Answering Real Life Parenting Questions: Sleep

q-and-a

imsis609-022Q-My youngest is two and just spent an hour saying, “I won’t go to sleep, I won’t go to sleep…” I just don’t remember how I dealt with this phase with my oldest. Honestly, I am so tired of this. Any tips on how to handle this without just giving in to everything out of tiredness?

A-It sounds like you already know what’s going to work best for your little one; consistency. You didn’t mention whether or not you already have a routine, so I’ll start there. Even though this might be a difficult time to make up a routine and stick to it since you’re already so tired, letting the chaos go on will likely make things harder in the long run.  Having a regular bath time and bedtime routine definitely helps my family. It’s a constant challenge for me to stay on time and not get lazy about things,  but I do it anyway because I know it works for us. How do I know? Well…because I see how wonky things get for all of us if my kids stay up late to do something special, skip part of their routine, or if I give in to the onslaught of “Please, just one more thing!”

169260363Got a routine already? Great. Here are some other things to think about:

I also try really hard to let my kids know that their routines came out of my love and respect for them, not frustration (even though some times I feel really frustrated.) I think there’s such a big difference between saying to a little person, “You need to go to bed now because it’s bedtime,” or “You need to go to bed now because I’ve had enough.” and “I love you so much that I want you to get a good night sleep so you can feel rested for all of your big adventures tomorrow.” With the last one, there’s nothing to fight or resist, just love.

On really hard nights, like the one you described, I do add some extras to our regular routines to help my kids settle and stay in bed.

-a homeopathic remedy (Quietude by Boiron or Rescue Remedy) can take the edge off their restlessness

-lavender oil in their bath makes it special + soothing

-guided meditations for kids are amazing and L and D get really into them

-massaging their little feet and legs helps them to relax and stay laying down

-asking them to tell me the ONE thing that is going to help them get to sleep (i.e. water or a snuggle)

143382580Please know that no matter how brilliant, the same thing won’t work every single time, so it’s best to have a few different choices to rotate through or layer depending on what’s going on that night. On really, really hard nights we might do all of these things.

The thing about sleep is that it can be such a tricky and tentative thing. A bad cold, daylight savings time or a new phase (growth spurt, separation anxiety, nightmares, etc) can really throw things off. If you have a decent routine going and notice a sudden, big difference in your little person’s behaviour at bedtime, try to think about what’s been going on in your life and in your family that may be creating some stress (good or bad, any change can create stress!) Figuring out what’s changed is not a solution itself, but it can help the situation make more sense to your grown-up mind and help you stay calm and patient in the moment.


Christine Marion-Jolicoeur helps parents of toddlers to teenagers build their confidence and skills so they can stop worrying about messing up their kids and start finding the joy in everyday moments. She’s an Amazon #1 bestselling author and creator of the Joyful Parenting workbook + e-course.

ebook coverDownload the free Joyful Parenting e-book (your 6 step guide to confidence, clarity and connection with your kids when you need it most) + receive the Joyful You Newsletter by entering your information below:

Healthy Habits = Healthy Kids

We have a lot of different sayings at our house, things we repeat over and over to help us create healthy habits + remind us to make good choices + to help me talk to my kids about hard things; I call these our mottos, mantras and messages.

One of my most used and most favourites is: Eat well, sleep well and exercise.

It started several years ago when my oldest got hurt and I was trying to explain how our bodies are amazing things that heal themselves, but its our job to slow down and take extra good care of ourselves when we get sick or hurt to allow this process to happen. This was all pretty hard to grasp for a little toddler brain, so I decided to cut it down to the most basic + simple message: Eat well, sleep well and exercise so your body can heal itself.

Eat well:

eat wellEat lots of healthy, real food in a rainbow of colours every day. Processed foods + foods with sugar are only sometimes foods, not every day foods. Treats don’t always have to be food.

Sleep well:

sleep wellI’ve learned to respect my kids’ nap time and bedtime routines no matter what. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but as long as they’re in bed within 30-45 minutes of our regular sleep times we’re usually okay. Unfortunately, this means saying no to some invitations and activities + careful planning when we do go out, but it is sooooo worth it. I’ve done a lot of reading about what happens to little people’s brains when they don’t get enough sleep and it’s pretty scary (so is their behaviour when they’re overtired!)

Exercise:

exerciseLittle people have so much energy and need to move and play every day. I’ve also found that being in water + going for a walk outside can fix just about anything that’s bothering my kids (teething, colds + flu, a hard day at school, a fight with a sibling, restlessness, difficulty falling asleep, etc) and I would definitely encourage you to try this out with your little people too. As they’re getting older my kids are also enjoying structured exercise (yoga or an exercise video) and team sports (at our local community centres) more and more. I love having them as work out buddies and seeing them so proud of themselves when the learn a new skill in class.


 

Joyful Memories Book #2Ready for some more JOY in your life? Enter below for some fabulous FREE gifts from Christine Marion-Jolicoeur at Joyful You!

You’ll get a coupon code for a free copy of the Joyful Memories book + the video of my latest interview, “Work-Life Balance” where I give my 5 best tips for living a balanced, joyful life + the monthly Joyful You newsletter, all sent directly to your inbox.

50 Moments of Everyday Joy

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my writing and my work with Joyful You lately; making choices about how to spend my time + investing in training and coaching to grow my beautiful little business + creating new business cards + working on my logo, etc. My brain works best when I have clear priorities and I can make decisions based on what fits best with those. I keep coming back to the same question over and over…

What exactly am I trying to do with all of this? And here’s what I’ve come up with:

I help parents of toddlers to teenagers build their confidence and skills so they can stop worrying about messing up their kids and start finding the joy in everyday moments.

119048269This is what I want for all parents, because I’ve felt sad + stressed + stuck too and I know how much better things can be. Sounds pretty great, huh? How lucky am I, that this is my job description! To show you what’s possible for you and to show my gratitude for my amazing family + life I spent a couple of days keeping track of my everyday moments of joy…

  1. When D wakes up singing and shouting “whoo hoo!” in the morning. Best. Alarm clock. Ever.

  2. The sun shining through my bedroom window while my kids climb all over me.

  3. The 3 minutes of my shower before someone calls, “Mum!” or tries to climb in with me.

  4. When my little people give me life advice. Especially, because they’re usually spot on.

  5. Dance party in the kitchen with my little people.

  6. Playing our favourite song over and over and over again.

  7. A cool glass of water after all that dancing.

  8. Making a list of treats for the kids that are not food.

  9. 131983307Bare feet in the grass.

  10. Bubbles.

  11. Remembering that I can’t remember the last time I changed a diaper.

  12. When my kids hold hands with each other while we’re walking or driving.

  13. Catching myself singing out loud in the grocery store.

  14. New ‘likes’ on the Joyful You Facebook page.

  15. Watching Olaf’s song about snow in summer on YouTube.

  16. Watching my husband laugh until he cries while watching Olaf’s song +watching L and D watch him.

  17. Drawing a face on an ice cube and putting it out in the sun to find out what actually happens to snow in summer.

  18. The way L describes everything as “beautiful”.

  19. Making a healthy rainbow lunch with my kids.

  20. When my kids say please and thank you without being reminded.

  21. Playing board games with my little people.

  22. Fireflies in our backyard at dusk.

  23. Watching grown-up movies and TV shows after the kids are tucked into bed.

  24. Snuggling up in bed and reading a chapter of a book that’s not about parenting.

  25. Sneaking into the kids’ rooms to smooch their juicy little faces before I go to bed.

  26. Listening to the cats (my fur babies!) wrestle and chase their toys after we’ve all gone to bed.

  27. When the kids are having so much fun they ask me to take a picture of them.

  28. The look on the L and D’s faces when I ask them each to pick something to add to our list of things to do for the weekend.

  29. Our bedtime practice.

  30. Running through the sprinkler.

  31. 482185515Picking veggies from our garden.

  32. Putting a big beach towel on the dining room table and giving the kids each a butter knife and half a watermelon.

  33. The way L says, “Yesssssssss!” when I say yes.

  34. The way D smooches my face.

  35. Hearing, “Again! Again! Again!”

  36. Reading Goodnight moon and looking for the little mouse on each page.

  37. When the cats let L and D pet and play with them.

  38. Smiling at strangers.

  39. When a recipe just works.

  40. Homemade muffins.

  41. When D insists on wearing rain boots, even though it’s not raining.

  42. Splashing in puddles when it does rain after all.

  43. Hanging paper hearts on our tress to help us grow love.

  44. When D can’t sleep so we go for a midnight walk around and that beautiful little mind thinks the moon is walking with us too.

  45. Driving in my car all by myself, listening to my music on my way to pick up the kids.

  46. Driving in my car with L and D excitedly telling me about their day.

  47. Waking up and looking at the clock to see that my wonderful husband let me sleep in.

  48. 878237-001And he made banana pancakes with the kids.

  49. Playing Jack Johnson’s song Banana Pancakes while I eat banana pancakes.

  50. Making a list of all of the things I am grateful for.


Joyful Memories Book #2Ready for some more JOY in your life? Enter below for some fabulous FREE gifts from Christine Marion-Jolicoeur at Joyful You!

You’ll get a coupon code for a free copy of the Joyful Memories book + the video of my latest interview, “Work-Life Balance” where I give my 5 best tips for living a balanced, joyful life + the monthly Joyful You newsletter, all sent directly to your inbox.

Time out? Time in?

4266153304_6c6163e835_zYears ago, we tried time outs and time ins and glitter bottles and everything else I could think of with L, my oldest and they did not work for our family. They always seemed to turn into a bigger battle (one that lasted way longer than the suggested one minute per year of age!)  and ended up with me being frustrated + exhausted.

glitter-bottle-003One of the things I’ve about noticed about little people is that they live in the moment. For them, when it’s over, it’s really over and they just move on. For grown ups…not so much. We remember and hold grudges, make assumptions about other people’s motivations and try to figure out just how sincere an apology was. Too much time + shame + drama for me, so this is what I came up with instead:

When one of my little people does something time out worthy we stop everything and follow these steps:

I ask if they’re ready to talk or if they need a minute to calm down first. Talking to my kids when they’re crying or shouty is absolutely useless, they can’t hear me and I can’t understand them (it’s like their words get stuck in their little throats!) So we wait until we’re all feeling calm and if we need to take a break from each other and be in different rooms for that to happen we do that. When they’re ready to talk (either right away or after having some alone time) I always ask them the same three questions…

  1. What went wrong?

  2. How do we fix it?

  3. What can we do instead/next time?

Then we all have a hug and move on with our day.

You probably noticed, there’s no shaming (i.e. “What did YOU do wrong?” or “WHY would YOU do that?”) and that they get to make some decisions + get a bit of control back. This, of course, is on purpose since I try really hard to separate my little people from their behaviours + I find things get the most crazy when they are feeling powerless. It also focuses on the solution more than the problem, which I think is really important. Fixing it usually involves a hug, an apology or helping to clean up. And their suggestions for next time are often beautifully simple; wear my listening ears, be kind, use gentle hands, ask first, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised that D, my youngest spontaneously started doing this at the age of two (clearly, we’ve done this a lot!) I was taking a moment alone to calm myself down after some craziness or another when I heard a little voice say, “I red talk” (translation: “I’m ready to talk.”) I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes as a parent, I’m just making shit up. I never really know if it’s the right thing to do for my kids, but if it makes sense + feels right and it seems to work we keep going with it. That day with my two-year-old was a big parenting win for me because I realized this practice must feel pretty good for my little people too. Both my kids respond really well to this and it helps me keep things in perspective + stay in the moment too.

If you’re frustrated too and looking for something new, give it a try! I’d love to hear how it goes for your family (click on the little grey speech bubble in the top right corner to leave a comment).


Christine Marion-Jolicoeur helps parents of toddlers to teenagers build their confidence and skills so they can stop worrying about messing up their kids and start finding the joy in everyday moments. She’s an Amazon #1 bestselling author and creator of the Joyful Parenting workbook + e-course.

ebook coverDownload the free Joyful Parenting e-book (your 6 step guide to confidence, clarity and connection with your kids when you need it most) + receive the Joyful You Newsletter by entering your information below:

8 Joyful Parenting Lessons from My Job in Social Work

I had to do some mental gymnastics to come up with an age appropriate way to explain to my little people what I do when I go to that place called “work” every day. Here’s what I came up with…

Mummy works with people who’ve made some bad choices in their life. I talk with them and I try to help them make better choices so that they can stop hurting themselves and other people.

(I actually like this version much better than what’s on my business card!)

Social Workers Light Bulbs

I’ve always been able to trace a zig-zaggy line through my life, my education and past jobs that eventually ended up with me having this career. This strange and often difficult job where I try to help people who don’t always want my help. But after becoming a parent, I started thinking about it in a very different way. What if it wasn’t that I was just taking the next logical step? What if I didn’t chose this because I thought it would be a good fit? What if, instead I ended up with this job because it would teach me the exact lessons I needed to learn? Lessons about life, people, family, work and myself. So, because I love lists, here are the 8 Joyful Parenting Lessons I’ve Learned from My Job in Social Work.

  1. I’ve learned that we all want the same things. I used to complain that making decisions about other peoples’ lives is waaaay easier than making decisions about my own. It seemed like I could clearly see other peoples’ areas of need and be objective, positive and encouraging when I was at work, but when I got home and I was knee-deep in decisions about relationships and family and parenting and finances I just couldn’t do it. Most days I didn’t even want to make a decision about what to have for dinner. Now I realize that we all want the same things, and the conversations I have with my clients are the same conversations I have with my kids and the same ones I need to have with myself. We may be at different stages in life or struggling with different issues and stress, but at the most basic level, change is change, and people are people. Remembering this helps me show compassion for my most difficult clients, for myself and for my kids in their most difficult moments.

  2. I’ve learned that self-care is so so so important. Whether I’m spending that day with clients or kids, I need to take care of myself so that I can take care of and help other people.

  3. I’ve learned that my roles as a parent and social worker are just two of the many, many roles I will have in my lifetime. Neither one is or should be my whole identity, I need both.

  4. I’ve learned gratitude. I have a stable job, regular paycheque and my job allowed me to learn and grow and do things in a way that wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else. I’ve traveled for training and conferences, met people from all around the province and had nearly two full years off to be with my two kids after they were born. I am so grateful for these opportunities, both personal and professional.

  5. I’ve learned to look for and infuse joy in everyday moments. I used to think I had to push through the pressure and stress at work and count down the days until my retirement. Now, I refuse to wait until retirement to start having fun, relaxing and finding out who I am and what I enjoy. This is a lesson I’ve learned both for my kids and from my kids. We love to try new things, get messy, be silly and have fun!

  6. I’ve learned that done is better than perfect. Perfectionism is basically self-harm with a nicer name. I flirted with burn-out at work for years and years before taking time off to have my kids. When I went back I realized I couldn’t sustain that frenzy anymore and I didn’t have to. Instead I decided to take a really close look at myself, my work and my priorities. I changed how I define words like “enough” and “success” so that they’re actually attainable for me each day at work and at home.

  7. I’ve learned that I have no control. Control is an illusion, especially when dealing with the public and with little people. I can plan every minute of my day and week and month, but things are never going to go according to that plan. My to-do lists are only going to end up as a colourful pile in my recycle bin, so I’d rather be flexible, accommodating and focus on my priorities. I try as much as possible to do the things that will make my life easier and when I can’t do that, I can at least choose not to make things worse.

  8. I’ve learned to trust myself. Every day I have to balance the needs of work, my family and myself. When I trust myself, I’m calm and confident. I’m able to get really clear about my thoughts, my feelings and my options. My most creative, motivational and confident moments with my clients and with my kids happen when I trust myself and just go for it. Instead of planning and over-thinking and over-analyzing I just open my mouth and say what I’m thinking. It may not be perfect, but it’s real and honest. Then I don’t second-guess and doubt myself. I trust, I breathe and I move on. Yes, it does make me feel all exposed and vulnerable sometimes, but that’s the way change happens and connections are made.


Ready for some more JOY in your life? Enter below for some fabulous FREE gifts from Christine Marion-Jolicoeur at Joyful You!

You’ll get a coupon code for a free copy of the Joyful Memories book + the video of my latest interview, “Work-Life Balance” where I give my 5 best tips for living a balanced, joyful life + the monthly Joyful You newsletter, all sent directly to your inbox.