Do children need bedtimes?

Stephanie - posted on 06/19/2012 ( 68 moms have responded )

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I have a son who will be three in July. His dad gets him every other weekend. He just told me that he will not put my son down for a bedtime and just lets him stay up as late as possible and lets him decide if he wants a nap. He does not think that a three year old needs a bed time. Any opinions on how this should be taken?

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Jodi - posted on 06/19/2012

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This isn't something you can control, unfortunately.

Yes, children need bedtimes, but he is 3, so it's not like it is affecting school. My kids had flexible sleep times at that age, and really only developed true routines just before they started school. And yes, I had an ex who used to let our son stay up all hours, and it would take me a couple of days to get him back into routine. I just sucked it up.

So basically, it doesn't matter what you think, you can't control the rules in the other parents' house. I'm not saying you are wrong, because you're not. But it's not your place to control the other parent's behaviour and rules.

Dottie - posted on 06/21/2012

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I disagree. I feel that it is her place to at least make an attempt to control the other parents' rules if it effecting her child.

Rena - posted on 06/21/2012

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Stephanie, as much as I totally agree with your feelings, and believe that children need routine, you can't control what goes on while he is with his dad. If you have routine in your houeshold, your son will benefit from that. I ran a daycare for several years and had rules and routine's that the kids followed willingly...often going home to total chaos!! But when they came through my door they knew the expectations and adjusted to them. Conflict is the hardest part of family breakups that children have to endure, so if you can avoid letting this become a huge issue your child will be better for it. Pick your battles. If you only got to spend every other weekend with your babe do you think you might be less stringent with the rules? I am not condoning this, but I do think we have to understand at least a little. Be glad that your toddlers dad wants to be involved in his life... lots of little boys don't have any father figure... Hopefully bedtime and trying to be the cool dad will be the biggest issue you have to deal with with your ex! Good luck!

Dottie - posted on 06/21/2012

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Jill, your judgement on Stephanie was uncalled for and unnecessary. Whether she was married to him for 3 years or 30 years is none of our business and has absolutely nothing to do with her question. She's asking our opinions and some guidance, so why don't we try to help her instead of judging her???
My opinion is that every child needs routine. That includes a schedule, which includes a bedtime. My kids are grown now but I know from experience that when my girls didn't get to bed by 8:30, they turned into little terrors!!

Jodi - posted on 06/20/2012

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Ladies, you can preach to this mum all you like about presenting a united front as parents, etc, but the fact IS, that doesn't exist and no amount of preaching will make that happen. If you have ever been in the situation where dad simply won't follow the rules, regardless, you might just understand that. So that kind of advice is pretty useless. How exactly do you expect this to happen if dad won't co-operate?

So sure, others might be suggesting to let it go, but the truth of the matter is, what other option does she have but to let it go and to make the best SHE can of a bad situation? Fact: You cannot control the other parent's behaviour. PERIOD!.

68 Comments

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Titch - posted on 12/16/2012

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Ive got six kids- my second youngest is 3, callled Harper her and my youngest (1 1/2) go to bed at 7:15 PM xxx

Karen - posted on 08/05/2012

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i think he should be given a bedtime i have two children alot older (8&10) who still have a set bedtime.

Thelma - posted on 06/25/2012

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Dad is CRAZY!!!,,,,EVERY child needs a little "down time"...My son is almost 7 and I STILL put him down for a nap. His Father on the other hand wont put him down for a nap if he says he is'nt tired, but wont let him stay up all night either until He's ready for bed....I put him down Regardless. I think it's a Man thing.

Cassie - posted on 06/24/2012

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Yes they do. it will be much harder for them come time for school. i know through experience

Merry - posted on 06/23/2012

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I think kids often will fall asleep when they're tired without us making them sleep at a certain time. But some kids won't. And sometimes the situation won't allow it.
In general I think kids should have a set bed time and then you can tweak it based on the day if needed.
My sons bed time is 7-8pm. Earlier if he's tired, later if he sneaks in a nap. But yeah in general. Think we should be making sur out kids get enough sleep so that usually means having a set bed time

Pamela - posted on 06/22/2012

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All children need the guidance of parents, which is why they are given to parents. If children were wise enough to make decisions for themselves at that age, God would have created it so that they didn't need parents to be born.

Your ex is obviously an undisciplined soul who will rear another undisciplined soul. The world has enough of those already, in my humble opinion.

All children need to have boundaries drawn by adults. The ones who do not, tend to be society's problems!

STAND BY YOUR TRUTH...your son needs scheduled naps and bedtimes. Children are not wise enough to make decisions without parental guidance! PERIOD!

Jessica - posted on 06/22/2012

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I feel like there is not much you can do. You can't make him put your son to bed at a certain time. In my opinion it's not something you can control when he is at his dad's. I'm kinda in the same situation, not about bedtime, but there are times when my daughter does things at her dad's that I do not approve of, though there is not much I can do about it. I feel like. I guess I feel like I wouldn't appreciate him telling me things when she is with me. Though what can we do? Iit's not a win win situation to me.

Sally - posted on 06/22/2012

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I BELIEVE THE CHILD NEEDS AS MUCH ROUTINE AS POSSIBLE IN THEIR LIVES STARTING FROM BIRTH IF POSSIBLE. NAPS ARE A GOOD THING FOR BOTH THE CHILD AND THE PARENT. IT'S ALONE TIME BEING TAUGHT TO THE CHILD FROM THE BEGINNING WHICH I BELIEVE TURNS INTO A TYPE OF SELF ESTEEM AND A STRONG CONFIDENT INDIVIDUAL LATER DOWN THE LINE OF LIFE. JUST DO THE BEST YOU CAN RAISING YOUR CHILD. THAT'S ALL YOU CAN DO AND IT SHOULD ALL WORK ITSELF OUT.
BEST OF LUCK TO YOU.

Dottie - posted on 06/22/2012

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I think he's just trying to be the "cool" dad. "Mom's the meanie who makes you go to bed, I'm the good guy who lets you stay up" sort of thing. He'll figure it out when your 3 year old starts with tantrums due to fatigue...haha. I'd love to see how he handles that!

Gabriela - posted on 06/22/2012

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Kids need bedtime, but more importantly, YOU need them to have a bedtime so you can look forward to unwinding at the end of the day at a set time. But in having said that, kids can handle 2 sets of rules as long as they are clear. Since you can't make his dad do what you want, then don't stress about it and just make sure you keep boundaries at your place firm.

User - posted on 06/21/2012

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of course kids need bed times not only is it healthy for them no matter if its week days or weekend it also give mum/dad a well earn break xx

Sana - posted on 06/21/2012

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I have 2 daughters... 6 and 10... they have always been good sleepers and have always had a bedtime that allowed 10 - 12 hours of sleep per night. My girls are healthy and well behaved for the most part :) I find that children actually love their routines and structure... the same way they can love.. say cheese sandwiches... and actually be very happy requesting them and eating them every day for lunch for a month lol

So you asked if a bedtime was important and I think it is very important and ya know what? The kids like it and thrive with structure and routine :)

Jodi - posted on 06/21/2012

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"Oh my.... I think this got turned into me trying to control the problem. I have said it before and I will say it again..... I know that I cannot control what goes on in his house."

Stephanie, sorry, I wasn't referring to you when I wrote my post, but to another poster who told you that you should be attempting to control him :) Just wanted to clarify!

Jenni - posted on 06/21/2012

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Oh crap!!! I have a Miss 3 and she still needs her afternoon nap otherwise we are in tropoland by 5pm! Occasionally if we are out we don't stress if she misses her nap yet we always keep to her sleep time 8.30pm - which her biological clock dictated. We followed her queues on when to sleep, it use to be earlier yet I can't be bothered arguing with her to sleep for another half hour. Dad is obviously trying to over compensate for not being there and making it fun so arguing isn't going to help nor does making him feel he isn't doing a good job. He doesn't have him for a week so he wouldn't see the effect this has on your son. Sleep is important to a child's development just like nutrient food, it helps the brain to develop and growth. Maybe suggest that he look after him on he's next holidays - a week and see if that does change he's mind. I have just watched a tv show "my child won't sleep" and boy was that horrendous, maybe suggest him to watch it. It's not so much as having a
"set in stone" bed time, it is important that the child has consistant patterns - as parent's you two are best to decide when it does suit. Another thought and I don't mean for it to sound nasty, why not a few days before your son goes to he's dad, do exactly what dad does (I know this would be stressful for you) no bed time so dad gets to experience exactly what you do after he has had him - tropoland! Sometimes especially men talking doesn't work, letting them experience and see it for themselves does - it's not like a competition between the two of you and it's an avoided argument hopefully. You both are to bring your child up and the more involved you can get dad and the more positive things you say to dad about how he is bringing up your son maybe dad might just change. fingers crossed lol

Cpittaz - posted on 06/21/2012

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My 3 year old does not really have a bedtime. however we do try to get her to bed around 10pm each night.

Stifler's - posted on 06/21/2012

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If it's the weekend then who cares. My kid isn't 3 yet and refuses to have a nap most days. 3 is old enough to not have a nap. I make the kids go to bed at 630-7 on weekdays and if we go out on the weekend I'm not going home at 6 to put them to bed we just let them stay up. IMO bed time isn't that important until they go to school and have to get up on time.

Peggy - posted on 06/21/2012

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We had the same problem, in reverse. My husband's ex has NEVER stuck to a schedule for their children. On the one week night and every other weekend we had visitation, it was horrible getting them to bed at a decent time, let alone getting them up for school. That lack of structure has led to many problems with the younger child, who is now 17. Keep the structure for your son when he's with you. A few later nights a month won't harm him as long as he's getting the rest he needs the rest of the time. And who knows, eventually he may even tell his dad that it's his bedtime and he's ready to go to sleep. Good luck!

Donna - posted on 06/21/2012

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Children thrive on routine and your son needs a set bedtime and naptime. Try to get through to his dad. It's not good for him to have a bedtime with you and then not with him. His sleep schedule will be thrown out of whack. Good Luck.

Audrey - posted on 06/21/2012

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Stephanie, Oops sorry but that is not what is important husband or not.
I so empathize as it is always challenging raising a child with anyone.
I only know from raising two and helping with 10 others how hard it is.
We all can only do our best just like you are by reaching out. My best advice was
from other mom's. Honestly I made my own mistakes with my sons but overall they
are wonderful young men that we are so proud of. The best advice is to be consistent
and I do not care who the person is if they are doing something that will harm my child
I will find a way to work it out. I always feel there are many ways to communicate as the main goal is to get your child the sleep and structure all the time that he needs. I wish you luck and know you will do well as you are already working on it!! I just want everyone to do what is right not what is easy. Oh well I can dream right? Wishing you only the best Stephanie,

Stephanie - posted on 06/21/2012

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Why can't everyone be as smart as us moms? haha I mean in all honesty it is common sense... a three year old should not be able to choose what they want to do and when they want to do it... That behavior raises spoiled children.. Thank goodness for smart mamas that know what is best for their children :)

Sarah - posted on 06/21/2012

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Oh and if something my ex does really bothers me, I just keep bringing it up in convo till something changes. But that has more to do with my son being lactose intolerant and him still giving him dairy.

Sarah - posted on 06/21/2012

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My ex is the same way. I swear he doesn't think he needs a bed time. I've seen pics of my now 4 yr old (he was 3 at the time of the pic) still up at midnight. My son was in school and needs a schedule. So yes, I think a bed time is important. Like most mom's said, there's not much you can do about it unless you can prove it's affecting him badly in some way. Then you also have to get the proof that it's the no bed time at dad's that's causing it.

Stephanie - posted on 06/21/2012

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Audrey thanks for the advice but he is not my husband.. never has been but the information you gave me was helpful.

Audrey - posted on 06/21/2012

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Your husband should speak to a pediatrician. Not only does lack of sleep shorten your life but
a child only grows WHEN THEY ARE SLEEPING!! He also will lower the child's immune system. Children thrive on structure. They need to know where the line is drawn. They need an ADULT not a friend to raise them. Sometimes it is easier to give in but then you are only doing what is best for yourself not your child. Your husband has no idea the physical and emotional harm he is doing and should be educated as your child is paying the price. My 2nd was severly colic and never slept. Seriously if he slept 2 hours straight we were lucky. But we worked and were persistent and finally got him to sleep for 5 to six hours straight. He is 21 and still an insomniac but we helped him with a routine to be in bed by 8pm (9 as he got older) and he would read, tell stories but he knew to rest. Your husband will be very defensive if you go right at him so I strongly suggest having not only the pediatrician either tell him in person or write a letter but also a child specialist in the field of mental stability for children. Hope this helped as even married couples fight about how to raise the children and have different ways and there are many ways to raise a child but not when it is mentally or physically bad is it ok. and this is both! Good luck!!

Stephanie - posted on 06/21/2012

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Oh my.... I think this got turned into me trying to control the problem. I have said it before and I will say it again..... I know that I cannot control what goes on in his house. I just wanted to know what other mothers thought about the idea of having a routine.... I don't believe I ever asked if I could "take away his parental rights" for it................. In no way do I want that. I want my son to have a father I just wanted to know for my own personal knowledge what other mother's opinions were on having a schedule. Geesh.... Maybe I worded it wrong... If i would have known I would just get "bashed" (for the lack of better words) I would have never asked... :( Thanks to mothers who are giving KIND posts....

Jodi - posted on 06/21/2012

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"I disagree. I feel that it is her place to at least make an attempt to control the other parents' rules if it effecting her child."

No, she can attempt to discuss it with him as a matter of what is in the child's best interests, but she cannot ever try to *control* the rules in his house unless those rules are affecting the safety of her child, in which case, that is what the court is for, and THEY will stipulate the rules. Simply put, you cannot control another person's actions.

Lisa - posted on 06/21/2012

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have you tried talking to the paternal grandmother? they can sometimes help

Stephanie - posted on 06/21/2012

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Thank you very much Lisa for the nice words of wisdom. I agree with you 100% that children do need consistency and routine. I could tell his dad this until I am blue in the face but he still thinks that he just needs to be mr cool dad.... his dad and I plan on sitting down one and one and discussing our son and how to raise him. I am hoping I can get through to him then since I don't plan on having any outside influences there to persuade us.

Lisa - posted on 06/21/2012

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Your son will benefit from a safe routine at your home. Kids and adults need a regular bed time. Stick to your guns at home and when your son is grown he will thank you for providing the consistency and structure he needed for his health and well being. You are his rock and because you are always there he will take it for granted at times, but it will give him what he needs and he will eventually be grateful for it.

Stephanie - posted on 06/21/2012

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Jill, as for your first comment. We were both young and were not planning on having a child.... IT JUST HAPPENED. That comment was very uncalled for. I refuse to acknowledge anything else you said. Have a great day..

Jill - posted on 06/21/2012

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If you can't keep a relationship together for 3 years, why on earth would you have a child with this man? Long story short, when he is not with you, you have no control. Raise him the way you want on your own, or let his Dad make his own rules when he's with him. You can't have it both ways.

Danielle - posted on 06/21/2012

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if you take him to the dr w you, the gf wouldent have to go back into the office w you even if he did bring her because of the hippa privacy laws your dr could ask her to step out saying he can only discuss info w you and the father

Jodi - posted on 06/21/2012

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Well, good luck. All I am saying is that just because he does things differently to you, it doesn't make him a bad dad, and it doesn't mean what he does would be considered inappropriate for court ordered visitation. I agree with anything that is a safety issue, it should absolutely become a point of contention, but this sleep thing? It's probably not a battle you need to be fighting right now by the sounds of it.

Stephanie - posted on 06/21/2012

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I don't want him not to see his father. I just want my son safe.. and I feel that the judge will hear all of these bad parenting decisions and either give him a stern talking to or forcing him to go to the co-parenting class that we were required to do in the first place. His father is in fact too immature to be a parent and I think with a little bit of "guidance" he will learn that he isn't this "super daddy" that he thinks he is. He told me himself that the fact that he is a father makes him " better with the ladies" and he said that he is a man because he made a child.. My dad came back with "oh yeah getting my 17 year old daughter REALLY made you a man huh?" he just has this skewed idea of what it is to be a father. He thinks it is just all fun and games... that is why I am nervous about ever having him stay with his dad for extended periods of time.....

Jodi - posted on 06/21/2012

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Well, if there are a whole heap of other things, they must be pretty bad to remove the every other weekend arrangement. A judge certainly isn't going to stop contact/visitation with a father over the father not setting bed times appropriately.

Stephanie - posted on 06/21/2012

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I guess the only thing I can do is present this information along with a whole list of other examples when I go to court in August. We are still in a child custody with him just wanting reasonable visitation and joint LEGAL custody. Either way I am going to be the physical guardian but there are a whole list of other things that he has done that prove to courts that he has made several bad decisions for his child where as I have been there for my son since day one. So in reality I could do something about it.

Grama - posted on 06/21/2012

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All children need a bedtime, and 3 yr olds still need at least one nap per day. Good luck with all of that going back and forth between parents. We also have that in our family, and the father of our 2 yr old great grandson had the back and forth as well. It is a fact of life these days. Kids are adaptable, thank goodness.

Cheryl - posted on 06/20/2012

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Children need solid boundaries and consistency in their routines - PERIOD! Children thrive and feel secure with boundaries and consistency.
A child of three years of age needs about 10-12 solid hours of sleep a night. Sounds to me like dad is taking the 'easy' way out by not imposing boundaries and consistency in your son's daily life - let's face it, there are likely other areas in which he takes the same approach. Whether separated or together, it is important for parents to be a united front, and stick to the same set of rules/boundaries regardless of who is in charge at the time. I know this only seems like one-night every other week, but in reality it 'really' is probably one night of 'off-schedule' bedtime at his house and a couple more once he returns to yours (this is what I read in many of the other responses). I have to ask then, what will be the next thing that your ex will have a different set of rules for? Even though your child is a bit young to comprehend the notion of 'splitting', he will certainly learn it quickly enough and will learn that he can get what he wants when with dad. Dad will then be recognized as the path of least resistance and his home (and rules) will be the 'preferred' home. Sure, during holidays or vacation, we all deviate from our normal patterns of eating, sleeping, activities, etc. BUT when going about our 'usual' daily lives, we should try to adhere to those 'usual' standards.
Of course these are merely my own opinions, and from the other comments I have read, my opinion seems to differ from the popular responses which say to 'just let it go'. But, they are the opinions that I formed while practicing as a pediatrics nurse for nearly 20 years. I have seen the negative results of 'split parenting' and it often progresses into bigger issues as the child gets older. I would be very curious to know why your ex feels the way he does, and what he feels he is losing or gaining by doing so. I mean, C'mon....how difficult is it to tell a three year old that it's time for bed???
I wish you the best of luck in finding a solution to your dilemma.
Many blessings to you and your family.

Alexandra - posted on 06/20/2012

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i believe at this age children need bedtime, naps, along with a reading/other sort routine before both.

Sallie - posted on 06/20/2012

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YES ALL CHILDREN NEED ROUTINE AND BEDTIME IS 1 OF THE MOST IMPORTANT...

Both my girls have regular bedtimes and they thrive from the stabillity.
Your sons father should be able to understand that it's not what you want it's what's best for the child involved...
At the end of the day you cant make him follow your rules or make him to stick to any routine's so it make's it very difficult, BUT NOT IMPOSSIABLE...

If you make a routine for you and your son to follow when he is at home with you then after a while he will start to follow that same routine at his dad's.
My 3 yr old daughter has a bed time routine so that she knows what she has to do each night then when the check list is finished she knows it's time to go to sleep.

GOOD LUCK

Delora - posted on 06/20/2012

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Children do need bedtimes especially at three. They need up to 12-14 hours of sleep to support good brain development and focus. This will become more important as they enter school and children who do not get enough rest exhibit focus issues which inhibits learning. Unfortunately you can't control what happens at his fathers only give him information about good practice for young children. Hopefully this will help.

Dove - posted on 06/20/2012

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Now that I'm putting pieces together from one post to the next I can understand your frustrations with your ex and his girlfriend a bit more. Make sure you document EVERYTHING from either of them. Keep a notebook/journal and write down everything no matter how small. It may come to nothing, but it can't hurt and you may end up with enough evidence to make sure your son is safe in every way.

Beth - posted on 06/20/2012

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A child that age certainly does benefit from a set bedtime. We found that when we started sticking to a schedule, bedtime itself was actually a smoother, easier process. And he was better behaved during the day, having gotten the right amount of rest. It sounds like his dad is either extremely immature and not really prepared for parenthood, or is being obstinate to get a rise out of you. Either way, it sucks, and I'm so sorry. Unfortunately your son will likely always have a separate set of rules, regarding other things besides bedtime too, when he's with his father. I know it was like that when I was a kid. But, if you want to bring it up with his father, I'd just mention that it's not something you're angry about, but he might have an easier time with your son if he set some rules and limits for him.

Christina - posted on 06/20/2012

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Hi Stephanie! You sound like such a sweet little mama! ;-) I'm going to say that I agree with the moms here that there really isn't too much expectation you can place on your ex and how he manages his time with your son. I like what Rachael Malcolm said and Kristen Bucs. Picking your battles is a very wise position to be in. I've been a single mom for the better part of 20 years and I know that kids are very resilient. I believe that making sure your household has a routine in place for your son is the most important routine. I'm sure when your son starts school his dad may be in a better frame of mind to implement a bed time especially if his days to have him fall on school days or the day before; if not, your son will already have a solid routine at your home and will get adequate rest there. The other topic I saw you mention was with regards to your ex's gf. One thing I made sure I never did was to speak ill about the dad in front of my boys, especially when they were old enough to know who I was talking about. This was modeled by my mom when my folks got divorced and I thanked her later for not talking about him, even if it's was true. This was with no implication that you do, I was just putting that out there. Also, something that I've seen by many of my single parent friends is the issues they have with their ex's gf's or bf's. To me, children don't care who loves them, likes them, or plays with them. I've heard it said that it takes a village to properly raise a child; meaning that it takes more than one person to be a part of a childs life. Unless the gf is harming your son by allowing or encouraging him to do things that are unsafe, I'd just let her love on him the way she knows how and for her that's by being involved, perhaps even at the encouragement of your ex. Everyone in that picture knows that she is not "mom" but she is willing to put her time in with him even though she is only 18. I hope this helps in some way. I wish you the best of luck with everything not to forget your upcoming marriage! Yeah! Take care! Christina

Elizabeth - posted on 06/20/2012

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Well I completely disagree with him. But unfortunately he is going to do what he wants to do and their is nothing you can really do about it. But a baby needs bedtimes because it is healthy for the baby and you. Me, I can't go to sleep till my child does so if they stay up I'm no good the next day.

Stephanie - posted on 06/20/2012

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I know exactly what you are saying about the benefit of bedtime! Unfortunately I think his little gf enjoys playing house too much so she soaks it all up and tries to get in as much time as possible with my son. Its funny, his dad never wanted anything to do with my son until this gf came into his life. Things that make you say hmmmmm.

[deleted account]

He may find out on his own that your son needs a bedtime. He may start misbehaving during the day from lack of adequate sleep. At 3 my daughter started wanting to go to bed at 8:30 every night. Lately she's been going to sleep about 9 but that's even if I've put her to bed at 8.

Personally I have a really difficult time with schedules but since our daughter doesn't sleep until 9/9:30 I've made 8pm bedtime so that I get a break and time with husband before I go to bed. She will read or sing or talk to her toys for an hour before finally closing her eyes. Maybe your husband doesn't know about his benefit of bedtime? Perhaps you could even mention it to the obnoxious girlfriend that if she gets the boy to bed then she has your ex to herself ;)

Kristen - posted on 06/20/2012

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When I was a kid, this was my situation as well. Im not sure if it effected anything for my mom when I was that age, but I do know that I have fond memories of being at dads house and getting to stay up late, eat junk, and do all the things my mom wouldn't let me do. As I got older, it barely effected my sleeping patterns as I was old enough to know I have to stay in bed either way and fall asleep. Also I would like to say that it did not negatively effect my behavior at home, provided my mom was clear about explaining to me why things were different in each house (such as, your dad has more money to take you all those places because I care for you all week, You get to stay up late because neither of you have to be up for school or work, going to dads is special and im glad you have a good time, but we have to keep a schedule here so you can succeed in school and and so on) The number one thing is to never put your child in the middle or say bad things about your ex in front of him. If you have a decent relationship with your ex and can calmly come up with COMPROMISES when issues arise then great. If not, then ignore it and move on.



So I guess what I am saying is a few missed hours of sleep is the least of your worries in trying to raise a well adjusted kid with an ex.

Michelle - posted on 06/20/2012

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i have 2 girls...a 7 year old and a 4 year old....and have always had bedtimes and naps. my oldest doesn't nap anymore, but my youngest still does. They are getting harder to do now, but i try because they are happier kids and i'm a less stressed parent when they aren't so grumpy.

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