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For those of you with teenage step children

(182 Posts)
theredhen Wed 14-Aug-13 12:16:50

What do you do about bedtimes?

Dp has a very early start and normally leaves the house by 6am. He's normally falling asleep by 10pm if we haven't already gone to bed. At the moment he's working 7 days a week.

Dsd2 and ds both take themselves to their rooms about 9.30 in the holidays leaving dp and I with some time without kids.

Dsd1 sits in her room all evening then appears at 9.30pm and sits with us both. Dp and I like our child free time to talk about any issues that have arisen during the day. We have five kids between us, two full time jobs, two troublesome ex's so there can be a lot to talk about and we both agree we need that time to talk every day for the sake of once what was our very fragile relationship.

Dp has said he doesn't know what to do. He has explained to her that we like to have a bit of time to ourselves before we go to bed and has offered her a tv in her room several times to which she always replies she doesn't want one as she doesn't watch tv.

She keeps appearing at 9.30 and parking her bum on the sofa. Dp has been taking her out one to one and trying to treat her more as an adult so feels sending her to her room is sending her the wrong message. Dsd2 and ds seem to manage it without being "told" as I did at that age.

Basically he's struggling to know what to do.

Personally I think he should try and encourage her to sit with us earlier in the evening and then send her off to her room (where she has laptop, phone, books etc) at 9.30 ish like the others.

I know it's very early for some teens but dp and I can't lie in til 11am like they can.


Onesleeptillwembley Wed 14-Aug-13 12:24:39

How old is she? It sounds odd to me to ban her.

Onesleeptillwembley Wed 14-Aug-13 12:24:56

banish, not ban.

matana Wed 14-Aug-13 12:30:06

DSD is 13. She stays up with us all evening watching TV and talking. We usually all go to bed at the same time now. We both quite like it as it shows she feels at home with us and wants to spend time with us. But then she only stays overnight once a month (comes for the day every week though) so it's not a big deal to us and we don't feel inconvenienced. Sometimes DH and I will have a glass of wine in the garden in the evening and involve her in our conversation, which sometimes even includes her mum and sister - not in a bitchy way, just more like adult to adult about some of the challenges we have all had over the years. It's actually very therapeutic for all of us and, for the moment at least, means we enjoy a close relationship with her.

orangeandemons Wed 14-Aug-13 12:32:32

I think you just have to suck it up. We had 3 teens between us, one was always in the front room with us at some point. We never had time alone, and both worked full time.

My ds used to hate going to his dads because he was sent off to his room at 9:30. They are nearly adults and are part of the family. I understand about needing time as a pair, particularly as you are a newish couple, but its unrealistic to expect it in your set up. Ours all left home eventually.

I think if you back off from your ds she may find stuff to do. I don't watch tv either, but she may just want to be with people, as some people do

Kaluki Wed 14-Aug-13 12:50:10

We are having similar issues to you Redhen during the school holidays as my two don't want to go up to bed so they drag it out as much as they can. I suck it up as its the holidays as its not their normal routine but I think it bugs DP that they are still awake faffing around when we go to bed!
We have a TV in our bedroom so often escape up there to unwind in the evenings when all the kids are at home but that's not ideal either as his dd someone usually follows us up there !

Anormalfamily Wed 14-Aug-13 13:40:55

Redhen, this is something dh and I have actually fought for together, as we also need to retire earlier than our teen dc.
It's important to unwind and have adult time and our couple counselor was most impressed by our "house rule".
All dc, including dsc, are asked to respect our "viewing time", which is usually 8 to 9/ 9:30 tops on weekdays, around 8:30/9 to 10/10:30 perhaps during holidays (they are not banished, just nicely made aware its adult time). They get use of sofa/TV before and after, but its less complicated than it might read! We still have some shared viewing times (and do lots of other things together too) but their tastes are obviously different to ours.
The dc see it as "our time" and its a real blessing.

purpleroses Wed 14-Aug-13 14:19:54

9pm for pre-teens and 10pm for teens. It's usually roughly enforced, though is a bit harder in the holidays.

It was one of the things we discussed a great deal before I moved in. I've always sent mine off to bed at a reasonable hour, but DP used to let his teenage DCs stay up until he went to bed.

Like yours, my DP has early starts in the week so can't cope with late nights. I really need some adult time at the end of the day. And the other part of the agreement is that DP is not allowed to go to bed himself until at least half an hour after the DCs go!

Partly this is because DP is out long hours in the week, and I need some adult time to catch up with him. And partly it's because I need it to feel like we are the adults of the house. Coming into a new household where the DSC have always lived makes it hard sometimes to feel like we are the adults with different status to them. Having even just half an hour at the end of the day in our living room with them all off to bed, or at least in their rooms helps a lot.

If they won't go, I usually switch the TV off, or onto something that they won't want to watch

theredhen Wed 14-Aug-13 16:41:11

Dp and I have always been on the same page with this but we both feel that at 17 dsd1 is too old for a "bedtime" but at the same time feel we need some couple time and would like the children of the family to respect that.

I know at mums house she stays up as late as she likes as do the siblings but that's because mum leaves them in the house with dsd boyfriend and goes and stays with her boyfriend. So the kids get to stay up there but the parent also gets adult time. Something difficult to achieve at ours.

To be honest I am starting to wonder why she only appears at our adult time. Often the others aren't around all evening and she could join us then. Dp was always very proactive in getting the kids to join us before bed rather than hiding in their rooms or sitting in front of computers. She was always the last to join us and always seemed reluctant.

But if its after "bedtime" we could be watching anything on tv and she will stay and just sit texting on her phone. Both dp and i try and include her in the conversation but she often doesn't join in.

I know it's not about tv, there's one in the spare room she could go and watch but I also don't feel it's about her wanting to spend quality time with us either, if she doesn't join in the conversation.

I am honestly wondering if she just wants to stop Dp and i having time together?

Kaluki Wed 14-Aug-13 18:19:36

You probably hit the nail on the head there!
She probably thinks she will miss something If she's not there!! grin

Onesleeptillwembley Wed 14-Aug-13 18:25:49

You really can't send a 17 year old to her bedroom at 9.30. That's just not on. If you want time alone together go to your bedroom. Does it not also make her feel unwelcome?

gillywillywoo Wed 14-Aug-13 18:39:27

I'm surprised a 17 year old wants to sit with you at 9.30! No offence grin

At that age I was out most nights and came home at 10pm and pretty much always went straight to my room.. Listened to music.. That kind of thing!

If I didn't go out in the evening I would generally sit with my parents and watch tv til about 9 ish (depending on what they were watching) and then Id go to my room and dilly dally around.. Again listening to music.. Reading magazines.. Messing around with hair and makeup... Whatever really.

Anything but sit with my parents whilst they watch the news and whatever else!

gillywillywoo Wed 14-Aug-13 18:41:12

Then around 11pm my mum and dad would normally go to bed and my dad would poke his head in my room and say "right we are going to bed now and I think you should start thinking about doing the same thing! Turn your music down and lights off SOON!" And I would normally just go to bed as well!

orangeandemons Wed 14-Aug-13 18:43:35

But she's nearly an adult at 17. You can't force her to go to her room. Perhaps she just likes the company.....however sounds more like she is being territorial about her df!

theredhen Wed 14-Aug-13 18:54:05

Gillywillywoo, that's exactly how I used to be grin

Ds and dsd2 are the same.

Dsd1 is different and I don't think it's about the age.

As for her feeling unwelcome, maybe she does but dsd2 who chose to live here and ds who has always lived here obviously have no problem with it.

30 mins in a day is not a great amount of time to say, hey this is time for us.

We respect her time with her boyfriend of course. wink

purpleroses Wed 14-Aug-13 19:04:02

My older two DSC do that arriving in the living room after 9pm thing. I think it's probably because they want some time with their dad without the younger DCs around. It's just hard really I guess with 4 DCs and one dad who they only get to see two nights a week. Pisses me off a bit though when they choose to spend most of the day in their rooms and then suddenly want to be all sociable at just the time when I need a bit of adult time with DP. I often try and get us to eat a bit earlier than DP tends to cook, so that there is some reasonable evening time with the DCs, and still some time left for us. If we can start a movie at 7.30, then it's sometimes possible to get the lot of them off around 9.30/10pm.

Could you go out with your DP a bit? Is there a pub, or somewhere you could wander down to in the evenings some of the time, to get a bit of time to yourselves? Or with two living rooms, can you suggest the DCs watch a film or something - or just sit there on their phones if that's what they want to do in one room and have some time to yourselves in the other one? Or could you make the main living room a phone/tablet free room?

My parents used to eat later than us sometimes when I was a teen - and we were not really welcome in the kitchen when they were eating. Was their way of getting a bit of time to themselves I guess. I remember arguing that I should be always allowed up later than my younger sister though until I went to bed at the same time as them and being told that they needed some adult time without me around, and being huffy about it. Can't remember exactly what age they gave up on sending me to bed earlier. Think I probably stated going out most weekend nights from about 16/17 up and also learned to take myself to bed when I was tired.

theredhen Wed 14-Aug-13 19:38:28

You have done good points there. We do have two living areas but dp likes to sit with the tv and we only have 1 tv. Dsd1 will sit with us whichever room we are in.

We did used to have a no phone / tablet rule but dp was the one who kept breaking it! Grrr

We could go out but unsurprisingly dp probably wouldn't want to do that when dsd1 is there as he would feel guilty as she's not with us all the time.

Dp has been trying to give her one to one time without the others but to be honest, she's often let him down, changed her mind or made excuses including inviting her siblings / boyfriend along so I don't even think she wants time alone with him.

I just think she doesn't like us having time together, and also because she knows what boundaries to push. She's always the one who refuses to do chores til the very last minute meaning we all have to wait around for her to wipe up from lunch, for example, before we can start cooking dinner.

exoticfruits Wed 14-Aug-13 19:39:19

I think that it is just part of having a teen- it gets to the point where you go to bed first and just make sure they know to switch lights off etc. you get your own time when they go out - and then you lie awake worrying about if they are OK!!

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Wed 14-Aug-13 19:41:08

We have a tv in our room, if we want time to ourselves we go up and leave the teenagers downstairs- it's win/win that way and nobody feels pushed out

Yonihadtoask Wed 14-Aug-13 19:49:57

Same in this house.

My DS who lives here 90% of the time spends most of his time in his room anyway. Even if not - I would send him up by 10.00pm as we like ot go to bed not long after that.

DSS is 16. He is here 10% of the time. His mum doesn't give them bedtimes, they all stay up late. Even youngest DSS who is 12 ( he doesn't stay over here. Long story) .

Up until a few months ago we would send him up to his room at 10pm also, has a tv in there, music, ipod etc. But he would dawdle so much - to make the point , I think, that he felt hard done by being sent off to bed.

So now we just go to bed and leave them to it. in fact me and DH will go to bed at 9.30pm sometimes and watch tv in bed.

ImNotBloody14 Wed 14-Aug-13 19:56:14

why don't you and DP buy a tv for your room and spend time together there then?

Petal02 Wed 14-Aug-13 21:31:42

But if Redhen and her DP have to escape to their bedroom leaving the kids downstairs, isn't that all the wrong way round? It's usually teenagers who slink off to their rooms, not the adults. It's also putting the kids at the top of the household pecking order, which is never ideal.

Would it really do any harm to insist on a little adult time in the evenings?

theredhen Wed 14-Aug-13 21:54:29

Yes although I can see some positives in retiring to bed and leaving dsd1 downstairs. it would feel like we were running away from the children and that ultimately the kids (or rather dsd1) are dictating what goes on in the main communal areas of the house.

brdgrl Wed 14-Aug-13 21:56:56

I think it is important to be able to say to kids at any age "We'd like some time alone" and expect them to clear off. Of course that has to be in a balance with spending time with the kids as well, but if you don't feel able to send kids out of a room so the adults can talk, or watch TV, or whatever) it seems to me that something is wrong.

Maybe 17 is too old to be told to go to bed. It's certainly not too old to be told, "we're using the TV room right now, you'll have to clear off."

I have to laugh at the idea that the parents should be the ones to head off to the bedroom.

ImNotBloody14 Wed 14-Aug-13 22:05:09

i think it's fine to want alone time and fine to expect dcs of all ages to understand and respect that- but i think if it's YOU that is wanting the alone time, then it should be YOU that is removing yourself from communal areas of the house, especially with teens there. it's their home aswell- why should they be banned from the public areas, and the only one with a tv!

redhen what were the positives you could see with taking your alone time in your room?

also, would you respect the dcs requests to have half an hour or so each alone, individually or with a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend in the living room each evening?

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