Solo Parenting Bedtime Routine

All Ages

Apr 11, 2024

Have you ever wondered how other REAL families do their bedtime routines for their kids?! You’re in luck!! I’m going to share what 3 amazing Little Z’s moms do for bedtimes who are all solo parenting while Dad is at work. You’ll get to hear from:

⭐ Sarah has 2 young boys and her husband is a detective who leaves home at 2PM until late at night

⭐ Catherine has 1 young son and her husband is a nurse who works night shifts

⭐ Lindsay has 1 young toddler and her husband works on-call for the railroad

Each mom has their own unique story and family and I’ve asked them to share how THEY do their routines solo. (And remember, these are real families who are bravely sharing what they do and here at Little Z’s, we celebrate and support each other!) As we follow their stories, we’ll cover three main topics:

  • What is unique about their family
  • Tips they have for solo parenting
  • A walk through of what their schedule/routine looks like

So, if you ever find yourself solo parenting during bedtime – maybe you are a single mom, or maybe your husband (or you!) work shift work or nights, whatever it is – then I think this episode is really going to encourage you! Let’s jump in!

 

THE BACKSTORY

Sarah: Her husband is a detective, so he switches off between one week of days and one week of evenings. (Plus, they’re not on a clear Monday-Friday schedule!) So every week he’s either there or gone for nights the whole time. Before finding Little Z’s, the thought of having a toddler and a baby and doing bedtime alone was really daunting. Once they figured out a plan, bedtime became fun and easier, especially as the baby has gotten older.

Catherine: She has a 13-month old and her husband is an Emergency Room nurse. He works one week on, one week off, and he’s on night shift. So for about a week he’s home and present, then he’s either sleeping or preparing to go in for the next 12-hour shift.

Lindsay: Her husband works on-call for the railroad where he has 6 days on, 2 days off. When he’s “on” it’s 24/7 and it’s not consistent. She had a 15-month old at the time.

 

WORDS OF WISDOM IF YOU’RE DOING BEDTIME SOLO

Here are some words of wisdom from these 3 moms if you’re new to solo parenting during bedtime or if this is something you’ve been or will be facing for quite a while.

⭐ Take it a moment at a time. In 20 minutes, things will probably be different. If the baby’s crying and there’s nothing more to do, just make it through the next 20 minutes and things will likely have changed. In the moment it can feel so overwhelming, so just give yourself the grace to remember that it’s going to get better, and that things change so quickly. You can accept that!

⭐ Accept that your house will not always be clean, that you’re going to have to let things go, and that it’s going to be hard. Nothing is going to be perfect, so try not to stress about it. 

⭐ If you have multiple children, get the younger child down first. Find something that works for your older child to keep them entertained for a while, whether that’s books or a special toy in their room, or something that feels meaningful and special to them.

⭐ Keep the routines somewhat the same so that it can be smoother and more fun for everyone involved.

⭐ It will get better. It can feel so daunting at first, but remember that you’ll get used to it and you’ll find what works for you.

 

WHEN TO HAVE DAD INVOLVED

Sometimes when Dad is home after working or traveling for a while, there can be a transition point for everyone. Baby might want to be just with mom still or might be thrown off by having another person there. Some don’t mind the difference at all.

It can be a learning process. For Catherine, she said that her son will cry and scream if they both walk out of the room at the same time, so they learned how to stagger their goodnights. She also likes to cook dinner when he’s home so that he can play and give the bath as part of their routine and then she joins for the rest of it.

 

SARAH’S AFTERNOON & BEDTIME ROUTINE

The afternoons and evenings can be so hard, so I wanted to hear from these moms what they do for an afternoon or evening routine when it’s just Mom with the little one(s) and Daddy isn’t there.

Sarah’s husband leaves in the afternoon (around 2pm) and here’s what she does.

First, they do a lot of free play inside, maybe one structured activity. Since she’s home with them all day, it’s a long day together, so she tries to play things out in the afternoon. Around 4pm, she always goes outside – if it’s cold, they bundle up, and if it’s warm then that’s a gift! They chose to invest in some outdoor playsets and other things outside so that they could enjoy the afternoons better and they could be entertained, which keeps everyone happier and calmer.

Around 5:15, they go inside for dinner prep. If her husband is working that week, they do the easiest dinners – Spaghettios, macaroni & cheese, fruit, maybe a crock pot meal if she’s thought ahead. On one of his days off, sometimes she’ll meal prep ahead of time so that she can throw something in to heat up more easily.  

Pro Tip: Keep things easy when you can while solo parenting, especially during dinner prep, because that’s when the kids start to get antsy or hungry or tired!

Sarah does a 7-7 schedule and keeps her boys on the same time schedule so that she only has do to one bedtime routine. So they try to eat at 5:30pm, just so they can fit everything in. 

After eating dinner (and usually this is quick for them!), they play a little while she cleans up, and then they start the bath at 6:15pm. They clean up toys while she gets the bath ready, so that she doesn’t have to come down to extra mess when he’s down. They pick up together so they can transition to their bath (together!)

When they’re done, she puts her toddler in a robe and he gets his special time to do his iPad or play with a special toy in his room. This was especially helpful when she was nursing her baby before bed! Since he needed to be entertained for a while, having the iPad was helpful because sometimes it’s just survival mode and it’s something he never got to do otherwise! (And when Daddy is home, it’s not part of the routine. He also knows that when Mommy walks in after putting his brother down, the iPad goes off.)

Her bedtime routine with her baby is short at that point – read a book, put pajamas on, put in the bed, and lights out! Then with her toddler, they do pajamas, book time, and use the toddler clock to know it’s time for bed.

 

CATHERINE’S BEDTIME ROUTINE

They do a bath, lotion, brush teeth, brush hair and then go into the room for the diaper, pajamas, and sleep sack. They usually do 3 books, based on how much time they have! Then they put him in the crib with a sip of water, sing a song, turn the sound machine on, and lights are off! After a last kiss goodnight, the door is shut! 

Sometimes he goes right to sleep and sometimes it takes him 10-15 minutes, but he eventually falls asleep on his own.

Because she’s home with him all day, they don’t always do the one-on-one playtime – and he usually prefers the books! That’s great. Lean into what you and your kid like to do!!

 

LINDSAY’S AFTERNOON & BEDTIME ROUTINE

Lindsay’s son is a great napper so during nap times, since she’s not a big meal planner, she likes to figure out what they’ll be eating for the day. They try to eat dinner together, but after transitioning to one nap, sometimes he’s eating so early that she isn’t quite ready yet.

They also like to take walks before dinner, then come home, get dinner ready, and eat. THen bedtime routine begins. When it’s just her at home, after dinner she cleans him up, and then they have some toy bins that he plays with in his room for a while. That way she can get everything together for bedtime for him.

When Dad is home, they do a full bath but when it’s just her, she does more of a quick bath or wipe down on the changing table. This helps him get clean from the day but also queues him that it’s bedtime. It saves her time and allows her to start bedtime just a few minutes later, which helps when she’s solo. 

When Dad is home, they get play time and good quality time together which gives her more of a breather.

 

SLEEP TRAINING WHILE SOLO PARENTING

One of the questions that I get when parents are solo parenting or have different schedules is how or when to do one of our sleep programs.

For Lindsay, she said that her son was 4.5 months and they just KNEW they needed to do something different. She had a new job offer, they weren’t sleeping, and they were waking up all night long. When she found our sleep program, her husband wasn’t a believer, but she knew it was worth a shot. They knew it couldn’t get worse. 

So they watched the videos and read everything and decided to start the Baby Sleep Program the 2nd day that her husband would be home for one of his weeks off. By time he was going back to working nights the next week, things were in a much better place and she could continue going like she had. But by the 3rd night anyway, he was sleeping on his own, in his crib, with one feeding overnight. 

They were anticipating a lot of crying and push back but he was so ready to sleep! And they were too. The third night felt so luxurious, in fact, that they joked they were in a hotel!

 

BEDTIME ROUTINE GUIDE

By the way, if you have a toddler who maybe did beautifully for bedtime as a baby, and now things have changed – stalling, “forgetting” bedtime routines, coming with a battle plan to do anything BUT get ready for sleep each night – then we have everything you need to get back on track and make sleep a thing again with your great bedtime routine!

In our Bedtime Routine Chart & Sleep Cue Cards Guide, I give you the bedtime routine steps for your child and a beautifully custom designed routine chart for your child to use each night. Plus, a pack of custom created sleep cue cards to help remind your chid *how* we fall asleep each night. 

Be sure to click here to make your bedtime routine even more seamless while you’re solo parenting!

 

CONCLUSION

If you are the solo parent during bedtime, we know it can be HARD! But these 3 moms have given great encouragement and suggestions for making it through those weeks without Dad around for bedtime.

Here are some of their tips:

  • Take it a moment at a time. It can feel so daunting, but you can do this.
  • Accept that your house will not always be clean, that you’re going to have to let things go, and that it’s going to be hard. Nothing is going to be perfect, so try not to stress about it. 
  • If you have multiple children, get the younger child down first. Find something that works for your older child to keep them entertained for a while, whether that’s books or a special toy in their room, or something that feels meaningful and special to them.
  • Keep the routines somewhat the same when Dad is around so that it can be smoother and more fun for everyone involved. (Need help with your bedtime routines? Click here!)
  • It will get better. It can feel so daunting at first, but remember that you’ll get used to it and you’ll find what works for you. 

And, if you’re ready to make sleep a thing in general, then you will want to grab the Sleep Program that is right for you and your child – which you can do, even while navigating solo parenting at bedtime! Click here to learn more!!

If you are the primary caretaker for most (or even some!) nights out of the month, that’s a big deal and a lot on you. So I hope this encourages you with some awesome suggestions and tips for how to be happy, healthy, and well-rested, even while solo parenting!

 

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Solo parenting bedtime routines

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