Spring Sleep Routines

Sleeping toddler

Spring has sprung and with the recent change from Daylight Savings Time, sleep routines can sometimes suffer. The daylight hours are longer, the mornings are darker and getting little ones adjusted to new sleep routines can be challenging. Even as adults we sometimes feel ‘off’ for a few weeks with time changes to our daily routines.

Here are a few tips you can use to help your child adjust to the time change and get into a solid sleep routine:

  1. Slow and steady.  Just because the clock turned ahead an hour doesn’t mean your child will just go to sleep at their usual time. It’s a gradual process. Try implementing new bedtimes in 15 minute increments (this goes for ‘falling back’ an hour, too). It’s not as much of a shock to their system if they’re easing into the new routine.
  2. Lighting logistics. Keep the room as dark as possible in evening to help them adjust to going to sleep when it’s still light outside. Blackout shades or even facing their beds away from light sources like a window can help.
  3. Eliminating Electronics. Make sure – whether it’s adjusting to a new sleep routine or not – you always have your child free of electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The glowing light of screens keep kids’ brains active and alert, preventing the natural sleep hormone (melatonin) from indicating it’s time to sleep.

Most of all, have patience. Sleep routines and young children naturally change as they develop. The more frustration they sense from you over their sleep habits, the worse the problem can get. Take care of yourself as much as possible so you’re ready to face each day and each new challenge as it comes!

 

Screen Time: Time-ins and Outs

children-playing

Collectively, we’ve all got the same challenges are parents; raising smart, confident and compassionate kids. Today, this is no easy task. Relationships, education, nutrition, religion, safety and more are all a part of our tasks in raising healthy (physically, spiritually and emotionally) kids. While all of these areas are up to each family individually, one aspect of parenting that’s perhaps the most debated is screen time. How much is too much? What are the limits? Is all screen time bad? How do I deal with something so pervasive and ingrained in our society? I use my phone constantly, what kind of example am I setting?

All of these are great questions and something we all probably ask ourselves every day. Let’s face it: technology isn’t going anywhere. We need to adapt and help our kids make smart choices. If your child isn’t engaging in technology yet, they will be soon enough. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be.  Here’s a look at some guidelines and what to consider when deciding how much is too much and when it’s appropriate to allow kids screen time:

  1. Weighty issues.  One aspect of screen time to consider is the rising rate of obesity in children. Experts unanimously agree that screen time is a major contributor. Even if your child is young and not facing any issues now, it can become an issue when they’re older.What to do: Balance screen time with activity. Thirty minutes or an hour of time on the iPad should equal as much time outside playing in the snow, walking or running, or time at the playground. Indoor activities count, too. Dancing, playing hide and seek or anything that gets kids moving vigorously is all part of counteracting the sedentary screen time state.
  2. Age appropriateness. What’s appropriate for an older sibling may not be right for littles. It’s a guideline up for each parent to decide. What to do: Research each app or video and know what your child is watching. Keep them with you or in the same room to know what they’re viewing or playing. Technology is much easier for you to control when it’s in view.
  3. Make technology work for you. All devices come with restrictions. On an iPhone, you can limit screen time by automatically having the screen lock after a certain length of time. What to do: Help your child understand restrictions by creating screen chart. Use a visual aide, like and actual chart on the refrigerator, to help them see how many minutes per day is acceptable for technology versus other chores and activities. Make it fun and colorful with stickers. They can even ‘earn’ screen time with simple chores.

Remember, as with most things in parenting, it’s all about balance. Too much of one thing is never good. Teach your child that it’s perfectly fine to enjoy some time with technology but that other things are important, too. Lead by example and put your phone away when you’re with them for 20 minutes to an hour. Take a walk, read a book or ask them for help in the kitchen making a healthy snack. Most importantly, unplug and enjoy all the precious moments with them.