My partner is about to deploy and usually does bedtime. Help!
Many parents in military families act as a single parent at one time or another, if they are not single parents all of the time. Preparing for a deployment can be a real challenge with a multitude of things to plan for – and, frankly, bedtime routines may not be on the top of your list. But, if your partner or close family member is about to deploy, whether or not s/he is the one who usually does bedtime, there are some things you can do to help make the bedtime transition as smooth as possible.
• If your partner is the only one who does the bedtime routine now, start sharing the responsibility sooner rather than later. Get to know the usual routine and try to mimic it as closely as possible when you start doing bedtime. For more information on how to get transition bedtime from one parent to another, check out this video.
• If your partner currently does part of the bedtime routine that only she can do (for example, breastfeeding), focus on moving or changing that part of the routine first. This is especially important if your little one uses that to fall asleep at bedtime or to get back to sleep in the middle of the night. Sometimes, that’s as simple as moving nursing to the beginning of the routine instead of having it at the end. There are several posts on this website about how to stop feeding to sleep, like this one by Dr. Lisa Meltzer. You could also (or instead) try to get your little one used to having a bottle at bedtime instead of nursing.
• Regardless of who does the bedtime routine now, consider how to keep the parent who is being deployed as involved at bedtime as possible while away. Consider, for example, recording mom reading a favorite bedtime story (or two or three), saying prayers, or singing a song. Playing the recording at bedtime may help your child feel connected to mom while she is deployed. You can also consider setting up videoconferencing on some nights so that she read stories live at bedtime.About Dr. Erin Leichman