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Including dad in the bedtime routine

Including Dads in Bedtime routines

Welcome to the second instalment of the Baby2Sleep Father’s Day mini-series. Today, I’m going to be talking about bedtime routines and dads.



As a mum, how many times have you got to the end of the day, you’re absolutely exhausted, and dying for bedtime? It’s within reach, you’ve started calming the baby down in preparation, you’re all ready for it, then dad comes home five minutes before you’re about to take them upstairs for a bath and get them ready for bed, and baby’s mega-excited, and you think “are you kidding me?”


Worse still, you’re with your toddler or your child and you’re on the very last story, and dad comes bounding up the stairs, and the kids get really excited because dad’s home. Dad does his thing, goes downstairs, makes his brew, makes his tea, whatever it might be. And you’re sitting there thinking “Are you kidding me? Now I’ve got to wind this child down again and get them to go to sleep while you just go and relax? What about my relax time?”


I’m sure there are a lot of mums nodding along right now – you are definitely not alone. When we’ve just spent the day with the kids, we’re absolutely exhausted, and we just want to put them to bed, sit down and have some peace, an excited dad stirring them up again is the last thing we need.


What we don’t think about a lot of the time is what’s going through Dad’s head. Dad might have spent the whole day getting ready so he can rush home and spend that five minutes with his child before they go to bed. He might spend the whole day excited, wanting to see their smile, it’s the highlight of his day. And he’s just left things at work, cut his lunch short or whatever it might be, because he just wants to get home and spend those five minutes with his child and he can’t understand why you’re upset about that.


He may be thinking, “Well, I’ve done the right thing. I want to spend time with my child.”

Including dad in the bedtime routine


And you know what? That kind of resentment just doesn’t help things. So what we really need to do is keep those lines of communication open and actually build a routine or a what if scenario. If this happens, this is what we’re going to do, because we are a team. We are in this together, we are a team, and this is what we will do in these scenarios.


So, for example, if he comes home five minutes before you’re about to go to do the bedtime routine, rather than sitting there looking resentful and glaring from a distance, why not just take that five minutes for yourself?


Or if you’ve not got everything ready, nip upstairs, take that five minutes to run the bath, get the pyjamas out, get the nappy out, whatever it might be, so you can actually just do it in peace and quiet. So, when you go upstairs and start the routine, everything’s nice and smooth. You could always get dad to bring baby or child up for their bath, then he can go down and make a cup of tea or whatever while you do the bedtime bit.


Then he could come back up for the last five minutes or something like that and say night-night. So if you do two stories do one each, and this can make it much more the norm. So you lose that massive excitement drive that kicks in because dad’s coming because actually, it’s the norm. Okay, brilliant. You’ve come home. This is fantastic. And you’ve put me to bed and now we’re going to have our story together and it becomes much more normal. And if it’s normal, it’s less excitable. But dad still gets to have that bonding time.


Another thing that you could maybe discuss with dad, is that when he comes home at night, he is calmer and more peaceful, rather than stirring the children up again. Come in and go into calm down mode OK, I’m in the room. I’ve come to say goodnight and I’ll see you in the morning.


Explain to him that while you accept he is super-excited to have got home to see your child before they go to bed and give them a kiss good night, you are also extremely stressed and just could really do with a break, and you don’t need bedtime to take any longer than it has to. If the bedtime goes well, he will then get to spend some calm nice evening time with you too, and that is definitely a good thing.

Dad bottle feeding baby


Now, the other thing is with regards to feeding, if you are using a bottle, whether it is expressed milk or formula, there is nothing to stop dad doing at least the feeding part of the bedtime routine, and it might just give mum that little bit of a breather as well. This is a great way for dad to calm down from his evening commute and spend some quiet time with the baby, preparing them for the bedtime ahead.


Then you can spend some time alone as well, because it is so important that we do have a bit of time alone, but having that alone time will strengthen up together time as well.


If you would like to talk about this or any other aspect of parenting, please come and join us in the Baby2Sleep Village Facebook group. And if you would like some help with your child’s bedtime routine, take a look at my Sleep Plans which come with one-to-one support from me.