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…​

The More They Play, The Better They Sleep

The More They Play, The Better They Sleep

Play promotes sleep in young children and is an important part of a child’s daily routine.

Play starts at a young age.  The play looks so different depending on the age of your child.  The more they play the better they sleep!  Bring on the play!!

With a newborn, you will hear a great routine is EAT PLAY SLEEP.  This routine will help to prevent your child from developing an eat to sleep dependency. How do you play with a newborn??  You change their diaper, sing, look out the window, play with a rattle, look at pictures or just hold them and talk.  Since newborns sleep a great deal (15 to 18 hours) there is a limited time that there are awake to play.

As infants age, they will require more and more stimulation.  As your child grows, they will start to take an interest in different objects.  You might go out and buy the most elaborate toy; but, it is the box that it comes in that is the best for infants and toddlers (just watch closely – chewing hazard!).  Then they start to get mobile and find their own objects to like and dislike.  A few loud toys got thrown across the room in our house and it was not by me!

2012-10-01 11.40.54I quickly discovered the more fresh air I put into our day, the more sleep my little man was getting.  When possible, we went out. This started when he was quite young.  In the beginning, it was a stroller ride.  Then it evolved into playing at the park, going for a walk around the block, playing in the backyard, going to the zoo, and so on.   It does not have to be an elaborately planned activity.

For my sanity, I enjoyed meeting up with other people so I have some grown up conversation.  Meeting up with others gave my little man a chance to have a change in his scenery (a change from looking at me) and play with other children.  He fed off their energy!!  It is great.  He would go home and nap like a trooper!!!

We enrolled in some community activities as well. Parent and Child programs for the win!!  We were in gymnastics, a pre-preschool program for 2.5 hours 1 day a week, and dance class.  Considering my son is just 2.5 this is a great deal of activity.  I strongly encourage not to program children too much.  Still, leave time for spontaneous activity.

There are so many options available for children that it can be overwhelming!  There are gym programs, art programs, music programs, sports, library programs, 2012-09-15 19.04.57and dance programs.  A great deal of the programs run for 6 to 12 weeks at a time.  There are some programs that are consistent Monday to Friday from early morning until the late afternoon like child care settings and day homes. Even in these confusing Covid-19 times, you can find small programs that are following proper safety precautions or an online component that even the youngest of children enjoy.

I loved to find drop-in programs that did not require pre-registration and free activities.  These programs were excellent on the days that my brain was fried and I just need instant entertainment for my son.  Great examples of these activities are: drop-in storytime at your local library, coffee shop, and zoo; drop-in playgroups at your local gym, community center, bookstore, and churches; and our favorite was the walk around the mall (some malls have a great drop-in play area).

All the activities I previously discussed are great options; however, some days you just cannot leave the home, especially during isolation or quarantine.  On the days that we could not get out, I notice an increase in his temper tantrums and his naps seem to be shorter.  To prevent tantrums in the house I brought out activities that are not done daily.  A favorite of mine is building forts (aka throwing a blanket over something and hiding in there!!).  My little man enjoys playing music, so out come the pots, pans, and plastic containers.  I call this our instant band.

Now, not all children are like mine.  Not all children love to be out and about.  If your child is a person that likes to stay close to home; honor that when you can.  You can have so much fun playing at home.  If your child likes to stay home and naps well then do that.

Child-directed play is a great way to enhance your child’s independence.  This is when you let your child take the lead in the activity.  You let them choose what the activity is going to be.  You also let them be in control.  If they want to change the activity and do it in a different way I challenge you to let them.  For example, my 2.5-year-old will ask to play cards (yes we started him early)!  To him, playing cards is putting the cards on the table and he grabs some and gives you some.  Then he starts placing them down on the table. I have no idea what I am doing but I just follow his lead.  He is one proud little boy when someone will play cards his way!

Please enjoy the time you can play with your little ones.

Now excuse me while I go through some pictures of him while he was younger while he is playing online with his friends!

 

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

Nap Recommendations: How Many and How Long?

Nap Recommendations: How Many and How Long?

 

I commonly get asked how many naps a child should be taking in a day. In this post, I will give a summary of the recommendations. Please note that some children may take more or fewer naps than the same aged peer.

The number of naps that your child takes during the day will depend on the following:

  1. How long your child can tolerate being awake from sleep to sleep (wake times).
  2. How long your child is napping.
  3. How much sleep your child is getting overnight.

 

Recommendations for the Number of Naps:

(These recommendations are based on a child’s age)

Birth to 4 months:  4 to 5 naps a day

4 to 6 months: 3 to 4 naps a day

6 to 8 months: 2 to 3 naps a day

8 months to 18 months: 1 to 2 naps a day

18 months to 36 months (3 years of age): 1 nap

 

Recommendations for the Optimal Length of Nap:

Birth and 8 months of age: 45 to 90 minutes per nap****

8 months to 18 months: 60 minutes to 90 minutes per nap

18 months to 3 years:  90 minutes to 2.5 hours*****

 

****It is not uncommon for a child to nap for 30 to 45 minutes. This just means they will need more naps during the day. I firmly believe a nap is a nap and in time things will get better. See more about this in the post called Crap Naps.

*****If a child takes a nap longer than 2.5 hours but it does not affect night sleep then all is good.

 

The video below summarizes the information above and gives a few more details. This was a video I did for the free Facebook Group Supportive Sleep Learning and Parenting that I am the main moderator of.

Feel free to reach out if you require additional support. You book a free 15-minute call with me to discuss your situation and I will let you know how I can help.

Tantrums on the go!

Tantrums on the go!

Traveling with young children is an amazing opportunity to create so many memories with your children. The most memorable memories for you may be when your child is throwing himself/herself down on the floor in the airport or screaming bloody murder of the plane! Unfortunately, these things do happen!

Toddlers are going through some major developmental changes, which can contribute, to their increased tantrums. At this stage of development, our little ones have discovered that they can do things themselves. They have gone from having things done for them, to trying to figure out how to do things themselves. During this learning period, children will often throw a number of tantrums out of frustration, exhaustion, hunger, worrying about what is happening next, etc.

 

So how can you deal with these behaviours while you are traveling?

 

There are basically two types of strategies that you can use. These strategies can be broken down into 2 different types of reactions. The reactions are as follows:

 
1. Proactive Reactions:

A proactive reaction is when you consciously choose to do things that may help with your child’s feelings that can stop your child’s need to tantrum to express his/her feelings.

Some examples of Proactive Reactions are:

  1. Having snacks ready at any given moment. “Hangry” is a real thing.
  2. Giving your child reminders of what is happening next. Warnings of when they will have to transfer on to the plane. A warning before preparing for take-off and landing so the seat is in the right position.
  3. Play for a minimum of 10 minutes with your child. This is child-directed play! This can happen on the plane, in the airport, on the bus, in a vehicle, and so on. The child led play adds to your child’s feeling of connection with you. This simple act has a powerful impact on your child’s day.
  4. Bringing a transitional object with them like a blanket or stuffy that provides comfort when you can’t.
  5. Keeping to a routine that is similar to home when possible. This simply means having meals, snacks, and naps in the same order that they occur at home. I fully expect that these meals, snacks, and naps may be happening on the fly!
2. Reactive Reactions:

A reactive reaction is what you do after the tantrum has occurred or while it is in progress.

Some examples of Reactive Reactions are:

  1. Distraction is a common tactic used. There is a time and a place to use this technique. In the middle of a crowded area or in an unsafe place like the water or in the street. With the distraction, you may find that your child has a few more tantrums before he/ she seems ready to move on. I used to carry a few toys in my purse or backpack that I could pull out and use in these moments. If you are willing a movie or tv show can be a great distraction on the plane.
  2. Giving your child a few minutes on his/her own to calm down and process the moment. I personally find that timeouts are not always effective when we are in a strange place. An alternative is to you time in which is where you go with your child when he/she is taking a break away from the activity where the tantrum occurred.
  3. Letting the tantrum happen and then offering comfort when it is done. This can be referred to as offering connection. Children will often tantrum when they feel that their connection with a loved one has been affected.

 

As with all things related to children, you will find that some strategies work really well for one child and not well for another child. With time and patience, you will discover what works best for your child. I wish you all the best traveling with your child!

Awake? How is that possible?

Awake? How is that possible?

When you are teaching your child the art of sleeping the best way to be successful is for your child to be placed in the place or sleep (bassinet or crib) awake. People often look at me sideways and say.. “is it that easy?”

Well, it may seem “easy” but the reality is little ones often cry when placed in the crib. It does not have to be difficult. It can take time and there are many things that you can do; however, the first thing you need to remember is that it is not your job to get your child to sleep. It is your job to provide your child with the opportunity to sleep.

 

Say What?

I often hear from people that they cannot get their child to fall asleep and it becomes an exercise in frustration to get their child to sleep.

A great deal of time, little ones are falling asleep in someone’s arms and then being transferred to the crib. Put yourself in that little human’s place..

You fell asleep all comfy and cozy in someone’s arms and then you wake up in this crib! You have no idea how you got there. Not sure about you but I would be mad!

Okay, So Now What?

The first step is to make sure you are offering your child the chance to go to sleep when your child is physically ready. Your child should be in the state between not tired yet and overtired. This is where focusing on how much time your child can handle being awake comes in handy (Wake time).

Now that you have an idea of when your child should be ready for sleep, you then place your little one in the crib awake (or at least drowsy). If your little one has fallen asleep in your arms, gently stir your child as they go in the crib so they are aware that they are in the crib. This is when the tears can happen.

If your child is crying you can respond by giving your child a chance to settle on their own, you go be present, or you can try picking up and putting down until your little one falls asleep. I usually recommend that you use the 5 steps until your little one falls asleep. Here is a link to an article ( members only..not a member become one today) that helps with the 5 steps..

https://parentingfoundations.net/night-waking-how-do-i-respond/

It seems to take a long time..

It is important that you look at the clock when you are doing this as it does feel like it takes forever but in reality, it may not be that long. If it is taking more than 15 minutes for more than 4 days for your little one to fall asleep then I would look at the time your little one is awake between periods of sleep.

As your child gets used to going to sleep on their own you will be able to lay your child down and walk out of the room. This dream will soon be your reality!!