Posts By: Guest Blogger

How to Keep Your Family’s Sleep on Track This Summer (Even With Multiple Kids)

With summer approaching days are getting longer and longer. While brighter evenings can make summer barbeques and outdoor play more fun, they can also mess with our internal biological clock. Sunshine in the early morning and at bedtime can send our natural circadian rhythms for a loop. Luckily, there are healthy sleep remedies that the entire family can follow to avoid summer insomnia problems.

Summer Proof Your Sleep Environment

  • Block out that early morning sun with black out blinds or drapes. Promoting a dark cave like room is going to keep our sleep drive revved up for sleep success. Heading to the cottage this summer? Purchase a travel black out blind or for a quick and affordable solution throw some garbage bags and painters tape in your overnight bag.
  • White noise machines can help mask those early morning bird calls and noisy afternoon lawnmowers acting as sleep remedies. The consistent lull of the white noise machine helps eliminate external sounds.
  • Keep things cool this summer by layering accordingly and keep your families sleep zone between 68-72 degrees.

Bedtime Routine – It’s Not Just For Kids

Practicing a consistent calming bedtime routine with our children helps cue them that sleep is approaching. It promotes a safe and secure environment for them, one that makes it easier to fall asleep. A calming bedtime routine can work well for mom and dad too. Turn off electronics, take a warm bath, listen to calming music, or read a bedtime book before drifting off to sleep.

A Consistent Schedule Means a Well-Rested Unit

We all have a personal baseline for rest. It’s the amount of sleep our bodies need to remain well rested each night. During the summer months it can be difficult to meet our basal sleep needs. We go to bed later, perhaps wake up earlier, and when we aren’t focused on maintaining our usual sleep schedule, our family’s sleep debt can build and build leading to eventual insomnia problems.

It can be difficult remaining consistent with your baby’s schedule when you have multiple children. How can you stay on track with a newborn sleep schedule while still keeping your eldest busy and having fun? It’s something I myself struggled with my daughter when I was training my twins and there are a few things you can do to help during this phase.

Don’t Do it Alone - Get help if you can. Recruit Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, or your neighborhood baby sitter and work them into your weekly schedule. They can keep your eldest busy and you’ll be reassured knowing you’re able to provide both the engagement for your older child and naptime for your baby.

Take Advantage of Quality Bonding Time - Use your time alone together while baby naps to work on that attachment that may get overlooked while you are busy with the baby. This is a great opportunity to focus all of your attention on them and them only. Bring out the crafts or have some cuddly storybook time. This time is all about you and them, make the most of it.

Keep Things Simple - So maybe you can’t do everything you used to be able to do when you only had one child. It’s okay to slow down and not overschedule yourselves. I always like to follow my 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you should be protecting your family’s sleep at both bedtimes and naps if they still apply. 20% of the time you can veer off course a bit as everyone is easier to manage when well rested.

 

Alanna McGinn is a mother of three (1 + twins!), Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site, and Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC).  When she’s not on route to the bus stop or tripping over fire trucks and tea sets, she’s working with families to overcome their sleep challenges.  Follow Alanna on Facebook and Twitter for daily sleep tips and advice.

My Son’s Camper Achievement Award

My 12 year-old son is in his element when he’s at camp. Running around, getting muddy, hiking, swimming, skipping stones and catching frogs with a bunch of kids is pretty much a dream come true for him.

He always comes home with stories about the adventures they’ve had and new camp songs he’s learned. His arms are covered with dozens of friendship bracelets. Apparently, the rule is that the bracelets have to fall off naturally, and you can’t TAKE them off no matter how dull and tattered the once brightly coloured bracelets become.

The first year he went to camp, he’d never been away from home for a two-week stretch before. His big sisters were there so I knew they’d help him out if he got homesick. I also knew that they’d probably keep an eye out for any of his lost belongings.

Last year, he went solo, which made labeling all the more important. We went with the Limited Edition Camp Combo clothing labels for kids and had him choose the icon. We played a game by laying out all his clothes into piles, labeling them and taking pictures (Okay, it was mostly a game for me!) Clothes and hats were labeled with Tag Mates (my favourite!) and Skinny Minis were on all his toiletries. The beach towels got labeled (Tag Mates on the care tags), flashlight and water bottle got Sticky Labels, running shoes got Shoe Labels and his duffle bag and guitar case got the metal Bag Tags.

At the end of each camp session, funny, personalized camp awards for kids are given to each camper to recognize one of his or her most well known achievements. When we picked Eric up at the bus stop last year, he came down the steps of the bus, beaming with pride as he displayed his special award. It was the “Most Items in the Lost and Found” award!

When we got home, I dug all the sandy clothes out of the duffle bag and threw them directly into the washing machine. Fresh from the dryer, we laid them all out and compared them to the “before camp” photo.  And you know what? Almost everything made it back home. I think we were missing one water shoe and a t-shirt.

Without Mabel’s Labels’ camp clothing labels, I doubt Eric would have been reunited with his stuff and he would have missed out on winning that cherished award. Pretty soon he’ll be heading back to camp on that bus, everything labeled, and totally prepared to defend his title!

Have you got your Limited Edition Camp Combo yet? Hurry! It’s available until June 30th!

 

About the Author:

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

- See more at: http://blog.mabelslabels.com/index.php/2014/05/page/2/#sthash.Dz5uGm1E.dpuf

My Parenting Fail Hat-Trick

There are some days that I feel pretty great in my role as parent. Maybe I’ve handled a difficult situation calmly or I’ve made a meal that everyone enjoys and there’s no squabbling at the dinner table. Then there’ll be a day like last week that makes me feel like I’m failing as a parent.

My daughter sent me a text, clearly articulating all the reasons she was upset with me.

1) I had made her a sandwich that had cucumbers on it (she hates cucumbers). 

2) The night before, I had forgotten that she was working and needed the car, and told my husband he could take it.

3) She’d had a really important day at school yesterday, and I hadn’t asked her about it at dinner.

Wow. Having all those things pointed out so matter-of-factly hit me hard and I did my best to try to smooth things over. I thought I’d deal with the lunch fiasco first, in a light hearted way. “Well, you’re lucky, I forgot to make sure your brother was up and out the door early for band practice, and he didn’t even GET a lunch!” and, “Wait, you hate cucumbers? I thought you hated CARROTS!” Then came my helpful advice, “Just pick the cucumbers off.” When attempted humour and defensiveness didn’t work, I turned to justification for the next two issues. “It’s so hard to keep everyone’s schedules straight,” and “I was going to ask you about your day, but you mentioned it before I had a chance.”

If it had been just one thing she wouldn’t have felt so upset, but THREE? That was a parenting fail Hat-trick! She felt unloved and for that, I was heartbroken, and I felt guilty. I asked if we could get together that night and talk about it. She said “whatever” but I took that as a positive sign (ever the optimist)! She had a poetry book that she’d ordered that had just arrived at our local book store so I made a special effort to pick it up and bring it home as a peace offering. When I knocked on her door with the book in hand, she was thrilled. We hugged, I told her that I loved her and that I was so sorry that I’d made her feel badly. She apologized too and assured me that we were good.

Here’s what I learned that day:

1) Perception is reality. My actions made it seem that my daughter wasn’t important to me so that’s how she felt, even though that’s the farthest thing from the truth.
2) Healing starts when you say you’re sorry.
3) It was never about the cucumbers. That was just the final straw.

Do you have any experience with parental guilt or parenting fails to share? Come on, we’ve all got ‘em!

 

About the Author:

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

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