until a few months in he had a new gf (now live in) who did a lot of the heavy parenting (getting up in the mornings, cooking, etc).

As much as I try to provide a stable home, with a consistent routine, itís still hard. Dealing with the meltdowns and crying, it really feels awful some days. I donít have any plans the days after he comes back from his Dads. We kind of snuggle and relax and Iíve learned to expect there will be an epic meltdown each time. We are trying a new therapist next week, so I am hopeful.

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Penny Lane

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Re: Any advice on toddler bedtime?
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2018, 11:24:17 PM »
We've dealt with this same issue at my house and I have to say, several years in, not much has changed at the other house.

My boyfriend has tried begging his ex wife to put the kids to bed at a reasonable time. He's tried demanding she do the same. He's tried laying out his bedtime process at his house.

His ex at first straight up lied to him and told him the kids go to bed several hours earlier than they do. Then she said it wasn't his business. Then she told him that it's not her job to get the kids to bed on time. From what we can tell, the kids' bedtime seems to vary wildly based on how well their mom is doing. I don't think she has the self-discipline to make get the kids to bed at the same time every night.

And of course the kids are often exhausted and miserable when they come home. It's really hard to watch. Same as turtlemama, the younger kid's preschool teachers (before I came into the picture) told my SO that it was like night and day between mom and dad. I think sleep is a lot of the reason why.

There's no good answer here. We've had to come to terms with the idea that the kids' mom is simply is not going to have a consistent bedtime. Kindergarten was the hardest because kid's body still needed a LOT of sleep on top of adjusting to a new longer school schedule and earlier wakeups. (Locked out, as you alluded, tardies have also been a huge problem, and I'm sorry to say we've had a similar lack of success with addressing it as we have with sleep schedules.) It has gotten a lot better as the kids have gotten older - the 10 year old is basically where I think they would be anyway in terms of bedtime.

To mitigate, we have implemented a very rigid schedule around bedtimes and wakeups. The younger kid goes to bed probably half an hour to an hour earlier than they would otherwise, and when the kids are really tired their bedtime gets pushed back even earlier.

The one area that it seems like you do have some control, thenightisover, is your concern about bedtime not being a pleasant time. We try to make bedtime really calm with lots of positive adult-child interaction like reading, and my SO lies down with each kid until they fall asleep. Over time their expectations have adjusted and they seem to like both the consistency and the time with their dad that bedtimes entail. I think you can probably make a similarly positive routine for your toddler.

It's not fair and it's not right. These kids should not have to spend half their childhood exhausted. But all we can do is try to mitigate it as best as possible at our homes. Good luck! I wish your toddler lots of nights full of calm sleep.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 11:58:01 PM by Penny Lane »