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Co-parents need to cooperate to deal with children's sleep issues

When parents separate or divorce and children split their time between two homes, it's common for them to experience sleep issues. Some of these issues may be the result of anxiety and sadness about the changes in their life and their family. However, differences in bedtime routines and schedules between the two homes can also cause or at least worsen sleep issues.

Kids may experience insomnia or (at the other end of the spectrum) they may not want to get out of bed. Young children may regress to behaviors they'd outgrown -- like bedwetting, thumb-sucking or not wanting to sleep alone.

Parents can help prevent or help lessen sleep problems in part by maintaining the same bedtime hours in both homes. This is especially important if a child spends some school nights in each home. However, even if one parent only has the child on the weekends, they shouldn't vary their bedtime too drastically. It's best to have one bedtime/waking up time for weekdays and another for weekends, regardless of where the child is.

Parents can also help their children sleep by keeping the same bedtime routine. This may include reading a story, playing a game or listening to music. If they have a favorite toy, night light and/or bedding, it's best to have them in both homes.

Typically, when parents are able to work together to address their children's sleep problems, they will dissipate over time. If you and your co-parent aren't able to communicate amicably enough to deal with the issue or if you feel that your co-parent isn't doing their part, it may be worthwhile to include some provisions regarding bedtime in your parenting plan. Talk with your attorney if you believe that would be best for your child.

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