Posts Tagged ‘routine’

Sleep Help for the Weary

Monday, November 7th, 2016

importance-of-early-bedtimeNews report that you probably already knew: Your kids need sleep. On the off chance that this idea of an early, consistent bedtime is news to you, let me quickly fill you in. Consistent bedtimes that allow enough sleep for children can contribute to fewer behavioral issues and even physical attributes like obesity later in life. While many often emphasize “early” bedtime, it’s possible one’s particular situation (e.g., wake up at 5 am versus 8 am) could alter what exactly “early” means for each individual family.

This study hits home especially for parents whose work schedule or family particulars don’t fit the classic kids-in-bed-by-8 routine. Early bedtime routines can also be a challenge for some families with multiple children, especially when one child is in the midst of newborn age, experiencing regression, or any number of other challenges come dusk. For some families, irregular or later bedtime routines are a necessity so evidence that early bedtime routines have a positive effect later in life can make them feel a whole bunch of negative.

Still, the most recent research says early bedtime (8 PM or earlier for preschoolers) lessens the likelihood of obesity in teenage years, even when other factors were controlled and accounted for. Researchers point out children who go to bed earlier are less likely to snack late into the night and are more likely to get a full night’s rest, allowing for more restorative sleep. Ultimately getting enough sleep, not the exact time one goes to sleep, is shown in research to be overall most critical for the mind and body.

In case your family struggles, it turns out we’ve got you covered! If you wonder still about how a routine might look, you can read from perspectives of a mom of one or another; mom of two; mom of four or another.

In trying to get that routine, you may consider want to know the ins and outs, dos and don’ts of sleep training. Perhaps you are troubleshooting challenges like crib climbing; whether or not to give up naps for the sake of bedtime routine; or sleep regression.

If you’re at your wits’ end with a sleepless or otherwise challenging night experience, perhaps my ah-ha moment on the great expectations of sleep will give you the feeling of comradery. There was also the time I spoke fondly—yes, fondly—of sleepless nights. Others also offer solidarity on the subject of children and sleep. And last, but possibly most important, two more offer the reality and encouragement to get through the sleepless periods of all mommy lives.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 6 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Incorporating a New Baby into Your Daily Life

Friday, November 4th, 2016

Incorporating a New Baby into Your Daily LifeI sit here typing this blog at 39 weeks pregnant. I have a recently turned 4-year-old daughter and a newly 2-year-old son. I am either eating, cleaning, or worrying these days about my life with three little ones. So, how do you incorporate a new baby into your daily life? How do you still make sure you take care of everyone’s needs, including your own? Here are some ideas I have on how to make the transition easy for all involved.

Remember, you are supermom. I had a friend tell me that once, and it has never left my mind. Don’t let yourself get hung up on unrealistic expectations. There will be days when no one has real clothes on and you don’t shower. There may be days when your kids watch too much television so you can take care of a sick infant. All of this is okay. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. You can handle it all with grace and a smile. Celebrate small victories. If all you do today is feed your kids supper and snuggle, that’s a victory.

It’s okay to accept help. With a new baby comes new responsibility. Let your husband or friend help as needed. If you have children in school, allow someone to help you get them there. If you have a child that needs more attention, invite family or friends to come babysit. I am awful at accepting help, but I am learning as I age that I need it more often. If friends or family want to bring you meals after baby arrives, take them and show your gratitude. If you have older children, allow them to help in small ways. My daughter is a big help when I need to shower currently.

Start slowly and take small steps. It will be a transition for everyone in your household to have a new baby. Expect some chaos. When my son was born, my daughter wasn’t quite 2. She regressed with potty training, and I was convinced she hated me. Let siblings help with baby duties, such as getting diapers or wipes. If you are bottle feeding, allow your older children to help with feedings. My daughter already loves my nursing pillow, so I plan on having her get it for me when I need to feed the baby. Don’t expect the transition to go perfectly or quickly.

Remember a new baby is also a time of change for you, momma. Take care of your emotions and make sure to take time to eat, too. Don’t worry if things don’t go smoothly for a while. Find ways to make life easier. I know I plan on wearing this baby as much as possible so I can still function. Just remember it is just a stage, and don’t with the newborn days away. Before you know it, your kids and baby will all be in sync with the new routine.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2, almost three, in Arkansas. She is ready to have this third baby…any day now.

Do We Need a Daily Routine?

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

During my baby’s first year, one of the most common topics of conversation was about how she was sleeping.  Friends/family/moms in mom groups/strangers in the grocery line all seemed really interested in how she was sleeping.  Once we had established a daily routine, my response was much more positive to the dreaded sleep question. Routines are needed because they let your baby what to expect next, according to Babycenter.  When babies can anticipate what happens next, it provides comfort to them and helps them sleep better. Experts say that routines can be established as early as 2 months or as old as 6 months old, depending on your (and your baby’s) personality.

My first daughter was a snacker. She liked to nurse for short amounts of time every hour or two all day, every day up until she was about six months old. At about 6 months, we started to establish a routine with her, encouraging her to eat more during the day and sleep for longer stretches at night. My younger daughter was content to nurse for long amounts of time, less frequently. We worked out our routine around 4 months. Establishing a routine earlier with my second daughter also benefited my first because we returned to many of our activities that we did before the baby was born.

There is a wide range of philosophies about establishing routines, ranging from the parents setting the routines to basing the daily routine on the baby’s natural schedule and everything in between. For me, and my children, building a routine around their natural schedules worked best.  However, I am a stay-at-home mom, so I have flexibility with our days.

I found that using time intervals–instead of basing the routine off the clock–created a routine that was flexible but still offered my babies the comfort about what was coming up next.  Juniper was the most happy with about 3-3.5 hoursbetween waking and going back to sleep.  When she was about 6 months old, Juniper’s routine would begin with her waking up for the day.  I would feed her breakfast, play with her and do tummy time while her big sister was eating breakfast, get the three of us dressed, then about 2.5 hours after she initially woke up, I would nurse her for about a half an hour to forty-five minutes until she fell asleep for nap.  During her naptime, Lily and I would do one of her classes or another activity (like going for a walk or to the playground).  I would let Juniper sleep as long as she wanted, and then we would start the routine over (meal of solids, play/activity, nurse, nap) again, this would fit into about 3/3.5 hours.  At this point, Juniper was taking two naps a day and going to bed around 6/6:30 at night.  Because we were not tied to the clock, if Juniper wanted to nurse an extra time or take an extra nap, our entire day was not thrown off.

Setting a routine doesn’t have to be a struggle to have your baby follow a schedule based on the clock.  Setting a routine based on a pattern during a rough time interval offers your baby predictability and meets her needs based on her natural schedule with the flexibility that she needs day to day.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

From a Professional: How We Do Bedtime

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

IMG_0655_2Establishing a bedtime routine is essential for the emotional and mental development of your child. As a mental health professional, my education and training have provided me with the essential tools and understanding of the benefits of this routine, and thus have spent the past five and a half years optimizing this precious time before my angelic children retire for the day.

Step 1: Dinner

As the final meal of the day, and as the only meal we eat with all family members present, this is a great opportunity to reflect on the attributes we cherish most about one another. In our household, this usually includes enthusiastic declarations of how much one child appreciates another child’s fork/plate/cup/seat, more so than their own, even, and will make such exuberant vocalizations throughout the entirety of the meal. The children will often be so enthralled with the time they are spending together as a family that the food will be left uneaten. When encouraged gently to eat, the children will take the opportunity to show the skills they have learned in self-advocacy, and independence, and declare the food before them as inedible. Such valiant leaders they will make someday!

Step 2: Bath time

This is necessary, as while no food was actually eaten, they have managed to utilize the items on their plate to decorate their clothing, the wall, and the floor. Upon preparation for bath time, you will be impressed to discover food items have made it through the shirt, the onesie, and into the diaper. You will feel such pride for your tiny magician!

Step 3: Anarchy

While you are cleaning the feces out of the tub that has hastened the conclusion of bath time, your naked darlings will make vocal declarations as their wet bodies sprint through the hallways, ignoring any and all admonitions that it is time for settling down. Optional consumption of wine is encouraged while the Scrubbing Bubbles soak into the skid marks on the side of the tub.

Step 4: Pajamas

These are optional, of course, as by the time the two year old has insisted repeatedly that he no longer requires a diaper, and the one year old continuously wrestles away before you can get the second tab on her diaper attached, you are likely to lose any and all will to actually parent. Second glass of wine is encouraged as children scream over who gets to wear the only remaining superhero pajama top, as the others always seem to disappear just in time for the evening routine.

Step 5: Negotiation

Upon announcing that it is time to officially retire to bed, your children will recall the lack of food in their bellies from abandoning their uneaten dinner, and will make dramatic declarations of their level of starvation. This is the ideal opportunity for their vocabulary development, as they will relish your colorful response and selectively remember just the words that are guaranteed to garner a phone call from the principal tomorrow. It is important to foster opportunities to invite communication with those responsible for our children’s education.

Step 6: Put the children in bed.

Step 7: Gentle Reminding

Remind the children that it is, in fact, bedtime. Consider ingesting more wine.

Step 7: Pleading

Plead with children to please, just tonight, go to bed without fighting. We do, in fact, go to bed every night, so we do understand how this works, don’t we?

Step 9: Weep

Step 10: Triage

Ignore the wrestling, crashing, and shrieking coming from the children’s bedroom to utilize mental health education and training to contact all of the therapists to undo the damage you are undoubtedly inflicting upon your children, and find one that can squeeze you in first thing in the morning.

Sleep tight!

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Saying “No” at the Holidays

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Saying No at the HolidaysTis’ the season for holiday parties; family dinners, office shindigs, fete’s with friends, the list goes on and on. November and December are definitely friendly to the social butterfly. What these activities are not friendly to, though, is a child’s routine and/or bedtime.

There can be a lot of pressure from outside to attend these events and there can be a lot of internal guilt on your part as well, especially when it comes to family parties. I remember clearly when my daughter was younger, back when we simply couldn’t be flexible with her routine and had to be home for bedtime, feeling a lot of pressure to go to those things anyway. I’d hear “So-and-so is bringing their child. They’ll just lay her down in an extra bed.”  Or, “It won’t hurt her to stay up late just once.” But with my daughter, it did hurt. It hurt us, badly. Sleep was so critical that almost nothing else mattered. Mine was not the child that would easily fall asleep anywhere other than her crib (and even that wasn’t easy). Mine was not the child that could fall asleep in the car and be transferred to the bed. 5 minutes of sleep in the car could possibly mean hours of screaming and fussing before she’d go back down for the night. I remember when she was about 1.5 years old and we risked staying late at a holiday party, only to have my husband sitting in the back seat desperately trying to keep her awake for the 10 minutes it took to get home. Was it really that worth it?

I felt a lot of guilt over saying no to so many social invites when my daughter was young, but I don’t feel that way anymore. It’s OK to say no to family invites that will have your kids at each other’s throats in a car for 5 hours. It’s OK to decline a holiday party that will keep you out past your child’s bedtime. It’s perfectly fine to have a few years of stay at home holidays. It’s OK to just say no when it comes to your sanity and the sanity of your family.

In just 3 years we’ve reached a point where we can be flexible in her routine and we can occasionally stay out past her bedtime. She’s old enough now that we feel comfortable accepting party invites and actually look forward to socializing as a family. We’re fine getting on a plane and spending the holidays on the other side of the country. So was it really so terrible saying no for a few years, when the benefit to us was so significant? No, it wasn’t.

Explain to friends and family that you’d love to come to their party, but that at this stage in your life, your family comes first. Or don’t. You don’t need to justify your choices. A polite “Thanks, but we can’t make it this year” is just fine too.

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW and is mom to one three year old girl. She’s looking forward to spending the holidays with her in-laws this year.