Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sleep, Oh Precious...SLEEP! Keeping The Routine When Daddy Is Out Of Town

Welcome to the February 2013 Natural Living Blog Carnival: Addressing Sleep Challenges.
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project through the Green Moms Network. This month our members have written posts about how they address sleep challenges in their homes.


How ironic that I am writing this post right now as my toddlers have been fighting sleep since 9 pm! Their father is out of town, so every night that he has been gone has been complete chaos!

My boys do not like anything that disrupts their nightly routine, which begins an hour before bedtime. My boys love consistency, and by following this routine, they know what is excpected.

Our List Of Do's

* "Last call" (and I do mean for water) begins at 7:00 pm.
* 30 minutes of quite of "calm" playtime
* Teeth brushing
* Story time with Da Da (or with Ma Ma on nights like tonight)
* Sing 1 "fun" song, followed by 2 calm songs
* Prayers
* Last minute potty breaks
* Bed, tuck in with favorite stuffed animals, kisses & "I Love You"'s

Dont's Before Bedtime

* No sugar or grains - Eventhough these items are limited as much as possible, I try to remind myself not to include them with dinner or pre-bed snacks. If my children do receive "sweets", they usually get them after naptime. Sugars and grains will raise blood sugar, which in turn, delays sleep. Later on in the evening, when blood sugar drops too low, my little ones may wake up and find it hard to fall back asleep. If you want to enjoy dessert in the evening, find a recipe that is grain-free and is low glycemic. My children love my Strawberry "Gelato" and love it just as much as ice cream!

* No television or electronic games - light-emitting screens from cell phones, television sets, iPads, and other electronic devices, actually inhibits the proper release of the hormone, melatonin, which regulates the body's natural sleep cycles. It is recommended that these devices should not be used within the hour before bedtime.

On any given night, my kids are snoring away before 8:30 pm, but as I had previously mentioned, if those steps are not completed in that particular order...they will make you regret it! This only becomes an issue when "Da Da" goes out of town. Additionally, they know how to push my emotional buttons after a long day. My "wind down" time usually occurs during those brief minutes while my husband is reading to my children, so on days when he isn't here, my kids seem to have a contest to see who can "break Ma Ma" (that's what they call it too!) first. The game does not end there, they like to test me to see how late they can keep themselves awake.

So What Do I Do?


As previously mentioned, my boys have their favorite stuffed animals and cannot sleep without them. They also love to be calmed with music when the lights are out. We do not have a stereo in each of their rooms, but their My Pals Scout and Violet are truly a blessing when it comes to lulling my kids to sleep. These wonderful Leap Frog toys can be programmed to say your child's name and sing/play your child's favorite songs. On each dog's right foot is a "nighttime" music option. You can choose music to play in 2 minute, 5 minute, or 10 minute intervals. I love these toys, because they are portable, so they can be taken on trips.

I do what calms me!

Before storytime, I give them a nice warm bath with about 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Lavender has been used for centuries to help calm, relieve stress, and best of promote sleep! I actually enjoy sitting in the bathroom while they bathe. The wonderful floral aroma helps to calm me down and to put them to bed stress-free.

I also have an atomizer filled with a simple homemade lavender room spray to spray my boys pillows.

Calming Room Spray :

4 oz of distilled water
1 oz unflavored vodka (this ingredient acts as an emulsifier, which helps the oil & water blend together)
15 drops of chamomile essential oil
5 drops of lavender

In a clean diffuser or atomizer add the vodka and essential oils. Screw on the cap an gently shake a few times. Uncap the bottle and add the distilled water, cap it, and shake again.

I recommend cleaning out your spray bottle prior to use, regardless of another solution previously had been in it or not. Rinse out the spray bottle with warm water, fill it with distilled vinegar, cap it and let it sit overnight. Shake it, spray out some of the vinegar, rinse with warm water, fill with warm/hot water, cap it, and spray out some of the water.

After they are dried off, I massage lotion into their skin and put them in their pajamas, and carry on with the rest of their routine. My four year old also loves to look at a calendar to help remind him of when Da Da is coming back. Sometimes it even helps to draw pictures depicting each thing we will do every day until he comes. He is then happy going to bed knowing that he is one day closer.

If my chidlren are still having a difficult time falling asleep, which usually occurs when Da Da is out of town for a few days, then I allow them to sleep in my bed.

Of course, as parents, we all have our own tips and tricks to getting our children and family to sleep. What works for me, may not work for everyone. Which is why I am quite happy that all of the other Natural Living Bloggers have linked up theirs below!

Do you have a nighttime routine or suggestions for overcoming sleep problems? Feel free to share below!


Visit Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project to learn more about participating in next month’s Natural Living Blog Carnival!
Please take some time to enjoy the posts our other carnival participants have contributed:

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  1. We love lavender at bed time! CelloDad (who has the sleep issues in our house) has a small pillow filled with lavender from our garden; he brings it when we go travelling, when he really has a hard time falling asleep.
    As for the children, I am personally the sleep cannon: I lie beside them and fall asleep; it seems to be very inspiring. I mean, what's more boring than a sleeping mom, right?

    1. No kidding! Lying beside them usually gets them to sleep the fastest, which is why it is pretty common for me to sleep with them while their dad is away...they actually look forward to going to bed!

  2. I have never heard of the My Pal Scout before. That looks really cute and something my daughter would love. Thanks for reminding me about Lavender. I'm going to try it in the bath tonight!

  3. I love your suggestion for a calming room spray. I bet that works well for getting odors out of fabrics too. I've heard so much about using vodka in DIY frebreeze.

    1. I know, I have made room sprays without vodka before...but I think the vodka does a better job at deodorizing smells. I just ordered more essential oils and will be experimenting with different room scents.

      Vodka is also wonderful for making DIY cleaners, but I normally use vinegar because it is so much cheaper. In fact, I will be posting a DIY orange scented all purpose cleaner in a couple of days that smells so much better than a basic vinegar/water solution :-)

  4. I think I should print this out and frame it for my house. We so need a better routine!

  5. I can't sleep when my husband is gone! My kids definitely do better when we stick with our nightly routine!

  6. I'm a big fan of essential oils too, we use them all the time and they work wonders; especially lavender - the wonderful cure-all oil! I think you made a really important point that we often forget; if YOU are relaxed and calm then your children will pick up on this. If we get agitated and stressed; chances are our children will end up the same. So yes, let's take time to consider what relaxes US then hopefully the rest of the family will follow!

  7. I am so pinning this recipe! Thank you for sharing.

  8. Great tips! We have a routine but it is a bit different. We do a bath almost nightly. I love the idea of putting some lavender in the bath! I'm going to have to try that!

  9. Routine is so important but it's good to realize that when daddy's away that routine might need to change just a bit.


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