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Sleeping Arrangement Chaos

atleastimnotalone's picture

I finally took the plunge and joined an online stepparent forum, because I cannot seem to find another successful outlet for the range of stepmother-feelings I experience. 

I would like to begin by saying I have a deep sense of care and responsibility for my stepchildren. But, I do not love them as if they were my own. And I think I am terrified to tell my partner that. His daughter, 9, and son, 5, (whom he shares 50/50 custody with their mother) are his world-- there is absolutely nothing that could ever change that fact, and I have known that since the beginning. When we first started dating, I had limited interaction with the kids. When I did see them, it would be in some sort of adventerous fashion where we had plenty of opportunity to laugh, connect, and share new experiences together. It was simple, it was fun. Eventually, my partner and I became serious and I would spend several nights a week at the house. At this point, I did not see myself as their stepparent, I was there to build my life with their father and they were coming along for the ride. A little after a year into our relationship, we decided to move in together. It was a transition for all of us, but especially the kids because my partner allowed them to sleep in his bedroom every night. Since I had officially sentimented my place in the bedroom, he decided to allow the kids to sleep on the living room floor, since the living room is where him and I spend the majority of our evening doing homework or watching the television until we go to bed. 

The kids have their own bedroom, full of toys and clothes and two warm beds. The kids stay with us every Friday-Tuesday morning. Instead of having the kids sleep in their bedroom, my partner tells them to make a bed on the floor of the living room every single night. This has been happening for the last year, and it bothers me deeply. Firstly, my partner and I both work full-time jobs and attend college full-time. Most weeknights, we go to bed around 12:30am as we are up completing assignments and catching up on each other. The lights stay on and the tv plays in the background, something we are both accostumed to. On Sunday and Monday nights, we have the same routine, however the kids are "sleeping" on the floor as we have the lights on, tv playing in the background, and are catching up with each other. I think the arrangement is completely inappropriate. The kids aren't falling asleep until midnight, and they're up playing with our three dogs and flipping tv channels until they finally crash. I am beyond tired of our family room becoming the kids' bedroom every night. I also feel like we are failing as parents by not putting the kids to bed in their own bedroom. I no longer want to contribute to the bedtime fiasco, so I have been clocking-out after dinner and spend the remainder of my evening alone in our bedroom until he is allowed to come upstairs (when his daugther finally falls asleep) after midnight.

If my partner were on the same page as me, he wouldn't allow his 9-year old daughter to dictate everything, especially something as important as bedtime. How should I go about bringing this up to my partner? I feel like I have no authority in how the kids are raised, but I cannot bite my tongue on this any longer. This situation is driving a wedge between us, and it's also effecting his elementary-aged children.


notarelative's picture

Even if he is in the room with them, the tv should be off at a reasonable hour. Maybe he can start with no tv after a certain time.

Since the kids are there on Sunday and Monday nights, and they have school the next day, maybe you could start suggesting that they start sleeping in their beds when they have school the next day. There is no way a child falling asleep at midnight is getting enough sleep for learning the next day.

I hope he's the one getting the sleep deprived kids ready for school in the morning. If not, step back and let him do it. 


atleastimnotalone's picture

He get's up with them in the morning, but my God is it a struggle. Thankfully, I leave before anyone else has to wake up. 

I am going to bring up the school night point tonight. But, I also feel like easing into this situation isn't really going to help either. These kids need structure ASAP. I would prefer if we eliminate the living room sleeping all together.

tog redux's picture

You aren't failing them, he is. He's the parent, not you.  I can see the occasional living room "sleepover" but the rest of the time, they should be in their beds.  What's his excuse for not making them do so?

atleastimnotalone's picture

He allows them to sleep in the living room every night because his daughter cries if she is forced to sleep in her bedroom, like it's some sort of punishment. She has attachment issues, she see's a school counselor once a week, but as a stepparent I do not have the opportunity to speak directly with the counselor and communicate what I believe his daughter needs. The son just follows suit of his sister, but he wouldn't mind sleeping in the bedroom. 

TrueNorth77's picture

Most kids cry at first when made to sleep in their own room (after co-sleeping). You just have to stick with it, and once they see they will not win the battle, they will adjust. 

tog redux's picture

Work out a behavior management plan, where they can earn stars for sleeping in their room and then can trade those in for a reward.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

How chaotic. I agree with you that this is inappropriate. For a man "whose kids are his world", he won't win any parenting trophies for this. And boy, do I feel sorry for those kids' teachers. Is BM aware of this? And how are the kids' grades?

Kids need and want structure and routine. It creates security and stability, fosters self discipline, and teaches them that rules and boundaries exist for them, too. That means your SO should establish a nightly routine of homework, dinner, bathing, etc. Children should not be sleeping in common rooms like pets.

Not loving skids is normal and simple biology, although you don't need to tell your SO that. Still, as an adult in the home you do have the right to speak up about things that don't work for you. Being silent gets you exactly nowhere in steplife, and good communication is important in any relationship. Have you discussed this with your SO? If you don't assert and stand up for you own needs, frustration and resentment will grow. I think I'd gather some data on how many hours of sleep kids need based on age, parenting articles on instilling good sleep habits, and have a come to Jesus dialogue with your SO. Be sure to emphasize that  your concern is for his  kids' wellbeing and lessening the nightly chaos. Maybe ask him how his parents handled his bedtime?



atleastimnotalone's picture

His BM went through a separation about six months ago and has been living with her mother since then, the kids do not have their own bedroom there so they're used to having a wild sleeping situation anyway. My stepson is in kindergarten, but he is well above average. My stepdaughter has struggled in school since her parents split four years ago. She's at the point where she is completely disinterested in school and she is in the fourth grade. I want to turn her ship around before she reaches the age where her academic habits stick.

I know it sounds ridiculous because I am an adult, but I have such a difficult time asserting myself. I suffer from a constant anxiety and fear that I wil be labeled as the evil stepmom if I try to change things around here.

My partner is more concerned about making his kids "happy". He doesn't like to upset his daughter by forcing her to sleep in her bed with the TV off, I haven't even heard him suggest it in over a month. 

Harry's picture

He just playing Disney Dad,  so his kids love him.  But doesn’t care if you love him.  Those kids should have a bed time.  Kids need sleep, 8 or 9 pm. In there beds light out.  He should want to play with you, not his kids at night.

You are going to have major problems, as time goes on.  He is not parenting his kids 

atleastimnotalone's picture

I agree that he needs to step up when it comes to parenting. However, his BM was cheating on him for years with her now ex-husband and left shortly after the birth of their son. 

I think he fears losing time with his kids, he never wants to be the bad guy because of all the animosity between his family and his BM's family.

Im ready to have this conversation with him, and if he doesn't see that its best for the kids then I can no longer be apart of this situation.

TrueNorth77's picture

I’m sorry, I just don’t see his logic in this scenario. A bed on the floor? Then staying up til midnight? What in the actual f**k? 

Im glad you are talking to him, hopefully he’s receptive. Maybe go in armed with some googled facts about how much sleep kids need at night, and standard bedtimes for their ages. I would have made it a week with these shenanigans before I shut it down. It’s your house too now!