4 YO bedtime and Daddy — The Bump
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4 YO bedtime and Daddy

My DD, who just turned 4, is pretty much a Daddy's Girl, and prefers he put her to bed. This consists of reading a few books, talking quietly about the next day, and laying with her for a while until she starts to fall asleep (it's getting better, we are soon hoping to just turn the light off and leave her, not quite there yet).

The problem is, it puts a lot of stress on DH when he has to do this every night. She will let me do it if he's out of the house at a meeting or whatever, but if he's in the house, she wants him. I am fine with this, as it gives me time to relax and take a bath or whatever, but DH is starting to resent it - the whole bedtime process can take up to 45 minutes or more. Last night she had a screaming fest when she wanted him to put her to bed, as it was my turn to do it. He ended up doing it:)

I guess I'm not sure if this is a battle that should be fought, except that my DH wants me to be able to share in the bedtime duties (I put DS to bed, but that's super easy, you just put him in his crib and he goes to sleep, ha!). If it were switched, I wouldn't mind putting DD to bed each night. I like to snuggle with her, she's getting so big, and I like it when I get to do it!

DD is super stubborn and fights most issues tooth and nail. We've tried charts and sticker charts and rewards and everything else under the sun. Also, it's very hard to pick a battle with a 4 year old who doesn't nap anymore, at bedtime. We try to prepare her in the morning by saying tonight is Mommy's turn to put you to bed, etc., and she's fine with it, until 7:30 rolls around.

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Re: 4 YO bedtime and Daddy

  • Does DH spend a lot of time with her? It may be her way to bond. Honesty I think I would let him do the bedtime for a few weeks and then she will probably switch to you.
    I do bedtime with my DD. I work full time and it is my chance to hang out with her and snuggle. I love it.
    One thing to try is get a few new books and say "I have some new books, want me to read them to you?". Then you could read and then daddy come later for tuck in




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  • Wow, auntie you've got it all figured out! First of all, she doesn't run our house. This is a bedtime issue. Bedtime can be hard for little kids, and she's always done pretty great, compared to some horror stories I hear. The sticker chart refers to awarding children for when they listen...it's never worked for her, she doesn't care about sticker charts, and some kids really respond to them.

    I am all for getting constructive advice. Your advice seems condescending.

     

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  • I just wanted to tell you I am in the same boat - except your husband - I do bedtime every night (and have since DD was born); I normally like it, but she is definitely starting to work it and stall and its annoying - and can take up to 45 minutes (sometimes an hour!).  We have tried not quite alternating, but having DH do it more regularly - like once a week-2x a week.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  We make it like its a special treat for Daddy to do bedtime, sometimes Daddy does everything but I still come in at the end and do a final kiss and hug.
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  • "Last night she had a screaming fest when she wanted him to put her to bed, as it was my turn to do it. He ended up doing it:)"

    Sorry but I'm going to have to back up Auntie here a little bit because that part above is what made me cringe. If my 4 year old throws a tantrum there's no effing way she's going to get her way. You caved to her fit and showed her that if she throws them then she'll get daddy.. she'll get her way.

    Your youngest while easy now is going to start wanting and needing stories and an elongated bedtime as well. I would start alternating days with your DH for her bedtime, stick to it!, and do the reminders a la "mommy's putting you to bed tonight in 10 minutes..." thing.  45 minutes is quite excessive. One book is plenty. I'd start there and next move to removing the lay there routine.

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  • imageSmores730:

    "Last night she had a screaming fest when she wanted him to put her to bed, as it was my turn to do it. He ended up doing it:)"

    Sorry but I'm going to have to back up Auntie here a little bit because that part above is what made me cringe. If my 4 year old throws a tantrum there's no effing way she's going to get her way. You caved to her fit and showed her that if she throws them then she'll get daddy.. she'll get her way.

    Your youngest while easy now is going to start wanting and needing stories and an elongated bedtime as well. I would start alternating days with your DH for her bedtime, stick to it!, and do the reminders a la "mommy's putting you to bed tonight in 10 minutes..." thing.  45 minutes is quite excessive. One book is plenty. I'd start there and next move to removing the lay there routine.

    I agree with this.  my girls get 2 books (1 each) and then bed.  the routine for them both to get baths/teeth/pee/bed is 20 min tops...usually closer to 15...

    what do you do during a 45 minute bedtime routine?

  • No, still don't agree with auntie. If you mom's out there that never cave to a 4 year old screaming so she doesn't wake up your 1 year old sleeping in the next room, then you are lying! I didn't say she screamed every night - she screamed LAST night, and that was not the norm. The 45 minutes is from start to finish - from brushing teeth, to being completely asleep. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes when she's really tired, sometimes it takes 45.

    Anyway, I know we have to work on just reading a book and turning out the light, and her being a big girl and going to sleep.

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  • We put DS1 to bed first.  We don't have as much of an issue on who puts who to bed since I am home alone most nights.  The other night was melt down city and I just turned on the white noise for DS2 and we let DS1 scream.  DS2 can sleep through a lot more then DS1 ever could. Our bedtime routine is book, teeth, potty and bed.  We only do baths every day.  Bedtime takes about 10 min.  DS2 is harder now that he is older, but we held our ground and are back to about 15 min for bedtime.    
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  • You just need to stop lying down with her.  My H and I do the bedtime routine together--he reads to one and I read to the other.  Each girl gets two books, then he and I switch and give hugs and kisses to the other one and turn off the lights.  When DD1 turned four, we told her she was a big girl and she could fall asleep by herself.  The first couple of nights were rough but we just kept putting her back in bed until she finally fell asleep.
  • My DH started this 'snuggle time' bedtime routine with the boys when we moved into our current home, so over 2 years ago.  It is a damn dog and pony show and it makes me nuts!  The kids have grown to expect snuggles with both parents (only 5ish minutes each, but still) and sometimes rather than winding the kids down, it winds them up.

    On a Friday or Saturday night, it doesn't bother me; we do silly dances in each other's rooms and call out 'goodnight sock head!' or something equally silly for a while.  But Sun - Thurs I want the little buggers to brush their teeth, get in their pj's, read a book or 3, hugs and kisses and lights out!

    You reap what you sow.  What we have been doing to break this expectation of long, drawn out snuggles/bedtime is putting in some rules.  If only one parent is home (which, frankly is pretty often), it's hugs and kisses only.  On school nights, it can be hugs and kisses or quick snuggles depending on a few factors.  The kids are old enough to get it.  It didn't take that long once I got DH on board to cut out the circus that bedtime was becoming.

    Kids are 4 and 5.5 now.  Bedtime is pretty easy (some stalling but that comes with the territory).

    Oh, and I hate sticker charts too. 

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  • We're going thru bedtime issues too. DD1 prefers daddy's 45 min routine than my 10 min 1 book routine. Either one ends w/ the crying fit bc she doesn't want to sleep alone. CIO doesn't work bc she will literally cry for hrs and wake up DD2.

    In the past we awarded DD with money. She rec'd change $ each day to add to her piggy bank when she went to bed w/o a fit.  After time, I allowed her to cash in her money and buy something. After a few months, the technique no longer worked; DD lost interest. I think now that xmas is over I can probably try this again.

    Maybe you can make a calendar for 1 wk at a time and rotate who does the bed time routine but involve your DD w/ the calendar making. It dbls as education and learning days of the week.

    Last night, we discussed setting a timer to enforce a 10 or 15 min routine. I have not resolved the 'feeling alone' factor and open to advice. DD is not buying the sleep w/ dolls and animals as company.  Maybe the timer and our conversation about going to sleep on her own will work. Fingers are crossed!

    GL to you and if you find another trick that works, please share!

    Mommy of two girls: DD1 4/14/9 DD2 4/15/11
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  • I would start by doing a few changes to the routine and see how that goes.  Bedtime should not take 45 mins.  I can get both of my girls into PJ's, read a story and do teeth, etc and tucked in in 20 mins if I need to.  Can you start making bedtime a family time.  DH and I, when both home, have always done bedtime together.  We each help one of our girls get changed (if needed as they are now a little older and can do that part themselves) and pick out clothes for the next day.  One of us helps in the bathroom with teeth and hair brushing, etc and then we read stories together as a family.  We each tuck the girls into their beds and take a few mins to have some quiet time (talk about the day, the next day, snuggle).  Basically we are both part of the process every step of the way so it doesn't fall to just one of us and the kids are used to both of us doing it so if one is not home or not able, its not really a big deal.  I help the girls with showers at this point but when they were younger, we took turns with that part.
    Jenni Mom to DD#1 - 6-16-06 DD#2 - 3-13-08 
  • I've always thought it was important for either one of us to be able to put them to bed.  So even though they both prefer me right now, if we're both home, we trade off.  When they protest, we just say, it's ____ tonight.  ___ likes to spend time with you too."  With the youngest we can just pick him up and carry him off.  For my DD who is 5, that's not so easy, but it's just the way we've done.

    I understand that sometimes in the moment it's just easier to give them what they want to stop the tantrum but then tomorrow's tantrum will be just as big.  Ultimately you have to decide which matters more to you and your household. 

     Sometimes we've had to take away the bedtime stories for bad choices and she hates that, so that usually works.

    Good luck.

  • We have a very similar situation in our house.  DH puts DS to bed every night.  He does enjoy it though, he works long hours and likes to spend as much time with the kids as possible.  He's not a big reader and if we do read a book, it's in the living room before bed. He lays with DS until he falls asleep. 

    With your routine, could you read and talk in the living room before going to the bedroom?  Then when she goes to bed, it's not that long and maybe you could read the book and do the talking so at least that helps...I know with DS he would still want DH to do it all, and if that is the case, at least you's be more involved.  

    We have started asking DS who he wants to put him to bed, we have been doing it for a while, but maybe once a week he picks me to do it.  If I tried to force the issue of me doing it, it would be an endless battle.  Since DH does like putting him down, it's not a big deal if he does the majority of it.  I'd like to break the habit of having to lay with him until he falls asleep.  I did it before because I didn't want to lay with him until he fell asleep, but DH like it, and we couldn't agree, that's how DH started putting him to bed every night.  DD is the same way...put her down awake and she puts herself to sleep, no problems.  It's wonderful!

     

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  • I thought 45 min was excessive, but if that's from start to totally asleep, that's not bad at all! Wow, I'd love that (SS sings and talks to himself for quite a while before he's actually sleeping)

    We had a similar situation. SS only wanted me to put him to bed every night. Well, and now DS clearly prefers me for bedtimes too. I must be the sleep fairy or something.

     I checked out a bunch of books from the library. Our bedtime issues also included that he got out of his room with every single excuse, and it was a huge PITA.

    Jo Frost -the supernanny chick, has a book, and she had a routine for bedtime that I've adopted. It works well for us. I actually like a lot of her parenting and discipline techniques, but I know each family and parent is different.

    If it were my family, I'd get daddy to shorten her bedtime, and get a solid routine down - like teeth, pee, 2 stories, lights out & done.  Then once that's good, do the alternation. Too much change at once throws off SS. 

    Otherwise, there are a million parenting books our there (our small library has dozens!), most of which do mention bedtime tricks. It might be worth checking some out, and trying them.

    GL!

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  • My daughter prefers me to put her down, and DH usually puts my one year old to sleep. But we alternate also- so prob 4-5 days of me, 2-3 of him.

    It is NOT an option in our house who puts her to sleep once we decide. She is 4 and doesn't get to demand that- don't get me wrong, she might scream and yell, but so be it. She loves my DH and I think it is really important for him to do it too.

    I would start with giving her a schedule so she knows. So, Mondays, and Fridays for example, you put her to sleep and stick with it.

    Your DH is also resentful because it is a long time. I get it but I would really really work on cutting that down. We brush teeth, read one book, and I lie with her for 2-10 minutes- depends on night so I would say 20-25 mins total?. I will absolutely not wait for her to fall sleep every night- my friend does that and is resentful too. I tell her what I need to do before we get in the room, and how long I can stay. Sometimes I love snuggling and staying for a while if I dont have tons to do.

     As for waking up your 1 year old- sure, we have the same issue, but whatever. The baby goes back to bed. I can't cave on things to keep her quiet, and let her get away with things.

    Good luck. I know it is hard but I think some more limits need to be set- unfortunately at the time kids are most cranky is hard, but necessary.

  • I dnt have advice, but I wanted to say your not alone.  Not all kids are good sleepers.  I have lots of education in children and development and read everything before ds was born because my brother & I are both awful sleepers and I wanted to instill good sleep habits from the beginning.  Forget it - this kid does not need much sleep and has a difficult time staying asleep.  Eventually we added a fan, then a sound machine, forget it - he would still wake up from a sneeze downstairs.  DS is 3.5 and DD is 1.5 and they have very different sleep needs.  He will only sleep 7.5 hours a night. Max.  And trying to get rid of nap based on expert advice - disaster.  He started "napping" when put down for the night and would wake up, wide awake for 5 - 6 hours 2 - 3 hours after going to bed.  No amount of putting him back in bed helped - weeks & weeks of it & he wouldn't fall asleep until the 5 - 6 hour "bedtime" anyways.  Because with his night sleep and nap (before it got messed up trying to drop it) he is just below or at minimum sleep for his age, the docs say it is just how his body is & he doesn't need much sleep.  This will be great when he is a CEO or something that doesn't get much sleep, but awful for pregnant mommy & a worthless from 8 - 8 daddy.  My daughter on he other hand will sleep 9 - 11 hours at night (mostly, tho I have some issues with her) and a nap.  If I put him to bed before her (which I used to try so his fits wouldn't wake her) - he would be up for the day at 2:30am. And when his fits wake her, she does NOT go back to sleep. I have a tough tiime falling back asleep when woke & it seems both my kids do too.  So I feel your pain!  I would maybe try doing some nights where you both put her down, or where daddy omes in at the end.  I understand how both of you feel. I do both bedtimes alone & it has gotten exhausting.  Good luck working it out.

     

     

     

     

     

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  • I would probably consider having DH go somewhere (gym, run an errand, etc.) every couple of nights while you put her to bed. Let him put the baby to bed and then go out until she's asleep. Eventually you won't have to do it, but it may be easier to let her adjust to the alternating parent bedtime if he's not available.

    It will get easier, just try to be consistent. We do most of the boys' bedtime together. They bathe together, lotion/pjs, and read 1 book together. Then 1 parent puts our 1 yr old to bed while the other reads 1 more book to the 4 yr old. Then one of us sings a song and turns out the light in the 4 yr old room and he goes to sleep by himself.

    It will be an adjustment, but just stick to it and you'll get there soon. You may even start bedtime earlier if she seems tired earlier. Our 4.5 yr old is in his room, lights out by 7:45 and usually asleep by 8pm at the latest.

    We typically start bath between 7 and 7:10. The kids like to play in the tub, etc. so our routine is 40-45 minutes from bath start to lights out in his room.

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