Posts Tagged ‘witching hour’

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. 

Giving Up Naps

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Giving Up Naps

It’s a sad day. I have been looking forward to sweet, sweet nap time for one or more of my three kids every day for the past six years, and now it’s about to be gone from my life forever. I guess it’s the first step toward saying goodbye to the days of babies. Nap time is going to be gone long before the crib is put away or our last nursing session is over, even.

All three of my kids have given up naps before preschool. But I had a friend who was worried about her daughter starting all-day Kindergarten because she still took naps at 5. So when is the right time to give up naps?

There is no “right time.” Every kid grows and develops at a different rate. Some kids will absolutely still nap right up to starting Kindergarten, and some kids will give up naps way too early. The key is to take cues from your child.  Here are four cues that will tell you a lot about where your child is in the process.

  • Nighttime sleep. If your child is sleeping 12-14 hours per night, they are getting enough sleep to start skipping naps. It’s OK if they still nap and sleep this much at night. Just know that if they start skipping naps, they are still getting enough sleep for growth and development.
  • Resisting daytime naps. I experienced this with my first and second children. At a certain point, it felt like it was more work to get them down for naps than it was worth. Pay attention to sleepiness cues and grumpiness. If your child doesn’t want to go down and they aren’t exhibiting any of their usual sleep cues, you may be right in not fighting this battle.
  • Being up way too late when they nap. This has always been my biggest red flag since we are very regular with our 7:30 bedtime. When my kids are wide awake–and happy–past 8, 9, and 10pm, I know it’s time to give up naps.
  • No witching hour. There are times when naps don’t make it into your schedule because you have a busy day—pay attention to how your child responds on these days. Do they melt into a puddle at your feet at 4pm, or do they seem unfazed? When your child isn’t cranky or overemotional because of missing their nap, they might be over nap time.

Do they have to show all these signs, or just a few? Well, my 22-month-old doesn’t stay up late when she does nap, but she gets enough sleep, no longer has those evening meltdowns, and some days it takes longer to get her down than she naps. Different kids will react differently to not napping, so if you’re not sure, experiment.

Keep in mind there is a happy medium—you can always give up the sleep aspect and keep that hour or so of quiet time where you unplug and read or play quietly. If you are pregnant or have a baby that still needs to nap, this can help preserve their quiet time as well.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls who is about to go pour one out for naptime. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.