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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sweet Dreams: 8 Sheep-Approved Ideas for Sleepytime Success

Photo by Giuseppe Milo (Flickr)

Ah, precious sleep. We never seem to get enough of it no matter how much we crave it. As parents, we find ourselves daydreaming about cozying up in bed as our kids soar across the playground. This is a chronic condition for countless parents; you feel groggy, out of focus, creatively defunct and unable to keep up with your kids. What can we do about this?

We can start by helping our kids sync up to a healthy sleep cycle. As parents, we know just how vital a solid sleep schedule is to their development. On the flip side, fostering an active lifestyle is also essential! Fortunately, sleep and exercise are a match made in dreamland for both you and your kids. When you go to the gym, for example, you're pretty beat afterward, so you get the idea!

Here are some eight sheep-approved ideas for sleepytime success for the kids:

  1. Avoid Caffeine: This one might sound obvious, but it can't be stressed enough. Shy away from the caffeine after early afternoon. Personally, I enjoy a cup of hearty coffee first thing, then switch to tea up until 3pm. As for kids, be aware of sneaky caffeine sources. No more soda, chocolate, or energy water too late in the day. There are much more healthy alternatives!
  2. Have a Family Routine: Kids never want to miss anything, so if you're staying up and they're told to go to bed, they may be reluctant. To counter this, get the entire family to take part in the routine of going to sleep at an earlier time. Brush your teeth, put your pajamas on, and get some rest. If you prefer to unwind or work after your kids are tucked away, do so quietly as to not peak your kid's interests!
  3. Stay on Schedule: If you're having any trouble sleeping, work towards a consistent bedtime. Parental brains tend to run wild with planning the next day, stressing over decisions, and worrying about our little ones. A steady bedtime, even on weekends, will train your brain to enter rest mode when it's time to hit the hay.
  4. Stay Active: If you want to treat your entire being with respect, exercise! It tires out your body and eases your mind so you can enjoy a deep, rejuvenating sleep. It works the same magic for kids too! By playing and moving, kids will be tuckered out come bedtime. Doesn't that sound lovely? Just don't let them be too active right before bed; it takes some time to unwind and cool off!
  5. Have a Clean Room: Believe it or not, the atmosphere in your child's room can have an impact on their sleep. Have them tidy up before bed and return toys to their homes. Out of sight, out of mind! Upon awakening, the room will be a fresh, inviting canvas for play. As an adult, surely we can all relate, right?
  6. Power Everything Down: Technology is everywhere, nagging for our attention. The artificial light interferes with our natural circadian rhythms. Establish a strict policy of powering down at least a half an hour before bedtime. That means adults too! We need to lead by example. Shut everything down, unwind with a book, write in your journal, and reflect on the day.
  7. Promote Tomorrow: If your child is reluctant to go to bed, assure them of the wonder and possibility that tomorrow promises. There's always a bright side that you can promote, even with school! This is another reason why a hearty breakfast is so important!
  8. Reward System: Some children just refuse to go to bed, so use this one as a last resort. Let the kids know that for each night they go to sleep when they're supposed to, they will receive a star, and for every few stars they receive, they'll receive a prize!

Now, let's make those sheep proud by exploring what works for us and our children to promote solid, restful sleep. What have you done with your children to help them achieve this? What has helped you as an adult? If you have a tip that didn't make this list, please share it with us!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Spice Up Your Life With Play!

Photo by janet galore (Flickr)

We've all been there: Sometimes, we feel like every single day is the same, filled with the repetitive, boring tasks that need our attention. I'm here to say that you don't have to settle for drudgery! As unique, colorful individuals, we can find creative ways to rejuvenate our routines. And as parents, we can adopt the wonder and whimsy of our children.

A free-flowing source of that youthful sparkle is play! You can spice up the humdrum tasks in your life by giving them a playful spin. As a mother of two, I've learned that positivity and enthusiasm can ease the whirlwind of parenthood. Not only that, having fun while working hard can help your kids build a positive relationship with productivity.

Here are 11 ways that play can make everyday tasks more exciting.

  1. Sing and Dance Around the House: Chores are a drag for both kids and adults alike. So why not kick up those busy feet to some snappy tunes? Sing and dance with the kids while cleaning the house! It creates an energetic tempo so that you get it done quicker and with more pizazz.
  2. Word Games on the Road: When taking a trip with the family or even just zipping in the car around town, it's always fun to pass the time by playing games. There are so many games that you can play or invent that nurture learning, creativity and quick-fire thinking. Our favorite has always been the license plate game.
  3. Bike More, Drive Less: We all have errands to run, so why not get in some exercise while doing it? Not only are you saving on gas and nourishing your physical health, you're softening your carbon footprint as well. If it's a local chore, hop on your bike!
  4. Spice Up Your Desk: If you work in a typical office, you understand how the dull surroundings can drain your energy. Boost your positivity and sharpen your focus by adding fun, creative little gadgets to your desk decor. Brighten your day with play by toying with them when you're feeling lackluster.
  5. Ready, Set, Go: When there's a task at hand, give yourself a solid time frame to complete it. Set a timer, and try to get as much done as you can effectively before time runs out. It's thrilling to race the clock, and it splits the workload into manageable chunks.
  6. Reward Yourself: It's easier to conquer a daunting task when you keep your eyes on the prize. Reward yourself with something delightful upon completion, whether it's playing a game, going for a brisk jog, or savoring a decadent piece of dark chocolate.
  7. Let the Games Begin: One of the best ways to add some zest to daily tasks is to make a game out of them. Kids will especially love this playful twist. For example, when cleaning up the house after dinner, issue an "Ultimate Cleaning Warrior" challenge! Whoever can clean up the most wins!
  8. Involve the Kids: To get your children excited about helping you with household chores, encourage them to feel personally invested. For example, buy a pair of brooms and decorate them together with stick-on gems, ribbons, and paint. You can also proclaim them to be the "cleaning master" of certain rooms so that they have a title to fulfill!
  9. Have a Scavenger Hunt: When cleaning the house, set up a scavenger hunt with the family. Provide a list of tasks that they can race to achieve! You can have them snap before and after pictures of their successes to be featured on a scavenger hunt board.
  10. Always Educate Yourself: When doing a chore like cleaning the sink, research different types of bacteria that can grow in the kitchen to educate and fascinate your little ones. Are your kiddos going through that stage where they love all things icky? Mine are! Your family can learn together and then quiz each other later on! Learning can be fun, especially when it's hands-on.
  11. Embrace a Positive Attitude: This is the cherry on top! When you must engage in a task that you're not enthused with, always remember that it could be far worse (think Dirty Jobs)! A positive attitude brings out our best and makes things easier and much more enjoyable.

How do you spice up your life with play? If it's something that didn't make it on this list, share it with us in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart