Posts Tagged ‘naps’

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.

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.

Adjusting Your Toddler’s Routine During the Holidays

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Adjusting Your Toddler’s Routine During the HolidaysThe holiday season can be stressful for even the most laid back of moms. Even if you don’t have a schedule, most families do have a routine or rhythm that helps the days flow. And during the holidays that flow is interrupted. So the question is, do you go with it or try to maintain some semblance of your normal days?

Personality has a lot to do with how well your child adjusts to things outside of the norm. Are they energized by change, or does it drain them? Do they look forward to new things and experiences, or do they fear them? When you’re dealing with toddlers, it’s always less traumatic for everyone when you follow their lead.

For example, my first child finds change exhilarating and exciting. When we would travel during the holidays, she would bounce off the walls and have trouble sleeping when we tried to stick to our regular nap and bedtime schedule. Staying in hotels was miserable, because she would want to check out every little thing and stay up with us, and instead we laid down in the dark at 8pm and stared at the ceiling for two hours until she fell asleep.

Looking back, instead of making multiple trips to settle her down and put her to bed, I wish I would have just let her stay up past her bedtime and crash on her own. The difference likely wouldn’t have been much, and we would have gotten to enjoy more time with family and friends instead of stressing out over bedtime. Even with all the fussing we did over keeping her routine the same, we still had an adjustment period when we got back home.

However, if you have a child that finds routines calming and reassuring, then protecting your schedule as much as possible would give them a sense of familiarity and help ease the transition from normal activities to visits with family and holiday craziness. You can do this by noting when you do things at home, like story time at the library, or going to the grocery store, and try to do similar things where you are staying. If you can’t do similar things, try to schedule activities for the same time of day that works for you at home.

Toddlers are always in flux—when I think I have mine figured out, they tend to hit a growth spurt or get molars, and everything changes. This is a great time to take the time to really be patient and notice your child’s cues rather than trying to just pick a strategy and stick to it.

Keep the schedule light and remember to be flexible—you may have made an appointment for photos with Santa or shopping with grandma, but remember that your child does not share your expectations for the holidays! Be ready to go with the flow and leave yourself the option of saying no when your toddler has had enough.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls, 6, 3, and 1. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.