Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Getting Kids to Sleep

My bears love to read before bed!
  Ahhhh Sleep! In America, we are obsessed with it, probably because we do not get enough of it. I know that there is a cultural war about whether to let infants cry-it-out prior to falling asleep, and regardless of what "experts" say, I want my children to have a healthy association with sleep and enjoy it just as much as I do! That means we need lots and lots of practice. And just like sometimes I am not able to sleep well, my children also struggle. As a parent, it is a privilege to be available in the night for them. I am happy to provide drinks, potty-tunities, and snuggles when needed. Sometimes the only time I can get to snuggle with my active six year old is during the night (she used to be a Velcro baby and now I can't catch her for one tiny kiss). I love being able to help my children in the night! Truly a work of God that I have to this place.

Helping our children get to sleep has been a journey for us. We highly recommend the resources by Elizabeth Pantley and her No-Cry Sleep Solutions We also have enjoyed the ideas shared by Dr. Sears and others who give options to modify for your individual child and life circumstance. Children are NOT one-size fits all! The one note that I would provide is that I have yet to hear these authors address the need to use the restroom in the night, which we have found to be paramount even for our newborn infants. We found answers in the Elimination Communication realm, and others who provide cues and ways to meet infants' needs in the night. We always provide the following to help our bears sleep well:

1) Night-time routine

2)Prayers with Daddy - never underestimate the power of prayer for a good night's sleep!

3)Potty-tunity right before going down for the night -If little man refuses to go to sleep, we get back up and it is ALWAYS because he needs to go one MORE time, yes even if it was only 10 minutes prior. Then he will typically be up 2-4 times in a 12 hour span to use the restroom, more if illness or teeth are an issue; he is 18 months old just as a note. Needs obviously change with age.

4) Model good sleep - I relax with the children, rub backs, hug, and do not force them to sleep. My only request is that they keep their heads on the pillow and do not talk. I always reassure them that they do not have to sleep and can go to sleep whenever they want to. I respect their need for autonomy. This has worked extremely well and I feel like that gives them a healthy responsibility over their own sleep (as age-appropriate mine older ones are 4 and 6 years old).

5) Understand that sometimes they will not sleep well and adjust accordingly.

6) We make sure they have plenty of running time, healthy food, and a winding down time before the routine begins.

That being said, sometimes I get a little blitzed tired. I have three children close in age after all...forgive me if I can't spell, find the telephone, or refuse to answer the door.

Daddy is just as tired as little man!

My next article is on sleep-deprivation, which can easily occur if you are a care-giver for people of any age (elderly parents, small infants, or anyone in between!).

What are some of the ideas you have on meeting needs in the night-time?

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