Routines and Schedules

Routines and Schedules

It is times like this that I want to go back to my past self and give myself a high five!! The routines we put in place when our son was 3 years old or younger are still in place with some minor changes through the years and they are still working well!! Bliss I tell you!

A routine is a series of things we do before or after an event. A schedule is based on set times certain events occur.

Schedules and Routines both have their place.

I find that set schedules do not work as well with infants but having a variety of routines in place does work really well.

We have a screen time schedule here which works like a charm! Our son watches a show about 8 am, 11 am (when he is home), and 4 pm. We do have to be a bit flexible but we put in this place we would focus hugely on watching his programs. Once the set times were in place the constant asking for a show came to a complete stop. My response is “yes you can at __ time” After staying consistent with this for a while he really took to it.

I often have parents ask why their child is so well-behaved at daycare or school and not as much at home. The first thing is that children will unload their feelings at home where they feel safe. The second thing is that there is a great deal of structure with routines and schedules so the children know what to expect.

I often recommend that parents maintain similar schedules and routines at home.

You may find that you continue certain routines from your childhood. It is really cool how routines and schedules can really help children feel safe, secure, and be willing to do the steps without even realizing it.

I have to admit that our morning routine is my favorite.

Morning routine:

  1. Come in and give mom a hug
  2. Bathroom
  3. Snuggles with Mom and/or Dad
  4. Get Dressed
  5. Start watching You-Tube (Pause when breakfast is ready)
  6. Eat Breakfast
  7. Call Grandma
  8. Brush Teeth
  9. Put on socks
  10. Finishing watching You-Tube while getting the outdoor gear on
  11. Out the Door

It typically is very smooth and we have been doing a routine similar to this since he was 3!

There are a few things that you can do to help your child get familiar with a routine.

  1. Be consistent
  2. Use visuals (written list for older children and list using pictures for younger children)
  3. Use verbal reminders
  4. Use a timer to remind your child when they have to move to the next step

You can use routines throughout your day! Have fun fitting in the routines and do not forget to make them a little fun for your child as well!!

If you would like some help figuring out how routines and schedules can help your family, please feel free to book a free 15 minute consult to ask how I can help. You can book the free call by clicking on the following link https://calendly.com/brenda-mcsween/15min.

Below is the video I did and based this blog post on. Feel free to listen…​

Put a Stop to Night Time Parties

Put a Stop to Night Time Parties

 

What is a night time party? This is when your child is waking up throughout the night or waking and staying awake for a long period of time at night.

There are many reasons for these parties that parents can be forced to partake in. If your child is waking several times a night or staying awake for long, know that you are not alone but you can reduce these parties in several ways.

An important note to make is that all humans will wake several times a night. We all wake slightly at the end of our sleep cycles. Typically, we simply go into the next cycle of sleep with very little time in between cycles. Night wakings are only an issue if your child is waking up and requiring assistance for more than 4 days in a row.

Before we can talk about ways to reduce night wakings we need to discuss the reasons these wakings often happen.

 

Reasons for Night Wakings:

1. Overtired: When children are overtired they will wake several times a night or stay awake for long periods of time. (Click here for a list of the recommended hours of sleep needed)

2. Not Awake Enough During the Day: If our children are not staying awake enough during the day they often do not feel the need to sleep through the night.

3. Developmental Milestones: Each time a child learns a child is learning a new skill or reaching a developmental milestone it can often affect their sleep. Some of the most common developmental milestones that affect are as follows: rolling over, crawling, sitting up, crawling, separation anxiety, increased vocabulary, and vivid imaginations.

4. Not Enough Calories in the Daytime: If a child is not getting enough calories during the day they may be genuinely hungry at night.

5. Teething: Pain from teething can impact a child’s ability to stay asleep at night.

6. Illness: When are littles are not feeling well they may wake several times a night. It is important to help our littles when they are not feeling well.

7. Sleep Association: A sleep association is a person, place, thing, or action that helps a child go to sleep.  There are several very common sleep associations. The most common sleep associations are as follows: feed (breast or bottle) to sleep, rocking, bouncing on a yoga ball, and/or a pacifier;  If your child has a sleep association but they stay asleep all night, there is no problem. It becomes a problem when you are having to go in to assist your child in inserting the pacifier, giving a feed, rocking, bouncing, or just being there.

8. Wake to Feed Association: This is when our little ones expect a feed as soon as they wake.

Now that you know the common reasons for Night Wakings you can make changes that will result in more sleep.

Things to do about Night Wakings:

1. Watch the hours your child is awake through the day. If your child is not awake enough or is awake too much they will have interrupted nights. Often adding or reducing your child’s awake window by 15 minutes will reduce the night wakings.

2. Reduce the length of total daytime sleep. This may mean that you have to drop a nap or reduce the one nap.

2. Increase the calories your child receives through feeds (breast or bottle) and/or food depending on their age.

3. You can fade out or quickly remove your child’s association with going to sleep.

4. Change your child’s diaper or have a quick little “chat” before you feed when they wake up. This can be 30 seconds to 1 minute long. This will reduce the wake to feed association that can creep in.

 

Below is a video I did in the Supportive Sleep Learning and Parenting Group all about “Middle of the Night Parties”. Enjoy! If you would like some additional support to work out why your child is having middle of the night wakings. Feel free to book a free 15-minute call with me to discuss things further

Parenting Styles: Conscious Parenting

Parenting Styles: Conscious Parenting

 

In recent years, there has been an overwhelming amount of information about how our parenting can impact our children. There are times when the information presented can make you feel like a failure as a parent. This feeling then affects your ability to parent.

I have had several families contact me to get clarity on all the different parenting styles. One style that is on the rise in the media and parenting networks is Conscious Parenting.

It is not uncommon for me to hear…”WTF is Conscious Parenting?”.

 

Conscious Parenting in a Nutshell

Conscious Parenting’s main focus is not the child. Say what??? You read that correctly. The main focus with this parenting style is the parent.

It took me a bit of time to wrap my head around the difference between positive parenting, mindful parenting and conscious parenting. The biggest takeaway I have had from my research and practice of the different methods is that they all focus on a positive approach to parenting.

Both positive parenting and mindful parenting focus on interacting with your child in a way that helps your child produce the positive behaviour because you are focused on molding your child’s behaviour using positive interaction or you are aware of (mindful) of your child’s needs.

Conscious parenting focuses on your feelings and the way you are dealing with certain behaviours. It takes the pressure off trying to fix your child and focuses on fixing your view or the way you handle a certain situation.

Tell Me More….

When you are parenting in a Conscious manner you are analyzing and reviewing how your feelings are gearing your reactions or the way you help your child with undesired behaviour.

You look for triggers. I am constantly asking myself..”is this my issue or his?”.

A great example of this is when he struggled with the beginning of grade 2. He would come home pretty upset and concerned that he was not going to be able to complete his work.

After much reflecting I realized I was not helping. My school based anxieties were preventing me from listening to him. All he needed was a safe place to vent and then he was fine but I dragged it out. I was trying to help him learn to write properly and it was becoming a battle. I backed off and listened. Helped when he asked for it and in time things got much better. He felt confident and flourished at school.

As a Sleep Consultant I have a number of parents that I work with that take it personally if their child is not sleeping well. I help parents reduce the stress they put on themselves to improve their child’s sleep and the work on things in a slow progressive manner. Even infants feed off their parents emotions. 

So to parent in a more conscious manner, it is important to work through your issues, identify ways that you can empower your child, set your child up with the tools needed to accomplish the desired behaviours and remove your emotions from the equation.

I actually find this style of parenting to be freeing and less exhausting. I can let way more things go and get the bottom of things way sooner. There is a lot of deep breathing going on.

Please feel free to reach out for support on how you may be able to parent in a more conscious manner. 

 

Key Night Time Phrase..What is the Point?

Key Night Time Phrase..What is the Point?

 

Once a child is over 4.5 months of age they will begin the process of producing melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that allows are little ones to go to sleep and stay asleep for long periods of time. When we use a key phrase to identify that it is time to sleep, it can help with our little ones settling down and preparing for sleep which can cause the melatonin to start to produce.

I have had the opportunity to hear many different key phrases that people use for sleep. The following are some of the most common:

  • “Night Night”
  • “Sleepy Time”
  • “Good Night”
  • “Do do”
  • “Time for Sleep”

This key phrase comes in really handy in the middle of the night or early morning when your child requires a reminder that it is still time for sleep. When you use your key  phrase it is often enough to help your little one attempt to go back to sleep. It basically does 2 things. It reminds them that it is still time for sleep and it allows them to hear your voice which can be very calming.

A key phrase may seem like a very simple tool; however, sometimes it is the small things that make a huge impact!!

Sleep Props? What do you mean?

Sleep Props? What do you mean?

Sleep Prop?  Lots of parents, including myself, have had no idea that their child is dependent on a prop to go to sleep or stay asleep.

A sleep prop is an object, action or person that a child requires in order to go to sleep. Your child is dependent on a sleep prop if you find yourself getting up many times to replace a soother, rock a child, go for a car ride, or feed your child.

Here is a list of some common sleep props:

  • soother
  • rocking to sleep
  • car ride
  • stroller
  • feed (bottle or breast feed)
  • person (mom, dad, or other care provider)
  • swaddle
  • swing
  • swaying

Now should you dump all props immediately? It depends on the age of the child.

The first three months can be difficult for a baby to sleep, so you do what you can. There will be a few times that you will use a sleep prop, don’t beat yourself up for it.  Your baby needs rest, end of story.The first few months you do what you can to teach your child to sleep.

In my opinion, the key is to eventually reduce or eliminate your child’s need for a prop.  Once your child learns to put themselves to sleep without a sleep prop it is an amazing moment. You and all other family members will actually get a half decent sleep – it really does happen.

Now that our youngest is two years old, the first few months are a blur; however, I remember being very sleep deprived and frustrated with his lack of napping.  I felt for him and I could tell he was exhausted (crying, easily frustrated, rubbing his eyes, etc).

I took a look at his sleep and environment. We were rocking him while giving him a bottle before he fell asleep.  Every time he woke up he required a feed in the rocking chair to go back to sleep.  The kicker with our boy was that after every feed he had to be held upright for 20 to 30 minutes to prevent him from throwing up his feed. (Acid reflux is not fun.)  It was near impossible to keep him awake.  He then became dependent on a person to hold him.  Yikes!

With time and patience, he was able to sleep on his own. He did have to be taught to sleep without a prop and we had to remain calm.  The first few nights our little man slept on his own, I woke up wondering if everything was okay.  It was beautiful to hear him sleeping so peacefully.

Your child can be an amazing sleeper as well.  We can work together to discover your child’s sleep prop (it’s amazing what a prop can be) and teach him or her how to sleep without it.

Happy sleeping, everyone!

 

Transitions: From Crib to Bed

Transitions: From Crib to Bed

One of the biggest transitions for our toddler and preschool aged children is the move from the crib to a big bed. This can be a very interesting (aka difficult) transition.

Let’s put this into perspective. Your little person is used to being in a crib which restricts their ability to move about the room or house throughout the night. Once in the bed, your little one will be able to get up and move about the house as they wish. This new found freedom often takes time for our little ones to get used to. After the novelty of having the freedom wears off it does get easier when you remain consistent with the expectation that they stay in their bed.

When should you move your little one from the crib to a bed?

The best time to transition your little one to a bed is when they understand the concept that a behavior has a consequence. When does concept begin to be understood? Typically, children begin to understand that behaviours have a consequence closer to the age of three. Therefore, I recommend waiting until your child is 3 years of age or older before you begin the transition to a bed.

What if my child is climbing out of the crib?

If your child has learned how to climb out of the crib and you have exhausted all efforts to keep your child in the crib safely then you will have to transition your child to a bed before age 3. Safety trumps developmental readiness.

How can you keep your child in the crib longer?

There are a few things that you can do to prevent your little one from climbing out of the crib.

1. Remove anything from the crib that your child can use to stand on to help get their legs closer to the top of the crib when they lift a leg over the rail. The most common thing people do is to put a bumper in the crib. Your child will use the bumper to help get over the railing.

2. Lower the mattress to the absolute lowest level possible.

3. A sleep sack can help to prevent your child from being able to get their leg over the crib railing. Here is an article that may help.. Sleep  Sack: Is It Really Necessary?

4. A number of cribs have one side of the crib that is lower than the other. I recommend that you turn the shorter side so that it is against the wall. This could give you a few extra weeks/months with a child in the crib!

 

Excellent! Now, you know when you should do the transition. So the next question usually is…

 

What type of bed should I move my child to?

Honestly, this is a personal preference. If your crib transitions to a daybed or toddler bed pretty easily I’d stick with that for a few months if possible (it may not be possible if you need the crib for another child). If the crib does not transition or is not available then the next bed is really up to you.

For us, we took the rail off the crib and he slept there for about a year. Then he transitioned into a double bed. We went to a double bed so that we could lay with him to read stories. Initially, he found the bed too big. We placed pillows beside him and he dis great.

 

How do I prepare my child for the move?

The best thing to do is to involve your child in the preparation of the new bed. Let your child help with picking out the bedding and any paint colours.

The next thing to do is to make sure that all the furniture that can be climbed is anchored to the wall. If you are concerned about your child getting out of the room in the middle of the night I would put a baby gate up in their doorway. We made sure there was a gate at the top of the stairs.

 

My child’s room is ready! Now what?

For the first few nights, I would stay close to the room at bedtime. Then when your child exits the room you guide them back to the bed with minimal communication. If you find yourself guiding your child back to the bed a great deal I would switch to a camp out sleep teaching method.

This transition does take about 3 to 4 weeks for it to be complete. I have seen it take as long as 6 to 8 weeks.

 

As with all things parenting the transition will not be the same for all children. Pack your patience and have fun!