Our bedtime routine has felt rough lately. There are a number of reasons, I’m sure, but I feel like some of the issues (squabbling in the shower/bath when they’re together, playing off of each other and getting hyper instead of getting dressed, having really divergent interests in terms of bedtime stories) could be solved with separate bedtimes. I’d love to try it, but am stumped on how to go about it. The times I’ve even read to the big girls separately, I’ve had issues with one staying in bed while I read to her siste, then the sister who got read to first coming in and pestering during the second sister’s time with me.
My kids are 5.5, 3.5, and 15 months. No one shares a room, and I’m doing it alone like 90% of the time (or more). As it is now, I’ve been trying to quickly rinse the baby after the big girls are bathed, and read her a baby book/quickly put her down while they get dressed....but they tend to get distracted without supervision. Currently I try to have them eat at 5:30, go upstairs by 6:30, and be showered/teeth brushed/clothes laid out/in bed by 7 for the baby, 7:30 for the big girls. 7:30 is starting to be way too early for my older daughter, so I’m wondering about her faking bedtime with her sisters, then getting her real attention later.
If your kids have separate bedtimes, how do you handle it (without help). The key is I don’t have a second person; I need to figure out a way that stagger things like showers/reading so that everyone stays busy, but no one is in over their head trying to do something alone that they can’t handle. It may not be possible!
Any tips/suggestions appreciated!!
olive / 59 posts
We’ve only got 2, and I only do night time by myself once or twice a week. But what I do is 2yo in the bath, 5yo in the bath or shower after by herself - I’m about 5 steps away in the bedroom and we talk while she is in there - I get 2yo dressed, then 5yo gets out. I get her dressed while the 2yo climbs on us, looks at a book, is generally getting in the way .
Both do teeth, then 5yo gets to watch a show while I get 2yo to bed. We aim for 7-7.15 bed for 2yo and 7.30-7.45 bed for 5yo.
nectarine / 2400 posts
I have 2 and I do it alone always. I don’t do baths at night ever and i let my 4yo have a show while I put my 2yo old down
grapefruit / 4903 posts
I've got three (5, 3 and 7 months) and am solo 90% of the time as well. My big girls do share a room, and it just doesn't work for them to go to bed together. I do dinner at 6pm. I bathe them all together at around 6:30-6:45pm. The girls put on their pjs while I dress the baby, then they meet me in the nursery for prayers (while I nurse him) and his bedtime story. I send them to their room to read while I put him to sleep (~7:15pm). Once he's down, I come and get the girls for teeth brushing and their bedtime stories. My oldest gets to go downstairs and do a level of Reading Eggs while I put the middle one down with her own songs and snuggles (~7:45pm). I stagger them by about 30 minutes and get a little time with my oldest, who we sneak into her room between 8-8:30pm depending on the evening. The baby wakes around 6:30am, and the big girls are up around 7am.
persimmon / 1390 posts
@rattles: I only have two but our routine is very similar. I recently transitioned to having DD1 join while I do DD2’s stories which seems to be working well. Sometimes I’m able to put DD2 down right away and not read her any additional stories alone, but sometimes I will send DD1 to her own room (she actually just lays in the hallway outside the door most of the time) and read one or two books to DD1 before putting her down. I do tell DD2 that DD1 is going to bed, even though I then go into DD1’s room and read her stories. They are 21 months and 4.
When their bed times were further apart, I would have DD1 stay downstairs and do a quiet activity or watch a show while I put the then baby to bed. I know she was young (3) but she did fine and only once did she eat half a cake I had left out
pineapple / 12053 posts
Also only have two but I do everything to prep them at once. After dinner, we go right to bath, teeth, jammies, read books. And if it’s too early for my 5 year old but the 2 year old is ready for bed, my older will wait for me in her room and we’ll read afterward. I tell her to pick out more books, brush her hair, etc. while she waits for me to put the toddler to bed.
pomegranate / 3595 posts
@PinkElephant: I only have 2. They are newly 6 and 2.5. But I do bedtime where I am the only grownup frequently. We do most things together—brush teeth together, bathe together, put on pjs and brush hair. Then I read a story with the 2.5 year old while the 6 yo watches one iPad show. She likes to do this in my room so she is down the hall from me. I stay in the room a little bit while the little one settles. Then when her show is over we go downstairs, read her story and tuck her in.
So ideally bedtime routine starts at 6:45. Little one lights off by 7:15 and big one by 7:45. They are both routinely up by 6 am and we leave the house by 7:20.
grapefruit / 4584 posts
@rattles: @birdofafeather: @MamaCate: @Becky: @MuzzyBee: thanks, all of you. You’ve given me some things to think about.
I’m honestly a little surprised that having the older one watch tv works for many of you - isn’t the younger sibling jealous? Does the younger sibling usually fall asleep before you read/spend time with your eldest? My middle (3.5 year old) has difficulties staying out when she hears me read to her big sister....I feel like she’d be super annoyed if I let DD1 use the iPad (even for a game) but not her. I suppose she could use it while I then read to DD1, but I worry about it amping her up- we’ve never done tv after dinner, so i have no idea how that would go! Am I way overthinking this!?
pineapple / 12053 posts
@PinkElephant: I don’t do tv before bed because that would ramp them up (unless we’re doing a movie night all together as a special thing). But my youngest is also still in a crib so I don’t worry about her coming out quite yet. But we also use white noise so DD2 has no idea what we’re doing. Sometimes though, DD2 needs to be held to sleep (not her norm but it’s happened enough) so I’ll read to DD1 and give her cuddles while DD2 is still crying for me “mama, I need you now” (she really knows how to get me!!) and then tell DD1 that I’ll try to come back after I help baby sis. DD1 usually always falls asleep before I come back and she also knows not to come into DD2’s room when I’m getting her to bed.
pear / 1823 posts
I have two, 3 and 4. We do everything together until reading. The 3yo picks her book to read in her room first and my older one decides if he wants to listen too or look at books quietly in his room. Then I put the 3yo in bed and read a book to the 4yo in his room. He usually picks longer, more detailed books so their bedtimes are about 20 minutes apart.
persimmon / 1390 posts
@PinkElephant: In terms of picking things on the iPad or watching a show, DD1 always gets seniority in our house because DD2 gets way too possessive and also just wants to switch shows every 10 seconds. DD2 doesn’t usually pitch a fit at night if DD1 is watching something. I can see that being a problem for your 3.5 y/o though, and things do go more smoothly for us if both are upstairs at the same time. There is definitely a lot of tugging at my heartstrings from both of them—DD1 whimpering outside the door while I put DD2 down, and DD2 from her room while I try to have one on one reading time with DD1. DD2 also climbed out of her crib for the first time last night so this might all change soon!
Of course everything is MUCH easier if DH is home! It sounds like a lot of moms are in the same boat of doing it alone most nights. Strong work mamas!
grapefruit / 4584 posts
@mrsbookworm: This is the main reason for our struggle. The 5.5 and I are reading longer, detailed chapter books. The 3.5 year old wants to be there, but she's not engaged by the books. So she's either rolling on me, making noise, and being annoying (to me), or she's rooting around in her sister's drawers, playing with her "special toys", etc., and annoying big sister to the point that she doesn't listen. Is your 3 year old asleep when you read to the four year old? Or does s/he just accept that you're doing alone time at that point?
nectarine / 2240 posts
I only have 2 but they are 3 (DS) and 5.5 (DD) and we have the same reading situation as you. What we do now is have both kids sit in DD's room and read one short picture book together, then we brush teeth. Then I go to DS's room for alone time with him while DD hangs in her room - she usually colors or just plays with the littler toys we keep in her room like Lego's or small figurines. I read another short book to DS in his room, sing a few songs and then its lights out for him. Then I go in DD's room and we read a chapter book before she goes to sleep. DS is falling asleep during this time and sometimes comes in and interrupts us for potty breaks or water, but I have been clear with both of them that if they each want their own alone time with me they need to let their brother or sister have it to, and they both are surprisingly good about it! I'm having #3 in April so it will be interesting to see the wrench that throws into things, but I do enjoy having the alone time with each kid at the end of the day so hopefully we can make something similar still work!
Also it sounds like a long drawn out process but in reality we start at 7pm and both kids are usually asleep by 7:45/8.
nectarine / 2987 posts
What if you do it like this:
Bathe the two littles while the oldest plays quietly in her roo.
Let the older one shower herself while you put the baby to bed and the middle one gets dressed herself/hangs quietly in her room.
Then both girls for stories in the middle one's room.
Then a longer book in the big kid room.
3.5 is plenty old to understand that she needs to stay in her room while you put baby to bed or read to big sister. Maybe a reminder that you expect her to be a helper and stay calmly in her room when you are helping others and remind her that if she needs help to do that you can use a baby gate?
pomegranate / 3595 posts
@PinkElephant: this is belated but in terms of tv: I am not sure a show before bedtime is what I would choose if I were starting from scratch but it sort of evolved and is working for us. This started when I was nursing #2 and she would sit in the room with us and watch something when we were home alone. Once #2 got older and the noise was a distraction we moved her down the hall to my room.
It is a privilege and we do take it away when #1 is displaying a lot of challenging behavior. On those days she still prefers to bring a few toys into my room upstairs while I am with #2. Her room is downstairs. Also #2 is the most chill agreeable kid so the jealousy factor is not an issue right now.
I think if I were you and your family is not in the habit of tv before bed, I would try to think of some other quiet activities that they could do on their own separately so you could do one bedtime at a time in sequence. Do your two older ones share a room? If not, you could set each up with something in their own space. If they do maybe one drawing at the kitchen table while the other is in the room and alternate? Just ideas.
pomegranate / 3921 posts
I only have two, and they're 3 and 15 months. When I do bedtime alone, I take the baby to nurse before bed (takes about 20 minutes) and before I head in with her I give my oldest some of her "big girl toys" to play with--Melissa and Doug magnetic dolls with small pieces, Magnatiles, puzzles, etc. Stuff she can't enjoy when DD2 is around because of the destruction factor.
I think this would, to your point, get tougher if DD2 was older. She'd probably get jealous of my older one for staying up. But maybe you can try to keep what your oldest is doing on the DL? Good luck!