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How to manage bedtime when one parent works away

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Both Fay and Becky have partners who work away for several weeks at a time. But they certainly aren’t the only ones who have to manage solo bedtimes – and just general parenting – for several weeks at a time. Whatever the reason, it can be tricky, so we thought we’d put together a blog with some helpful tips.

Tiny ones

If your little one is under a year, your trickiest time is likely to be bedtime as you’ll both be tired. Make sure you have a bedtime routine that you can stick to every evening. Keep it relatively short, perhaps with some quiet play downstairs together, before 20-30 minutes upstairs for bath, pj and story time. If you’re juggling two or more children at bedtime, then make sure you prioritise who goes to bed earlier – this may be your older child if they’ve recently dropped a nap, or if it’s your youngest, your older one/s will need to play quietly for a few minutes while you settle the other. 

Toddlers and pre-schoolers

For toddlers and pre-schoolers, you might want to think about helping them count down until mummy or daddy is home again. Fay’s top tip here is her sweetie jar. She fills her jar with the same number of sweets as the nights that her husband is away. Each morning her children get one sweetie, and when they are down to the last one, they know daddy is coming home! This can also work well if the time is suddenly longer or shorter, by taking away or adding some more sweets.

Likewise, a token can be a really good idea for this age. Something like a toy car, for example, is given to the little one, while their parent is away and then when they come back, they give it back again.

Older children

The key for older children is making sure that they know when their parent or carer is going away. Otherwise, they may worry that another parent or carer will leave too. So, always have a proper goodbye – and this goes for whenever you leave your little ones, don’t sneak off, but say goodbye, so they know you’re leaving and tell them when you’re coming back.

Top tips for any age

  • If you have a Tonie Box or similar, you can record your own stories, or record you reading out an old favourite. And you don’t actually need a Tonie Box for this – you could record them on your phone instead!
  • Be wary of a FaceTime conversation too close to bedtime, as it can push tired little ones over the edge, and you may end up with upset little ones, which isn’t going to help you have that nice, smooth bedtime.
  • Have some fun things planned to keep your little one’s minds off who they’re missing. Catch up with friends or have a sleepover at someone else’s house!

These tips should really help, but if your children do not have great sleep skills and are not able to settle without help, it may be a little trickier. If so, please get in touch, we’d love to help you get the sleep you need, especially if you’re flying solo.

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