The winter months are now gone.
Maybe you watched Marie Kondo and simplified and organized everything. Maybe just the thought of it exhausted you. Or maybe, you’re like me, and did your own version here and there and your New Year’s resolution has been modified a teeny tiny bit.
Motherhood brings so many different seasons. Often, those seasons aren’t correlated with Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall and they most definitely do not always align with the seasons of the people who surround you.
This time last year, I had a 2.5 year old and a 4 month old. I remember hearing Papa Smurf on the television mentioning in a sigh that he had no idea what he was doing. If ever I could relate to someone on T.V., that was THE moment.
Christmas had come and gone, preschool had started again, and I had in my mind that my days would be organized in a perfect order with a certain time for X, Y, and Z. Boy was I wrong!
My mornings were often filled with overwhelm and not knowing what to focus on. I’m a person who likes to be able to check a box and feel like I’ve accomplished something tangible in a day. There were so many boxes left unchecked. My husband would respond to my frustration with “Is everyone alive?” and sincerely offer encouragement. I’d have a little cry and move on.
But, deep down, it wasn’t enough for me to just keep my head above water.
One morning while all was quiet, one at preschool and another napping, I was hurriedly cleaning the kitchen and listening to a podcast for some company older than two years.
Thankfully my duties didn’t have me too distracted and I heard exactly what I needed as if September McCarthy, the God Centered Mom’s guest speaker, was speaking directly to me. I can’t remember the exact words, but it was essentially something along the lines of letting things go during certain seasons.
For me, it was a season I then described as a beautiful, but chaotic circus. The wheels started turning, but I was still stubborn. That message wasn’t for me! I had things to do!
The next podcast, which I now can’t find for the life of me, went on to mention Psalm 46:10 and encouraged moms to simply “be still” in the moments. I immediately teared up, which led to an awfully ugly cry. You know the type that will keep you out of the public for at least an hour?
Yeah, it was bad.
Why did I need someone who didn’t even know me to tell me that it was okay if all the “things” didn’t get done? Why did it take TWO total strangers? Because I needed more than family to tell me it was okay. Because I wanted to say I accomplished something during the day.
Because I’m a box checker and often let society define success for me.
Why do I share this with you?
Because it changed me, and it taught me that to BE STILL wasn’t the same thing as being lazy! I didn’t have to stand out, be the perfect Pinterest mom, or have a Martha Stewart worthy kitchen. My kids need the best version of ME, and sometimes, that involves sitting down for a while.
There are many days that I still need a reminder. I try to slow down and be even more mindful to sit in the floor and play. I let the laundry wait a little too long.
I absolutely delight in the smiles on my babies’ faces! I’m 100% positive that if someone I didn’t even know hadn’t told me to simply let things go, be still, and that “busy” doesn’t equal success, I would have missed many a smile.
Hearing that podcast gave me permission to let caring for my kids be enough. It reminded me that truly caring for your kids involves being very, very present in their lives.
Over the last year I’ve accepted the fact that our home won’t be a showcase of perfection, but more importantly, I’ve learned to see it as a place with life, laughter, experiences, and love.
The best part? I’m a better mama because of it!
The toys, the messes, the plates from breakfast that are still there hours later…it’s okay now. Well, if I’m being honest, it still bugs me to no end, but I’ve come a LONNNNG way.
I know that the tiny little dings in our coffee table came from a little fella loving a new hammer and a mama who didn’t see it coming. A year ago, I would see those as imperfections and a table that is messed up. Thankfully, so thankfully, my perspective has changed.
Now, if you read this and think “Boy doesn’t she think she has it all together,” that couldn’t be further from the truth. I snap at times I shouldn’t. I was the mama with the kid having a public meltdown over not getting a new toy TWICE in the last month. My kids know Mickey and Minnie much better than I’d like. My daughter is one of the pickiest eaters on the planet. I question myself ALL. THE. TIME.
But I have a suspicion that I’m not the only mama that could benefit from slowing down and letting a few things go. “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” Well said, John Trainer, well said.
The Lord does take care of us when we are trusting enough to do what he calls us to do.
And, mama, if it’s your season to focus on taking care of your baby, you do it and don’t look back. Sit down, hug, play, chase, dance, tickle and giggle.
And equally important, love yourself. Take care of yourself. You’ve got one heck of an amazing job to do.
Let YOUR heart define the check boxes, not society.
If you long to be more present with your child, but lack of sleep is taking its toll on you, let’s talk. There’s no shame in getting help for your child. Sleep is important for everyone and it certainly helps us enjoy the greatest moments and have more patience in the more trying ones.
Schedule a FREE 15-minute call with me today!
The Middle-of-the-Night Cry Every Mama Needs to Know.
You’ve finally put your head down on your pillow and no sooner than you start to drift off to sleep, your baby starts to cry. Sigh….
Whether your baby has been in bed for one hour or four hours, your first thought is “Why is my baby crying?”.
Whether it happens before or after midnight, or many times throughout the night, you do the same thing. You start going through your mental list of questions:
Or, knowing that babies LOVE their mama, maybe she just wants to be held by you. The thought of this tugs at your heart!
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we knew what those cries meant? Unfortunately, your baby’s one form of communication keeps you confused. You think:
Your list of VERY valid questions could continue!
But there are two definite truths:
After all, you’re a mom because you want to love on your baby. You live for the nurturing moments where nothing else matters but rocking, nursing or simply holding him or her. I’ve said it before and will say it again Always love on your baby! LOVE. ON. YOUR. BABY.
But, the reality is it’s impossible to love on your baby all night long. Not only are you beyond exhausted, your baby isn’t getting quality sleep if she’s crying out for you multiple times a night.
To make matters more complicated, have we even determined why she’s crying yet?
So, what on earth is a parent to do?! Should you feel guilty for silently praying they’ll go back to sleep on their own if you wait a few minutes and let them cry it out? The answer to that is NO and every parent has been there!
You know your baby better than anyone and with time, you’ll definitely know when something is wrong based on your child’s cry just as you learn your child’s cry within a day of being born. It’s your mama instinct.
So, in the meantime, let’s figure out the middle-of-the-night cry every mama needs to know!
Here are a few tips for out the “why the cry?” riddle:
IS BABY UNDER SIX MONTHS OLD?
Babies typically need at least one nighttime feed until around six months. With small tummies, no solid foods, and milk that digests quickly, we can expect them to be hungry during the night.
TIP: Some babies can sleep all night, but in general, we should expect one waking for feeding during the night.
IS BABY EATING ENOUGH DURING THE DAY?
Once a baby can sleep through the night, it is imperative that we make sure their calories during the day are increased.
Around six months is a great time to begin offering solid foods. Again, do not force foods. Your baby may show no interest and that’s 100% okay! Six months is not a line in the sand of a time to cut night feeds, so don’t feel as though you’re doing something wrong if a night feed is needed beyond six months. Make SURE you talk to your pediatrician to confirm that your baby’s health and weight are appropriate for considering removing night feeds.
TIP: Throw in an extra feed or add an ounce or two to each bottle throughout the day. Be careful to not force milk but know that a baby will compensate for night nutrition during the day and need extra calories.
HOW MUCH IS YOUR BABY EATING?
I’m sure you know this scenario. Less than an hour of being put down, your baby starts crying. You offer food, but she takes a small amount and quickly drifts back off to sleep.
This is a good sign that a baby is feeding for comfort instead of hunger. The calming effect of that small amount of eating was enough to help them relax and get to sleep. A baby who wakes of true hunger will take a reasonable amount of milk, even if not quite as large of an amount as during the day.
IS BABY SLEEPING AT LEAST THREE HOURS AFTER EATING?
A baby who does have a full feed before bed or during the night should be able to sleep 3-4 hours after eating. An average sleep cycle lasts around 45 minutes to an hour (for a six month-old), if you notice your baby waking after that length of time, it’s most likely that food is not the reason. Instead, your baby has most likely become dependent on the soothing and sucking actions of the feed to go to sleep.
TIP: To help rule out hunger even more, try moving the last feeding before bed to the beginning of your bedtime routine. Then, offer an extra top-off feed before bed. This often results in baby taking in extra calories before going to sleep.
DO THEY GO BACK TO SLEEP WITHOUT A FEED?
It’s hard to go to sleep if you’re hungry, even as an adult. Our brains know our bodies need nutrition and will stay alert until that need is met. Only when overly exhausted, will our bodies recognize sleep as a greater need.
With that said, a baby who is truly hungry will not go back to sleep very easily until having that need met. A baby who falls asleep after five or ten minutes, even if crying, most likely wasn’t hungry, but instead looking for help falling back to sleep.
HOW DOES BABY FALL ASLEEP?
Perhaps the most important question, and one that you can easily answer is whether your baby falls asleep on her own? In other words, is your baby rocked, nursed, bounced, held, etc. to fall asleep? OR, can you place your baby in the crib while awake, walk away and have her fall asleep without assistance? If the answer to that last question is a solid “YES,” then your baby most likely needs your help, probably in the form of food.
Why your baby is crying and whether they are hungry isn’t a very easy question to answer. Babies are complicated little creatures. We absolutely have to ensure they are fed and have proper rest. Once your baby has independent sleep skills, determining what a cry means is certainly much easier.
Breaking the habit of feeding to sleep isn’t always easy, but it certainly allows you to feel much more confident that the middle of the night requests are out of genuine need and not just for another minute with mama.
I help parents like you who are 100% committed to the health of their baby and want to meet the needs of both sleep and nutrition in the most gentle, nurturing manner possible.
If you have questions about how to help your child have the quality sleep he or she deserves without sacrificing their nutritional health (or your mental health), let’s talk.
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My Favorite White Noise Machines
The recommended safety level for any sound machine is 50 dB. As a rule of thumb, if you walk out of the room and close the door, you should barely hear the machine. There is a fantastic all called Decibel X that can help you determine an appropriate level. Simply place your phone in the crib and adjust the noise or sound machine accordingly.
The Marpac Dohm is a white noise machine that generates the noise with a motor. There is only one sound choice, which is a soothing sound of rushing air, or “shhhhhh” sound. The two motor speeds along with the ability to rotate openings in two spots allow you to adjust the tone and volume. The Dohm is the simplest, most easily adjusted white noise machine on the market. If you are hoping to block out a very loud, barking dog right outside the window, it simply won’t, unless it is above a safe volume. It does a fantastic job of safely masking distracting noises and providing a comforting environment.
The MyBaby SoundSpa is an excellent choice for a budget sound machine. The sounds are definitely different from the Dohm, but most babies don’t care. The MyBaby has a white noise option along with summer night, ocean, heartbeat, brook, and cradle; however, I will always encourage using the traditional white noise. These sounds are prerecorded. There is an option of a 15, 30, or 60 minute timer, but I recommend using the machine during naps and all night. At $25, it is a great value and small enough for travel.
The LectroFan is slightly smaller that the Dohm. It boasts 10 white noise sounds and 10 fan sounds. Unlike The controls are very easy to operate, and the volume can be adjusted far higher than any nursery would ever want. Again, 50 dB is our limit. The LectroFan has an optional sleep timer, but for our purposes, that’s not necessary. This is another fantastic choice and has a range of noises in case you prefer sound options.
If you feel like you’ve tried it all and are still at a loss, let’s set up a free 15-minute consultation. No question is too big or small and there may be a simple solution!
The holidays are officially here! If you've successfully gotten your baby on a schedule, you may be worried that they may regress with travel and a little upset to the routine. You desperately want to maintain sleep over the holidays.
You have good reason to be concerned!
Whether by car or plane, the travel and excitement paired with extra stimulation are the perfect combination to throw the hard work out with the turkey bones and wrapping paper.
The good news?
A little strategic planning will help you maintain your well-orchestrated routine whether at Memaw's or Aunt Sue's.
The two main obstacles in your little one's solid slumber are travel and family and friends.
Let's address travel first.
First, do yourself a favor and don't sleep train right before traveling. Now, if you've already started, don't worry! A trip shouldn't completely derail your progress if you can maintain some semblance of normalcy. Just be ready to rock and roll when you get home.
Driving to the turkey dinner destination?
Do everything you can to schedule your drive around your baby's first nap. While the car seat isn't ideal, it's a great substitute for no nap. The bonus? A little peace on the drive for that podcast you've been wanting to catch up on OR the absolute peace of silence.
Have a long drive?
Try to find something to stop and do mid-trip. It's great for everyone to move and get a little fresh air. It may take a little longer, but you may snag a second nap in the car which means you'll arrive a much happier, less stressed human.
Flying? Bless. Your. Heart!
My best piece of advice is to accept that planes and babies don't always get along. Some immediately fall asleep and some scream the entire time. However you little feels about the experience, own it. The dagger eyes from the row behind you may need some help in the compassion department, but that's not your job.
For toddlers and older children, I give you my permission to break out all the snacks. I LOVE Melissa and Doug "On the Go" coloring books, too. Of course, when all else fails, take out the phone.
Ok, back to sleep.
EVERYONE is excited.
EVERYONE wants to hold the baby.
EVERYONE wants to play with those cheeks and take a scrapbook's worth of pictures.
It is an absolute BLESSING to share life with family. The only problem with all the fun is that your baby will easily become overstimulated and potentially miss a nap. If you are off your schedule and arrive with an already tired baby, this is magnified.
So, mama, you must advocate for your child. It's FINE to take control and let everyone know that your baby needs a break, a nap, or that it's time for bed. You may have to explain that your baby becomes overstimulated and that it's hard to go to sleep in that condition. Your well-meaning matrons will understand.
Trust me when I say that every nap is important. One missed nap results in a rise in cortisol, which results in a domino effect of overtiredness and more missed sleep. Start strong on day one. You don't want the trip to be full of crankiness and crying that could have been prevented. Neither does your grandmother.
So, everyone is now on board and supporting your schedule.
How do you deal with the actual night part?
You and baby may be in the same room. No big deal! Except that it may be.
Your baby will know you are there! I know from experience that what will probably happen is that you will have an extra bed buddy. Those snuggles are wonderful until your baby falls in love with it and expects it when you get home.
Divide the room.
Do anything you can to place a barrier between you and your baby. Can you hang up a blanket, stack some boxes, have a portable clothes rack? It doesn't matter how beautiful it is. Room in the closet? Even better! It's dark and quiet, baby can't see you, and you can play on your phone without the light being an issue.
I know firsthand that grandparents HATE to hear your baby cry. Do everything you can to keep the peace and maintain healthy sleep for your baby. If you don't rock at home, don't rock. If you don't use a pacifier, don't start now.
Now, the not rocking part is probably as easy as having a kid hold open chocolate and not eat it. For many families, that's a losing battle. While the professional side of me says to stand firm, the mom side of me says to be so THANKFUL that you have a loving family. If YOU want to let someone rock your baby to sleep, DO IT. Just don’t let it become a habit and stick it in high gear when you get home.
I find that the biggest reason that parents give in is that they are simply embarrassed or intimidated. You may be a new parent. If so, it's common to feel quite small among the eyes of experience that are watching every move of your baby AND YOU.
Remember that your baby, family, and the health and well-being of both are important. While you may have someone tell you under their breath that your methods are a bit ridiculous, be confident that your cause is noble!
You are fighting for sleep! You are defending your baby who is too small to fight for him or herself. Superheros are often misunderstood and this could not be truer in motherhood.
You've got this, mama!
Hug your family hard. Good luck!
There’s something about Halloween that brings out the kid in us. It’s simply a fun time of dressing up and being playful. Plus, there’s candy involved!
I’m sure our dentists cringe at the thought of candy lying around and being constantly snacked on for days or weeks. We know the sugar isn’t good for our teeth, our kids’ teeth, or any of our bodies, but boy does it taste so good! Plus, there is some serious bribery power in all of that candy.
In the midst of enjoying the candy corn, Blow Pops, Tootsie Rolls and such, we often overlook the effect it can have on sleep. Don’t worry. I’m not going to suggest that you put down your favorite candy or ask you to deprive your child of the trick or treating awesomeness! What I would ask you to keep in mind is that the sugar does inhibit quality sleep. Here are three reasons why:
Now, am I saying that Halloween candy will ruin your child’s sleep forever? Absolutely not. I would just suggest that you be mindful of this when your child asks repeatedly for candy, a sugary drink, or snack over the course of the holidays. The effect of sugar adds up over time, to the detriment of our health, our teeth and our sleep..
I suggest choosing a time (not too close to bedtime) that they can enjoy a treat or two, depending on its size and nutrition quality. And while you’re at it, consider checking the labels on foods your children eat on a day to day basis, too! One Pop-Tarts pastry packs a lot of sugar at 16.5 grams and only one gram of fiber. That’s the same amount of sugar as 21 pieces of candy corn, so keep an eye on the pantry products year round and save sugar treats for exactly that - a special treat that’s occasionally enjoyed.
If you and your child are already getting quality sleep, you’ll be happy to know that it actually helps you choose healthier, less sugary foods so a good and healthy cycle can continue! Aren’t our bodies amazing? With the holiday season just about to start up, consider the impact of keeping sleep a priority for your entire home. Everyone will feel better and you can enjoy the holidays even more!
As always, if your home is NOT getting the quality rest you deserve, I’d love to help.
Schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation now.
It’s time to spring your clocks forward this Sunday, but let's not lose any sleep over it! Time changes aren’t exactly a parent’s best friend. I have some tips that I’d like to share that can help make your child’s adjustment to the new time easier on your family!
Step 1 - Do nothing. I recommend not changing your clocks Saturday night. That's right-get that hour of sleep! Instead of waking an hour early, wake-up, drink your coffee, eat breakfast and then adjust the clocks. That way your family will gradually adjust to the new time throughout the day as opposed to being smacked in the face by it on Sunday morning. Do yourself a favor and get your full hour of sleep and then adjust your clock after you get your start. Another option is to simply go to bed a little early on Saturday if you can. Everyone benefits when we get our sleep!
Step 2 - Use the “half” approach. Gradually adjust the time and your child will have the best chance at successfully falling asleep earlier. For several days, try to split the difference. How exactly? You will put your child to bed a half hour later for three nights in a row and then on the fourth night you will put your child to bed at the normal time. For example, if your child goes to bed at 7:00 PM you will put your child to bed at 7:30 PM on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and then on Wednesday you’ll put them to bed at 7:00 PM. Coping with a half hour time difference initially will be easier for their body clock to handle than jumping right into the hour difference.
Step 3 - What about naps? Don’t worry, I would never forget about naps. Any parent knows that naps are important for ALL involved, right?! You will use the same “half” approach. Put your child down for their first (or only) nap a half hour later starting on Sunday. The only difference is that you will do this for four days in a row and then change back to the normal time on the fifth day. For example, if your child’s first nap is at 10:00 AM, you will put your child down at 10:30 AM on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then on Thursday move it back to 10:00 AM. You will handle any additional naps in the same manner. NOTE: If your child is in daycare, I would strongly suggest beginning to work on naps on Saturday, which will allow an extra day to adjust before the full change on Monday.
I know how difficult it can be to adjust with changes to routine and time. I hope that these tips will help your family adjust with ease. It may take a week or two for your child to fully adjust. In the meantime, be extra patient with your little one.
If you are struggling to get your little one to sleep well, I can help! I offer a free consultation and would love to talk with you about any night and nap challenges. I can help you and your family get the rest you all deserve and offer services for babies and children up to age eight.
From my sweet home to yours,
Sweet Home Sleep Solutions
If you are reading this in the wee hours of the morning and feeling like you are on your last leg, I know how you feel! We love our children, but so desperately need rest, too. I can truly say that I know what it’s like to have tried everything possible and still be up at night... Learn more about how I can help.