The cooler fall and winter months will eventually land in Texas. If you and your kids like to stay active throughout the year, I have a great option for you!
Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Restonic and I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own. #GoToBed Six tips to help parents get more sleep
I frequently joke that I haven't gotten a full night's sleep for about 7 years now. I used to be able to sleep through the night, but then around the second trimester with the Captain, I had to wake up multiple times a night. I either had to use the restroom, or my hips or back were hurting. Then, of course, he was born and my sleep was interrupted by a crying baby….often. He did not sleep through the night until he was about 18 months old, and even then, it was not every night. Through three pregnancies, three newborns, multiple moves, sicknesses, and more, I can honestly count on one hand the nights I have slept 6 consecutive hours. Baby Brother, at 16 months old, is working on sleeping all night long, and does great sometimes, but other times, not so much. I crave a 20 minute "siesta" after lunch on most days!
People do not realize how your sleep takes a drastic hit once you have kids. Now, if you are one of the lucky ones who has a baby that sleeps through the night consistently, do know that you ARE lucky! I have heard stories of parents with six year olds who still wake up in the night.
The Captain did not sleep through the night consistently until D moved in his room when the Captain was 4 1/2! It seems he just needed to know someone was nearby and thankfully, his little brother sleeping in the same room helped. Hallelujah! But there have also been nights when everyone is sick and we are up multiple times a night. When Baby Brother was a newborn, I made this meme to add humor to our situation because for awhile, this was all too true:
We are on the verge of it all being behind us (hopefully!) but it isn't quite funny yet. Some kids just don't sleep well and unfortunately, 2/3 of our sons are like that. That's okay…we have learned to make the most out of our son's sleep habits and are counting our blessings for our one good sleeper.
We have spent six and a half years thinking about, craving, and not getting enough sleep. So, I consider myself a professional of parenting while not getting adequate sleep, and I have compiled a list of five tips to help every parent get more sleep, no matter what kind of sleeper you were blessed with!
1. Reevaluate bedtimes. We found that no matter what, the Captain would wake up at 7:15 on the dot, most days. We discovered that he was sleepy by 8 PM and so I started aiming for 8 for their bedtime. This gives us more time to catch up on chores, veg out in front of the TV for a few minutes, spend time together, and finally, get to bed at a decent hour. Every parent needs a little downtime, and bedtimes don't have to be super early or super late, just do what works best for your family's sleep needs.
2. Don't be afraid to train kids to help themselves in the morning. I know, I know, this might sound horrible, but there comes a time when kids are old enough to be independent. We told the Captain that if he couldn't help waking up at 7:15, that he didn't have to wake us up until 8. Call us lazy, but those extra 45 minutes are blissful, especially after the baby has been up during the night! I sat down with the Captain, who is 6, and wrote out a list of things he could do in the morning. He isn't allowed to watch or use a "screen" until 7:30, to allow his body to wake up naturally and so he doesn't think he can get up at 6 AM and watch TV. He can pour himself a bowl of cereal, read books, color, etc. Now, it took some training and a lot of worrying on my part. I checked on him a lot during those first few mornings, and coached him through it. He loves this special time when he is the only one awake and he knows what he cannot do. I trust him to be safe and he likes the independence. And on the days when D wakes up before we do, the Captain loves taking care of him and helping him with his cereal.
3. Go to bed! Set a timer for the time you want to be in bed. Get everything you need to get done before that time and if you're not done, save it for tomorrow. And, either leave your phone in the other room, or set another timer so that you will only spend 5 minutes on your phone and then turn it off (or silence it.) Smart phones are a great convenience, but really do mess with sleep! Go to sleep!
4. Use a sound machine and put the baby monitor in the other room. I leave the monitor in our bathroom, close the door, and I still hear him when he gets up. I don't need to hear every single sleep noise, only when he needs me. And the sound machine drowns out the annoying noises like birds in the morning, kid's sleep talking and noises, and more, but isn't so loud that it drowns out crying and yelling "Mommy!" when someone has a nightmare.
5. Don't be afraid to nap. Naps save me, no lie. I am both lucky and cursed that I can only sleep for about 15-20 minutes and then I'm up. Naps are a great way to recharge midday.
6. Most importantly, don't take your sleep for granted. It's simply not true that you can ever "catch up" on your sleep, so sleep when it's time and don't sacrifice your sleep for things that just don't matter and can wait until tomorrow. Because you never know when the kids will be up sick or having a nightmare in the middle of the night!
Visit Restonic for more information about getting a good night's sleep! And make sure to follow Restonic on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news. And follow the #GoToBed hashtag on social media channels, as well.
A friend recently shared a great post from I am totally *that* mom. blog on Facebook. The writer talks to parents who take their young children to church, and tells them (us) how she understands that it's hard, but it's so worth it. That prompted me to come here and write my own feelings on the subject. As you may or may not know, my husband is a youth minister and has been for all but a year and a half of our 8 year marriage, when we were houseparents at a children's home, which essentially, he was a youth minister there, as well. We are obviously believers in God and believers that kids should be taught about God. And, you may think that it is easy for us to take our kids to church because well, hubby "gets paid to" do it. Well, you're partly right, but that really doesn't make it any easier, except for the fact that we already have our church home. I do feel for the parents who are looking for a church to take their kids, where they will all fit in nicely and all enjoy their worship experience.
I have had more conversations with fellow mothers lately about how they aren't going to church because a) they like it, but their kids don't, so no one goes, b) there is no nursery or children's program for the kids, c) they don't know what they believe themselves, so they are waiting until they get it all figured out before taking their kids to church. I understand all of those reasons, really, I do. I haven't liked every single church service I have been to over the past 30 years and my kids have certainly done their share of kicking and screaming at times. I have struggled at times with my beliefs and my faith, but essentially I've learned that it's okay to not have all the answers AND to question what you believe. I have also been to churches where there was no nursery staff, but thankfully that wasn't a problem since my clingy kids don't like to be left with strangers anyway.
We are currently members of a church where the boys are usually the only two under 5 that attend on Sunday morning. It has bothered me at times, but they have an amazing bunch of women (and men!) that are dedicated to helping them learn and love God and Jesus, and for that I'm so, so thankful. Do they do it *just* because they are the youth minister's kids? NO WAY! They would do it for each and every child that walks into that church, no matter their circumstance, no matter their behavior, no matter their learning challenges, they would work with them to make sure they learned about God, Jesus, and the Bible in a truthful way, on their level. That's what I adore about our church. Even though it is small, it is equipped with teachers who are willing to serve kids of all ages.
But….what about those churches that aren't accommodating? What if there is just a preacher (pastor, father, etc) who doesn't care anything about anyone and kids basically aren't welcome? Well, my first inclination would be "RUN!" but I do ask that you give that church a chance. It may just be that they haven't seen kids in a long time, but they have teachers who are more than willing to give your kids just what they need to feel at home. If you've been there a handful of times and no one has welcomed you or your children and they're scowling at you then, yeah, you're at the wrong place because they are clearly not practicing what Jesus preached when he said "let the little children come to me." But know this…..there ARE churches who WILL accept you and your children exactly where each of you are at and help you to get to know Jesus better. If you have to travel a bit further or try out a new denomination, then, so be it. There are plenty of churches out there and it is more important for you to find one than just throw your hands up and wait until they're older for them to learn. Because trust me…..my husband and I have seen those kids when they're teens, and I believe they have been cheated out of a great relationship with God. I'm not saying they're unteachable or unreachable, but it is a million times harder for a teenager to focus on something that is foreign to them, and form that relationship with God that so many of us desire. So, no matter what it takes, just do it. It'll be okay! And it's okay if your 2 year old yells out "I NEED TO POOP!" in the middle of church. Trust me, I've been there. People will giggle and get over it. You'll get over it. It's okay if they drop crayons behind their seats and the sweet lady behind you tirelessly picks them up. It's okay if your kids fight over a squeaky toy truck in the middle of worship and yell "I don't want to share!" Getting hung up on the little stuff is NOT what is important (I must remember that as an adult, too!) and your relationship with God is more important, and your kids' relationship with God is more important than anything your sweet little hooligans could do in the middle of church. Trust me. No one is going to kick you out for having a loud child and if they somehow do….then, well, that wasn't the right place for you anyway.
I wish you and your family the best of luck in finding a place where you can feel like a community, where you share in your love for Christ, and you can find peace and support in life's trials and joys….because it IS worth it.
Yesterday was Easter. We don't do the Easter Bunny at our house although I see nothing wrong with him. I just was a bit obsessed with Santa and the Easter Bunny as a child and would rather my kids not be greedy little boogers like I was. I have two older brothers that were not as obsessed as I was, so it was all me, not my parents or anything else. It was all me. We do still celebrate holidays and our boys get candy and gifts. After seeing some of the HUGE Easter baskets in stores and online…..I really gotta say….tone it down, parents.
Easter eggs are one thing. Plastic pieces strewn all over my floor after the hunt is over, candy wrappers, then later, broken plastic eggs on the floor and hurt feet after I have stepped on these awful booby traps. I was smart yesterday, I helped the boys empty their eggs and then I scooped them all up and put them in a bag for next year. But I still can guarantee you that I will be finding eggs for the rest of the year, hidden under the TV, in the playroom, and under the refrigerator.
I always had Easter eggs with candy in them. This was fun. But now, every kid not only gets a million Easter eggs, but they get elaborate Easter baskets, filled with MORE candy, small trinkets, toys, and even more junk to pick up off of the floor. Why do parents do this to themselves??? Unless your child is an amazing cleaner-upper, I don't know why anyone would subject themselves with more…for lack of a better term….crap! My kids get enough crap without ever celebrating a holiday. They were thrilled with their coin filled eggs that they found in our backyard yesterday. (They were also thrilled with the chocolate, berries, and cold hard cash that Grandma brought to them for their savings.) The Captain asked for a chocolate bunny for Easter so I got the boys a small one and they got to eat it before church. This was special. And they were both so surprised and both kept saying "thank you for my chocolate bunny!" Well, Baby D's was more like "tat too" but I knew what he was saying.
Maybe my kids are just young and I don't know what I'm in for. Maybe the madness peaks at about 8, and they won't be satisfied with one small chocolate bunny and a little money. I'm not sure, but I do know that if they got a huge Easter basket, each, after getting coins and chocolate for St. Patrick's Day, after getting a huge box of chocolates and red dyed lollipops for Valentine's Day, after getting a gazillion gifts for Christmas, (which really, they did,) after getting a huge bucket full of Halloween candy, they would never, ever, be satisfied and next year I'd have to outdo this year. I don't want to be cheap, I don't want to be lazy, I don't want to be compared to other parents, but I have already realized that kids as young as three do remember last year and they will expect the same thing plus more next year. Plus, there are always pictures. That's why I'm always AMAZED that parents willingly take so many pictures of their first child's first birthday with the gazillion of gifts that they're sure to get (because it's exciting to spoil your first child on his first birthday, I know!) Start small, don't take a picture of all the gifts they got, and they'll never have to say "why don't I get as many gifts now as when I was a baby??"
It's not too late to tone it down. I promise. And if you really want to spoil your kids, at least go today and buy up all of the unsold Easter candy, toys, or clothes and give it to them a day late (or next year, in the case of toys and clothes) instead of paying ridiculous prices for….well, crap. 😉 Or buy something a little bigger that is more eco-friendly, educational, nutritious, longer lasting, and/or useful!
I apologize if this post offended you. I'm not judging, I promise. I'm just saying that you could totally have it a million times easier and raise a less greedy child, as well, or at least have a shot at a less greedy child. 😉 I'll honestly tell you that my kids are greedy and have too much junk, but, we're working on that.