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AIBU?

Am I being precious about toddler's routine?

135 replies

justsobloodytired · 25/01/2023 19:34

DD is almost 2. DP works away for half of the month so I do most of the childcare alone. DD goes to nursery when I'm at work. She has the same routine at nursery and at home with me on my days off - set times for nap, meals, bath time and bedtime etc (not like precise on the minute or anything, but an approx window, eg- tea between 4-4.30 ish, bath 6-6.30 for example).

When DP comes home he looks after her on his one of his days off, and he always changes the routine. Meal times are always later, especially teatime. For example tonight I rang from work to say I was leaving and to check how she was at 5.15pm, and he said she still hasn't had tea but he was going out in the car to collect her older sister from an after school activity so would just wait til he got home. It was an hour round trip so by the time he was home it would be past her usual bath time and she would likely be very hungry. He said it's fine, she's had plenty of snacks. I said could you please get her something to eat on way to collect eldest - he said OK I'll get her a happy meal from McDonalds. Anyway she doesn't really like chicken nuggets so as predicted she didn't eat them and just ate chips instead. So her tea consisted of chips in the back of the car at 5.30 (an hour later than her usual tea time).

I was upset about this as I just feel like that's not an adequate tea for a 2 year old and it's also too late. It feels like he comes home after I've kept to a routine for her the rest of the time he's been away and just messes it up.

I'm hesitant to express my annoyance too much as I know he misses her when he's away - for example when i asked him why he didn't make her tea at the usual time before leaving to collect eldest, he said (I quote): "I wanted to spend time playing with her instead".

I do get that. But this isn't the first time he's let her routine slide and just given her snacks instead of a proper tea, or her bath time has been closer to her usual bedtime (an hour later) etc.

AIBU to expect him to keep a similar routine to the one I and nursery have with her when he's away? Or am I being precious and I need to just allow him to parent his own way on his own timescales when he's home?

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rainydaysun · 25/01/2023 19:38

I'm in two minds here. On the one hand, I think that it's frustrating when routine is ruined considering that toddlers thrive off routine.

On the other - if he's a good dad generally, looks after her well and does this very infrequently - I would personally let it go. One day out of routine isn't going to spoil everything, nor is the occasional chips for dinner. Are there things you can do to make it more smooth running on days he's on duty? (aka put a ready made meal out for DH so he knows to do that and it's quick)

I know it can be annoying but you have to let him parent as he sees fit!

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NeedToChangeName · 25/01/2023 19:39

I think it's best not to be too controlling, unless it's a safety issue

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rainydaysun · 25/01/2023 19:41

Can I just add - I do sympathise as DH does one day a week with my little one, and I swear all she eats is snacks and watches way more tv than I would allow! I just think that she'll grow up and know that she can get away with more under his watch 😂

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gogohmm · 25/01/2023 19:41

Yes you are being precious. It's far easier to raise kids if you have a bit of flexibility, moving towards a family mealtime where you all eat together as much as possible is so much better too

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riotlady · 25/01/2023 19:42

Honestly I think you need to loosen up a little bit. So long as she’s not having chips for tea every night or constantly going to bed at 10pm then I don’t think variations in routine are going to do her much harm. There’s nothing objectively wrong with giving her a snack and a later tea, it just doesn’t happen to be the way that you do it.

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SmileWithADimple · 25/01/2023 19:42

Does she sleep well at night time? If getting out of the routine messes up her sleep then YANBU.

But otherwise I'd let this go. It's fine if you want to keep to a routine when you're looking after her and he doesn't when he's looking after her.

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DownInTheDumpster · 25/01/2023 19:43

Honestly I wouldn’t make a big deal about it. I also wouldn’t ‘interfere’ (I mean this kindly but it’s the word that sprung to mind). Let him plan tea for when he was going to. If she has a meltdown in the car as she’s starving he will know not to do it next time! If he stops for a Maccies and she eats no chicken nuggets he will learn she doesn’t like them. And alternatively you might lean she’s a lot more flexible than you think and you can relax the routine every so often for a bit of spontaneous fun! I think mums (including me with PFB!) often overthink and over emphasise routine when kids just want consistent rules and love and some flex can actually be good for everyone!

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ElbowsandArses · 25/01/2023 19:44

Depends on whether she is affected by change in routine. If it makes her tired / tantrummy / difficult to deal with the next day, yes it’s an issue. If she’s fine then … no worries. Let him crack on. I had a child who was a nightmare when his routine went out of whack, and another one not so much.

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Abouttimemum · 25/01/2023 19:47

I liked a routine for my DS but only because he needed it, thrived on it even, and if he was late to bed he’d wake up earlier and then it would compound and he’d slowly get grumpier etc whereas in his routine he was well rested and happy. He still has a routine generally but is much more flexible these days at age 3.

So it really depends if a change in routine affects her at all, if she’s happy to go with the flow then I wouldn’t have an issue, unless she was having unsuitable teas every night!

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CombatBarbie · 25/01/2023 19:48

ElbowsandArses · 25/01/2023 19:44

Depends on whether she is affected by change in routine. If it makes her tired / tantrummy / difficult to deal with the next day, yes it’s an issue. If she’s fine then … no worries. Let him crack on. I had a child who was a nightmare when his routine went out of whack, and another one not so much.

This, take DDs lead on this.

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NuffSaidSam · 25/01/2023 19:48

I think he probably should make an effort to stick broadly to the routine. It's not really fair to do very little parenting and then when you do not doing it 'properly'. He's being a Disney dad but whilst still in the family home!

It's not that there's a problem with chips for tea occasionally or skipping bath time because it's late, it's that it can't happen all the time and it's not fair for one parent to do all the hard work of good parenting and the other to cash in all the 'chips for dinner is fine once'.

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yellowtwo · 25/01/2023 19:48

If it messes with her sleep or her mood then as pp said it's an issue, otherwise fine. Chips are OK once in a blue moon, don't be upset about that, she'll make it known if she's hungry.

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realmsofglory · 25/01/2023 19:50

YABU whe he is in charge he can do things his way.Would you want him interfering in how you do things? Its exactly the same

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WindscreenWipe · 25/01/2023 19:51

CombatBarbie · 25/01/2023 19:48

This, take DDs lead on this.

This comment will undoubtedly result in a drip feed that DD is devastated by the change. I do agree though. Sounds like his approach is different but it’s not wrong.

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Zanatdy · 25/01/2023 19:52

If it’s not impacting on her bedtime / her waking in the night hungry etc I’d let it go personally.

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wibblewobbleball · 25/01/2023 19:53

Agree with previous posters in that he will learn from his mistakes Grin but also you might find the toddler more flexible than you realise. What is the true impact of him not sticking to the routine? I found with my first I was convinced if I nailed the "routine" just that bit more perfectly and for x number of days my DD would sleep through then night/eat her vegetables/behave perfectly. Actually... it was just my perfectionism and need for control! Toddlers needs a flexible routine with clear markers for transitions between set parts of the schedule. They don't usually need to eat within a half hour window or else the sky falls in (which is how I used to feel!).

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Swiftswatch · 25/01/2023 19:59

It doesn’t sound like your DD seems particularly impacted by the changes though so sticking to such a rigid routine just seems unnecessary restrictive.
Whats wrong with a 2 year old having a snack and a later dinner?? I’m honestly not seeing why that’s an issue. Its not like he left her starving.

My DD obviously has a very set routine on nursery days, but I don’t follow that on the weekends. It just doesn’t work for me.
It’s a hassle having to have a lunch for her at 11:30am for example, so she has a heavy snack, naps and has a lunch after when we can all have it together in a cafe or something.

If DH told me when to feed DD a snack/ her lunch/ her dinner etc when he wasn’t around I would be annoyed. I’m sure he can tell when she’s hungry and can feed her.

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Lenald · 25/01/2023 20:01

What were they doing that meant he couldn’t sort her dinner out?

it’s really not much to ask that he gives your DC a reasonable dinner at a reasonable time.

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R0ckets · 25/01/2023 20:05

To be honest I think you're a lot more rigid than most parents. Everyone I know who uses childcare doesn't stick to the routine they use there and the children cope with having more than one routine just fine.

If she's not adversely affected then what's wrong with letting him parent her the way he wants. Maybe he'd enjoy eating his tea with her and having a later bath or even skipping the bath one night won't hurt.

Toddlers are pretty adaptable even those who love a good routine and it does nobody especially your daughter any favours to be so rigid.

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Tandora · 25/01/2023 20:07

NuffSaidSam · 25/01/2023 19:48

I think he probably should make an effort to stick broadly to the routine. It's not really fair to do very little parenting and then when you do not doing it 'properly'. He's being a Disney dad but whilst still in the family home!

It's not that there's a problem with chips for tea occasionally or skipping bath time because it's late, it's that it can't happen all the time and it's not fair for one parent to do all the hard work of good parenting and the other to cash in all the 'chips for dinner is fine once'.

This. Sounds like he’s just being lazy tbh.

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RobinRobinMouse · 25/01/2023 20:09

It's easier not to get too stuck with a rigid routine as there will always be times when it needs, or works better for you, to change the routine. I think just let him get on with it, just maybe make sure the McDonald's doesn't become something he falls back on too often.

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Doingmybest12 · 25/01/2023 20:14

I imagine if you are at home half the time doing the childcare and then he comes in and does this on his one day it is very annoying but I think it really is more about how you feel about things generally than the one day of slightly different routine. Why can't he just feed her properly on his one day ? In the scheme of things no big deal for your daughter but it is what it means to you in terms of him pulling his weight .

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Swiftswatch · 25/01/2023 20:22

To be fair to the dad, people are saying ‘why couldn’t he feed her properly this 1 day?’ but OP was the one who told him he had to get her dinner on route to collect the sibling! That’s why he got the McDonald’s, he gave her snacks at home and was planning to give everyone dinner when they got back from collecting the sibling.

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justsobloodytired · 25/01/2023 20:23

Thanks everyone.

I do think I need to let it go a bit and not stress about the routine. But I think part of me does feel annoyed that I work hard to establish it when I'm on my own and then he comes in and does his own thing.

I know in the grand scheme of things some chips for dinner at 5.30 isn't the end of the world. It's probably more than it feels like laziness on his part - like minimal effort when I'm making her homemade meals as often as I can on weekends or my days off etc.

I don't know what he was doing that meant he couldn't sort her a proper tea at her usual tea time. The answer I got to that was that he was enjoying playing with her as he had missed her. When he said that I felt guilty for feeling annoyed as I know he does miss her, but at the same time she still needs her tea on time. It can't just be the fun stuff he does.

In terms of does the loss of routine seem to impact DD - not in any obvious way as far as I can tell. She still wakes through the night at times and can be difficult to settle at bedtime but that happens at other times too when she's in my care, so it's not particularly linked to the loss of routine if that makes sense.

Maybe I should relax and let him parent his way.

Thanks for the opinions.

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R0ckets · 25/01/2023 20:25

Swiftswatch · 25/01/2023 20:22

To be fair to the dad, people are saying ‘why couldn’t he feed her properly this 1 day?’ but OP was the one who told him he had to get her dinner on route to collect the sibling! That’s why he got the McDonald’s, he gave her snacks at home and was planning to give everyone dinner when they got back from collecting the sibling.

Exactly. He's hardly running in with happy meals playing disney dad. He was going to serve them all a meal at home once he had picked up her sister which sounds much nicer than her eating alone at 4 o'clock just because that's when she eats at nursery. The only reason she had a Mcdonalds is because he had little choice on other meal options whilst in the car.

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