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As more and more parents head back to work outside of the house, and kids spend more time back in school and daycare, I have seen a significant increase in families who are desperate to get their children’s sleep on track. Families are finding this new transition to be difficult in ensuring that everyone is getting a restful night’s sleep.

The biggest piece of work that I do with these families is helping them set-up healthy bedtime routines. I have partnered with Mommy’s Bliss, one of the most trusted vitamin and supplement brands among parents, because their sleep products for kids ages 3 and older, in conjunction with a steady sleep routine, can help your family get back on track. Here are some tips you can start using right now for maintaining a healthy sleep environment for your family.

1. Start Shifting Your Schedule 
Just like families try to so with Daylight Savings, try to shift your child’s schedule back day-by-day. Start waking your child about 15 minutes earlier every day or two. Also, put your child to bed 15 minutes earlier. By the end of the week your child should be waking at your desired time and bedtime should be back to where it should be. (P.S. also shift mealtimes and nap time back if they’ve crept later).

2. Remove Electronics Before Bed 
We hate to admit it, but electronics have been the key to successful parenting over the past few months. Whether it’s the daily Zoom classes for school or some extra screen time just so you can finish up a work call, many parents are relying on tablets and TVs for their child’s engagement. But, blue light from electronics can delay the production of melatonin. So, if your child is struggling to fall asleep at night, consider removing screens about an hour before bedtime. Studies have found that the melatonin production starts to increase fairly quickly once the blue light is removed.

3. Get Back to Basics 
Remember when your child was a baby and everything you read told you to establish a nightly “routine”. Well, the same holds true for older children. Create a bedtime routine that is predictable and consistent. You may have had a routine prior to the stay-at-home-order, or perhaps you didn’t but, a nightly routine not only helps a child winddown prior to bedtime, but it also removes some of the stress on the parent. Start with a bath or shower, followed by the brushing teeth and pajamas, then onto books and cuddles, and lastly getting into bed.

4. Set Realistic Boundaries 
Since some families have really deviated from their normal schedules, it may be hard to get back on track. Start talking to your child about what’s expected of them in terms of sleep. For your preschooler this may mean reading them a book about staying in bed or purchasing an “Ok to Wake” clock. For an older child this may mean telling them to get in bed at a given time but allowing them to read a few books on their own before calling “lights out.”

5. Get Outside Help 
Sometimes, even with the best planning and routine, children still have trouble adapting to the old schedule. If you’ve tried all the tricks above and your child is still struggling to fall asleep at night, talk to your doctor about supplementing with melatonin for a few days. Although it is not a long-term solution, Mommy’s Bliss Kids Sleep Line are safe melatonin products for your child as each version is crafted with a wise blend of ingredients, including melatonin, magnesium, organic chamomile, lemon balm, and passionflower. They’re designed to work hand-in-hand with a good bedtime routine to help support restful sleep.

As moms we know that just like sickness, travel, and time changes, new routines can also disrupt even the best sleepers. Getting your child’s sleep back on track will certainly help alleviate parental stress and make your child happier overall.

For more bedtime bliss resources, visit mommysbliss.com.

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If your family is planning for a third baby (yay!) there are many things that parents can do to help get ready to bring home their third baby.

 

1. Tell the Family: Consider how you will tell your children that a baby is on the way. Wow, this is so exciting! Your children may be very aware of Mommy’s growing belly or maybe completely oblivious. Or, you may not even have a noticeable bump yet but may want to prepare the kids because you may be feeling ill, tired and unable to hold them in your arms as much any longer. Or, you are just SO excited that you want to share the news right away. Just be prepared, once the kids know, there is a chance they could spill the beans!

There are so many fun things that you can do to share the news. Sharing your ultrasound photos to give them the news is just perfect. You can also do something fun like a treasure hunt, give them a baby book or balloons, wrap a gift for them with baby items or include the kids in your gender reveal. Whatever it is, of course, you will want to take photos to remember when your older ones learned that they will have another sibling! Life is about to change for them.

2. Teach Independence Early: I was very sure that I was not going to be dressing all three children each morning to get out of the house. Our mornings are stressful enough. There are many things that one can do to teach their children some independence and also make parenting life so much easier. Dressing themselves including shoes and socks, brushing teeth, wiping after potty and washing hands (making good habits), and buckling their own car seats properly are a few things we tackled first. Also, our boys know how to clean up their toys every night before bed and also clear the table after dinner. This doesn’t all come naturally to young kiddos but reminders help get them into the habit.

I had to play games, “Who can get dressed the quickest?” or “Ok, Speedracers, who is all buckled and ready to go?” Sure we help with brushing teeth and wiping after they use the bathroom but they are in the habit of doing many things for themselves. Also, we give a few easy chores such as feeding the dog, taking their laundry to the laundry room, and sometimes helping with (very) light cleaning.

3. Three Carseats in a Car: Do three cars seats fit in your vehicle? Many vehicles can allow three car seats into the backseat bench but not all. Also, some vehicles that fit three car seats can really make buckling seat belts an issue. Be sure to test it out. Secure your infant car seat with the current car seats that you are using for your two children and give it a test. If they do not fit, you may have to consider a new vehicle. Also, if your older children are four years old or older and over 40 pounds, it may be time for booster seats which can save some room.

4. Finances: I know, I know, our least favorite topic. Just as you did for your others, preparing for maternity leave and saving money is extremely important. For my third child, the University where I work had a new policy and covered six weeks of parental leave and I had saved for a whole year to have 30 PTO days, giving me 12 weeks total. But my first two maternity leaves, there were many weeks without paychecks.

It is important to remember that if you are not receiving a paycheck, and you are carrying the insurance and medical benefits for your family, and contributing to your 401K or savings plan, you still need to pay for these things monthly.  Make a list of all of the items that typically come out of your paycheck and account for them, knowing you will have to cover these costs for your estimated number of weeks.

Saving is so important because remember there are hospital bills, doctor bills and then, of course, you will be paying for your childcare as soon as you return to work before receiving paychecks again. (Do we ever get a break?!) The best advice I can give? Save, save, save.

5. Save and Reuse Items: Clothing, crib, high-chair, car seats, strollers, sheets, pack n play, diaper bag- all of it. Save it all. Hopefully, you registered for or bought all gender-neutral items from the beginning or by chance, you are like me and have three of a kind. But either way, I was grateful to have a neutral car seat, stroller, blankets, highchair, and even nursery décor just in case I ever had a girl. We moved when our older boys were 2 and 4 years old. At the time, we never knew if we would have a third but knowing the significant expense of all of these items, we moved them all with us and kept them in the basement stored away until we needed them again.

6. The Nursery: Your nursery may have been through two children and is already set and ready to go for the next baby to come along. (Yay!) Or, you may have some improvements, updates or fixes to make before the new baby arrives. It may be fun to keep the older children involved as you prepare. They can help you wash and put away infant clothes, stock up on the diapers, prepare the changing table, crib and set up the baby swing or play yard. This can get the older siblings excited and really anticipate what is ahead of them. Your first may have been very young when their sibling came along and so they don’t remember these steps of preparation very well. You second can get really excited that they are no longer the baby!

Here are some favorite books that helped us prepare.

Congratulations if you are considering or anticipating your third child. We have loved every moment of watching our baby boy grow up from an infant to a toddler with his big brothers helping out every step of the way. Hopefully, this shortlist can help a bit as you and your family expect and welcome baby #3!

This post originally appeared on www.lifeloveandlittleboys.com.