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Archive for January, 2009

Routines

Routines are another valuable resource in our toolkit.  When our little one was approaching one year old, bedtime had become a nightmare.  He would reach a point in the evening where he was cranky, but he was too wound up to fall asleep.

We started a routine inwhich we told him 40 minutes beforehand that he had 40 minutes till bedtime.  At the same time, we would reduce the brightness of the living room.  After 20 minutes, we would tell him that he had 20 minutes left which was equal to the amount of time that had passed since the last time we told him how long.  Repeat at 10 and at 5 minutes remaining.  Finally, at two minutes, we tell him he has 2 minutes till bedtime and he should do anything he needs to do before bed.

This system almost magically transformed bedtime from a miserable time for all to a natural and expected end of the day.  We have had it in place for about four or five months now.  It has worked so well that we now typically start at 20 minutes.  Before we start the counter, we do things like diaper changes and anything else that we t(the parents) think needs to be done before bedtime.  Then he can spend his 20 minutes however he prefers.  We have also begun applying it to naps which are often a shorter tcountdown period such as 10 minutes.

With traveling at Christmas time to various family, we were unsure of how it would work in different setttings with exciting other events going on.  It worked surprisingly well.  With his usual routine in place, he readily adapted to changes in bedtime, changes in sleeping facilities, and all the excitement of the holidays.  Even when I looked up and realized it was two or three hours past his usual bedtime, I started the counter at 10 minutes, and he was quite happy to play with his cousin a little longer and then curl up in a  playpen in a dark room.

This is one example of how a routine can help smooth the challenges of toddlers both at home and while traveling.  I would love to hear comments of how other parents have used routines to make life easier not just for  themselves but also their children.

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New Year’s Resolutions

Many of the blogs I read are listing their new year’s resolutions and encouraging their readers to make the same.  I don’t  make New Year’s resolutions.  I have found that it does not work well for me to pick a date on which I will stop doing a bad habit or try to incorporate a good new habit.

My best results have come from making a change when I feel strongest about making a change.  When I am feeling sorry for myself or disappointed, that is when I feel the strongest conviction that I want my life to be different.  It usually also corresponds to feeling out of control and unable to change.  However, it is the best time to concentrate that tiny amount of willpower and make one small change in the direction you want to go.

I will admit that I am not fond of going to the dentist.  I really don’t like brushing my teeth.  It felt pointless when I got a lecture at the dentist’s office and had to have cavities filled whether I brushed or not.  Eventually, I hit a low point with an infected spot where I had bit my tongue.  I decided then that I  was already wasting time in front of the mirror each day on vanity.  I basically offered myself a deal that if I wanted to continue primping in front of the mirror, I had to also brush my teeth.  It has taken a few years and some backsliding, but my mouth is fairly healthy.

I did not promise to take better care of my teeth following the next appointment.  I do not know how many times I made myself that promise and failed.  I did not make a resolution to do better in the new year.  I made a change, a small change, on the day I was feeling terrible.  The key is to make a small change and go do it now.

It is the fifth of January and there are probably a lot of broken resolutions already.  Now is the time to say you failed yesterday but that is okay because now you choose to succeed.

Today, while the kids are crying for supper and you’ve stubbed your toe, and the microwave blew up, stop for a moment and do something to take better care of yourself.  Take a deep breath, bundle the kids up for a quick stroll down the block and back, or gather the kids and tell them a story.  A healthy mom is a better mom for her kids, and you do not need to wait for New Year’s Day 2010 to make a resolution to make some time for yourself.

Happy New Year!

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