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Can you help me with a single parent bedtime routine?

(22 Posts)
iwasagirlinavillage Wed 29-Mar-17 07:45:24

My husband and I have recently separated which has left me doing bedtime for both DDs and DD1 (3yo) is now going to bed later and later and she's exhausted because she's still waking up at the same time in the morning. She still has a daytime nap because she clearly still needs it, even when she goes to bed at a reasonable time (she has breathing problems so she gets more tired more easily). She's been playing up because of the separation, which is understandable but I don't think tiredness is helping the situation. She's also very particular about her bedtime routine and doesn't cope well if I try to drop something or change the order - I will work on her being more accepting of change but now isn't the time.

Below is my current evening:

18.00 - Dinner
18.20 - DD2 pyjamas, medication, teeth
18.30 - DD2 upstairs, breastfeed
19.00/19.15 - DD2 asleep
19.15 - DD1 pyjamas, medication, teeth
19.30 - DD1 upstairs, story, milk, toilet
20.00 - DD1 in bed, usually asleep within 10 minutes

That would be an ideal night but if DD2 takes longer to go to sleep then that has a knock on effect and DD1 often goes through all number of delaying tactics before she'll finally get in to bed/go to sleep. So it can be getting on for 9pm by the time DD1 goes to sleep. She typically wakes up around 6am so some nights she's only getting 9 hours sleep. Even with the nap it clearly isn't enough for her - you can see how tired she is and her behaviour is affected.

Do any single parents have any suggestions of how I can get DD1 to sleep earlier? I tried getting DD2 down earlier but any earlier and she wakes up after 1 sleep cycle as she seems to think it's a nap.

pinkpixie83 Wed 29-Mar-17 07:48:00

Can you get them both ready for bed together? Maybe read while bf on your bed, then settle the youngest leaving the eldest with a book then once youngest is asleep go back for another story and bed for eldest?

HeyMicky Wed 29-Mar-17 07:53:23

Not a single parent but I do all weekday bedtimes before DH gets home.

Firstly, can you feed them earlier? That will bring everything forward. You might choose to eat later yourself some nights so you don't always have to eat at 5.

Do bath/PJs/teeth together. Then get DD1 settled downstairs with books/TV while you BF DD2 and put her to bed. Then DD1 upstairs for story and bed. I had a 2.8 gap between mine and this worked well

MrsPussinBoots Wed 29-Mar-17 07:54:05

Can you start earlier? DD (3) has dinner at 5, then bath and teeth finish at 6:15 and we go to her bedroom. Then stories - agree could you bf while reading to both? Asleep by 7pm.
I've admittedly become very strict about bedtime because after that it's my only free time. No delaying tactics, 3 stories maximum. Getting out of bed is forbidden. But it works for us and she sleeps 12 hours no problem.

Cakescakescakes Wed 29-Mar-17 07:56:16

Firstly a confession that I'm not a single parent but when my two were that age my husband was not home until well after their bedtime every night so I always did it alone 6 nights a week for months on end. Hope it's ok for me to post.

What worked for me was bathing them together then both into pjs in the bathroom. Then into DS1's room where I'd breastfeed DS2 while reading stories then tuck DS1 in and say goodnight. Then into Ds2's room and tuck him in and say goodnight. If the little one was being fussy about his fees then I'd let him roll around on the floor while I did stories then feed him in his room after DS1 was in bed. Ds1 has SN so often took a couple of hours to go to sleep so I found it helped having him in bed first to allow time for this to happen.

Good luck!

Crumbs1 Wed 29-Mar-17 07:59:11

Sounds like a good routine but you just need to be firmer with your eldest. The delay tactics only work if you let them. It's bedtime so no drinks, lights on or repeated loo trips.

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 29-Mar-17 08:08:39

How old is dd2 and what's dd1 doing whilst you put dd2 to bed?

wrinkleseverywhere Wed 29-Mar-17 08:16:31

I'm another one whose DH was never home until after 8pm during the week so I did a fair amount of bedtime juggling myself.
My DC had tea at 5pm but I realise that may not work for you as you might want to eat with the DC and 5pm would be very early for you. On the couple of occasions I ate with the DC, I was never hungry enough to eat properly & then raided the biscuit tin about 9pm.
Anyway, they were both in the bath just after 6pm, DC2 out & dried & then DC1 out & dried. We then all clambered onto our bed for stories as it was the only place DC2 could feed and I could cuddle DC1 and read. We had a massive blanket to snuggle under & a rule of three stories (DC1's choice, DC2's choice (usually chosen by DC1) & my choice) plus some more if DC2 was still feeding.
It took a degree of organisation as I had to put PJs in the bathroom before bath time etc, take a drink upstairs at before bath time for DC1 to have during stories but, once I'd figured out a routine, it was usually manageable until DC1 had a tantrum or refluxy DC2 puked all over DC1 or DC1 wet herself or any of those other fun things associated with babies & toddlers happened!

iwasagirlinavillage Wed 29-Mar-17 08:35:56

DD2 is 9 months but more like a 6 month old as she was premature. At the moment my parents have been coming in in the evening so they sit with DD1 and do a quiet activity while I get DD2 to bed. They try to do as much of the routine as possible but sometimes she won't co-operate for them and rather than having a tantrum and getting her worked up just before bed, it's easiest for me to do it. Again, this is something that I'll take a firmer line on over time but my husband used to do her bedtime and in the weeks before he left he was constantly annoyed at everything so would be really short tempered with her and she'd get upset every bedtime. So I've been working to reassure her and, not let her get away with everything, but be a bit more relaxed with my attitude but with a firm structure in place so she knows what to expect. I've timed it and from going in to her bedroom to getting her in to bed, on a good day it can be done in 12 minutes! But if she decides she's not going to co-operate with doing her inhaler or she wants to brush her teeth herself then we end up with a 5 minute tantrum which obviously delays things. I'm also reticent to say no when she says she needs to do a wee as she is sometimes dry at night, not always, but proud of herself when she is so I don't want to set her back if she does genuinely need to go.

I could try moving dinner time earlier. I have done it earlier before but on the days she goes to nursery (only two days) we're not back home until 17.30 and then we have to cook dinner so it's difficult to do it any earlier in those days. I could pre-cook something and then just heat it up to save time.

At the moment, DD1 is so boisterous and noisy by bedtime, because she's overtired, that having the two of them in the same room while trying to get DD2 to sleep wouldn't work. Once she's not so tired though then hopefully that's what I'll be able to do.

FATEdestiny Wed 29-Mar-17 09:09:51

Having had two close in age, I remember the nightmare of joint bedtimes for toddlers and babies. We could only do it with the two of us and i would struggle on my own at bedtime. So I appreciate how hard this will be for you.

In your position I would probably put DD1 to bed first. On the basis that DD2 has plenty of opportunities for catching up via daytime sleep, her routine (over 24 hours) will cope better with a later bedtime.

Rumtopf Wed 29-Mar-17 09:15:36

On a nursery day I'd try to have something read for dinner in the slow cooker or something pre-made to reheat, or easy like soup or beans on toast.

I agree with doing their routines together, get them both ready for bed, meds and teeth brushed and then settle down for a story all together, bf'ing dd2 at the same time. Put dd2 down and then have one last story and cuddle with dd1, take her for a week and then into bed.

It's hard to adjust to being on your own, but you'll manage fine after a bit of adjustment.

Rumtopf Wed 29-Mar-17 09:16:09

Spoils for the adjust/adjustment sentence, my words have run away this morning!

Hamsolo Wed 29-Mar-17 09:21:47

I'm not a single parent but this is my solo routine. One 4 year old and one 9 month old.

6:30 - I set everything up, close curtains, get pyjamas ready etc
6:45 - bath time/ tooth brushing
7:15 - both kids out of the bath, and into the 4 year olds room. Pjs on, sleeping bag on for the little one, and we have two story books and one story with the lights out. Littlest one will start to feed at some point during the stories, usually after the first one.
7:30 - transfer sleeping 9 month old into her own room, if 4 yo is still awake I tell her I'll come back after the baby is asleep.
7:45 - ideally both kids asleep, me collapsed on the sofa. Sometimes the 4 y.o. Drags it out til 8pm.

I am also strict with the bedtime routine as it's the only chance I get to have an hour to myself, and I find they both do better with routine.

I have to say though, I know you say you don't want to drop the nap but that was the only thing that stopped our older one staying up til 9pm every night.

Lagirafe Wed 29-Mar-17 09:22:00

I would aim for 5pm dinner on non-nursery days and prepare something in advance for nursery days (slow cooker? Salad?) or get nursery to provide tea (served at 4pm ish at our nursery).

iwasagirlinavillage Wed 29-Mar-17 09:30:50

OK, so today is a nursery day so I'm going to cook something earlier to reheat later and aim for dinner as soon as we get home. I'm going to get a bit more organised again today - I had all of DD1s pyjamas paired up and put in to a pull up to save time so I need to do that again. I think I need to try adjustments gradually for DD1s sake so I'll get them both in to pyjamas at the same time. DD1 can pretty much do it herself so that's fine. So:

17.30 - Dinner
18.00 - Pyjamas, medication, teeth
18.15 - Sort DD1 bedtime stuff - milk, water, potty, teddy etc
18.25 - Take DD1 up to her room with books and quiet toys/colouring
18.30 - DD2 bedtime - feed, sleep
19.00/19.15 - straight in to DD1s bedroom

This will isn't ideal, and over time I will do the book and breastfeed at the same time on my bed, get DD2 to sleep and then take DD1 in to her room for the last of her bedtime routine. For now, she's used to being awake until around 20.30 every night so I think I need to shift that back gradually which is why I'll let her have that bit of time to quietly play in her room. My Dad is here tonight anyway so I can get him to play in there with her. Hopefully she will wind down a bit better because she'll already be in her bedroom, and being able to go straight in to her for bedtime will cut down on the delays downstairs and then the further delays upstairs!

iwasagirlinavillage Wed 29-Mar-17 09:33:30

We have tried without the nap, and she doesn't have one every day, but she just can't cope without it. It doesn't help her get to sleep any earlier and she doesn't wake any later. She has a lower than average oxygen saturation so she has to work a bit harder to breathe and that knackers her out. I am limiting the nap though.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Thu 30-Mar-17 10:50:09

Not single here either but I always did solo bedtimes even when DH was around (which he mostly wasn't) as the DCs would only tolerate me at bedtime hmm.
As a pp said, I always prioritised the older one as the bf baby was relatively easy to fit in around the story-reading etc. Also, it seemed less disturbing to keep the eldest's routine pretty much the same as before, since so many other areas of their lives were changed by the arrival of the younger sibling. Your younger daughter will be also less 'aware' of the absence of her dad so maybe concentrating on DD1for a while will help to calm her current anxiety.

Nottalotta Thu 30-Mar-17 13:23:24

How did it go? I will be in this position soon with a 20 month and 6wk. Dc1 bedtime I'd pretty good. Dc 2 doesn't have one yet so think I'll be sticking to Dc1 routine but with a baby in the mix!

Whingewine Sun 02-Apr-17 21:15:45

My two have just turned 4 and 2. I have been on my own since youngest was 6 months. My routine is 5pm bath time then teeth PJs downstairs around 6 for huggle/ milk for both then 620 the youngest watches in the night garden whilst I do bedtime story and song for eldest. Then 7pm youngest goes to bed after night time song.

LighteningMaQueen Sun 02-Apr-17 23:20:55

Could you put an audiobook on for DD1 while you put DD2 down? I find this really helpful if I have to leave DC1 to deal with DC2 for a bit.

SafeBet Sun 02-Apr-17 23:39:42

I can understand you wanting to do them separately, my two are like that. However I'd still start the last meal even earlier than 5:30 and do it at 5.

Then I'd do the bath and teeth routine for them both together, by which time you will be closer to the breastfeeding and settling baby off to sleep around 6:30. This is where I would begin the divide of the bedtime routine. That hopefully then leaves you half an hour to settle your (pre-cleaned and changed) eldest with a story and cuddle, and have them asleep by 7:15.

I find there's a huge difference in settling during that last hour (7:15-8:15). It's almost like they've gone over and are pumped full of adrenaline so they can't achieve good sleep.

Purple52 Mon 03-Apr-17 08:34:48

In would settle DD1 first. Even if DD2 screams or is blonked in a chair (strapped in) in front of CBeebies.
DD1 has a routine that needs to matter as should be aiming to lose the daytime sleep.

It's hard. Whatever you do now it'll change in a month. So don't think anyone on here has answers!!!

Just know it will improve!! Mine have that ages gap. & now I just tell them to get ready for bed (on repeat!)

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