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.

When poop doesn’t happen

Guest post by Theresa Albert

Nutritionists love to talk about poo. Its size, shape, frequency and texture are all fascinating to us because they express so much about the food that went in and the health of the system that is supposed to be utilizing it. So it pains a nutritionist and parents, when a child won’t, or has trouble, going number two. We know how uncomfortable it can be, and yet important.

The scoop on poop

So what is constipation and what causes it? Naturopathic doctor, Jane Shou, ND, who practices at the Rosedale Wellness Centre in Toronto says: “By definition a child who is used to regular bowel movements who goes two or more days without a bowel movement, or has pain or difficulty passing hard stool is constipated. The most common cause is insufficient fluids and/or too little fibre.” Sounds simple enough but there are other constipation causes worth considering:

  • emotional stress (moving to a new location, or change in routine)
  • too much emphasis on toilet training
  • changes in diet or the introduction of new foods
  • too much fat in diet
  • lack of exercise
  • holding stool for various reasons such as being too active to take the time to have a bowel movement which can lead to reluctance in passing firmer stool due to the association of pain
  • using a medication that may be constipating

During short bouts of constipation, food isn’t used well, bloating or cramping is uncomfortable and fatigue can set in. After a few weeks, minor nutritional deficiencies can be present. Over the long term, chronic constipation can lead to a loss of muscle tone in the bowel, leading to a lifelong problem. In severe cases, rectal fissures (painful microscopic tears in the rectum) can result. Because the bowel presses on the bladder, children who suffer from constipation may also experience bedwetting.

A professional should conduct a very thorough review of past or current issues relating to digestive function and other factors, such as patterns with diet, sleep, stress, energy, demeanour, and other current health concerns. The idea is to find the root cause of the issue and treat from that standpoint and to allow the body to heal and grow stronger for a long term resolution and to prevent future issues.

Try these simple at home remedies:

  • Gradually increase the amount of fibre and fluid in your child’s diet.
  • Provide water, herbal teas, and clear soups before every meal.
  • Serve warm water with 1/4 squeezed lemon, first thing in the morning.
  • Probiotics are fabulous for helping establish healthy gut flora, try yogurt that is free of flavourings, colours or gums such as gelatin.
  • Serve hot cereals such as oatmeal each day.
  • Epsom salts baths, being high in magnesium, can increase circulation to the lower abdomen. Magnesium supplements can soften stool and help relax muscles
  • Massage lower abdomen to stimulate circulation and movement.  Start on the lower right corner and move upwards towards the ribs, and then over to the left, and then down towards the pelvis on the left side of the abdomen
  • Encourage physical activity and awareness of responding promptly to bowel needs. If a young child indicates an urge, respond promptly and take him/her to the bathroom.

The single most important thing to do in preventing or treating constipation is to use whole foods right from the first foods stage and avoid highly processed and packaged foods. If you are already in the toilet on this, so to speak, it’s not too late to find relief from constipation… start eating healthier now. Implement as many of the techniques listed as possible and prevent a lifelong struggle with digestion.

 

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

 

What you CAN say to a parent of a child with Autism.

There are often discussions about what NOT to say to parents about their children with autism. I wrote about it myself – how some innocent questions and comments can actually be painful for a mama raising a child with autism. Although well meaning, some comments have the opposite of the intended effect.

But please say something. Saying nothing can almost be worse. Someone recently asked me: what CAN someone say that is considered kind and helpful? That simple question stopped me in my tracks. Just asking it was a huge first step. I had a few simple suggestions that would go a long way with sensitive mamas. I’ve listed them below.

1) Ask the mother if there are any resources or books you can read to learn more about autism. That tells her you are interested in, and care about her child.

2) Ask the mother if a play date would be helpful and that you would be happy to host. Our guys need social interaction and an opportunity to practice their social skills. Sadly, they are often the last ones to get invited on a play date. Offering to host tells a mom that you’re not afraid of her child and that you are open to fostering a friendship between the child with autism and her own child. Feel free to step it up and make sure to invite the child to your kiddo’s birthday party. Those invitations can be rare occurrences as well.

3) Compliment her child. Mamas with kids on spectrum seem to only hear the negative stuff. Many dread what they’re going to read in the school agenda and worry that every time the phone rings it will be the school reporting yet another “incident”. Like every mother, we want to hear that our kids are awesome and it’s nice for someone to notice. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Here’s some examples:

“I noticed your son’s language is really coming along.”
“Your daughter was really kind to my child today.”
“I was volunteering in the class today and noticed your son sat really well in circle!”
These are just a few simple suggestions that will make a tremendous difference in the life of moms of children with autism. Don’t be afraid to talk to us. We’re moms just like you, and like all moms, we love to talk about our kids – even the ones with autism.

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

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