I’m a nationally published sleep expert, journalist, and the mom of three young kids. I’ve been helping tired families sleep since 2007 (more about me here). Subscribe to The Well Rested Family for fresh news and tips on keeping your bunch happy and healthy. Thanks for stopping by!

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Entries in parenting (3)

Monday
Apr092012

Making The Most Of Your Child's Naptime

Image courtesy of hoteldndsigns.comWhen I work with parents in search of better sleep, they’re often crushed to learn that they’ll have to kiss their child’s super-long naps goodbye in order to support nighttime sleep. These same parents are thrilled with the results of a shorter-nap plan, but those long naps are hard to lose.

I understand completely. We parents hardly get a moment to ourselves, and when naptime rolls around, we have a million things to do (we may even need a siesta, ourselves). And research shows that age-appropriate naps are important to growth and development in babies and toddlers. But overly-long naps are a big sleep-stealer and a frequent culprit in young kids’ bedtime problems. Think about it—can you fall asleep at night after a long luxurious afternoon nap? Your kids can’t, either.

So how can you make the most of your child’s naptime, when there’s less nap to take advantage of? By prioritizing. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few naptime tricks that help keep me productive, happy, and sane as a work-at-home mom of young kids.  

1. Separate naptime tasks from other work

I’ve learned to sort nearly every daily task into two categories: what CAN be accomplished with children awake, and what CAN’T be accomplished with children awake. This dual-category system helps me prioritize my daily work and take advantage of my kiddo’s naps, even when those naps are brief.

As a rule, I never, ever use naptime to complete a task that could be done while my child is awake. That means no cleaning, no folding laundry, and no paying bills or doing routine mindless work. Those things can wait.

Can you make phone calls while your child plays nearby? Can you prep dinner or wipe the table while they’re awake? Then don’t waste precious naptime on these tasks.

2. Prepare for battle

If you know what you’d like to accomplish, you can spare prized naptime minutes by doing prepwork before the nap starts. Planning to work out during naptime? Change into your workout clothes, cue up your exercise DVD, and get out your yoga mat before tuck-in. Hoping to blast through a blog post or fire off a few client letters? Charge up your computer and have your favorite brain-food snacks at the ready. Need a nap yourself? Change into sweats, make a cup of sleepy-time tea, and locate your eye mask before sending your little one off to dreamland.

3. Reign in social networking

I’m as guilty as anyone—as soon as my toddler is napping, I want to settle down with a cup of tea and check in with Facebook. But if I’m not careful, Facebook and Twitter can eat up precious naptime minutes that I could (should) use for work or rest. To keep social networking from zapping your free time, try setting a timer so you don’t zone out in front of the laptop for hours on end (unless that’s how you recharge!).

4. Put your feet up

I’ve realized that one of the best things I can do during my kiddo’s nap is rest. Even if I don’t sleep (and I usually don’t), I need to spend at least 15 minutes with my feet up. Relaxing is the main thing I CAN’T do when my kids are awake, so it takes priority over almost every other naptime task. And after a 10-20 minute break—which, if I’m honest, usually includes chocolate—I’m ready to get my munchkin up and start our afternoon.

Hooray for naptime!

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Tuesday
Mar132012

King 5 Parent to Parent: Living Green

Check out my latest Parent to Parent segment on King 5 about growing up green. I'm discussing my March cover story for ParentMap magazine and offering easy tips for families who want to live green. (Parent to Parent airs on KONG, channel 6/16 in Washington at 8:15am on Mondays.)

Please, "like" the segment and share it with friends!

Read more here:

Friday
Feb242012

Parenting a Short Sleeper

I'm guest blogging today at Easy to Love but Hard to Raise about the challenges of parenting a short-sleeper: a child who needs less sleep than most.

Horrendous bedtimes. Night awakenings that seem never-ending. Feeling as though you never have a moment to yourself. Sound familiar? You may be living with a short-sleeper—a child who needs less sleep than most.

Many of us arrive at parenthood believing that babies sleep around the clock, only to find ourselves parenting a child who seems to barely sleep at all. In truth, kids’ sleep needs vary widely. Average sleep times for children are 14-16 hours of sleep per day for newborns, 12-14 hours for toddlers, 10-12 hours for children three to six, but some kids don’t need this much sleep. A few need significantly less.

Although true “short-sleepers”—people who can get by on just a few hours of nightly sleep— make up just 3-5 percent of the population, the percentage of kids who need less sleep than average is much higher. And these short sleepers can tax their tired parents emotionally and physically. 

The post includes 5 tips to help you live peacefully with your short sleeper.

Read the complete article at Easy to Love, and let me know either here or there: Do you have a child who needs less sleep than other kids? How have you handled it?