Motherhood

The Importance of Sleep and Tips from Michelle of SleepWellSleepSolutions.com

by shethinksmedia

I wanted to put a disclaimer on this up front. What follows is mostly advice for parents having problems with their children’s sleep. If things are working for you, you’re happy, your child is happy, then I’d still like you to read this of course, but I would not recommend making any drastic changes to your routine. I nursed my daughter to sleep and never worried about her falling asleep on her own. At a couple months old, she started sleeping through the night – I never did any sleep shaping or training with her, she just figured it out on her own. Some babies do this. Others are like my son, who didn’t consistently sleep through the night until he was 3 ½ years old!

Importance of Sleep

Not only is sleep important to having a less cranky child, there are many biological functions that occur when we are sleeping that are important. Without adequate sleep, growth problems can result. Children who do not get enough sleep may be prone to overeating, or preferring high calorie carbohydrates. Hormones in the body are also affected in sleep deprived children.

Children who do not get enough sleep are also more prone to accidents during their waking hours, and they can also show signs that are often mistaken for ADHD.

Some Sleep Basics

In most children, the ability to put themselves to sleep is a learned skill, one which we can help them learn. If children do not know how to fall asleep at bedtime, they will probably wake during the night. We all go through sleep cycles when we sleep. When we switch between sleep cycles, we have a partial awakening. For adults, usually we turn over, maybe fix our pillow and fall back asleep. For children, these awakenings may be more difficult. If your child has fallen asleep while being rocked in your arms, then wakes up in the middle of the night in their crib, she will wonder how she got there, and then she is going to try to figure out how to get back to sleep. If the only way she knows how to fall asleep is being rocked in your arms, she will call or cry for you so that you can help them. Every 90 to 110 minutes, adults and children two and up have a slight awakening, every 3 – 4 hours we have a more pronounced awakening. Babies under two cycle more frequently.

We all have sleep windows that are our naturally sleepy times. When we are in a relaxed state and at our sleep window, our body produces Melatonin, a calming hormone. When we wait too long, our body starts producing Cortisol, which is a stress hormone. This is why your child, who a little while ago seemed pretty sleepy, is now running full speed around your house!

Once a child misses their sleep window and their body begins producing Corisol, it is harder for them to fall asleep, and they are more likely to wake during the night.

A well-rested child can handle variations in a sleep schedule better than an overtired child. Babies are even more sensitive, especially if they are already overtired.

Babies who do not get enough sleep will wake up throughout the night and earlier the next day.

Some Gentle Way s to Get Your Child to Sleep Better

The most important thing you can do in trying to change any behavior is to be consistent.

For all children, have a predictable, relaxing bedtime routine, preferably with no television or other electronic devices. Many people include a bath as part of their bedtime routine, but if you feel that this gets your child more worked up and less relaxed, it is fine to move it to another part of the day. If your child has a hard time settling down, look into baby massage or yoga for children. I recommend reading some books as well.

Younger children (under 2.5)

Try working on getting them to go to bed drowsy but awake at bedtime. You can begin trying this at 6 – 8 weeks old, but do not worry if your child resists it. Just try again in a couple of days.

Try massage or yoga if your child has trouble settling down before bed.

To improve sleep at night, make sure your child is getting enough sleep during the day. Over tired children sleep less and worse than well rested children.

Older children (2.5 and up)

Make sure your bedtime routine is consistent and the child knows what to expect (i.e. how many books will be read, how many times they can fill up their water cup, how many hugs etc.). Think about all the things your child may use to stall bedtime and think up your answer before time.

Explain the changes you will make to your child in a family meeting – Make it Positive! Explain to your child that they will feel better and be able to have more fun if they are well rested.

Use Sticker Charts to give a visual of the behavior you want changed. Put 3 or 4 behaviors on the chart, including one that will be relatively easy for the child to accomplish.

There are many clocks you can buy that will turn different colors to show the child when it is time to wake up. These are great for children who wake in the middle of the night or wake early in the morning.

If sleep training does not work, and you are 100% consistent, there may be underlying medical conditions such as: asthma, allergies, reflux and sleep apnea. Some symptoms of sleep apnea are restless sleeping, extreme sweating, snoring, and mouth breathing. If you are seeing any of these signs, discuss this with your pediatrician.

Written By Michelle Winters, Gentle Sleep Coach

Michelle Winters graduated from the College of William and Mary with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach. Working with infants, toddlers, and preschool aged children at a Montessori school has made her aware of how prevalent sleep difficulties are. She decided she wanted to do something to help all the tired parents out there, especially since she had been one of those tired parents until very recently when her 3 year old son finally started sleeping through the night. She can help you create a plan that will have your child sleeping better at night and at naptime. Her website is www.sleepwellsleepsolutions.com.

 

Growth issues and Sleep: http://www.babycenter.com/0_the-connection-between-sleep-and-growth_3658990.bc

Article about adults, eating and sleep: http://www.sptimes.com/2004/11/17/Worldandnation/Sleep_deprivation_rai.shtml

Article about ADHD symptoms really being symptoms of sleep deprivation: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/attention-problems-may-be-sleep-related/

Sleep Basic information comes from “The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight”, written by Kim West.


Whole Milk

by abbyslanehype

Ana is a mild mannered federal government employee by day and blogs at http://mammagiraffe.blogspot.com/ by night. She is a Supermom 24 hours a day to her wonderful 17 month old daughter.

It took a lot longer to feel like a mother than I expected it would. I certainly didn’t feel like a mother when we came home from the hospital. My daughter was such a sleepy baby that no matter what I did I couldn’t get her nurse. The lactation consultant at the hospital told me to undress her and dab a wet washcloth on her feet to wake her up. While that made her mad enough to wake up and latch on, as soon as she started to nurse she would drift back into fetal sleep. In fact, the whole nursing experience (the pumps, the mastitis, the sleep deprivation), which I had expected to be the bridge that would bring me into motherhood, did just the opposite. Weaning after 8 weeks allowed me to finally beat the painful recurrent mastitis, find pleasure in being close to my baby, and start to get my mommy mojo.

Once I could hold my baby close to me without flinching in pain I became obsessed with baby wearing. Looking down and seeing my tiny daughter’s round cheeks poking out of a Moby wrap made me feel like I was connected to the soul of the universe. I also became the master at “The Mommy Dance” – the crazy bouncy, swinging, waltz that was the only thing that would calm my hysterically screaming daughter during those “witching hour” evenings.

However, it wasn’t until close to my daughter’s first birthday that something clicked and I felt like my brain had really been rewired from 30 year old working professional to Mommy, and what made me realize it was, of all things, whole milk. From the time my daughter was born no major decisions were made without our pediatrician’s blessing. She told us what brand of formula to use, when to start solid foods, and even what kind of sunscreen to buy. But something about switching to whole milk made me realize that our daughter was not a myserious little being with unknowable ways and incomprehensible needs. She was a little person. A little person who I knew and had known since before she was born. And I was her mom and knew what was best for her. And I even realized that I had known all along what was best for her, better than the lactation consultants during our failed breastfeeding days, and sometimes, better than the pediatrician. So, I switched her to whole milk and I didn’t call the pediatrician about it. I knew how to do it, because I was, and always will be, her mom.


Burnt Toast

by abbyslanehype

Pamela Reddy is the proud mother of 15-month-old Luke and wife to Jason from central Illinois. She has the privilege of being a SAHM and is constantly perfecting her role as “domestic goddess.”

Nine months after my son had been born, I found myself crying uncontrollably to my best friend – spilling my guts in an obnoxious display of snot and tears. I hadn’t eaten a hot meal, slept for more than a few hours at a time, or even showered every day in months. I constantly felt guilty if I left my child for even an hour while I did the grocery shopping. I had put my son and husband first and totally neglected myself since the day I had given birth. Teri Hatcher (yes, I’m referencing a desperate housewife) wrote a book called, “Burnt Toast.” The premise of the book is that women give the perfect pieces of toast to our husbands and children, and we take the burnt piece that’s left over. What a metaphor! When I realized that I had been eating nothing but burnt toast for nine months, THAT was the moment I felt like a mother. After reflecting on my childhood, I vividly remember my mother doing it, my grandmother doing it, my aunts doing it. It is our jobs as mothers to put our family before ourselves, and we eat the burnt toast without thinking twice. Don’t get me wrong – I will continue to eat burnt toast until the day I die, but I have made a solemn vow to myself to also take a couple of hours a week to get a pedicure or take a hot bubble bath.


I’ve never looked back.

by abbyslanehype

Sally is a twenty-three-year old SAHM to a five-month-old son. She and her husband have been married almost two years. They met in college and had a wedding the week after graduation. Sally loves blogging, white wine, cloth diaper laundry, and weekend naps with her little boy. You can read her blog at http://www.exploitsofamilitarymama.com

My son was born November 27, 2009. He was absolutely perfect in every way. I know every mom says that, but he really was. I looked at him and just knew I’d been waiting for him my whole life. I’m not sure that I felt like a “mom” yet, but I knew he was mine and always would be.

I spent the next couple weeks in the haze of new mother bliss. We knew my husband’s deployment was looming, but I pushed it to the back of my mind and drank in every last moment as a family of three.

On December 15th, my husband left for Iraq. He will be deployed for a year. I was facing a year with a baby I didn’t even know yet and no partner to help me in this journey. On December 18th, my aunt passed away from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I lost my support system as everyone around me fell apart. She was greatly loved and will be missed more than I can even say.

Yet, Sullivan still needed me. He didn’t know his daddy was deployed. He didn’t know his momma’s favorite aunt was gone. All he knew was that he was hungry, needed to be held, and was scared in this new big world.

I grabbed that baby up and held on as tightly as I could. Sullivan became my rock. My little savior. Without him, I wouldn’t have pulled through without drowning in my own sadness. I couldn’t let myself fall apart with everyone else. Sullivan needed me. I was all he had at that moment. At 3:13AM, in the quiet of Sully’s nursery, in a glider with the hum of the noise machine and tears streaming down my face, I realized I was a mother.

I’ve never looked back.


Mother’s Day Contest

by abbyslanehype

We had so many great articles for our Mother’s Day contest that I asked Stephanie if I could raffle off an additional $10 voucher from among our many “runner ups!”

Soooooo we have another winner!! I went ahead and selected one random name from among our entries… and Mary Michaud is our second winner! Mary, e-mail abbyslane@aol.com to collect your prize. 😀


becoming a mother

by abbyslanehype

There were so many wonderful mother’s day posts that I had to share some more with you. Enjoy!

Mary M lives in Wyoming with her best friend and dear little one, and when she’s not enjoying life with them, she’s juggling her time between sewing, working on a cult-recovery ministry, and her cloth diaper addiction. She blogs a little at “Adventures with Baby” (http://simplymerry.wordpress.com)

This Mother’s Day is the first year I will be a mom. But that’s not what made me finally realize I’m a mom. It was when I was talking to my hubby about how fast baby is growing…. and realized how I was measuring his growth. By poop. Now of course I can justify this – I was talking about soon needing a diaper sprayer because baby is starting on solids, and we can no longer just throw the soiled diapers straight into the washer. But still. Only a mom would measure growth in terms of poop.

It seems like a long road already… from that first realization of “oops”, to darn-it-i-want-to-have-a-baby-bump-already!, to craving liver and cranberries… waiting and walking and laboring those last few weeks as I slowly opened up – and went overdue. To the jacuzzi in the hospital laboring room that was a cruel joke… it would randomly turn on high-speed bubbles that were agonizingly painful. To realizing the baby was in danger when they said I had meconium in the water… and to keep pushing! To hardly caring that I was stark naked when the ped emergency team swarmed the room to save my still and gray little baby. Hungering for that first touch before they whisked him away. Being on a mag drip and looking at his picture and crying as I pumped a few treasured drops of colostrum… and then finally taking my baby home. And falling in love.

Sometimes it seems I am just the milk machine. But then baby shows that I am the only one who can comfort him. The first one he learns to reach for. It’s in my arms he prefers sleeping, not his bassinet… and the only place he’ll sleep when he’s sick or teething. There’s the unguarded joy and complete trust he has in me when he plays and learns and tumbles through this new and strange world.

What is motherhood? It is being dedicated to another person’s life, happiness, and well-being. It is being the security and safety of warm arms. And it is being the owner of blackmail material. Which brings to mind the invention of digital cameras… a blessing and a curse. A blessing to us moms, and a curse to the future of our children. They will have every memorable occasion recorded, along with every occasion they didn’t want to remember… On youtube.

And as I write here, sitting next to my adorable sleeping baby, I am just starting to realize I am a mom. Mom to this beautiful, blue-eyed, chubby smiler. He will be nearly 6 months on Mother’s Day, and I love being his mom.


Happy Mother’s Day!

by abbyslanehype

Lisa is a stay at home Mama to Emma and currently an incubator for Amani. When she is chasing after her toddler and two dogs, she likes to listen to the Navy Band concerts where her hubby plays the trumpet. 😉

I think the moment that I really “became” a mother, was when our daughter was minutes old and the doctors kept poking her with needles in case she needed an IV line. I was still under heavy medications from the Csection and through the haze, managed to tell the doctors to quit it and take the line out, she was fine–my mother-sense told me so. It was like I suddenly had the strength of twenty men and managed to sit myself up on the bed and asked for my baby. I didn’t get a chance to properly introduce myself to her or get to eat her up with kisses. I just had to be her Mom.

It turns out, my mother-sense was right, she was completely fine and I was there to make sure they didn’t do anything unnecessary. She was preemie weight, the tiniest thing ever, and although I was frightened at the prospect of taking her home, I knew what I had to do. So, I had my first major conversation with my daughter at minutes old. I told her:” We are going to do this together. You don’t know what you are doing yet, I am not sure I know what I am doing yet, but as long as we are together, everything will be ok.”

Sometimes, I think to myself, I wish I had a sweeter introduction into motherhood and stepped into that role in a smoother way. But, then I just remind myself that “becoming” a mother happens in very different ways to different women…and that is good. If we all “became” mothers at the same time, there wouldn’t be new stories to tell and that to me, would be a very boring way to celebrate Mother’s Day. :)


the proudest profession

by abbyslanehype

Motherhood: from the moment you see those two little pink lines, you know it’s going to change your life forever. You just have no idea how much it will change. Because at that moment in time, you cannot imagine the pain of crying with your baby when she’s so sick she’s kept both of you up all night. You can’t imagine the joy of those first steps, that first word, the first day of school. One minute you’ve had a tiny bundle of screams placed into your arms, the next minute there is a little person. A person that you’ve been in charge of. You’ve been the center of their world. You helped form them. What a privilege and honor. What a terrifying job.

I hope I’m not the only one among us who felt like she was playing dress up for a long time. Becoming a mother is like starting a new job. Except you’re starting a new job for which you have zero experience and no skill set. And it’s an important job. And you’re the President. And CEO.

With that playing-house feeling comes the inevitable inferiority complex. I’m incredibly blessed to be know so many mothers that I feel honored to be in the same room with, much less call friend. These women blow my mind. They are so patient and loving. Their children are so well behaved! I want to be just like them. When I grow up.

But, as one of my friends put it, it’s a mutual admiration society. Every mom is doing the same thing – checking all the other mothers out and feeling in awe of what someone else can do. We all have our own skills. Comparisons are futile. No child is alike, so why should all mamas be alike? We all have our talents and gifts, and we all use them to our best advantage to do our best for our children.

When my baby boy was born almost a year ago he was my first baby who stopped crying simply because he heard the sound of my voice. That made me feel like Mother, the center of the universe, the one person who can heal all the hurts. At some age we can’t heal all the hurts anymore, but for a long time we can. For a long time, a kiss, a warm lap, a gentle word, some special treat, and all is well. And it is Mommy who created that. What a rush.

And all of the sudden, you know when you are a Grown Up and you are now The Mom. Because you think of your own mother, and all of the sudden you realize: for all the times she told you when you were wrong, there were a hundred times she knew better but bit her tongue. Many times when you needed a spanking, you weren’t the only one who was crying. All of the times you told her, “it’s not fair!” she was thinking, life ain’t fair, kid. A lot of life lessons are painful to learn. You’ve got to be cruel to be kind. And it sure isn’t easy. You want to do the hard part for your kids, you want them to know better than you did, and not repeat your mistakes.

That’s what makes up motherhood; more hard work and more love than you can ever imagine. In your wildest dreams you couldn’t begin to form your expectations. And it keeps changing, and getting better all the time.

What was the moment YOU felt like you really “became” a mother? E-mail your essay to abbyslane@gmail.com and you can win a $10 voucher! Happy Mother’s Day.


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