This has been a difficult time for many, especially children. Not only have our lives changed dramatically, theirs have as well. They are especially sensitive to the tension and stress parents are experiencing, which means they may feel more drained, and certainly more tired. Prioritizing sleep is essential for your children and family right now. Below I share four main reasons they need sleep, and what initial steps we can take to keep routines and sleep schedules on track during this time.
Children thrive with routines
Children thrive with routines, and truthfully, we all do. Even with most activities, schools and businesses closing, together with our social distancing, we can do something. We can control healthy habits, especially sleep. In a world that is feeling uncertain, having bedtime routines in place enables children to feel safe, secure, and rested. For example, if children usually go to bed at 7:30 P.M. and wake at 6:30 A.M. then stick with a similar schedule now. I also recommend eating together at regular mealtimes and maintaining a general weekday schedule. Keep a more relaxed weekend schedule for children and the entire family.
Sleep is crucial for their health
Proper sleep hygiene allows children to have better focus, improved energy, and boosts their immune system. Right now, focus on what you can do in terms of honouring healthy habits. We likely have more time than ever before, to eat more healthy, drink lots of water, and honour our sleep. Many children know we are trying to keep our bodies healthy right now. Have a simple conversation about how honouring our sleep is going to help with this, and make sure that you are doing this for yourself as well. Children will learn to value sleep when they see their parents doing this for themselves.
Use a Sleep Meditation
For additional help with sleep, there are some free online resources for children and parents. We have used these in our home.
- Calm is a free online meditation App that offers support during this time.
- Elaine Martin also shares some amazing sleep stories for children. I am a huge fan of her work!
Where to start
Implement a bedtime routine for your child starting tonight. If things have fallen off track with the whirlwind that has affected all of us in the world, just create a plan to begin now. Here is one example of a typical bedtime routine for children over the age of three years.
Step 1: Decide on a bedtime.
- Anywhere between 7 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. is ideal for most children.
- Plan your dinner time and evening to ensure this time works. Tip: Give yourself a 15-minute buffer when considering your schedule to allow for more time.
Step 2: Create a bedtime routine together.
- Create a visual chart for them to use!
Step 4: Enjoy this time.
- Now more than ever before, is the time to connect, slow down, and be present with children.
Step 5: Do your best.
- The night before, plan the next day, re-evaluate, and make changes. Allow your child to explore different options or ideas for tomorrow.
If you have any questions about getting proper sleep for your child or yourself, I encourage you to schedule a FREE consultation here.
Wishing you and your families the very best in sleep and health as we navigate through this time together.
Many parents have children at home while trying to juggle the household, work from home, and socially distance themselves. As a Sleep Consultant who works with tired families daily, I know this often creates even more demands on families raising young children.
Together with rested families in the Sound of Sleep Consulting private Facebook group, we have come up with some activities that are fun, easy and creative for babies and children.
1. Sensory play
Anything that stimulates the senses: touch, smell, taste, movement, sight and hearing.
Try play dough, dry pasta, coloured tissue paper in empty boxes, or fill up jars with soap, water, ice cubes, sparkles or anything else on hand to create a magic potion.
2. Create an invitation to play
Take a divided container (or use individual containers/bowls) where you can place some toys, playdough, and an assortment of items and let your child create using their imaginations.
3. Paint on a window
Use a ziploc bag, add some paper and squirts of paint. Zip up tight and tape it up for extra security, ensuring no leaks. Tape it to the window, and let your toddler, preschooler, and even an older child enjoy creating his masterpiece. Let your little one’s art work dry, and hang in an extra special spot!
We all need some exercise to stay healthy, produce happy hormones, and of course for better sleep! Babywear while doing a YouTube workout, or place your little one on a playmat while you interact with him. Join a local virtual workout class like FitMom, or give your child some hip hop music to dance and move their bodies too. Have older children create a workout play list on one of the many apps such as Spotify.
5. Create a band
Let your child take items from around the house to use as drums, and grab some spoons as drumsticks. In our family, we all have shirts from our annual Terry Fox run and became the Terry Fox Rock Band. We wore the shirts while working and our children created the music and performed for us.
While our stress levels can increase during this time, I notice a reconnection to more simpler times at home. Thankfully for many of us, with are home with those we love. I encourage everyone to take the time to accept the things we cannot control, love yourself and those you love. Who knows? You may even have fun doing one of these ideas, and experience a therapeutic connection.
Remember to honour your sleep as well. As a Sleep Consultant for babies, children, teens and adults, I know this will provide you with a stronger immune system. Rest and sleep will also decrease any additional stress and anxiety. This is needed more than ever during these trying times. I encourage you to schedule a free call here.
Wishing you the best in sleep and in health,
“So do you just sleep perfectly every night?”
I remember my friend asking me this. The truth is, most of the time I do. I am usually researching and helping others who are suffering with extreme sleep deprivation. I see first-hand how it directly impacts their energy, focus, relationships mental health and well-being.
I am also juggling life as everyone does and sometimes that means I have to have a plan to make rest a priority. Here are some of the most common ways that I see my clients fall off track and my tips for keeping sleep a priority.
- I have no time. Sometimes, this statement is true but, is it every single day? Where are the moments of opportunity for rest in your day? A 10-minute break or even taking a lunch break? What about a meditation? There are so many excellent apps to try. Breethe has some that take as little as three minutes to do. You can even listen to it while driving to create more mindfulness. FYI – I never FEEL like meditating, but I do it to take a break and calm my nervous system. Of course, to help me sleep better at night.
- My child’s schedule is too busy. Having a busy activity schedule can mean that the to-do list is left until the end of the day after the kids are in bed. This makes for a really late night.
It is important to find ways to get assistance from a friend or hired help. Perhaps you need answer only five emails, or set a timer for 15 minutes so that you can wrap up work and have time to unwind before bed. Not every night will be perfect, but by making small adjustments and setting limitations you can alleviate a lot of pressure and stress. Then you can have some time to unwind and eliminate those symptoms of insomnia.
- I want to stay up late. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and all work and no play is not the way to enjoy yourself. It is important to have nights out with friends or even watch a movie with your spouse. Our Friday nights are often movie nights before bed providing us with sometime together. Set yourself up for success by aiming for good sleep habits five nights of the week. Then the other “off’ nights will fit more easily into your plan for better sleep. If you are too rigid with your sleep schedule, you may quickly fall off track. You need to see your sleep as something precious and not a hindrance to your life.
Looking for more answers to your most common sleep problems? Schedule a free consultation with me here and start enjoying a perfect night of sleep!
How are you? Busy. That’s life though, right?
Does this sound like you? Maybe someone you know? I would bet that many people that you ran into in December said this to you. In fact, there are many people say this on a daily basis.
What if I told you that we had the most relaxing, slow paced and blessed holiday season to date? It was full (aka busy). We enjoyed many gatherings with friends and family, the feeling of joy and excitement on my children’s faces. It felt like a made for television Christmas special and I was living it.
Now, don’t think for a second that there were not imperfections along the way – the meltdown by my overstimulated four-year old, for example. There have also been Christmases in the past that were too hectic, where we have spent Christmas Day at emergency with a sick child or have been saddened by the loss of a loved one. Christmases that were overwhelming. Events that they don’t show you on the Netflix Christmas specials.
This year was different. Our family took some steps to make this holiday season more calm.
- Our family was mindful not to overschedule ourselves and politely declined if we simply could not fit it during the holidays.
- We created plans to visit friends and family and do family activities that mattered to us.
- We created days of pure rest – movies, playing games and time outdoors, all of us in our pajamas.
- I meditated each morning (early while the house is quiet!), wrote in a journal while enjoying a hot coffee.
- I drank A LOT of water while still indulging a bit more than usual, but I was mindful.
The point of all of this is not to make you think that life can be perfect because truthfully, it can’t. It can, however, be the life that you intended to live. You CAN create more mindfulness, peace, calm and serenity while juggling the wild adventure of life.
After working with sleep for adults over the past year, I see how stressed many of us are, how long the to-do lists can be, how overwhelmed we are constantly.
Resolving adult sleep is SO MUCH MORE than going to bed at 10:00 p.m. and waking up at 6 a.m. This idea is wonderful, yet often not realistic. It is about balance, self-care, daily pauses, and prioritizing YOU so that you can give to all of the other areas in your life.
Start 2020 off right – schedule a call here now to learn more about how I can help you have the sleep, and healthier, happier you that you have always desired!
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!
Many moms would agree that life with a toddler and a baby can feel challenging. It can often be a non-stop roller coaster ride between breakfast and bedtime. Here are my tips for making the jugging act easier for everyone!
Ask for help
Many moms have a challenging time doing this. Recognize that it is okay and normal to ask for help – it truly takes a village! If family lives far away, there is always a neighbour, a friend, a babysitter (the money spent is worth it!). Think of one person and ask, as they will often say yes. So many people will love to snuggle a baby or play with your toddler. Even one hour of entertaining your toddler and/or baby can be just the time that you need to rest, take a break, or spend some time with your spouse.
This may be a challenge to do everyday but having a plan most of the time will help to manage your day better and offers your toddler predictability which he will love. Children love to know what is happening next as it offers them a safe and secure environment to thrive in.
- Go to the park in the morning or afternoon.
- Plan a play date with a friend who also has children of a similar age.
- Do a craft. Pinterest has some excellent and simple ideas.
- Check something off of your to-do list. Grocery shopping is a fun outing for many toddlers!
Plan some time outdoors
Even if the temperature is cool, everyone benefits from a bit of fresh air during the day. This will allow your toddler the chance to play and run while your baby can experience nature. Bundle them up and get outside – the change of pace will benefit everyone!
- If there are leaves, snow or green grass this is a great chance for your baby and your toddler to explore.
- Wearing a baby carrier or placing her in a stroller is also a wonderful way to get outside and take a nature walk.
Honour sleep & rest needs
Honour your child’s need for sleep at least 90 % of the time. THIS is huge.You may choose to have your baby nap on the go a couple of times a week but ensure that it does not happen everyday. If it does, a sleep regression could be the result. Your baby needs sleep, as well as your toddler! We know and have experienced an overtired child and the results are not pretty – melt downs, lots of hard crying and then difficulty settling for the next sleep time. Also ensure that you honour your own sleep needs by resting your eyes for 10-15 minutes, taking a nap or getting to bed early.
I always love to hear comments from parents and would love to know your tips for balancing your day with a baby and toddler! Email [email protected], comment below. For anyone looking for help with honouring their sleep needs for their children or themselves you can schedule a FREE 15-minute call here!
“Suddenly my child is waking several times a night?”
“My baby has started protesting at bedtime!”
“He looks tired but he refuses to nap now.”
Do you have a child that used to sleep perfectly, but for reasons unknown to you he seems to have hit the 4 month, or 18 month or 2 year old sleep regression (ever notice that every age group gets labeled with the word “regression” behind it)?
Obviously, you are not alone in dealing with a sleep regression—trust me or I would not be writing about it! Sleep regressions are unfortunately normal, even for the children of a sleep consultant. Yes, I know what you may be thinking, but it does happen with my own kids too!
Sleep regression is normal, but knowing how to deal with it gets sleep right back on track. ← Tweet this
Here are the 3 top signs to look for if you are wondering if your child is experiencing a regression, and answers to help get their sleep back on track.
He needs lots of help to fall back to sleep.
Perhaps your little one used to blissfully fall asleep once his bedtime routine was complete. You could give him a cuddle and a kiss goodnight and he’d be off to dreamland, but for some reason now you need to rock him endlessly, try to feed him, or give him a pacifier, trying for a lengthy amount of time to help him fall asleep. This may show up just at bedtime or it could happen during a night time wake up.
Always make sure that your child is put in his crib or bed awake at bedtime so that he is able to fall back to sleep on his own. If he becomes dependent on an external item (“sleep prop”) such as feeding to help him fall asleep, it is likely becoming a habit at some point.
By falling asleep awake, he will develop the skill to self-soothe to sleep. Keep in mind that there are a variety of ways that you can support your child in falling asleep without the use of a sleep prop! It is best to find a method that works best for you, your family and, most importantly, your child.
Sleep trouble without signs of illness.
I can still remember my son waking for three consecutive nights every few hours well past after he had been sleeping great for months! He did have a bit of a cold and a few ear infections that winter so I was certain that this was the culprit of the wake ups. I quickly found out that nothing was wrong. What? How did I miss this? You can imagine what was going through my mind – this is WHAT I DO. So with no signs of illness and no signs of teething, I had to support him with getting back on track with his sleep and since he had great sleep habits already, it only took a few nights!
If you ever have any questions or concerns about your child’s health, always get it checked out by your Doctor or Pediatrician. It is always best to be sure and you can always get the good sleep habits back on track.
Poor sleep habits have become the new norm.
Have you been suffering for weeks, months or years? Is the last time your child slept well through the night a distant memory? This is when it is always so important to check-in. Very often I find that parents understand what is causing the sleep regression to occur but they are at a loss for how to get things back on track.
There are a couple of things that I know for sure. First, children can begin to sleep well again by implementing good sleep habits even if it has been a long time—they CAN overcome a sleep regression and it is never too late.
It’s never too late to improve your child’s sleep habits. ← Tweet this
The first step is recognizing that the current sleep habits are no longer working well to provide your child or you with the proper rest that you need and then doing something about it. This usually means getting back to basics by implementing a solid bedtime routine every night, making sure that your child is not dependent on sleep props, and realizing that the benefits of having a child that is well rested is incredibly valuable to their overall health!
P.S. If you have a child that needs some help with sleep, you can always set up a free 15-minute call with me.
My passion for sleep began once I became a mom.
When my daughter was born, she began sleeping through the night at 10 weeks of age. When I say “sleep through the night” I mean that she slept for 11 + hours without crying-it-out. We worked diligently on her sleep routines, and she caught on at a very young age.
Fast forward 2 & 1/2 years later, and our second child was born. With a busy toddler and a new infant in the home, we were just not able to put in the effort and consistency needed to help our son. Plans fell to the wayside! I was obsessed every night with sleep – how much was I going to get, was tonight going to be a good night or a bad night, and on and on it went.
Then, the sad realization that our son’s sleep habits were getting worse—much worse! After yet another sleep deprived night, I almost had a terrible car accident with the two children in the car. Yikes! We then decided it was definitely time to take action and contacted a Sleep Consultant.
It was the best decision we ever made for our family.
After this incredibly successful experience, I made the decision to become a Professional Pediatric Sleep Consultant and have witnessed families rise above the exhaustion, or as one of my clients described it as being “a walking zombie”. Having been the sleep deprived, blurry eyed, caffeine addicted mother of two, I want to share with you some ideas that I wish I had known before I “hit rock bottom” and asked for help.
Sleep training is easy.
Now don’t get me wrong when I say it’s easy. There was no magic wand that put our son to sleep. What we did have was a plan that took out all the guesswork as well as helping us to understand why sleep was going so poorly. Being knowledgeable about your baby’s sleep is a huge part of working one-on-one with a Consultant. I just looked back at my son’s sleep logs, and saw that I had written “This is amazing. We are helping him learn how to sleep.”
On day one of working with our Consultant, our son fell asleep independently after crying for seven minutes. Wonderful! There had been a lot more tears when we were trying to do this on our own. My clients often comment that the anticipation of sleep training is worse than the actual process. There are difficult parts for sure, but you can be successful knowing you have an expert Consultant supporting you.
Sleep deprivation hurts way more than sleep training. ← Tweet this
Babies do not “grow out” of poor sleep habits on their own.
When it comes to sleep, there are certainly bad habits that prevent children from learning the skill of falling asleep independently. Many people told me that my son would magically sleep through the night when he was older, but I knew that a healthy 22 lb. baby did not need to eat every two hours throughout the night. The plan initially included his night feedings, but once he had the necessary skills, he fell asleep in minutes at bedtime and happily slept through those feedings. He is going to be three years old soon, and those good sleep habits have continued despite illness, teething, travel, and other usual childhood events.
Becoming a parent does not equal sleep deprivation for life.
Yes, you are a parent, but that in no way means that you have to be exhausted with a child that does not sleep well for months (or years!). We do have to accept that we will be busier and more tired sometimes, but feeling exhausted and at the end of your rope night after night is dangerous. Your health and well-being, and relationships with others are too important to ignore. I remember how thin my patience was wearing with my daughter prior to sleep training. Once my son began sleeping, we immediately had more quality time to spend with her while he napped. My husband and I also had time for each other again in the evenings and knew that we would all be sleeping soundly through the night, every night!
Becoming a parent does not equal sleep deprivation for life! ← Tweet this
If this sounds all to familiar, I would love to hear from you and offer assistance to help end the struggle with sleep in your home. You can set up a free 15 minute call with me here.