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overnights with toddlers, please help

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imdimd74 posted 1/12/2014 22:33 PM

I haven't posted in a very long time. To briefly catch everyone up, I separated from WW in May 2013 after having been married for 5 years. At that time, our only child, was a 2 year old daughter.

For the first 3 months, I lived in various hotel rooms. For the past 5 months, I have lived in 1 bedroom 1 den apartment 7 minutes from the marital home. We have a nanny that is with our daughter 10 hours/day, except for the 2 days she's in preschool for 2.5 hours each day. Our daughter has no health issues or disabilities. Her development physically and mentally has been age-appropriate.

My DD has yet to spend a night in my home with me. I do, however, see her everyday with very few exceptions. I either see her briefly in the morning before work, or I see her for a couple of hours after work before her bedtime at 8. I also spend a half-day with her each Saturday and Sunday. Each time I'm with her, I'm either at the marital home or a playground somewhere. Very recently, I occasionally bring her to my apartment to play.

When is the appropriate time for a toddler her age to start spending the night in my home with me? Is it appropriate for her to ever spend half of the time with me (not necessarily right this minute but ever)?

I very much want my DD to start spending the night with me now. I don't want to automatically just jump to 50/50, but I would like to have a structured transition to prepare her emotionally. My STBXW doesn't ever want her to be with me 50% of the time. She has stated that she thinks our DD will "soon" be able to spend the night with me but will not commit to a time to start the overnights.

Can anyone please share with me their experiences with this? I would like to know what is reasonable about overnights.

Thanks in advance for your opinions

roughroadahead posted 1/12/2014 22:40 PM

My daughter was under 2 at the time of the S last year. She started over nights EOW with XH as soon as we has established separate residences. It may be helpful if you could explain why you even question whether it is appropriate. You could certainly pursue overnight visitation legally, although I would want to make sure your DD has her own place to sleep at your apartment.

Nature_Girl posted 1/12/2014 22:51 PM

There is not a consensus on the right developmental age for very young children to begin overnights away from their primary caregiver. Some states & child experts say that a child under age three needs to stay only with their primary caregiver. Other states/experts say that overnights can happen.

I have to wonder if you might be best advised to meet with an attorney or child psychologist and ask about getting a different apartment so your daughter could have her own bedroom. Again, states differ as to what is proper.

imdimd74 posted 1/12/2014 23:31 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Financially, this is what I could afford at the moment. My plan would be for DD to stay in the real bedroom while I would convert the den into my bedroom.

I'm asking about appropriateness because I want to make sure I'm wanting her to spend the night with me for her sake, not mine. I know that it's difficult to find consensus from experts regarding this issue for very young children/toddlers. I feel like I'm at the point where I have to threaten litigation to get stbx to work on a reasonable timeline, and I want to make sure I'm doing the right thing.

Jrazz posted 1/12/2014 23:35 PM

I don't have an answer, but responding as a toddler-mama, THANK YOU for putting her first. She's going to do well no matter what with a daddy who loves and respects her this much.

I agree that getting an attorney and child psychologist in on this is a good idea. Your STBXWW doesn't want to give DD up half the time? Well, she gave up the right to that when she broke the marriage. You keep doing the right thing, and that means being as present in your DD's life as you feel is appropriate.


Dreamboat posted 1/13/2014 01:05 AM

My DD started spending several nights at a time with her grandparents by the time she was 12 months. By they time she was 2 years, she would spend up to a week at a time with them.

IMO, a 2 year old is developmentally ready to spend multiple nights with a well know relative by they time they are 2 years old. As a mother, I can tell you that it is hard to let go. However, I knew that spending time with her grandparents would be enriching her life and so I did let go.

You need to start insisting that DD spend the night with you. Start with every other Saturday and see how it goes. I bet it will be just fine. After that. start to insist on both Fri and Sat every other weekend. If your WW resists, then ask your L to get temp orders.

In your final orders, you need to ask for 50/50. It is not unusual for 3 year olds to have a 50/50 schedule with their parents. As long as each parent provides a consistent and loving environment then it will not harm the child. You have been very involved in your child's life and so you should insist that you stay involved to the maximum amount allowed.

Good luck

SBB posted 1/13/2014 04:48 AM

My youngest was 22m when overnights started. X had only put her to bed by himself a handful of times before then. 50/50 on a 2/2/3 schedule.

Would you consider XWW the primary caregiver? Was she during your M? What was the extent of your role in care? Is it more or less now?

Are you doing the dinner/bath/bed routine when you see her each day? If not I would try to start that. 'Play' is quite different to care, IMO both are equally important.

Have you had legal advice on this? In Australia at least I know that the longer an arrangement has been in place (i.e.: no overnights for you) the more it becomes likely that that is what it will be ruled as going forward.

Has she ever slept anywhere but the bed at the marital home? Does she still have day sleeps? Can she do those at your home? If she has a teddy she sleeps with you might want to buy a replica or see if XWW will let it travel with her.

I'd be pushing on the overnights, personally. If your house is child-friendly, safe, secure and clean and ready for her there is no reason to not have her overnight.

Whilst we were S under the same roof and waiting for the house to sell X and I alternated nights - whoever picked the girls up did dinner/bath/bed and had the house to 10.30pm that night. The other had to stay out until 10.30pm. This worked because it allowed each of us the space to enjoy our time with the girls and also reduced the tension and chance for altercation. I can't quite recall but I think we did the same for weekends.

When the house was sold we both talked up the excitement of their new homes, new rooms etc.

Whilst you're not in in-house S I still think an arrangement similar to this will help your daughter get used to you taking on more of the 'care' role whether it is more than during the M or back to what it was during the M.

imdimd74 posted 1/13/2014 11:25 AM

WW was the primary caregiver before separation, and she definitely is now, by default since I moved out. Before and after S, I have been able to and do perform dinner/bath/bedtime routines without problem. I also can and do perform other needs like naps, breakfast, snacks, daily activities, etc.

She has slept in other family members' houses when traveling with WW (although WW reports that she has had difficulty with this). When WW is out of town on business trips, I have slept in the marital home with my daughter, at times 2 or 3 nights consecutively without problems.

She's now starting to transition out of naps, so I'm not sure if starting off by napping at my apartment would be helpful.

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