Bedtime…Routines, Rituals and Can I Have One More Glass of Water, Please!!!

Woman reads as baby sleeps

Image by National Media Museum via Flickr

I can remember wanting to stay up later when I was a child.  And when my children were small, each had their own way of trying to put off going to bed.  So I’m sure that many parents today have the same problem…some things just don’t change.

SO HOW CAN YOU GET YOUR CHILDREN TO GO TO BED

WITH NO FUSS OR MUSS?

Unfortunately, I can’t give you any guarantees, but I can offer a few simple steps that worked for me.

1.    Provide a balanced and harmonious day…children need to get outside to play if the weather permits…fresh air and physical activity are essential.  Indoor play can include arts and crafts, music and rhythms (put on your favorite CD while you and your child dust and dance through the house), puzzles and stories.  Just make sure there is a balance of activities during the day.  A child who is just sitting around watching TV all day will definitely NOT be ready to go to sleep.

2.    As bedtime approaches, have a plan that includes making sure all toys are picked up and put away, bath time or washing up, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, reading a story, singing a goodnight song, prayers, etc…whatever routines, rituals or bed-time traditions are right for your family.  The crucial tip here is to BE CONSISTENT!

3.    Have a positive attitude towards going to bed…it is NOT a punishment, but a necessary part of living, just like eating and breathing.  During restful sleep, our bodies heal themselves and our minds can dream.  Be matter-of-fact and give your child a heads-up as the bed-time countdown approaches.

Because of my passion for picture book stories, I’m always ready to recommend one to help children deal with the challenges they face.  If going to bed is a problem in your home, perhaps you can read the following book with your child and make a batch of overnight cookies together.

CORNELIUS P. MUD, ARE YOU READY FOR BED?

written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg

          It’s time for bed and Cornelius’ father asks him the questions which we all ask our children at bedtime.  Have you put away your toys?  Have you used the bathroom?  Have you brushed your teeth?  Have you put on your pajamas?

          Although the little pig answers each question with a “yes”, the charming illustrations show that he and his father have different ideas about what needs to be done in order to get ready for bed.  Cornelius’ understanding father accepts his son’s somewhat strange routine and makes sure that he doesn’t forget the most important thing…a loving hug from him.

          Young children want very much to become independent and, although they may put their pajamas on backwards, we need to encourage them to learn to do things by themselves.  Of course, parents need to supervise some tasks; we don’t want them swallowing the whole tube of toothpaste or emptying the entire box of fish food into the aquarium.  However, praise for good effort encourages a child to keep trying and, as your child masters each task and skill, his self-esteem grows.

OVERNIGHT COOKIES

This recipe is unique because the cookies remain in the oven overnight and are ready in the morning…perhaps your child can have one with breakfast as a special treat…the egg whites, raisins and chopped nuts provide high quality nutrition.

You will need: 2 egg whites, ¼ cup sugar, 1 cup finely ground almonds, 1 cup raisins, cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil and sprayed with canola oil, electric mixer and a large bowl.

1.    Beat the egg whites with the mixer until stiff peaks form.

2.    Add sugar and mix gently with a spoon.

3.    Fold in nuts and raisins.

4.    Drop the mixture by the teaspoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet (if you want larger cookies, you can use a bigger spoon).

5.    Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.  Turn the oven off.

6.    Remove the cookies from the oven in the morning (you can actually take them out after an hour…if you like softer cookies).

7.    Store in an airtight container.

This child-friendly healthful recipe is only one of the one hundred that appear in SHOW ME HOW!  BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.

Stop by tomorrow for a few more thoughts about the importance of a restful sleep (especially for harried moms and dads) AND an eco-friendly craft project to make bed-time the right time for your child.

WE ALL NEED A CHEERING COMMITTEE AND PARENTS ARE A CHILD’S MOST IMPORTANT FANS!

Daily Routines: Rut in the Road or Road Map to a Balanced Life?

World Calendar

Image via Wikipedia

According to Catherine Pulsifer, “We need to maintain a proper balance in our life by allocating the time we have.”

Have you found a way to do that? 

For me, it’s simple.  I set up a schedule and try to follow it.  Of course there are times when the schedule goes out the window.  Someone is sick or you have company visiting for a few days or you win free tickets to vacation in paradise.  Barring those unforeseen events though, life becomes so much less stressful and so much more harmonious when we have routines that we follow on a daily basis.

 At least, that’s how it is for me.

When my children were small, it seemed even more important to have a plan for each day.  Life can get really chaotic if you don’t have a plan in place. 

IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN, YOU ARE PLANNING TO FAIL

Within the framework of the routine, you can be flexible.  Take a look at the schedule I created when my children were growing up and I operated a home daycare for the infants and preschoolers of local teachers.  These routines can be applied to a family with one or more toddlers, as well as a home daycare.  Perhaps with some modifications for your unique situation, it can provide the framework for a balanced and fun-filled day for you and your children.  This supposes, of course, that you are home with your children.  And that you have children. 🙂

6:30am to 7:30am: Greet the Day: Wash, brush teeth, get dressed

7:30am to 8:30am: Breakfast

8:30am to 9:15am: Story-time

9:15am to 9:30am: Music and Rhythms

9:30am to 10:15am: Arts and Crafts

10:15am to 10:30am: Morning Snack

10:30am to 11:30am: Free Play (not free-for-all)

11:30am to 12:00pm: Cooking Experience

12:00pm to 12:45pm: Lunch

12:45pm to 2:00pm: Naptime

2:00pm to 3:00pm: Free Play

3:00pm to 3:15pm: Afternoon Snack

3:15pm to 5:00pm: Another round of story-time, music and rhythms and arts and crafts

5:00pm: Dinner preparation: young children love to help…they can pour and mix or color placemats or help set the table with napkins and silverware (no knives, please).

6:00pm to 7:00pm: Family dinner

7:00pm: Bedtime preparations…each family will have their own traditions (washing up, brushing teeth, story-time, song, prayer, etc.).

REMEMBER, THIS IS JUST THE FRAMEWORK FOR A DAILY PLAN.  IT’S THE ONE THAT WORKED FOR ME.  YOUR SITUATION IS UNIQUE TO YOU AND YOUR PLAN MAY LOOK QUITE DIFFERENT.

Perhaps your child still takes two good naps, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Perhaps your child is in pre-school or daycare for part of the day.

Perhaps dinner can be earlier because the family is home and ready to eat, or perhaps it needs to be later because parents work later.  As I said, each of you can take the schedule and play with it until it suits your family’s situation and unique needs.  The important thing is to have some kind of schedule and be consistent with it, as much as possible.  This consistency helps children relax because they know what to expect and when to expect it.

If you are interested in learning more about the activities that are a large part of the routine, please check out my book for parents of preschoolers, SHOW ME HOW!  BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  In it, you’ll find story summaries for 100 picture books every young child should hear and an easy eco-friendly craft project and a healthful child-friendly cooking activity for each of those recommended stories.  The simple format and fun-filled self-esteem building activities are a perfect shortcut for today’s busy parents. 

Library Journal says, “The layout and tri-fold format of reading, crafting and cooking are commendable.”

Katherine Holabird, author of the Angelina Ballerina series says, “What a lovely book!  Parents and caretakers will find inspiration in this delightful guide to reading and planning activities with young children.”

Norman Bridwell, author of the Clifford the Big Red Dog series says, “SHOW ME HOW! is a wonderful resource for people who care for their children and hope to better their reading and learning experience.”

The book is in several libraries already…if it’s not in yours, perhaps you can request that your local library purchase it for their shelves.  If you can’t wait and want to get started building your child’s self-esteem, developing pre-literacy skills and creating a life-long parent-child bond right away, you can go to my website or to Amazon.

Thanks for stopping by.  Please tune in tomorrow for a look at the nemesis of many parents: Bedtime…Routines, Rituals and Can I Have One More Drink of Water, Please!  There will be a story suggestion and craft activity as well.

WE ALL NEED A CHEEERING COMMITTEE AND PARENTS ARE A CHILD’S MOST IMPORTANT FANS!

How to Avoid the “Last Minute” Blues

Pocket watch, savonette-type.

Image via Wikipedia

Mary glanced at the clock and felt her heart start racing…the doctor’s appointment was in 15 minutes and the doctor’s office was 10 minutes away.  The breakfast she had set out on the table was still uneaten and her 4-year old son was running around upstairs, searching for a missing shoe.  Hurrying up the stairs, she shouted, “We are going to be late because of you!”

Are you shaking your head up and down because you recognize this scenario?  I can replay in my mind several similar episodes that occurred when my children were young.  Anyone who says that keeping a family running smoothly (and on time) has obviously not been a parent. 

But, there are solutions to this problem!  Lack of planning and organization are the root causes…there is a saying that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.  If you sometimes (or often) find yourself searching for that missing shoe or you would like to put in place a few simple routines for the New Year that will help de-stress your life, perhaps the following simple suggestions will help.

  1. Put a calendar near the phone for logging in appointments and other important dates and times.  You can even set up a calendar for your child to keep in his room (free ones are usually available at pharmacies and other stores at this time of year).  He will enjoy marking his own calendar with his own very important dates (his birthday, his friends’ birthdays, special outings, etc.).
  2. Before going to bed (maybe as part of his special bed-time ritual), help your child choose his clothes for the next day (or let him choose his own…just make sure that if it is winter, you have put the bathing suits away).  In addition, check the calendar to see what is scheduled for the next day and get ready any other items needed (i.e. library books that are due at the library).
  3. Attach a short clothesline (about 12 inches long and equipped with clothespins) or a store-bought or homemade rack with hooks or pegs on a wall near your exit door (front, back or side, wherever the family goes in and out) and have your child hang up his gloves, hat, scarf, etc. when he comes in.  If the items are damp, they will dry out much better this way than if left in coat pockets or stuffed in a book bag.  In addition, they will be ready at a moment’s notice when your child needs them and you will immediately be aware if one of the mittens or gloves is missing.
  4. Hang a key rack in a convenient place so that all family members who have keys (house, car, etc.) will automatically hang them up when they come in.  This will save many precious minutes (or hours) of time because no one will have to look for the keys when it is time to go out.  I can’t tell you how many times we searched our home looking for a set of keys that turned up to be “hiding” under a pile of papers on the dining room table.  How stressful….and what a waste of precious time!
  5. Try to avoid the pitfall of too much activity…although it is important for our children to be offered many different types of activities (karate class, dance class, nursery school, etc.), one-on-one quality time with YOU is the most important, whether it is reading a story or participating in a craft project or cooking activity or just sitting together watching cloud formations roll by.

For more great tips and tactics to help you simplify your family life, check out the blog carnival starting on January 8th at http://babyproducts.about.com/b/2010/12/28/join-the-january-blog-carnival-simplify-your-life.htm?nl=1