New Parents: Establish a bedtime routine and keep your sanity

As a new parent it’s easy to get overwhelmed with work, chores, and the nerve-racking responsibility of caring for the baby. Perhaps the worst thing a new dad can ever hear is the baby crying when your brain is already fried at the end of the day. When both parents have jobs it only compounds the stress.

stewieMy wife and I got in the habit of rocking our baby to sleep with a bottle and some background noise. It’s nice to do in the first few months of your child’s life since he is so small, cute, tender, and new. But if you continue this beyond 6 months you’re setting yourself up for frustration and stress. Since both us parents work the old bedtime routine of rocking him to sleep for 20 minutes (and then he’d wake up again) was tedious and exhausting. 

Both of our parents warned us early on — and not purposely, we ignored them for the most part. “Give him a bedtime and stick to it”, they would tell us. It wasn’t until he was about 7 months old that we made a conscious effort to put him to bed at the same time every night — without rocking him to sleep. It really hit us hard when Michelle and I left the baby with her mom one night and went out for a drink or two. We returned a few hours later to find out that he didn’t want to go to bed, screamed bloody-murder, and gave the grandparents hell. They had tried to put him to bed around 8pm and he didn’t have it. That’s when we knew it was time to drop the hammer and get this kid on a schedule.

The VERY next night we put him to bed with a bottle at 7:30pm after he was fed, bathed, and hair was dry. No rocking him to sleep and no quiet time in the dark room. Just a kiss goodnight and his music mobile soother with a little monkey swinging from the tree. He cried and it was hard to bear, not knowing how long it would go  on. We tried our hardest to watch TV and ignore him. After about 10-15 minutes went by we noticed it was quiet. No more cries, just the sound of the TV and my wife and I talking. It was one of the most relieving moments that we had felt in awhile. 

To some women and moms this might sound like typical dad complaining — but seriously just listen to me and try it!

Michael is now 14 months old and he loves his bedtime routine. It’s to the point where we tell him “it’s bedtime” and he’ll follow us into his room, allow us to lay him down, and reach for his bottle. We try to get him down by 8pm and usually no earlier than 7:15. Sometimes, like last night, he’ll cry for a few minutes but eventually he’ll give in and go to sleep.

Knowing that we have peace and quiet from 8pm on is an amazing thing when you’re a new parent! It’s when you finally get to read a book, try to work on your business from home (if you’re like me), watch TV and relax, and enjoy your partner like you did before the baby was around.

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