It's no secret that having a consistent bedtime routine is beneficial for your children, but should both parents put the baby to sleep each night or is it OK to switch off readings of Goodnight, Moon and tucking in the stuffed cast of Sesame Street?
When I was a single mom, I obviously handled the bedtime routine by myself. And you know what? It worked. When my boyfriend and I became serious, we would take turns doing bedtime until one day, we both found ourselves in my daughter's bedroom every night, following the routine together, and switching off stories instead of the entire bedtime. For us, it's exactly what works for our family. On the nights my boyfriend isn't here, my daughter asks for him, wondering how she's going to give him a kiss goodnight. I love the partnership I feel working with him to get her to bed, and I also love the bonding all three of us have together, no matter how busy the day has been.
But is that something every family should follow?
According to Parents, a bedtime routine is more than just a way to relax your baby and get them into sleep mode — a bedtime routine is also a time for bonding. In your hectic day, I'm sure you make time for your little one when you can, but the bedtime routine is something very special. There are no phones, no laptops, and no distractions when you're putting your child to bed. You are focused completely on them, even if it's to get them to sleep, and it's a very safe and settling moment for a little one at the end of the day. A child sleep consultant, Diana Julian Flutie, wrote for the TODAY Parenting Team, that she tells her clients to think of the bedtime routine as more of a bonding moment than anything else and this alone can decrease any frustrations or anxiety over getting your kid to sleep.
But bedtimes are also fluid depending on each individual family. For some kids, having both parents in the room may not even be feasible. Parents may work late, get caught in traffic, or come down with an illness that keeps them from doing their normal routines. But if it's possible to have both parents be a part of the bedtime routine, the website Positive Parenting suggests that it's beneficial to have both of you put your baby to sleep each night.
Their theory? Not only is bedtime easier with both parents involved, but it's also less of a burden. And I have to agree. Even if your child goes down to sleep without a fight, the entire bedtime routine can feel a lot longer than usual. You're tired, you have work to finish, you feel guilty for being annoyed about bedtime — it's all normal. But when your other parent steps in, it can turn the whole routine around and make it a fun, family bonding time, showing partnership between you and your co-parent.
Saint Luke's Hospital in Missouri, however, shared an article on developing a bedtime routine and noted that it can often be overwhelming to a child to see both parents leave the room at the same time. For some kids, it's actually better to alternate the bedtime duties so that they say goodnight to each parent individually.
In short? You know your child. If you think that it would upset them to have both parents leave the room at the end of the night, then obviously having both of you put them to bed isn't going to work. Some kids may prefer one-on-one time with each parent and like the alternating schedule. And for others, like my daughter, having both parents together can feel comforting, fun, and safe, not to mention you get to enjoy the help of your partner during bedtime.
You have to create the bedtime routine that works for your whole family, whether it involves two parents or one. But fair warning, I'm pretty sure no matter how many parents are in there, you're still going to hear "just one more" every time you finish a book or song.