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2.04.2013

How I Do It: Sleep

I hope y'all had a wonderful weekend!  W and E had birthday parties to attend on both Friday and Saturday afternoon, so I think they survived on a sugar-high all weekend, until Sunday afternoon, and then they hit a wall.  Needless to say, early bedtimes were in order, especially since they had school this morning.  Well, what did y'all think of the Super Bowl commercials?  I was pretty impressed.  None of them were that bad.
The sweetest was the Budweiser Clydesdale one.

The funniest was the Taco Bell one.

 How I Do It: Sleep
A Well-Rested Child = A Happy (Mostly Obedient) Child
Little V
Sleep is the necessity of life.  Sleeps helps your metabolism and gives you energy everyday.  Even if you're not exercising, eating right, etc. sleep is the easiest thing we can do for ourselves, that will benefit our bodies in the long run.  It re-charges us, eases are minds, lets us start another day, after a bad one, perhaps?  One goal for yourself, if possible, is trying to hit the hay even thirty minutes earlier than normal, and see if that makes a difference.  While I'm not one to go bed at the same time every night, I try to at least aim for six-eight hours of straight, non-interrupted sleep each night.  The new parents out there, I realize that's not going to happen anytime soon, but you'll get to catch back up sooner than later.  While sleep is vital to us, as mothers/fathers/human beings, it's imperative that children get their zzz's, too.  As a parent of four, that's easier said than done sometimes.
Little L
Helping your baby sleep.  When I had my first child, I just assumed they'd cry to eat and/or if they had a dirty diaper.  Little did I know that if they cried because they were tired, they wouldn't just fall asleep.  That was way too easy!  If they're not tired enough, they might cry.  If they were overtired, they might cry.  Talk about crazy times?!  I tried to read so many books about how to help your baby sleep better...and longer (sleep training, Ferberizing, etc.), but I would end up getting too overwhelmed and stop the book.  Well, in my opinion, there are just way too many books and theories out there, and I found that doing what was natural to me, was the best for my babies.
While I loved rocking my babies, I would put them down in their beds to sleep, before they nodded off to LaLaland (thanks to the recommendation of my pediatrician).  This way they would be okay with going to sleep on their own, and not needing me to rock them to complete sleep every night.  Also, this would prevent them from waking up in their beds, wondering where their mother's arms were, that they fell asleep in, earlier in the evening.  If you're wondering whether or not they cried when I put them in their beds, well, sometimes they did, but eventually that would subside, over time.  Just like any routine, once they got into rut, they wouldn't cry anymore.  Like any of you, I hate hearing a baby's helpless cries, but if you want your sleep (remember, it's important for us too, not just the baby), then know that a little crying is okay.  I have a ten-minute rule that worked with all four of mine.  If I put my child to bed, and they cried for longer than ten minutes, I would go in and check on them (diaper dirty? needed to burp? still hungry?), if all that was handled, then they were okay, back to bed.  New formula-feeding mamas, one thing to keep in mind, if your baby seems hungry and only eats 2oz, and then dozes off, he/she probably isn't all that hungry.  Most babies will drink 2oz, whether they're hungry or not.
Visiting their great-grandmother (two summers ago)
Cherishing the napping hour.  Even now, I never try to keep my children awake during the day, so they will sleep longer at night.  Sometimes, I feel like the longer they sleep during the day (even infants), the better they sleep at night.  As far as naps go, I don't have an exact hour everyday they go to down for naps, but it's always early afternoon (from maybe 1-3pm).  I put them all in their beds at the same time (all in different rooms, so if one gets up early, they don't wake the other one).  Remember, I've mentioned before that I have a small house.  While L sleeps in a crib at night, during nap time, W sleeps on the bed in L's room (and L sleeps in our bathroom, in a pack n' play for nap time).  I make it work!  Remember, it's 'how I do it', right?  I do this so W and E (who share a bedroom at night) can have their own space for nap time.  While E goes straight to sleep at nap time, W loves to play for a little bit, and then naps.  So naturally, they get up at different times, and E would never nap, if her sister were in the room, playing before her nap.  As far as napping all at the same time, it's just like any other routine, once it's started, they eventually understand that once they're put in their beds, they're to go to sleep.  Now I'll be honest, W has started staying awake during nap time (I mean she is about to turn five after all), but at least she's having some quiet time in her room, which is healthy for not only herself, but for my health/sanity, as well.  A time during the day for peace and quiet.  So grateful for that.  Definitely my saving grace right now.
Photo taken last summer, when the girls moved in together.
Developing a good bedtime routine.  Most children function best with structure.  At night, even if it's brushing their teeth, a book and prayers before tucking them into bed, my children know that when I say it's time to brush their teeth, it's time for bed.  One thing I've learned is while a routine at bedtime is necessary, don't make it too specific that if you have a sitter, your child gets upset that "they're not doing it right!"  Been there, done that!  And in case you're wondering, no, I do not bathe my children every.single.night.  That is not, nor will it ever be, a nightly bedtime routine.  Talk about time consuming...but I do love a good bath time...every other night (more on that in a later post)!

I don't have a particular time that my children go to bed.  While the boys generally are in bed by 6, and the girls in bed by 7, it really just depends on the day.  If they've been extra tired/whiney that day, they may go to bed earlier, because they clearly need the sleep.  But if they're in good spirits, they may go to bed later...it just depends.  But in either case, the bedtime routine always stays the same.  And yes, I do have times when the girls try and get back up, after I've turned the lights out ("I want water." "I need to go to the bathroom again." "I need a tissue." You get the picture.), but we've solved that problem by offering them a reward in the morning (Hershey kiss, Twizzler, etc.), if they stay in their beds, after the lights go out.  I know the working parents out there like to keep their children up a little longer at night, since they haven't seen them as much during the day, and I totally get that.  I'd be the same way.

Like I always say, everything, including routines, work in our own lives, because we know what works best for us.  It's what's natural to us.  And in this case, this is 'how I do it' with creating good sleep habits for my four kiddos.  Just remember, when creating your own routine (with or without children), to incorporate more sleep.  It works wonders!
I hope y'all have enjoyed this weeks' 'How I Do It' on sleep.  I'm really enjoying this 'How I Do It' series.  It's really making me think about my life, and how I handle things.  Maybe even helping me to prioritize things a little better, too.  Thanks to so many of my readers for the requests and recommendations on putting it together.

Hope y'all have a great start to your week!

15 comments:

  1. I 100% agree! I believe sleep helps everything! I read a ton of books too, but one that really spoke to me was "Healthy Sleeping Habits, Happy Child." It teaches the science of sleep, how to teach your child to sleep, and how much sleep is needed during different phases of a child's life. Most importantly, sleep begets sleep.

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  2. Your method is basically the same with mine and Lallie has been a great sleeper since day 1. I would do it the same way again.

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  3. I don't have kids, but I love reading these posts! You seem like such a great mom, and all of your kids are just precious! I'm trying to store some of this away for when I have kids haha! Have a great week!

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  4. This is very similar to what I did the second time and she has been so much better about just falling asleep! One problem I've been having with my 2 almost 3 year old is that he is suddenly fighting his nap. We always have nap time at 1:30 and he used to just play for a minute in his bed and then fall asleep but now he fights it for an hour or more sometimes! It's becoming such a nightmare and I honestly have no idea what to do.

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    1. Hey Laura, Sometimes kids go in phases of napping. Sometimes, they may stop napping for a couple of months and then start again. And some kids grow out of Taking naps sooner than others. If I were you, and he's refusing, I'd just let him have "quiet time" in his room, letting him play, but asking that he stay on his bed. If he's tired, he still may have a chance of napping if he's at least on his bed. Good luck!

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  5. Couldn't agree more- is there anything more annoying than a child who is clearly tired being kept out and tortured by his or her parents when it is obviously bed time. My pet peeve!

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  6. Like everyone else said, I couldn't agree more! Interested to hear more about the bath time thing bc like you said, it takes so long and sometimes I'm frankly exhausted to do it when my husband travels weekly! Questions-does V also nap right when the others go down? And how/at what age did you get kids to start sleeping through the night? My first slept through at 7.5 weeks, but now with #2, he's 9.9 weeks and still not and I know I need to be patient but it's exhausting! Aren't you tired during the day when you're up with a newborn at night-how do you have energy for the other 3 during daytime? Thx!!!

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  7. Love this post! As a teacher routine is one of the biggest tips I give parents whose children are having issues in school. When kids know what to expect and have a normal, routine they are so much better behaved and able to handle what the day brings! Love this series!

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  8. 100% agree! Sleep makes such a difference. I have always believed sleep begets sleep and do not understand nannies and parents that skip naps or keep kids awake so they will sleep better at night. I've met one child that the later she goes to sleep, the later she sleeps in. But every other baby, toddler, child I have met or worked with needs to go to bed early/regular bedtime to sleep well.

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  9. I must ask this because i never understood why kids go to bed at 6pm. I know we live in diferent cultures, but i know kids here in portugal go to bed at 9pm (or latter) and wake up at 7/8. Is it because american kids get up earlier than portuguese kids?

    I'm not sure if this happens in every european country but it's a huge diference!
    :) i don't even have kids, but i have always been curious about this.

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  10. Sorry, i forgot i wasn't logged on my account, i wrote the above comment :)

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  11. I want to save these posts and come back to them when i have kids haha! I agree with dee, all my little cousins in Portugal always went to bed later than me! Europeans are generally more relaxed when it comes to kids schedules. My mom was always super scheduled with me though!

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  12. Beautiful pictures, Ashley, and you are so poetic in sharing your mommy experiences.

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  13. I really love this series, too! Although I do not have children yet, I always feel like there is so much to learn from mothers who have managed to juggle so much and make their family routines work for them. Can't wait to circle back to these in a couple years. ;)

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  14. I love these posts, thanks for sharing your great tips and tricks!

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I love hearing from my readers! Thanks so much for your comments!