Archive for the ‘bedtime routines’ category

Slow down, you move too fast

June 13, 2011
bath time is an excellent time for children to unwind so bedtime is not a discipline problem. Water soothes children and gets them ready for bed. Parenting is about taking time and spending time and love to get children to do what we want- also known as cooperation and discipline. Positive discipline is easy when you know how to do it.
Tubby time for sisters. I’m a great believer in a nightly bath as therapy to get ready for sleep.

Watching children play together, catching them being good, witnessing their daily activities without criticism, rushing or interfering is one of the most important things you can do for your family.

It’s time well invested in the parent-child relationship. I learned how to watch quietly when Ian, my third child, was very difficult and I didn’t like him very much. My assignment was to “rebuild the relationship.” I had to practice seeing his positive attributes.

It took at least three months of forcing myself to change my attitude towards Ian, then 2 years old, was very demanding, controlling, loud, powerful and a trouble-maker with his older brother and sister, to start to see his beauty, charm and persistence.

Last week at a parenting workshop when I described how to just watch children in action, the mother of four children ages 4 to 15 had an “aha” moment.

“When I just watch my 7 and 4 year olds take a bath, and I’m not cleaning the bathroom, dealing with the 15-year-old in the hall, making phone calls or doing a dozen other things at the same time, they go to bed without a fuss, without coming out and asking for another drink of water.”

This is why parenting workshops are so effective. They give parents an opportunity to  step back from the hectic, emotional and consuming job of taking care of children, and see the big picture.

A smooth bedtime routine benefits everyone — parents, children and the family environment. After 7 or 8 pm, little children do not have the emotional or physical capacity to be awake. However, we must satisfy their emotional needs and wind them down for bed by using a soothing bath where we are not distracted.

Just watch. Wait. Enjoy the moment — they will be grown up sooner than you will ever believe.

When Ian turned 13, he decided to build a skateboard ramp in the driveway with the help of his friends. I continued my routine of watching quietly — and it was very interesting to see his crew in action. They taught me when the hour is late (after 2 pm) and the problem great,  quit and go swimming. Ian and his buddies finished that skateboard ramp, which impressed me and gave them a great deal of confidence and competence.

Watching was sheer delight. Remember to slow down, watch and don’t miss their growing up.

Big lessons from little ones

February 28, 2011

slowing down, conscious parenting, savoring the moment, appreciating everything that children can teach us, living in the moment can all be learned from children. Children can be wise teachers. Carl Honore wrote about about being in the moment because of what his son taught him about bedtime routines and bedtime stories. Slowing down is an important lesson of parenting. Having patience is one of the most important things a parent can learn from their children. Parenting is about patience, love and forgiveness.Welcoming my firstborn into my world when I was 22 years old changed the course of my life and taught me more about life and love than I ever imagined.

Casey Anne and her three siblings put every human excrement imaginable on my narcissism and flushed it all down the toilet. She forced me to think about someone else besides me, and to put me second. Ironically, that became a habit. A decade later, I had to resurrect my needs from the toilet and take better care of me.

My children taught me how to be interrupted and still get something done — in addition to taking care of them. The hardest jobs are when you’re constantly interrupted — like secretaries, teachers, nurses and mothers.

Bob and I bought a house that had been neglected when the children were 4, 2 and 6 months old. The 35 windows were so gray with dirt that you couldn’t tell the weather outside. Every day for a month, I plopped them in front of Sesame Street and washed three windows until chaos erupted and I surrendered — another lesson from three children born in three-and-a-half years.

The most valuable lesson was patience, to slow down to their pace, to revel in the present moment. To appreciate humongous earth movers and construction sites; wild animals like squirrels, ants and robins; the wonder of a train station or airport.

Bob and I spent more than a decade giving the kids a nightly bath, reading a book, singing a song and tucking them in. It was like a meditation, and it worked, because they stayed in bed and went to sleep early. It bonded us for life.

In a lecture on Ted Talks,  journalist Carl Honore said that reading a bedtime story to his son taught him to slow down his hectic life. It inspired Honore to write a book “In Praise of Slowness,” a valuable lesson to most 21st century Americans.

Now in their 20s, my “children” continue to teach me different lessons about relationships, technology and  life. They’ve returned the favor — I was their most important teacher because humans learn more in the first four years than they do for the rest of their lives.

When my children were little, they patiently allowed me to make the same mistake, over and over, until I figured out to do something different. Nowadays, they could have more patience now with their ol’ Mom, but they haven’t had any children to teach them — yet.

What have your children taught you?

Sleep is food for the brain

October 1, 2010


Children and teens and babies need enough sleep. so many children are sleep deprived. Sleep is essential to clarity of mind. Children need sleep like they need food. Good parenting means giving children the opportunity to sleep enough. Teens can be encouraged & expected to sleep.

She ran out of gas.


Now that school has started and children have had a month to get back on track, it’s a good time to schedule a family meeting and negotiate earlier bed times.

Well-rested young people = happy young people.

By the age of 2, most children will have spent more time asleep than awake, according to the National Sleep Foundation [who knew someone cared that much about sleep?]

Many youngsters do not get enough sleep. Toddlers need 12-14 hours of sleep; preschoolers 11-13 hours; school-age 10-11 hours; and teens between 8 1/2 – 9 1/4 hours per night.

According to the foundation, teens who do not get enough sleep can be at higher risk for obesity.

I can attest to this. On Tuesday I woke up at 3:30 am and decided to get up and work on a quilted banner titled, “The Tree of Life” instead of staring at the ceiling.


tree of life, religious tolerance, accepting all religions, religious symbols, islam, christianity, bahai, taoism, hinduism, buddhism, judaism, native american religions, tree of life, turtle, wicca

This is my Tree of Life. How many of the symbols of the world's religions can you identify? My goal is to have one of these in every church, mosque, temple and home in the world.


It threw off my sleep schedule for the day and I felt crummy.

To relieve the headache, I had the urge to eat something – preferably sweet, salty and fatty!

My teens used to have one sleep schedule during the week and on weekends, forcing themselves to stay up late and sleep in. I find that very disruptive to a sleep schedule.

When my four children were young, I kept nap times sacred — for my mental health and theirs! I like what the National Sleep Foundation says — “Sleep is food for the brain.”

Use a family meeting to negotiate earlier bed times . Compromise! Check my free tip sheet on Bed Time routines for ways to lull the under-11 set to sleep effortlessly on a regular basis. Parents must be committed to getting children to bed at a decent hour. They need more sleep than you think.

Who sleeps with who over the summer

July 9, 2010

Modern parents who came of age in the 60s, 70s and 80s must have a difficult conversation with your college age students who come home for the summer … with their “significant others.” Avoid the awkwardness of waking up one morning and meeting Lauren or Meghan for the first time after they spent the night at your home.
Have a conversation in advance about your expectations. Watch the video for more. See if I blush — probably not, after four children, who are now 20-something, it takes more than a conversation about sex to embarrass me!

A bedtime routine that works magic

June 10, 2010
This child looks relaxed, which is the purpose of a nightly bedtime routine. Parents must set aside the time to put children to bed each night. Be present, don't rush, no phone calls. Bedtime routines are very soothing for parents and the whole family.

Ah, peace at last. We all need our rest. Children need to get to bed at an early hour. Photo credit to Mitikusa on Flickr.

Here’s an age-old problem from a young mother I coach: “I can’t get my 6-year-old daughter to bed on time.”

My answer follows.

You must be committed to getting her to bed on time. If her kid-o-radar senses wavering, she will move in and exploit it. If you’re not committed, stop reading.

Start by talking to her about bedtime at a family meeting and agree on a reasonable bedtime.

Use the clock as a neutral guide. Set up a routine – bath-book-bed, and a song if there’s time. DO IT EVERY NIGHT. Turn off the phone, TV and radio.

Start the bath 30-45 minutes before bedtime. Don’t wash her hair every night. The goal is to calmed her down. My mother used to say mental hospitals use water therapy to calm  patients. Warm water play plus open-ended time is very calming, even with three children in the tub.

You can read a book or come in and out of the bathroom within hearing range. Floss and brush your teeth. File your nails. Trim your toenails. Clean the toilet and sink. Hang out.

Do not hurry, and keep to the schedule. After a 10-20 minute bath, get into PJs and brush teeth. Even though she is an only child, this formula works for three or four children in a family. We herded our gang of four to bed like this for a good decade.

Read for at least 15 minutes while lying on her bed and relax your body. You have nowhere to go but that present moment. Sing. Talk. Pray. Quietly. This is not the time for daddy-rough-housing. Tell a story from your imagination or childhood.

Breathe deeply and restfully. Try not to fall asleep yourself.

If she’s still not ready for sleep, allow her to keep her light on and “read” in bed or look at pictures until she’s ready to shut off the light. It will happen soon.

Say goodnight and find something quiet to do. You’ve satiated her with attention and relaxation, an investment in her staying in bed.

If she doesn’t stay in bed after this routine and you’re worn out, give her a choice: either stay in bed or you  lock it or hold the knob until she falls asleep. This sounds harsh and it’s a limit the child is unable to set herself.

We are motivated by fear and desire. If she has no desire to stay in bed, so use fear.
You’re afraid of disintegrating into a less-than-ideal parent if you don’t get a break. Give one warning, framed positively: “If you stay in bed, I’ll leave the door open.” She hears, “Stay in bed, leave door open,” the behavior you want to reinforce.

This option is that it only takes one or two nights of setting the  limit. It’s reasonable, respectful and related to her choice. (Thanks Jane Nelsen, Ph.D. for the “Three Rs”) .

Let me know how it goes. Does anyone else have this problem?