Effects of Remarriage on a Child's Sleep Habits
A parent's divorce or widowhood is enough to disrupt a child's sleep pattern; and if romance and remarriage enter the picture, it's yet another major disruption. The following examples highlight some of the bedtime challenges your family might encounter:
- A child accustomed to co-sleeping (sleeping in the same room or bed as you) can find herself out in the cold if your new partner thinks the master bedroom is off-limits to tykes.
- Your new better-half may take a dim view of nighttime wake-ups by a tot who's used to seeing Mommy and Daddy in bed.
- You and your new partner likely have some different ideas about your child's bedtime routine.
- Even a child who takes this big life change well is going to find your new relationship unsettling enough to disturb his nighttime sleep.
To get your little one back on the sleep track, follow these guidelines:
- Engage your new partner in some straight talk. Surprise parties are fun, but middle-of-the-night surprises aren't the right way to start off a new marriage. (Well, at least not surprises that involve the kids!) To avoid them, discuss your current setup with your new honey and come to some decisions about the kids' bedtime routines. For instance, do you allow your child to come to your room in the night? Do you have a firm bedtime or a flexible one? Thinking about these questions beforehand can make it a smoother ride.
- Plan ahead when you're blending children. If you both have kids, you may need some heavy-duty negotiations to create a routine that works for everyone. The closer in age the children are, the more important it is to have similar expectations. (If one child is 4 or 5 years older than another, you can always say, "Well, he's older — that's why his bedtime is later." If they're three months apart, however, this line definitely doesn't work!)
- Separate bedrooms are ideal, but often blended families mean blending bedrooms as well. All children, regardless of age, need time to get used to a new family arrangement. Luckily, kids under 3 usually don't object to sharing a room; in fact, they may welcome a roommate. School-aged kids accustomed to their privacy are much more likely to have problems sharing with a step-sibling. Soothe prickly feelings by using screens to divide rooms and setting firm rules about not messing with a roommate's stuff.
- Involve your new spouse in the nighttime routine. There's nothing like a snuggle and a shared book to begin cementing an important relationship.