Posts By: Guest Blogger

Heading Back-to-School and Getting Back on the Sleep Track

Back into a bedtime routine for school!

It’s time to head back to school soon and while school supplies are being bought and labelled there is one thing that is often overlooked when preparing for back to school.

And that’s our child’s sleep.

It’s important for your child to be well-rested during the school year to promote:

Stronger Cognitive Ability

  • It can be hard to learn and remember new things when tired. A well-rested child has an easier time heightening skills that are needed in school such as, attention, memory and decision-making.

Better Mood and Temperament

  • We all know what our mood is like when we haven’t had enough sleep. It’s no different for our children who actually need more sleep than we do. Let’s face it children will not bring home any student awards without sleep. Logging in more sleep at night will mean more pleasant behaviour and their teachers will thank you for it.

Stable Immune System

  • The better rested your child is, the stronger their immune system will be to fight off colds and viruses that spread across the classrooms during the school year. Ick! Boost your kids’ sleep and you’ll boost your kids’ health.

There are steps you can take and ones to avoid when starting to get your family back on sleep track before the school year starts.

What to Include:

Bring Back Their Age Appropriate Bedtime

  • During the summer months routines tend to be thrown out the window so it’s important that once school begins you make sure that your child starts going to bed early again. Appropriate bedtimes for toddlers and school-aged children are between 7 and 8pm.
  • Tip! You need to reset your child’s internal clock in your back to elementary school routine and you can start doing this at least 2 weeks before school actually starts. During the week and even on the weekends have your child go to bed and wake up at the same time they will once school begins to prevent insomnia in children.

Reinstate the Calming Bedtime Routine

  • Doing similar activities before your child goes to bed each night will really help cue them that sleep is coming next making for a more relaxing and calming bedtime routine for everyone. Reading kids books instead of watching TV is a great way to do this.
  • Tip! Give your child a 10-15 minute warning before getting ready for bed so they are prepared and know what to expect.

Communicate Their Sleep Needs

  • Discuss the importance of sleep with your child. Ask them why they need sleep, how much sleep do they think they need, how do they feel when they are tired, and how do they feel when they get a good night of sleep. Opening this sleep training communication helps them understand why you are making the necessary changes to their routines and helps to build a healthy relationship between sleep and your child.

What to Avoid:

Staying Plugged In

  • Remember to remove over stimulating activities during the bedtime routine and turn off the TV and computers. The bright lights from the screen can turn our sleep switch off by slowing down the release of melatonin.
  • Tip! At least 60 minutes before bedtime turn off tech. It’s a great tip for you too mom and dad.

Consuming too Much Caffeine

  • Watch your child’s caffeine intake throughout the day. Avoid soda, chocolate and iced tea in late afternoon and at dinnertime.

Scheduling Too Many Activities

  • Be careful not to overschedule your child’s activities. If evenings are tough and rushed then opt for a weekend class, where your child will feel more rested taking it and you won’t be rushed to get there.
  • Tip! It’s okay to have one day off. Choose one day on the weekend to be your family’s day off and protect that downtime. Hang out with the kids and have some quality bonding time. They need a day to relax and so do you.

Following these steps can help make an easier transition back into elementary school and better nights and mornings for the entire family. And maybe this year they might just bring home a few student awards.

 

 

 

About the Author

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.

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

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