Back to School Sleep Tip

Back to School Sleep Tip

It is that time of the year where our little ones are preparing to go to school or go back to school. The first thing I get a number of questions about is how to get your child prepared to get the amount of sleep he needs each night.

When summer hits we often fall off our routines. This is pretty common and honestly, it is to be expected. If you child is going to bed later and waking up later than he needs for school you can help him get back on track.

Where do you start?

The first thing that I recommend that you do is to figure out what time your child needs to be going to bed to get the recommended amount of sleep that he needs.

Here is a link that can help you figure out how much sleep your child needs Recommended Hours of Sleep. Keep in mind your child may need more or less sleep than a child that is the same age as your child. So trust your gut instincts on the exact amount of sleep that is best for your child.

Keep in mind your child may need more or less sleep than a child that is the same age as your child. So trust your gut instincts on the exact amount of sleep that is best for your child.

Now What?

Now you know how much time your child should be sleeping so the next thing to look at is what time does your child have to be awake to get where they need to be in a timely fashion without you having to rush them out the door (stay tuned for a post about how to get them out the door with your patience and hair intact).

Let us say for example you need to be out the door by 8:00 am so you decide that 7:00 am is a good time for your child to get up.

Currently, your child is getting up around 9:00 am. There are 2 ways you can approach this change:

Cold Turkey:

The weekend before school you can just cold turkey wake your child up at 7:00 am and start your day. I do recommend giving him a few days to adjust before going to school which is why I recommend starting on the weekend. Then have bedtime at the time you figure he needs to be able to get proper rest.


Right about now you can start waking your child up 15 minutes before he usually wakes up. Bedtime will be 15 minutes before he usually goes to sleep. Then every 3 to 4 days, change wake-up and bedtime by 15 minutes. Continue this approach until you reach the desired times.

Be prepared for some protest from your child. Reminding your child that you are doing this to help him get ready for school can have a positive effect on the push back you may receive.

Have fun preparing for back to school!

If you have additional questions feel free to ask me all the questions that you have in the Preschool/School Aged Group or Forum Area for members. Not a member become a member today!




Bring the Fun Back to Bedtime

Bring the Fun Back to Bedtime

You can stop laughing now!! I know lots of people begrudge bedtime if they have a child that struggles with the bedtime ritual.  I have had people flat out laugh at me when I have suggested making bedtime fun. How can you do that if your child resists the whole idea of bedtime?  It is possible.

A few months ago, our son went through a period where he tested every single “trick” and tool I have to encourage an increased night sleep.  I was beginning to feel like the biggest hypocrite out there.  I then discovered the magic combination that worked for us.

The first obstacle that I needed to overcome was the complete distaste I was getting for bedtime.  I was not enjoying it at all.  A few weeks after we transitioned our little man into his big boy bed he began refusing to stay in his bed.  He would run around trying to get our attention.  When that did not work then the tears and tantrums began.  This made bedtime later than he could tolerate which meant several night wakings.  Yikes, that was not in my personal sleep plan!

Let the brainstorming begin!  We began a family hug ritual.  After Daddy finished the bath routine they would hide on Mommy.  I then go on the hunt for the boys and we end with an awesome family hug ritual.  We were all happy and willing to participate in the bedtime routine.

The second obstacle I had to overcome was the adults being in control of the routine.  Our son is like most 3-year-olds and he wants to be independent.  “I do it myself!!” So we began the next change in our routine.  After family hugs, Daddy reads 3 stories and then the little man climbs into bed and “reads” his own stories.  Then he either drifts off to sleep on his own before picking up a book or he will look at a book until we turn off the light a few minutes later.

Now bedtime is a blissful time in our house and the night wakings have diminished immensely.  Let’s be honest, the little guy is potty trained so there are times when he needs to make a trip to the “bathroom”.  He waits in his bed until his clock goes off in the morning.  He has a toddler clock that shines when he can get out of bed.  He then comes into our room and says “Morning!” I actually wake up refreshed and ready to start my day.

You may still think that this is not possible in your home.  I strongly believe it is.  Here are a few things that may help improve bedtime at your house as well.

  1. The actual bedtime is not negotiable but parts of the routine are negotiable. You can offer choices throughout the routine.  For example: what pajamas they will wear; what books will be read; if they will walk or hop into the bed; or they can pick a special activity.
  2. Bedtime should be clear and consistent. A visual chart can help remind your child of the steps that are involved without you having to nag about it.  If the bedtime ritual is changing your child will be confused.  The added bonus to a consistent bedtime routine is that it helps your child naturally increase the bodies natural production of melatonin which helps them sleep!!
  3. Bedtime routines need to be long enough to prepare your child for sleep, but not too long or it will cause them to be overtired. The ideal length for bedtime is 20 to 45 minutes maximum.
  4. Sleep TrainingEven Toddlers can understand some clocks. There are many toddler clocks on the market.  Personally, we have a Gro-Clock and our little man loves it.  We turn it to the lowest setting for brightness at night but when it turns on in the morning the sun is bright and he knows he can get out of bed.

Here’s hoping you can bring some enjoyment back to bedtime with your young child.  Hang in there!  With persistence and consistency, things will improve.

Happy sleeping!

Surviving the Toddler Years

Surviving the Toddler Years

The first thing that comes to my mind when someone says, “toddler” is TERRIFIC!  I personally believe perspective is everything.

I have heard lots of people state “terrible twos” and they discuss how frustrating it is to parent children in this stage.  I am not at all disagreeing with that, trust me. I am currently living it. Some days are better than others.  Do I get frustrated and raise my voice? Yes, sometimes I do.  Then I apologize, not sure he completely understands, but I do.

I am often amazed at how my little man is constantly watching and wanting to do what we do.  If I had a loonie for every time he stated, “I help” or “I do,” I would be a millionaire.

There are many times that I am busy in the kitchen and I see my little man running for his chair.  He grabs his chair, pulls the chair up beside me, climbs up and says “I help.”  A similar thing happens when I do laundry.  As soon as he hears the door to the washer or dryer open, he yells, “I do!”  It takes more time to get the chore done and I have to be patient. These are great teachable moments that help children take an interest in doing chores.

We have witnessed many cute moments.  Examples: copying his older brothers as they yawn or stretch; dribbling a basketball when he was less than 2; repeating phrases straight from my mouth ( I had no idea how often I said “sure” or “okay”); jumping up and down with glee after going pee in the potty; singing along with songs from his brothers iPhone; and dancing in the middle of a store without a care in the world.

2013-12-08 17.56.57There are many moments where I am not sure if I should run away, cry, or tantrum with him.  I still have no idea how he can hit the floor face down in full tantrum mode in 2 seconds flat.  He goes from standing, happily chatting, to sprawling on the floor screaming. Sound familiar?

That is my cue to figure out what is causing him to be so distraught.  90% percent of the time, it is that he is not getting what he wants, NOW!

I get down to his level or bring him up to mine.  Then I usually try to empathize with him.  It works sometimes, but not always. Then I try to distract him by encouraging him to engage in a different activity or I help him accomplish the task that is frustrating him.  If that is not working, I keep pulling out my various parenting tools until I find something that works. For more information, read my previous post, Overflow Your Parenting Toolbox.  (see

Lets put ourselves in those little shoes for a moment. For the first year or more, things are being done for them.  All of a sudden he/she figures out that they can do so much.  They want to do the same things you do, but just can’t yet.  It must be hard to see people around you doing something and you try but it does not work.

A good example of this is talking. My little man has a lot of words that he can speak with, but they often form weird sentences or are difficult to understand.  He has to repeat himself several times to get his point across.  I believe I would cry or tantrum if I was in that situation.

Have you ever tried to physically see the world from a toddlers perspective?  Wow, I find it to be very intimidating. When you get a chance, get down to your child’s level and see what they can.  I see a bunch of knees, lower body parts, and only parts of things.

This perspective has made me less angry and more understanding of why my little man often wants “uppy pease” (up please).  I challenge you to get down to your child’s level in a crowd to see what they see.

How can we reduce the frustration that our toddlers experience?

We can be patient, teach them how to do the new task, engage them in age appropriate activities, let them lead an activity (child-directed play is amazing for increased self-esteem), get them to help out with chores, give them things to do, and teach them new words.  Remember this is a stage that is short-lived and so much growth is occurring, it is amazing.

The following is a list of the things our little man does around the house that seems to empower him. Here goes:

  • moves the laundry from the washer to dryer
  • helps empty the dishwasher (after I remove the sharps and anything of value)
  • puts the face clothes away
  • put the piles of folded clothing in an empty basket
  • “washes” dishes ( I fill up the sink throw in a few cups or utensils that are already clean)
  • puts his toys away (not always where they are supposed to go but close enough)

Oh and if something gets spilled on the floor watch out!  Our toddler runs to get a cloth and throws it on the spill.  Try to find ways that your little one can “help” or be engaged in similar activities that you are.

Remember to pack your patience and take in as many moments as possible.  Time flies. The toddler years are amazing times of growth.  Enjoy!

**Want to learn more, join the conversations about Toddlers in the PF Membership area.

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