When It’s Time for Bed

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Buba and Tiny are pretty cooperative when it comes to bedtime. We give them warnings about how much playtime they have left, and when they see me cleaning up the toys in the playroom living room, they know the bedtime routine is about to begin. I tend to be in charge of getting Buba and Tiny cleaned up and into their nighttime diapers and pajamas while T, my husband, cleans up the dinner messes. Then he joins us for teeth brushing, bedtime stories, and goodnight hugs and kisses.

There have only been a handful of nights in the last two years where T and I have not gone through the bedtime routine together. And only once has T done bedtime solo. During the infant days, I dreaded the nights when I was on my own at bedtime, but at this point in the game, it doesn’t seem nearly as challenging. And while I enjoy that bedtime is something we do together as a family, I’ve started to realize that it may not be necessary and a trade-off approach would give me each of us more free time on those off nights. I could get to the gym a little earlier (which means I could get home earlier too) or finally make it to one of the free moving showings at the library (they start around 6:30/7:00pm).

So I’m curious to know- how is bedtime handled in your home? Is it a family event? Or does one parent handle it alone? I do know that some of you do bedtime solo many, many (if not every) nights and my hat goes off to you. What tips do you have for solo-parenting at bedtime?

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15 thoughts on “When It’s Time for Bed”

  1. We did bedtime together for a long time. I remember the dread of solo bedtime, especially when they were infants, largely because we also do a bath at bedtime. At this age, it’s roughly 8 bajillion times easier, at least for us.

    Over the last six months or so, bath/bedtime has shifted to largely M. I’m usually desperate for a break by then, and sometimes I have places I need to go (COPE, the gym, etc.), so he’s gotten perfectly comfortable with it. He goofs around with them upstairs while the tub is filling, sets out the PJs, etc. After bath, it’s teeth brushing, pajamas, story, into bed, and a couple of songs. Perfectly do-able with kids who are physically capable and have lost some of the oblivious-ness of early toddlerhood.

    Nights when I’m home, I often go up to help them get out of the tub and then help tuck them in after stories, but even still he does most of it. It’s a wonderful break for me, and good bonding time for him.
    .-= Goddess in Progress´s last blog ..When you dream =-.

  2. Our bedtime routine consists of dinner, clean-up, bath, getting into pj’s, story & bed. I almost always start dinner, because their dad isn’t home until it’s time to go upstairs. I clean up dinner while they clean up toys, then send them upstairs with Daddy. He gets them undressed and into the bath, hair washed, teeth brushed. I usually come up to grab the first one dressed and rock with that kiddo (a treat they really enjoy these days) for a few minutes while the second one gets dressed. Then, I read them a story for 10-15 minutes and Daddy comes up for a goodnight kiss and tuck-in. I get a nice break for bath and he gets to start dinner for us while I do story.

    That said, I teach two nights a week, so at least 2x a week, Daddy is solo. He’s done at least one solo bedtime a week since I started teaching when they were 4 months old. If I’m going to Cope or meeting friends for dinner, he gets another solo bedtime night.

    I’d say for the past year +, bedtime alone has been pretty easy. It’s not a real sacrifice to have to do it alone. Of course, I say this as I’m heading off for the weekend, leaving the kids in Daddy’s hands from Friday night to Sunday night. Perhaps he would give a different answer!

  3. We have a very similar routine…dinner, bath on alternate nights or playtime in their rooms when we don’t do bath (these activities seem to get that last little bit of steam burned off), PJs, brush teeth, bedtime story, night-night to all of our stuffies, and that’s that.

    My hubby travels a lot for work, so I handle it solo many nights. He can handle it solo, too, in order to give me a break on the days that he is home.

    I think it’s more overwhelming in our head than it is in actuality, especially now that the twins are older. They help a lot more and are more cooperative in general. It’s one of those “just do it” kind of things. And if you do it consistently, both you and the kids get used to and it is a breeze.

  4. Because my husband is gone all week for work, we tend to “do everything as a family” so we get as much time together as possible. Usually I like it this way but sometimes I wish I could have some “me” time and let Daddy do things solo. He’s perfectly capable, its more about the time together than anything else.

    Bedtime would be a great place to start. It’s so much easier than it used to be and, per the pedi’s recommendation, we are doing baths every other night to keep them from getting such dry skin. So, on a non-bath night, its super easy for one person to do and the other (cough, me, cough) could go do something grown up. We’ll see. But for now, it’s a family affair.
    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..The One with the Attack Chicken =-.

  5. I’m hoping someone has some suggestions. When we are both home, Dad does bath time for the girls (14 months). I change, feed and get them off to bed while he baths and gets our son (3.5 years) ready for bed. When either of us is alone, there’s no baths. I’d love to add stories to our bedtime routine but the girls are usually too tired and there doesn’t seem to be a way to manage it with two of them right now.

  6. Husband is usually out for work 2-3 evenings a week and I have been managing solo bedtimes since they were 3-4 months. Bedtime has always included a bath/shower but when they were too little, I bathed them in the afternoon when there was still some help and did bedtime with no bath.
    In the beginning, we alternated who showered them in the evenings we were both home, but since they were about 12 months Husband is always the one with them in the shower, while I clean up dinner mess and get pjs and other stuff ready.

    Because I breastfeed and they nurse to sleep, there has not been a single night in their lives (16 months) I was not there.

    Since 9-10 months, I have tandem bathed or showered them in solo evenings and Husband started doing it too at about 12mo. We sit in a stool in the shower and they stand up and play around (we use a non-slip mat) while we soap them.

    My “special” strategy for solo bedtime is: let them run free. I semi-dry them just out of the shower and then let them run around the bedroom in their towels while I diaper & dress in installments whoever is closer. To avoid tantrums, I will usually diaper one, let her go, then diaper the other, let go, then shirt, let go, etc. This has been going on for the last 6+ months, when it has been from warm to hot here, I am not sure how it will work in the few very cold weeks we get, maybe put a shirt o them right out of the shower. I let some toys and books in the bedroom specially for this time. There have been weeks, maybe even months, that I “read” books to them, but they are often too fussy for stories or just too tired, so right now either they run around the bedroom like crazy, hehe, or they play with the books while getting dressed and are ready to go after that. But I know that if I “enforce” reading time before sleep, it just takes a couple of days for them to get used to it again.

    I usually fit teeth brushing either in the shower or during this dressing craze in the bedroom. They love their brushes, so I let them hold them and bite them at will and at some point go to each one and give a proper brushing. No toothpaste at this point, much less spitting.

  7. As much as I’d like to have some “me” time at that time of the day … I wouldn’t miss bedtime. The last minute hugs and kisses are going to be gone in a flash and they are going to be grown up …. and I’m going to really miss it. I’m trying to make as many happy memories as I can.

    It’s always a pain with 3, doing dinner, clean up, baths, teeth, PJ’s and at times I’m so irritated that they just won’t calm down and sit for some stories, but the at the end they are snuggled in their beds clutching a “friend” and reminding me that I didn’t say “sweet dreams” or blow them a last kiss from the door.

    When they are grown, like the song says, “we’re gonna miss it”.
    .-= Merri Ann´s last blog ..What "Makes My Monday" ? =-.

  8. My husband does bedtime solo most nights while I’m working late. He says it is harder when I’m involved! Given the tantrums my son throws when I am home (refuses to take a bath) I believe it. The key is that we do teethbrushing at kitchen sink after dinner. Our nanny already lays out PJs, onsies and diapers in the nursery and towels/washcloth in the bathroom. After dinner and wash/teethbrushing they get to play a little. Now we set a “timer” when it is time to go upstairs (hoping to help my son transition) and my husband follows them as they crawl up the stairs. He wrangles one into PJs while the other (usually Ned) runs around. Both kids usually have lovies and pacis. Book, song, lights out.

    Soon we’ll introduce kid #3 and I’m sure we’ll have to modify the routine some.
    .-= Mommy, Esq.´s last blog ..The Great Blanket Debate and Other Marital Wars =-.

  9. I’m a single mom, so bedtime is always done solo. My girls are two and I’ve been doing it for so long, I’m not sure even what tips to give!

    I do think a big part of it is having a routine. Our routine (especially the bath routine) has changed over time, but we’ve been holding steady for a while. Mostly, I let the girls lead. If they want a snack, we eat a snack. If they want to read books, we do that.
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..We celebrate all of the big milestones =-.

  10. Because my husband doesn’t often get home until 7, I almost always do bedtime with our teenaged helper. My twins go to bed between 6 and 7 so our helper feeds them while I eat with our 4 year old. Then one of us wipes up faces and hands of babies and gets them in their pjs while the other cleans up the high chairs. I nurse and read them a story after jammies are on and then they go into their cribs. They thankfully can put themselves to sleep. My husband usually handles the 4 year old when he gets home. Sometimes she helps with the twins during this chaotic time but mostly she just finds something to amuse herself. The babies get a bath once a week unless they are egregiously dirty. It’s not ideal but I look at this as a short-term situation. We eat dinner as a family on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday which is going to have to be good enough for now.
    .-= Samantha´s last blog ..A Hard Night’s Day =-.

  11. We’ve done bed time together since our oldest was a baby. Our evenings typically consist of dinner, family/play time, pj’s on, tooth brushing (and occasionally a bath), each kid picks out one book to read, prayers, kisses, music on and lights out.

    When the twins were newborns we had this crazy bath time assembly line, followed by baby swaddling and a dual nursing session before the twins bedtime THEN we’d have to complete the bedtime routine with our two year old and by then we’d be exhausted and ready for bed ourselves.

    We’ve toyed around with just one parent handling the routine to give the other a spare minute or two but it just seems easier for us to both get in there and get them settled. I do dream about the day that we’ll be able to say “Go brush your teeth and head to bed!” without having to go through all the steps. How sweet that day will be!
    .-= Cristal´s last blog ..Panties in the Tree =-.

  12. Bedtime is a joint effort these days, though I have done it alone twice when DH has worked late. I got help from one friend or another the first few times, but after they stayed several hours past the babies’ bedtime, which meant I didn’t get to start my dinner or pump until after they left around 9pm, which meant I was up until 11, I decided it was just easier to do it myself.

    Our triplets are 8 months old tomorrow and the evening is by far the most difficult time of the day. Somehow no matter how happy they’ve been earlier, as soon as they get up from their late afternoon cat nap they’re walking a very fine line between smiles and sobs. They get their last bottle at 5:30pm, then they each get to hold their “sleepytime bear” while we read a story or two – the last one is always the same and we sing it like a lullaby – then we have a little song we sing on the way up the stairs and they’re in bed by about 6:30pm.

    This routine has worked very well for us and the babies like it too. If they’re fussing after their bottle we just start singing the lullaby and they’ll quiet down and smile. We do the stories and singing the same before each nap, too. It just seemed easier to have only one routine signaling sleep.

  13. 5pm – PJs and/or bath (Sitter does this – I get home at 5:30)

    Playtime while I fix dinner

    6pm – dinner

    6:30 – a little tv while I brush their teeth

    I take them one at a time to their room where they get a kiss and a snuggle and it’s lights out by 7:15

    My husband never gets home from work before 8 pm so weeknights are almost always solo. We have a streamlined routine for that reason, but also because I think it’s easy for kids to become dependent on an elaborate routine.

    The boys pretty much just go straight to sleep when they hit the crib and sleep through until 7 AM.

    We do our book reading in the mornings when they are rested and alert. Or if I am just heating dinner up, while it is warming.
    .-= Allison´s last blog ..The Two at Two =-.

  14. My twins are almost 20 months, 1 boy and 1 girl. Their mother and myself always do the bedtime things together because it makes everything easier. They love the bath and brushing their teeth. This is not the problem for us. When we start trying to get them to go to sleep, my son throws a fit. And not just a whiney tantrum. He screams at the top of his lungs and flops around on the bed or floor. The girl is easy. She gets tired, so she goes to sleep….most of the time. Im not sure if this reaction to bedtime is due to sleeping too long in the morning, or maybe perhaps napping too long or too late. By the time all is said and done and the twins are asleep, its around 1 a.m. Which is not good since I get up at around 4 for work. Any advice?

  15. My boys are only 7.5 months old, so we still do bedtime together every night. I’ve done it by myself once and the one night I went out with my friends I had someone come over to help my husband (the boys were about 4 months old). The responses to this post have given me hope!!! I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with bed time! I love spending the time with the boys and I love reading a book to them and that it’s a quiet time that all four of us get to really enjoy each other. BUT… If I could go to the grocery, do laundry, clean a bathroom or two, or even do some dishes every once in a while, my house would stay in much better shape! :)

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