And I believe it is a necessary part of a good attitude for us all as well.
In our home, good rest for everyone is an essential ingredient in making for a peaceful home environment. When we moved abroad, multiple times over, with little ones in tow, getting everyone onto local time and getting good rest was pretty much my top priority in the first couple of weeks. Naps are non-negotiable for kids until around age 4, and then only negotiable if their pleasant attitude can consistently hold out until bedtime.
With 6 kids in the house, all of whom share 2 bedrooms, sleeping is one of those issues (like making healthy meals) that I've chosen to invest time in, because consistency and effort in this area pays us all back multiple times over. We all sleep well, and mama is happier that way.
MY BEST TIPS FOR GETTING KIDS TO SLEEP:
- Long-time Making Home readers know that for babies, I'm a big fan of Babywise. Giving your children good quality sleep is truly a gift for their little bodies, souls, and attitudes. (Psst: We now use swaddlers for the first 3-6 months. They didn't have these when I started having babies, but they're wonderful for taming the newborn "startle" reflex.)
- And I've laid out specifics before about how we work (yes, work!) to help our children continue to sleep well, long past infancy. I see this as a serious priority for our family.
- Get them in bed at a reasonable hour. This can vary from family to family, depending on parents' working hours, family norms, and kids' schooling. In our house, kids 6 & under are in bed by 8 (8:30 in the summer), and kids 11 & under are in bed by 9 (9:30 in the summer).
- The bedtime routine is quick. We don't play around; when it's time for bed, it's time for bed. They don't need endless stories, because we've been reading together throughout the day. A quick hug and kiss, a prayer, brush-your-teeth-get-a-last-drink-go-potty-and-get-in-bed. Phew! (This gives mommy and daddy much-needed time together too.)
- We put dark curtains in their rooms (when we lived in a place where it got brighter, earlier, we put blackout curtains like hotels use as an inside liner behind their normal room curtains). A nightlight is kept on in the bathroom, with the door almost completely shut so the light doesn't disturb sleep but they can find it if they need to go potty in the middle of the night.
- If they wake up too early, back to bed they go.
BEST TIPS FOR MOM:
Through twelve years of non-stop pregnancies, nursing babies, cross-world moves, migraines, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome, I want to share what works for me:
- I teach the kids to sleep well. Yes, I think the first step in me sleeping well is making sure that everyone else sleeps well, so there's no one else waking me up.
- I regularly take hot baths with Epsom Salt and Lavender, right before bed. It relaxes my body and keeps me from experiencing the insomnia of restless-leg-syndrome.
- My husband rubs my feet with body butter while we talk or watch movies on a fairly regular basis. This helps me calm down, and gives us a chance to connect.
- We are intimate, often. This lowers tension, keeps us emotionally connected, and yes- relaxes and helps us both to sleep better. (The endorphins and hormones released during intimacy relax the body... God made these things for our benefit, y'all!)
- I keep simple over the counter aids like muscle rub creams, Chloraseptic, pain relief medicine, and Vicks vaporub on hand, so I can treat what ails me.
- We have a Sleep Number Bed, and shipped it around the world with us. We've had it since 2003, and it's still going strong, all these moves later. Being able to make the bed softer and more firm, at my whim, has made sleep more comfortable for me through the ever-changing-pregnancy-body.
- Did I mention that helping the kids sleep well is a top priority around here? Seriously. I see this as part of my job description as mom, just like it is my job as their mom to see that they eat properly.
MICHAEL HYATT'S 8 TIPS FOR GETTING BETTER SLEEP:
- Avoid caffeinated drinks, especially after 4pm.
- Eliminate negative input. (Don't pick up phone calls from negative people, news/media, things that will cause you to worry.)
- Go to bed on time. There is always one more thing you can do. He says, don't deceive yourself. Get to bed about an hour before you plan to fall asleep.
- Make sure the room is DARK. Any kind of light impacts sleep patterns. Block out windows.
- Keep the temperature cool. About 68 in winter, about 70 in summer, so you can have a cover and feel comfortable.
- Run a fan, or have white noise. Turn on the overhead fan. Get a "white noise" app or machine. Give your brain enough background noise to mask external noises.
- Use essential oils. "People are rediscovering the benefits of oils." Michael Hyatt uses DoTerra, and applies vetiver (on feet, behind ears & on temples), clarysage (on feet), and lavender (on chest, back of neck, & pillow).
- Prayer. "Gail and I pray together every night." It casts burdens on the Lord, clears your mind, connects you with your spouse, and gives you peace and the care of the Lord.
His bonus tips:
- Take a hot bath. Relax and prepare you for bed.
- Read. Even better if it's something "mindless" (looking through a magazine).
- Listen to music.
- Be intentional with your sleep. Take deliberate actions to improve your restfulness.
Any additional sleep tips to share? Please add your ideas in the comments.