Episode 51- Balancing Divorce and Your Child's Sleep
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Episode Highlights:

  • Sample Scheduled for every stage of naps to adjust with ease
  • Understanding how to adjust and how long it will take to go back to “normal”

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Podcast Episode Transcripts:

Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.

Welcome to the kids sleep show, where we help tired parents from around the world to get their children to fall asleep independently, sleep through the night and build healthy sleep habits for life. I’m your host, Courtney Zentz. Now let’s sleep together. Hey, everyone, Courtney Zentz. Here, I am excited to chat with you a little bit more about managing the separation and divorce of parents, alongside balancing a child who we want to maintain good sleep hygiene, especially if they’re going to be in between two different houses. So first and foremost, I want to chat a little bit more about what it looks like when you have a child who all of a sudden, you know, parents are going through divorce, there is going to be some aspect presumably, of a custody arrangement whereby the child will sleep in, you know, one parents house a certain number of days, another parents house a certain number of days, and you know, trying to keep the consistency in a child’s sleep hygiene. So, when you are dealing with a situation, which I’m sure if you’re listening to this and going through it is an extremely stressful time, the last thing that you need to do is then stress about how these changes are going to impact your little one and their sleep. I think it’s always best if we’re upfront and honest as age appropriate around what is happening, but that obviously both parents still love the little one, it’s just that mommy and daddy are gonna stay in separate places, right? So you’ve had that conversation with your little ones. And perhaps you are now in separate living quarters, and your children are kind of bouncing between the various different houses on certain days per the custody agreement, that is totally fine. What I encourage parents to do is to actually sit down and communicate together on what the bedtime timing should be, what the routine should be, what it looks like. Presumably, if you’re coming from the same home and moving into two separate homes, you’re going to have some idea already of what you know, goes on in the house around that bedtime. And frankly, for children, they thrive on consistency. So you want to have it be consistent in both bedtime routines, regardless of which parent they are with at that time, that consistency and routine and structure. It does help a child to have confidence in bedtime, but also a bit of less anxiety around what is tonight going to look like. And frankly, kids are going to push boundaries depending on their age. And they’re going to see what can I get away with it this house versus what can I get away with that house. And I know sometimes it can be hard, especially during a divorce, it’s a very tough situation. But trying to communicate for the benefit of the child on what the expectations you know, should be or if you can’t agree 100% having some kind of amicable balance of that child’s needs, right? How much sleep does your child need to really be at their best cognitive behavioral Lee developmentally, especially children under the age of five, if you’re having to go in and wake them up in the morning to go to school, they’re not getting the right amount of sleep, right? That’s a flat first and foremost, so you’ve got to bring bedtime back, right? That consistency in your child’s routine. And sleep space is also something that’s very important. You know, early on in my career, I actually was hired by a father of a sweet little baby. And the mother and him were just dating, she got pregnant had the child they had subsequently broke up, but he still wanted to be very actively involved, you know, 50% of the time in this little one’s life. And, you know, it was an experience for me that I did learn from but you know, frankly, I felt a little bit more sad for the child because, you know, mom was just like, totally against every single thing we were doing and frankly, what she was doing wasn’t safe. And the father recognized that and he basically said like, I’m not on board with this when the child at my house, they’re sleeping in a crib, they’re sleeping with nothing in that crib, they’re sleeping in a safe space,
they will have you know,
everything that I can do to prevent things from happening around especially something like SIDS this was a newborn probably about five months of age when we work together. We actually never even got started because it just turned into such a mess. And they were going through a custody fight and such and he just said look like for right now I’m just gonna pause and you know, I didn’t ever hear back from him, but he did have all of the information he needed to implement You know, a safe sleep program successfully, but the mother was a little bit on the opposite end of his parenting philosophies, right. And it was a really hard situation because he’s like, my child, I don’t feel like is being taken care of not in a dangerous way, but just in a safe sleep way. And he, you know, so you’re gonna have those types of tense situations. And for me, that was like a huge learning experience, to try to balance the feelings of everyone. I invited the mom on the call, I invited mom to educate herself on some of the foundations around sleep and such. And it was just a very different thing, parenting philosophy, which is cool, like, I’m not for everybody, that’s fine. You don’t have to like me, I’m going to tell you the truth, whether or not you like it, right. And some of the things that she was doing were, frankly, unsafe, and I couldn’t get on board with those things. And, you know, it turned into a situation where again, I you know, I let them know, look at your house, you control what happens and children adapt to their environment. So if you wanted this little one to sleep in a crib, in their own room with a monitor safe in a sleep sack with nothing else in the space, great, you can absolutely do that. And that will be the way in which they recognize they’re at your house and how they sleep, right? And then when they go home to moms or to your partners or what have
you, right? They can sleep in whatever situation is happening at their house children adapt, regardless of their age, right? Whether they’re babies, infants, toddlers, school age, children, I worked with an eight year old about a year ago, actually, I had finished up working with the family, they had a baby, he was roughly about six months when we work together. And you know, we got finished with him. He was a rock star. And then I started working with mom, the set mom who, you know, just had this little one with her husband, and their stepdaughter was eight and you know, again, kind of split custody. And just a little bit of stuff going on at mom’s house where, you know, there were, I don’t know, just like mom was sleeping with the daughter, because the boyfriend seemed to be a little abusive, there was just a lot of stuff going on. And, you know, dad was like, Look, you know, Mom and I met her stepmom. And I recognize like we want, we want to fix this because we’re seeing it affect her in a lot of different ways. And, you know, Dad was having to lay in there for two hours at bedtime every night. And, you know, it was just turning into this whole thing. And we started working together, she was eight years old. And I will say like, I got an email. I mean, we did beautiful during our three week program together, she was going down independently, dad would still go through and do the routine, but like she was starting to find confidence in her bedroom, and safety in that space and feel good about rest and how her body felt. And by like a month later, she took like a full one ad whereas at first she was super adverse to making any changes in her own sleep. And she was eight years old. So she understood. And by about a month later, the mom had emailed me and was like, You won’t believe it like she’s so into her sleep sanctuary now. And, you know, it’s just this beautiful thing. Moms on board now kick the boyfriend to the curb. She’s doing great at both houses, right. So, you know, while there may not always be agreement Initially, I think that when you’re building good sleep habits for kids, it’s super important for them, right? I talked about zoo animals a lot, because it’s my little meditation turtle I use with my kids and mean their babies, and they do well with it. I like it as an adult. And frankly, you know, older kids can operate it themselves and find peace in a really anxious time. Right now, there is a lot of craziness happening in the world. And it’s with that balance and consistency that kids find grounding and less than their own anxieties. Right. I think as parents, especially going through divorce is just a terrible time for everybody involved. Nobody gets married, going can’t wait to get divorced one day, right. But things don’t work out. And that’s okay. Right. I don’t know the statistic around, you know, the number of marriages that end in divorce. I’ve always heard it’s 50%. But that seems a little high. But then again, I’ve also got a friend who’s a divorce attorney and said he has more business now because of the past six months than he’s going to need for the rest of his life. So I guess your true colors come out when you’re that close in quarantine for a number of times. But you know, it’s not always going to work out. And that’s all right, for the benefit of your children doing things to include a consistent bedtime routine, consistent timing, offering support and comfort but balancing that with creating really bad habits, right, because those habits are going to impact you as well, not just your little one sleep, they’re going to impact you depending on what that choice is. Right? And making sure that you’re setting them up for success with the right bedtime with minimizing distractions like tablets or screen time or movies. I have a client that I just finished with who had an infant and they were watching YouTube videos innocently during the bedtime routine.
And the child was just getting wired and then would freak out and cry and was getting so overstimulated and then they would just expect to lame in the crib and you’d fall asleep and it’s like what doesn’t work that Why right blue lights a stimulant. So again, like creating a routine that’s consistent across both houses, trying to set some boundaries around rules and control what you can write, control what you can control in your house, which is a consistent routine, consistent timing, and consistency, consistently balancing wants versus needs in the middle of the night, right. If your child’s waking up in the middle of the night, and they need you for something, absolutely, our job as parents is to go to them, right? to support them to get them what they truly need. But if they’re just waking up, because they want to come in your room, hold your hand and have you walk them back to their room, but they don’t actually need anything. That’s a habit that you have to break because it’s not healthy for them. Or you, frankly, I’m sure you lay back in bed and get super mad that you can’t fall back to sleep now, right? Because you’ve been stimulated by getting woken up. And if you were woken up in your REM sleep, you’re not going to make that up. So now you’re gonna feel gross The next day, right? Like there’s a lot of this that is, you know, essentially kind of steamrolls into other things. So, balancing consistency is the biggest for children, whether you’re in the home together, whether you’re listening to this and going through a divorce, whether you’re thinking about divorce, whether you’re separated, maybe your long distance, you know, I have a girlfriend of mine that lives in Australia, and her husband is in Singapore, and she’s carried the weight of those children, because they’ve been with her all the time. And they’re just moving back to Singapore. And, you know, it’s hard, man, like we’re all trying to balance a lot. And I think just having that balance and consistency for so many kids is important. If you’re ever stuck, and you’re going through a divorce, if you have questions like I encourage you to absolutely reach out and to connect with me on Hey, am I doing things right? And I might just say, you know what, you’re great. You don’t need me for anything you’re doing well keep doing what you’re doing. Or I may just say, hey look like if this is starting to impact you, mentally or physically if it’s starting to impact your children and their ability to grow and learn and stay present in class like absolutely reach out. I work with so many different children, so many different family situations like nothing is out of the ordinary. When it comes to the dynamic of families that I work with, I just want you to know that I can help you and help your little one. Regardless of the situation, you can build good sleep hygiene and children and they’re super adaptable to whatever environment they’re in. So just keep that with you. I hope everyone has a beautiful blessed day. Thank you so much for listening. And remember jump out to facebook and join me in my group slumber Made Simple, or we can chat about anything that’s on your mind. I offer free Q and A’s every week I jump in live I do free trainings, there’s tons of content out there. I’m really just here to help and support you on your journey to sleep. And I look forward to chatting with you soon. Bye for now. Hold on one more thing before you go. As a valued listener of the kids sleep show. I want to help you build a great sleeper not just in the times you’re listening to the show. But all day every day. Every week of the year. I have a new Facebook group called slumber Made Simple. It’s a place to gather with other parents looking for sleep support, laughs and the latest in sleep research to build a family that is rested and at their best day in and day out. If you want to be part of the community where you can get free sleep support, weekly training sessions, unbelievable content and so much more. Head on over to tiny transitions.com forward slash community that’s tiny transitions.com forward slash community or head over to Facebook and search slumber Made Simple. drop me a note and let me know when you join. I can’t wait to see you there.

Resources: Read the Blog on Traveling and Timezone Hopping with Children Free Sleep Training Workshop – Making Over Bedtime Episode Highlights: Sample Scheduled for every stage of naps to adjust with ease Understanding how to adjust and how long it will take to go back to “normal” Ready to Sleep Better? Book a Call Podcast […]