Blended Family Different Bed Times for Different Chilldren(22 Posts)
Hi,Apologies in advance for long post.. We are a brand new blended family and I am really struggling with the behavior of my DSS. My DP has a 7 year old boy and I have a 7 year old girl. We share a 1 year old girl. My DD spends 3-4 days a week with us and my DSS spends 1 day a week with his dad. I split with my long term partner and after a few years of heartbreak met my DP and within 15 months she was pregnant. I love our baby daughter dearly. My DP and my DSS moved into my 2 bed luxury bachelor pad just before the baby arrived. I am renovating a much bigger home as the flat we're in will be way too small. I have a big disposable income as I own a big construction company. My DD and DS get on very well although there is a big difference in their behavior at times. DSS is spoilt by his father when he sees him and they are always in the toy shop and he allows him to play adult video games. He's generally a lovely boy but there's no doubt that if he doesn't get his own way he'll tantrum/cry til his mum gives in. At present the children share a bedroom and have bunk beds but the issue revolves around bed times. Its no real issue on school nights as they both have to be up at the same time. It all came to a head in the summer holidays. DSS had to be up at 7am for a football match and my DD had ballet at 12pm. My DP said it was bed time at 9.30pm and DD asked me if she could have her ipad in bed. I ymore. Her room is no longer hers and its not quite the home we had. My ex and I have really made her our priority. As a result she is very happy, confident, popular, well balanced child and doing well at school. I love my gang so much and really want things to work but I darsaid yes, with headphones so as not to disturb DSS. DSS threw a tantrum as 'it was not fair!?' 'Why can't i have my ipad!?' I calmly explained that he had a football match and needed to be fully rested. I fully expected my DP to support me but she went up the wall saying I'd undermined her..! Unbeknownst to me she had already told both it was bed time. This caused pandemonium and DSS went to bed crying. My DP then went into the children's bedroom and asked my DD what time does your mum normally put you to bed?' This then made my DD feel guilty and this was all her fault and she went on to secretly face-time her mum saying she wasn't happy. I spoke to my ex the following day and she agreed with me that because one had to be up earlier than the other the other shouldn't be penalised. My DP keeps bringing this up and I was looking for some other opinion.s My DD regards both mine and her mums as her home but recently it seems to not be her home ane not even attempt to discipline my DSS as my DP would go up the wall. My DP devotes the majority of time to her son and I feel she treats him as the alpha male and he knows it. I treat them both well and take them all on holidays and regular days out. MY DS has regular tantrums and I am worried that his behavior will eventually have a negative impact on my DD. If i try to discuss his behavior or even this particular bed time issue i'm normally responded to in a very angry demeanor. The bed time saga has really focused the issues and things seem to have quickly spiraled into quite a frosty atmosphere though the children still get on very well. My DD is even aware of the ability of DSS to tantrum and will often attempt to diffuse any situation immediately. We went to the funfair recently and me DD and DSS had a go at a game. DSS went first and lost, DD went second and won, she immediately gave her toy to DSS who gladly accepted it. I went third and won ad donated my toy to DD. I was very proud of her but i'm starting to resent the fact that DSS has no respect for me and always gets his way. if i'm wrong with the case of the bed time then i'm happy to put them both to bed at the same time. I look forward to any helpful comments.
I'd say that, at 7, they should pretty much have a set bedtime and that is that. Your DD could play on her iPad in the morning in the extra time she has then. But when a child is in a shared bedroom, they should be going to sleep.
That said, being indulged by his dad 1 day a week shouldn't be making your DSS poorly behaved at home.
I cannot see how putting 2 children of the same age to bed at different times in the same room (which is effectively what you are doing if your dd gets IPad time at SS bedtime) is going to work. How could you possibly think any 7 year old would think it was fair?
Your dislike of your SS shines through in your post. What a pity you and his mum rushed into living together and having a child together when the dynamics bw your parenting methods were so different. Poor kid he must resent you hugely
There is no way two children of the same age, sharing a room can have a different bedtime. No matter what your reasons it's just asking for problems.
Ok. Yes Barbarian, I agree our parenting methods are different and things were rushed but that's the situation we found ourselves in. I'm a devoted dad and want to be a loving understanding partner/step parent. Its still early days and we're all still adjusting. My dislike is not of the SS but his lack of discipline and behavior at times. I do lots of fun things with both children when they're together and when DD is not with us I play games etc with SS so I hope one bed time incident recently hasn't resulted in too much resentment.. I don't get involved in any discipline at the moment because I feel that this would definitely cause resentment. In the near future they will both have their own rooms and would be interested to know if the same bedtime rules apply then?. Please bear in mind that i'm referring to the odd occasion at the weekend or in holidays when one has to get up earlier than the other for any particular reason, otherwise bed time is unquestionably the same for both.
My DH and I both had 7 year olds (boy/girl) when we met. We have older children too but it was the two 7 year olds who by far gave us the hardest time in blending.
I'd say you do need clearly agreed house rules, which cover bedtimes, computer times, what food they can eat, routines, etc. You and your DP need to sit down and agree what these are and you'll both have to make some compromises. Personally I'd agree with your DP on this one - if you've got two 7 year olds in one room and one needs to get up early, then they should both go to sleep at a reasonable time. Your DD could play on her ipod in the morning instead.
But the problem is that you're both used to being single parents and making these sorts of decision unilaterally, and you can't do that as a blended family. You do lose some of that autonomy, which is sad, but a compromise you have to make. You do have to see your DC living by a set of rules that aren't entirely how you would like them to be. The upsides can be great though - my DD has a wonderful relationship with DSD these days, and also gets on very well with DSS, who she had previously (when they were 7) declared to be her "mortal enemy"!
I'd sit down with your DP and have a really detailed chat about all the things you currently do differently, and work out where you can compromise. We wrote a set of house rules up and pinned it to the fridge when we moved in together - it's still there.
And to answer your question about different bedtimes once they do have their own rooms - I'd say you definitely need an agreed time when they're in their beds, and personally I'd also ban gaming/ipads after a certain time too. If they're just allowed to read after the agreed bedtime, they're less inclined to stay up all night and sleep better. But it's something you and your DP need to agree on. If she doesn't like her DS gaming late at night, there would be an issue if your DD was allowed to.
If one has to be up early, and starting at midday doesn't mean a 7year old gets to stay up til midnight one day, you'll always have to have the same bedtimes. 7 year olds can't reason and will feel very hurt and upset over a massive perceived favouritism. Keep the same bedtimes for both. Unless one is poorly etc etc
Sounds like your dd is pretty indulged by her father too. Not that well behaved either if she was told it was bedtime by your dp then came to ask you for iPad behind her back. Doesn't sound like she has much respect for your DP etc etc.
Sounds like you all need to agree some rules for your house.
I think 9.30 is actually quite late for a 7 year old to go to bed and then play with an ipad. My 8 year old goes to bed at 8 and I will let her read in bed for half an hour or so. Then it's time to sleep. So I don't think your dp was asking your dd to go to bed early, on account of her own son's needs.
Part of the problem is that you haven't said to your kids that if one parent or step parent says no to something, then they can't go to the other parent and get a different answer.
I also agree that you and dp need agreed ground rules, which apply to both kids equally and are enforceable by both of you.
This would help you with your ss and would also get your dp to allow you to help parent her child.
You are very focussed on what your dd has had to give up and I see you feel guilty about it, but your ss has also given up space of his own and your dp is having to adjust to living in space that doesn't feel 'hers'. Plus you are all overcrowded, which never helps anyone's mood tbh!
When dd is with you, I don't think it's great to get her mum on side against your dp. Your ex is always going to put her child's desires above your dp's - that's her job as a mum. But your job is to be a goid dad and a loyal partner.
Good luck - it is a tricky situation but not an impossible one.
Comments appreciated.. As this is brand new to me i'm still at the bottom of the learning curve but at least I want to learn.. Clearly, agreed Ground Rules are the way forward and we've been operating without them with the resultant chaos obvious to some. PosterEh is right that DD is indulged by dad but definitely not spoilt. You're wrong though about the the behind the back issue with DD. She would never do that, I was first to say that she could watch a film in bed with ipad. DP shortly after unknowingly declared bedtime and SS discovered DD climbing into bed with Ipad, that's when the incident came to a head. SS then asked me behind mums back if he could also have his ipad. I had a conversation about being up early etc.. As PeopleLieActionsDont points out agreed ground rules would further dissuade him from trying that one. The conversation with ex the following day was just to acknowledge that DD was upset and that she was fine now. DD has never expressed being upset before and eagerly looks forward to coming to us as she has two new siblings she can interact with. Hopefully more space will allow everyone to have more room to breathe as although we have all made huge sacrifices the net gains can far outweigh any perceived loss..
There is so much room in separated/step families for different rules to clash/kids to veer between people aren't there! It's all a bit of a minefield. But at least it sounds like your kids are young enough, and you and your DP are open minded enough to compromise, adjust and set ground rules in YOUR house.
Have been in the position of joining with teenagers who are not quite so willing to adjust, so you a little bit of an advantage there! Early days, good luck!
One rule for all,not different rules.
9-30 for 7 year olds regardless of what time events the next day are is late enough.
I wouldn't be happy at my age if someone had a ipad on whilst I was trying to sleep and I don't blame your DSS for being pissed, it isn't fair and it is showing favouritism.
If you had twins you wouldn't treat them differently, think about how you would feel if your DSS was disturbing your DD.
Your partner is right.
I agree with the other posters. You have to treat them the same.
For what it's worth my 12 year old ds is in bed at 9.30 every night with iPad left downstairs charging. She can read in bed for half an hour (bearing in mind she's older) but we have a strict no gadgets in bedrooms rule. 9.30 bedtime for a 7 year old is ridiculously late in my opinion.
9.30 is too late for 7 year olds.
I pads or tvs in kids bedrooms are bad for sleep hygiene. You need to treat them the same.
I can understand your frustration with your dp and her son's behaviour but I think rather than blame his dad you need to look closer to home. I'm in a similar situation myself in that I find a lot of my dss behaviour rude and unacceptable, the problem being that he lives with his mum 6 days out of 7 and we are at a loss how to make lasting changes to his behaviour, we effectively start again every weekend. So on a positive note if you can get your dp on side you have an advantage of being able to change his behaviour over time by having clear rules and expectations and being fair and consistent when they are not lived up to/broken.
It was the summer holidays to be fair to the op. My ds was 7 during the holidays and as we didn't have to be he wasn't going to bed much before half 9/10 most nights.
It also is slightly unfair to be telling this op how to parent with electronics. The advice asked for wasn't about that.
Make a house rule list of bedtimes and such, you and your partner need to be fully on board and a united front. I also wouldn't be giving in to any tantrums especially from a 7 year old.
Honestly, the less screen time they have the better, particularly in the evening - it really screws up sleep even for adults.
You need to have some pretty firm rules all round. I would recommend coming to family decisions on bedtime / bath time routines, laying /clearing table for meals, tidying room etc.
With more kids, they need to be participating in family life more. It might seem a lot, but working as a group works in everyones interest.
Just to say that we do have different bedtimes in our house for step-siblings of exactly the same age and it works. (They don't normally share a room but we do this on holidays too, when they are sharing.)
We have different rules on other things too and the key is to explain why things are different. DD needs loads of sleep or she's really grumpy the next day. DSS seems to survive happily on much less. We've been really clear that it's not a punishment, but just so everyone can be happy the next day and DD (age 9 now, but this has been the case for a few years) accepts this.
Unless there's a really clear reason though, it's a recipe for resentment.
I have a 9yo and so does dp. Dss will wake up at 6am regardless and is always very tired by bedtime. DD is a complete insomniac and it isn't unusual for her to still be awake at 10 at night. So they are the same age but completely different children when it comes to sleep. The rule is - up to bed at 8 but they can read for an hour. What actually happens is that DSS goes up at 8 and falls asleep almost immediately. DD reads for an hour which helps her unwind. In their minds they have the same rule but the reality is quite different.
I'm in a similar blended family situation. I have a dd (9) and a ds (13). My dp has 3 dcs who are 13, 12 and 10. We have a 1 yr old dd together. The rule in our house when all dcs are here is that dcs the same age go to bed at the same time. So the 9 and 10 yr old go first and then the older three go together. They can read in bed if they want. In your situation although it may be practical for one to go to bed earlier the dcs are too young to really understand that, they will just see it as unfair.
On another note you should not be making decisions with your ex about what happens in yours and dps home. My ex and my dps ex do not get a say in things like bedtimes etc. We're the ones blending the family, it's our home, its our rules. I would never discuss such things with my ex, neither would my dp with his. It is disrespectful to and undermining your dp in my opinion. Its also never a good idea to allow dcs to see they can play parents off against each other in this manner.
Another one who thinks the bed time is too late.
At 7, DSD was in bed by 7.30 having story. Now at 11 she is in bed with story or reading at 8.30 and sometimes 9pm in summer holidays.
I'd also go for a ban on screens in their bedroom/s. The blue light is really disruptive and they should not need to watch films etc after bedtime.
Do they have clear wind-down time and bedtime routines?
The other thing that stands out is the adult video games. These will be nothing but bad news for any 7-year-old.
Shouldn't be looking at a screen like that anyway, terrible sleep hygiene getting a dose of blue spectrum light just when you're trying to sleep
Much better to listen to an audiobook with headphones in the dark.
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