The Christmas season is here! Many of us already have a full calendar between parties, activities, shopping, travel and endless to-do lists. All of this can bring a lot of mixed emotions of excitement, joy, as well as overwhelm, busyness and exhaustion with trying to fit it all in – a tall order for most of us. As I write this, we have exactly one month before Christmas Day, so I want to share my best tips so that you take in the special moments, feel more relaxed, and of course rested when the new year arrives!
Learn to say “no thank you” to some celebrations
While we look forward to attending holiday parties and spending time with family and friends, it can be exhausting to attend every single one. Especially when there is a Christmas party (or two!) planned for your work, perhaps your spouse’s work, and, if you are a parent, this often means a party for daycare, school, and every activity that your child is involved in
Instead, decide which holiday celebrations are most important for you and your family. If you politely decline, people always understand. Schedule a time to meet with friends after the holidays and plan a date ahead so that you don’t miss out on spending time with those that matter the most in your life.
Brain dump & prioritize
Planning will save you from the crazy hamster wheel of rushing this time of year. Create a master list of everything that is on your mind, in your calendar, and perhaps floating in your inbox – this will save you time and eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed. Take a hard look at the list and decide what is really important.
There are some commitments that you want to do, meaning it won’t be Christmas without them – volunteering at my children’s school for Christmas shopping day is a must do event for me because I enjoy seeing the children’s excitement when they have picked out something special for their loved ones.
There are, of course some activities that are commitments that still must happen, like wrapping presents (usually fun at the beginning of the season but not at 2 a.m. the day before Christmas Eve).
Then there are events that you can easily eliminate – like attending a cookie trading party, going to three Santa Claus Parades, or booking yourself Friday through Sunday each weekend. Some people might enjoy this type of pace while others do not. Be honest with yourself and choose those that are most important.
Honour your own bedtime most nights
Indulging is fun and we all look forward to doing it bit more often than usual. This often results in poor quality sleep throughout the month. Ensure that you are achieving proper rest by being mindful of the following five out of seven days of the week:
- Create a bedtime most nights of the week: Aim for an achievable bedtime most nights. If it is 10:30 p.m. create a short 30-minute routine at 10:00 p.m. to allow your body some time to wind down with a bath, reading, or sipping a chamomile tea.
- Create daily pauses: Take a walk, eat your lunch away from your desk, read a good book for 10-15 minutes midday or sit for a few minutes and inhale and exhale silence. These daily pauses will allow your body some time during the day to calm down, resulting in better quality sleep in the evening.
- Turn off electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime: Blue light is produced by electronic devices and wrecks havoc on the quality of our sleep by reducing melatonin production that our body naturally produces throughout the night. Scrolling on our electronic devices, online shopping and watching Christmas Vacation again 😉 are places that we can limit our exposure to blue light.
Being rested during the holidays, means that we have the opportunity to truly enjoy the special moments that come with this time of year. Wishing you a wonderful and blessed Christmas celebrating each and every one of them!
Daylight savings time is coming up this weekend! I get a TON of questions asking for the best way to handle daylight savings time and children’s sleep. So what is the best way to handle it? My advice is to “split the difference.”
For “Fall Back,” my recommendation to all parents is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!
If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30 a.m., you will adjust this to 9:00 a.m. for the three days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push for your child, but not so much that it will cause much damage to her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap.
Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7:00 p.m. I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30 p.m. for the first three days following the time change. (This will FEEL like 7:30 p.m. to your child.) And it will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this. It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust any kind of change in sleeping habits.
If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minutes, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes, which often confuses toddlers. Also, set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 a.m. it says 7:00 a.m. and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that, by the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wake-up time.
If you are dealing with a baby, you cannot do that. Do not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6:00 a.m. is okay now. So if she normally wakes at 7:00 a.m., but is now up at 6:00 a.m., you will wait till ten after the first day, and then twenty after the next, then 6:30 a.m. the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.
On the fourth night, just get in line with the new time so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 p.m. Adjust naps to the correct time on day four as well.
Remember, it takes time for all of us to adjust to the new time. Following these strategies will make sure that your little one does it smoothly and without trouble!
However, if your little one isn’t sleeping at night or napping well during day and you’re thinking it’s time to do something about, schedule a free 15-minute call with me! I would love to chat and learn more about sleep for your little one and your family.
As you approach the end of September, it is normal to feel tired! It has been close to a month since your summer holiday season has ended. There are new routines that have begun since Labour Day, with the beginning of extracurricular activities, back-to-school and day-care. Fall is the time that you might be craving a little bit more sleep so that you are better equipped to deal with the busier days ahead – BUT is your child prepared? If your child has not yet gotten back into the groove of his regular sleep routine, now is the time!
Here are four great sleep tips to get you and your child back on track with sleep so that he can feel more energetic, focused for learning new skills, and be healthy – after all, sleep is the best medicine!
Educate About Healthy Sleep
Starting to teach our children about the benefits of sleep now is key! We easily speak with them about healthy eating, drinking lots of water, and exercising. Sleep is incredibly important for their well-being too. Discuss how sleep will allow them to play a favourite sport better, learn how to play a favourite instrument, and be more creative with art. Providing examples of the consequences when parents do not get enough sleep is also helpful. Perhaps our mood or patience levels change or we are more likely to get sick. This helps them to understand the benefits of sleep and reasons why they will want to reach their sleep goals. Understanding why is incredibly important!
One-on-One Time Before Bed
Include undistracted time with children after dinner time and before the bedtime routine begins. Eliminate all electronics, television, cleaning supper dishes and instead, spend time together. This creates time for families to slow down and see one another at the end of a busy day. Even just 15 minutes every day can make a big difference in eliminating stress and impatience at bedtime, creating a calmer, more relaxing bedtime routine and sounder sleep throughout the night.
Plan Your Week as Much as Possible
The more organized we are going into each week, the less time it will take to get ready in the morning. Being prepared for the next day allows us to feel less stressed at bedtime and get more hours of night time sleep, helping parents and children feel more rested!
Use the following strategies to help you plan for the next day
Determine a time that bedtime needs to happen so that children are getting the proper amount of sleep for their age (9 to 12 hours for children under the age of 10 years old).
- Use bedtime and morning routine charts that your children can easily follow.
- Spend 10 minutes on the weekend planning weeknight meals.
- Plan outfits for the week while folding and putting away laundry.
- Pack bags the night before for day-care, school and work.
- Have a family calendar hanging where everyone can see it.
Lead by Example
By showing children that we are prioritizing our own sleep needs, we help them want to do it for themselves also.
I have realized that many adults too are suffering with poor quality sleep. If parents are struggling with their own sleep goals, speaking openly to children about their sleep challenges and what they are planning to do to make improvements will help. This allows parents and children to make positive changes together. Remember, children are always learning by example through their parents. Some examples of how you can make healthy changes to your own sleep patterns are:
- Shutting down electronics an hour before bedtime.
- Creating a bedtime routine for yourself each night.
- Honouring your own bedtime hour (the ideal time for adults to go to bed is 10:00 p.m., waking at 6:00 a.m.)
Remember to stay on top of healthy sleep for you and your child! Everyone in your family will benefit.
Looking for more help with sleep for your children? Follow Sound Of Sleep on Facebook or schedule a free consultation here to chat more about your own child’s sleep!
With the last long weekend of summer coming soon, the countdown is on for back-to-school! To ensure that our children feel rested and at their best when the bell rings on the first day, it is important to make sure that they are receiving the proper amount of good quality sleep.
If summer time took your children way off track with their sleep schedules (ie. they are sleeping until noon but are no where near the teenage years yet!) here are my essential sleep tips for getting sleep back on track, starting tonight.
Start an early bedtime now.
There is no time like the present to get your children into an early bedtime routine before the first day of class. Start now – make sure that children are going to sleep no later than 8:00 p.m. so that they can get 9-11 hours of much needed sleep! Children will go through 5 sleep cycles, 5-6 times per night and each one is essential to help them focus, be creative, solve problems and be in a good mood at school. Not getting enough night time sleep means being forgetful, grumpy, impatient and can cause difficulty listening to teachers. For children that are in their first or second year of Kindergarten (as young as 3 or 4 years of age in Ontario), be prepared for overtiredness. If they are showing signs of fatigue, such as having more melt downs than usual, then moving bedtime earlier by even just 15 minutes can help them become more rested.
Use bedtime/morning routine charts.
Bedtime routine charts are an excellent tool to help re-establish that bedtime routine that may have been lacking or non-existent during the more flexible days of summer vacation. Creating one with children is easy by talking about the different steps in their routine, using clip art for a visual and posting it in their bedroom.
Morning routine charts are also an extremely useful tool to help with getting back in the groove for busier mornings. Having a list for children with important steps like, brushing teeth, getting dressed, and packing their lunch will eliminate frustration and that rushed feeling before heading out the door. Having a chart is both a fun checklist that children enjoy using each morning and a mental checklist for parents to refer to as well!
Implement school wake-up time.
In order to set children up for success on the first day of school, begin implementing the morning wake-up time now. If children are still sleeping in later than they will on a school day, then it is time to push bedtime even earlier. Getting enough sleep means waking up easily on their own and feeling rested without an alarm or wake-up call from parents.
Completing as many tasks as possible before school mornings is crucial to help the morning flow more easily. Decide on school-safe snacks to keep handy in the pantry along with grab and go fruits and vegetables, label all clothing and shoes before the first day, and select 5 days of school outfits with your child on Sunday night. Making a list of simple and nutritious dinners such as pasta, vegetables, and a protein or a taco night will minimize the after school dinner rush too. Decide on the weekend and refer to your list each morning!
Parent’s sleep needs.
Taking care of our own sleep needs as parents is essential to enjoying and succeeding in the awesome role of raising children. Be kind to yourself and make sure that you are getting 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep too. Turn off all electronics at least 1 hour before bedtime, and create your own bedtime routine to help yourself stay on track with sleep, along with your child, during the busy and fun back-to-school season!
Looking for more help with sleep for your children? Follow Sound Of Sleep on Facebook or schedule a free consultation here to chat more about your own child’s sleep!
Who doesn’t love summer with barbecues, the beach and holidays?? There is so much to enjoy and look forward to. But with little ones who thrive on sleep routines, it can really throw a wrench into those carefree summer days.
Who wants to mess with nap times or bedtime? Certainly not this Sleep Consultant or many of my clients who are now track. As a wife and mom myself who loves routine and in working with families, I have learned that there is a balance that needs to be considered concerning bedtimes and families having fun together. Here are my top tips to help keep your child’s sleep routine on track while enjoying some much needed flexibility.
1. Plan ahead
If you have a family holiday or weekend event planned when your child will be out past his bedtime, be prepared and plan ahead! Look at your summer schedule a month, as well as a week, in advance. Decide which events and outings will likely happen and plan strategies that will make this more manageable.
- Make sure that your child is well rested beforehand by planning less exhausting days with built in rest periods and “downtime”.
- If your child’s bedtime is going to be much later than usual, consider asking if there would be a separate room or space for your child to sleep while you visit. Bring the “pack and play” and a sound machine (if used at home) to help your child fall asleep with some familiar pieces. Plan ahead and bring the necessary and reassuring items from home.
- Use room darkening shades. Gro blinds are a wonderful product that you can bring with you and set up anywhere to create a perfect environment for sleep!
As we know, consistency is important as it gives structure and reassurance to kids. Some tips to perhaps keep in mind.
- Do not put your child to bed later than 30 minutes past his bedtime. If you are staying out very late, plan a place where he can sleep.
- Replicate the bedtime routine or at least most of it. This is a strong cue to your child that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
3. Get Back on Track
Summer is a season when families can quickly and easily get derailed with maintaining a solid sleep routine. When you are back from vacationing and returning to more regular days at home, it is important to return to your tried and true sleep routines. You may need to put your little one to bed 30 minutes earlier for a week following a very busy holiday so that everyone (yes, parents may also need an early bedtime!) can get caught up on much needed sleep!
4. Enjoy the Flexibility of Summer
Summer days come and go so quickly. Soon we will be rushing back to our usual routines in the fall. So make it a priority and enjoy this very special time!
Set up a complimentary 15 minute call with Diane for more solutions for your child’s sleep!