Monday, April 14, 2014

April: Month of the Military Child!

Guest Post by Kayli Nagel

When my husband left for basic training, my oldest was a week away from being two years old. He loved his daddy but It didn't seem to faze him at all. This didn't surprise me, since he was such a mellow kid, always taking everything in stride. But then everything changed. My husband was allowed to come home for two weeks during the Christmas Exodus from AIT. The Sunday after he left, as I was sitting in my Sunday school class I heard the sounds of child crying coming down the hallway. I quickly recognized that cry as my son's. I looked up to see him standing in the doorway with his nursery teacher looking just as confused as I was. I picked him up and took him to the foyer to try and calm him down. I was so baffled. He never had a problem going to nursery! This kid was as cool as a cucumber, definitely not the same child I held in my arms in that moment. It was so out of character for him. What's wrong? I thought frantically, followed by, I wish Clayton was here... And then it hit me. He knows... He understands...Daddy is gone. My revelation proved to be correct as I saw the calm little kid I knew transform. He had issues going to bed, trouble sleeping, night terrors, refused to go to nursery, appetite reduction and he followed me everywhere; always needing to know where I was.

Desperate to help my little man, I searched the internet for information. I discovered in my readings that children of deployed service members undergo the same amount of anxiety and stress as children whose parents are getting a divorce. When we decided to join, I knew it was going to be hard. I knew we would miss him. But it didn't take me long to realize I had greatly underestimated just how much; both for me and my son.

My husband was stationed in South Korea right after AIT as a hardship tour. This meant we would go almost two years without living together. What felt like such a burden at the time, proved to be a blessing in so many ways. During that time, I grew as a wife and a mother. I had to adapt. I had to improvise. I had to learn. Eventually, through research and trial and error we were able to help my son and I am so grateful for the things I have learned that I can pass on to others as well! Here are my tips for helping children deal with their anxiety when your service member is gone:

1) Patience, patience, patience: Right up there on the list with love is patience. If your child is showing signs of anxiety and stress, it could mean that things that used to be easy suddenly become very difficult. Our son was a stellar sleeper. He was easy to put down so long as we obeyed the routine. But once the anxiety hit, that all changed. Dealing with his stress as well as my own (plus being oh so pregnant!) was challenging. Eventually I discovered that I needed to slow down. Our normal pace had suddenly become too fast. It was as if ever day things were brand new for him and frightening. When he wanted to play in the tub longer than normal, I let him. We read extra stories before bed and sang extra songs. I would lay next to him until he fell asleep. As much as I wanted to go to bed myself, I needed to be patient and slow things down until he felt comfortable again. As much as I wanted to attend my church classes, I spent every Sunday in nursery with him patiently waiting for him to feel confident enough to let me stand... and then stand by the door...leave for a minute... leave for five minutes... and then ten...until he could once again go in by himself.

2) Distraction: Fun distractions are great tools for keeping your child's mind off of daddy or mommy being gone. Play dates, play groups, park trips... Just remember to take your child's lead. If you start getting too busy and you notice it is stressing your child out, take it as a cue to cut back a little.

3) Routines: There have been numerous studies proving that routines are great for your child's emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. Some may need less routine than others so knowing your child comes into play here. My son needed a bed time routine that if we didn't follow religiously, we almost certainly paid for it later on. Even though I had to take more time by slowing the routine down so he didn't feel pressured, it still helped him that I maintained it. Those days where I didn't feel like giving him the bath proved to more work than had I simply stuck with it.

4) Keeping in contact with parent: This can be difficult depending on the parent's location. Although my husband was a world away, he was able to Skype or call frequently. This was an amazing blessing but obviously if the parent is deployed, those opportunities can be few and far between. Next to my son's bed I placed a picture of him and his daddy. Kissing "picture daddy" good night became part of his bed time routine. I also put together a little photo book of pictures of just him and daddy. That book went everywhere with us! My mom had a great idea of sending my husband the record-yourself-reading-books from Hallmark and then gifting them to our boys for Christmas. They cherish them and they always become the books of choice when daddy is gone. Talking about the parent, writing letters and keeping pictures all over our home are ways that really helped my son cope.

5) It's not your fault: Children may feel confused and may not understand why the parent has left. Do your best to describe it to them without scaring them. For me that meant telling him his father had to go away to work for a long time. Reminding him all the time that daddy missed him, loved him and was so proud of him helped calm his fears. Making sure your child understands they did nothing to cause their parent to leave is so important!

6) Create countdown: As we got closer to my husband coming home, I had my son help me make a paper chain. One link for each day we had left. Each morning we made a big deal of ripping off a link. It gave him a time limit. Suddenly daddy wasn't going to be gone forever. He was coming home when the chain was gone! Obviously dates change, so I found myself having to add or take links away when new information came out. I suggest making all the links the same color for this reason, so your child is less likely to notice the changes. Another fun idea would be to have a candy jar with a candy for each day. It's a great visual reference without being too obvious if you have to add or take away to make it sync up with new information.

7) Let your child's teachers know: If you are in a heavy military area, your child's teachers should be used to meeting the needs of children with a deployed parent. But sometimes you may move to be closer to family for added support and your child's teachers may not know how to best help your child. Letting them know how your child is responding and how to best help them cope is important!

8) Limit TV: And carefully screen what your child wants to watch. Military.com recommends not letting your child watch anything with military action in it. And I agree. Also if your child is showing signs of anxiety, make sure they aren't watching anything that could scare them as it could make things worse.

9) Music: There is great power in music and it can be a useful tool in setting the tone for your home! If you are religious I really recommend playing some church children songs. I also recommend soft lullabies, soundtracks from their favorite movies and some good uplifting classical. My kids favorites are the Piano Guys. Their music videos, which can be watched on Youtube, are amazing! Even if you think you aren't a classical music person, I really suggest give them a try. You may be surprised. Also, I recommend signing up for a site like Spotify. Its free music!

10) Take care of yourself: Helping your child cope is so important. Giving them the support they need is a priority. However, deployment is taxing on you as well. Take time to make sure your emotional wellbeing is good too. Eating healthy, drinking water, finding time to exercise, getting enough sleep, finding times to do things you love are all so important to make sure YOU are ok enough to help them. A great idea is to find a friend you can switch of watching the other's kids with once a week so you can have some time to reset and relax! Reducing stress is important during the rough time when a parent is deployed. Your children are watching you for clues that everything is ok. If you aren't taking care of you and your own anxieties and stress builds up they will sense it and it will only escalate their own fears. I know a lot of moms feel guilty for taking time to work on themselves but remember, taking care of yourself IS taking care of them. You are the rock and you need to be at your best! So do not feel guilty for taking a break for yourself.

When a parent leaves, life can get stressful for both you and your child. Making sure their needs are met is the most important thing you can do while someone is gone! April is the month of Military children. The time of the year where we give special attention to the life our little warriors live! Their joy and their pain. Their heartache and happiness! It's the time we give thanks to them for the sacrifices they have to make for our country as well as the life they didn't choose for themselves. They are being asked to take on the weight of the world on their little shoulders and they need all the love and support we can give them! Please share any tips you discovered that worked for you. The more we can share about our experiences in helping military children, the more we can aide others going through the same things. You never know who it could help. And remember to thank those little warriors for their service this month!

Kayli has been a wife for 7 years, four of which have been spent in the Army in which she has moved four times. She has two boys who keep her very busy and on her toes. She loves chocolate, TV, long road trips and writing about her adventures as a stay at home mom and a military wife. She is currently hosting a link up party in honor of The Month of the Military Child and is inviting anyone who wants to share their experiences to come and participate! (http://this-army-life.blogspot.com/2014/03/month-of-military-child.html)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Getting My Game On... Again.

I know I haven't posted in a while.  It seems when life has you down, some times it likes to kick you, repeatedly, for good measure.

If it isn't one thing it is another and sometimes, Ben and I feel like we barely have our heads above water... I told him we needed to invest in a snorkel.... soon!

Most of the challenges we are facing these days are things that are completely out of my control.  The only choices I have to make is how I am going to face them... with class or with a tantrum.  I usually end up doing a little of one and a lot of the other -- not telling which is which.

One thing that has been driving me crazy is the weather and my asthma.

I hated not being able to run this winter. Every time I tried, I would have serious asthma issues that would last a couple weeks. I started to get depressed and anxious... and my heart would sink a little more every time I thought about how hard I worked to run that half marathon and how now for sure I am losing those skills and that speed. It was devastating to me!

 Then Ben got me that treadmill. I know he got a ton of slack for it from his buddies (Soldiers seem to have some serious beef about treadmills... I don't know why. I figure anything that gets you active and working out is good right?), but he stands up for me and my outdoor issue AND never fails to mention all the amazing perks it has. 

So, a couple weeks ago, I got on it for the first time and I was so pumped to get going!  I thought, heck, let's do a quick easy 3 miles.

Wrongo Bongo.  My body was SO not going for that!  I ended up walking most of it and when I got off I cried like a big baby.  How could I have let myself get so far behind!  Well, I knew why... and I had little choice.  I had been doing other exercises... but if you don't run, you lose the speed and the time... the only thing that helps my running, is running.  Period.

But I am stubborn.  I have serious attitude and I was NOT going to let this stop me for getting myself back to where I was and then farther than that!

So I started running the next day...  and the next.  I would walk if I had to, and then run some more.

Last weekend, I wasn't feeling too hot.  I decided to pump out 4 miles.  I died... almost.  It was embarrassing!

Then some crap hit the fan today, and I was angry.  I was stomping around the house with serious bad attitude.  Ben told me to go for a run.  Which made me even more mad... but I took his advice and faced the treadmill.

"Okay, Mr. Treadmill.  Just thought I would warn you, that today is MY day and I am going to kick your trash!  So bring it on!"

I should have known that running angry really is the best thing for my speed and time.

I rocked it!

That easy 4 that wasn't so easy 4 days ago, just got owned! BOOYAH!

By 30 minutes!!

Oh, yeah.

This runner girl is BACK!!

And those silly little trials we are dealing with??  Well, I feel great now, and I can face them head on!

Here's to the rest of the week!

-Cat

Monday, February 17, 2014

Good Things, Bad Things, and Crazy Things!

I can not begin to count the amount of times I have sat here in front of my computer and just stared at the blank blog screen.  I have so much to say, but my heart can't seem to find the words time and time again.

Since that last week in January, life has been an extreme roller coaster.

The holidays were fantastic!

And the new year came with high hopes for 2014.  After the long 9 years of living pay check to pay check and scrounging every penny we had, this was going to be our year!  This was going to be the year that all our hard work and sacrifices were finally going to pay off!

We were finally going to get Ben's Army pay fixed (They are shorting us $800 a month!!), and for the first time in our lives, we were going to have a real house!  A brand new house with a huge yard in Texas.  The boys were finally doing great.  2014 was going to be OUR year!  The Year of the Nutshell!

Then the day after my birthday, last week of January, it all came crashing down around us.

Ben's orders changed.

Which means that we are ordered to stay in Oklahoma until July or August.

Which means that our mortgage will not finalize without written orders that say Ben is stationed down at Ft. Hood.

Which means, that big beautiful dream house is not going to be ours.

We were all devastated.  This was going to be our year!  It was supposed to work out!  And it didn't.  I cried so hard, I got rashes around my eyes:

Then, like every other trial that has faced us, I knew I had a choice.  I could cry and whine and complain about my lot in life, or I could suck it up, stand tall, and face life with class and hope for better future.  After briefly giving into the former, I took a deep breath and accepted the later.  When I could think about it without crying I posted this on Facebook:

Sometimes, life doesn't always happen the way we plan or want it to. It's full of ups and downs, successes and disappointments. We had a huge disappointment last night. Because of certain circumstances (Got to love the Army life!), Ft. Sill wants to keep my Ben here in Oklahoma until July. So this means that we aren't going to be able to get that beautiful house with the big yard in Texas. We were devastated, we cried, I threw up, and we had long talk and said some prayers. We may not know why we need to be here a little longer, but we do know that it must be important. If my husband needs to learn something that will save his life and/or the lives of others, then there is no house in the world that would mean more to me than his safety. We are okay  We choose not to let this get to us and we know that the Lord just has other plans for us. Who knows, they might even be better! So I am going to sign up for some Oklahoma spring/summer runs, continue to lead the branch choir, get a trampoline for the boys, and stock the heck out of my storm shelter!

I was going to wait longer to post something, but I am really glad I did this when I did.  Because instead of people jumping on my pity train, everyone was so encouraging to me.  My friends here in Oklahoma were HAPPY we were staying!  And they weren't afraid to say it!  I felt so wanted and loved at a time I was hurting so much.  How could I possibly want to leave this area right now, when I have so many true friends!!

Our little family felt the love, and we accepted that this must be meant to be.

On the other hand, Ben's pay is still not fixed.  It's really frustrating to me, the family budget Nazi, to not have the money we need to cover all our bills and feed the family.  Ben went in last week to see what the update was, it is been MONTHS since we submitted all the paper work to have it fixed, and some twerp put it in some random pile and it didn't get submitted.  Oh, the anger that flows.....

So now, we have a few more months to wait for it to get worked out.  Silver lining: we get back pay in one lump sum so it will be like two tax refunds this year!  Yay.

Another highlight of the month, was that Ben and I didn't exchange Christmas gifts this year, or birthday presents, and Valentines wasn't going to happen either... we were saving every little penny for the fees on the closing of the house.

Silver lining:  We had a little saved... so we decided to buy something we REALLY wanted for ourselves! We ordered this baby:

We got it right on Valentine's Day!!!

We LOVE IT!!!  I have already run across Venice, Italy, through Paris and around the Eiffel Tower... today, I ran through Central Park in New York City.  All without leaving my living room!!

We got our taxes done.

And we told the boys we would get them a trampoline to have something fun this spring and summer to do in the back yard.

We will make the most of this time in Oklahoma, and when we leave, we will not ever regret the time we spent here.

Things will work out, they always do.  I am still pretty sure that 2014 is our year!!

As for tonight, we are headed out to see the new Lego movie!  Have a great one!

-Cat


Friday, January 31, 2014

Hot Cocoa: Anything But Ordinary

A Guest Post

America’s favorite chocolate drink has long captured the hearts and tummies of cold-weather dwellers worldwide. Some fun facts about cocoa you might not be aware of:

·         It’s known to have been created 2000 years ago by the Mayans.
·         Aztec Emperor Montezuma drank 50 cups of hot chocolate a day out of golden goblets, which he dyed red and flavored with chili peppers.
·         In modern times, hot chocolate is enjoyed worldwide and comes in multiple variations such as the extra thick cioccolata densa in Italy to the thinner hot cocoa we enjoy in the states today.
·         A study conducted by Cornell University shows that hot cocoa has more antioxidants than both and tea and wine, therefore reducing risk of heart disease.


One, universally known fact is that everybody loves a hot cup of chocolate!

 On cold and wintry nights, there is nothing better than curling up around that hot cup of frothy deliciousness.

Certainly, you can opt in for a cup of instant cocoa powder, but you deserve better than that.  Something with a bit more heart, a bit more substance, something a bit less ordinary.

This past Christmas, I was given a coffee maker from Dolce Gusto: the Piccolo. I had been sampling a few different flavors when I came across the hot chocolate capsule: the Chococino.



At first taste of this rich, velvety (and nearly instant!) hot cocoa, I had found the answer to my hot chocolate prayers.

With its intense chocolate flavor and delicate layer of frothy milk, you would never guess that the Chococino is just as quick and easy to create as your boxed instant cocoa.

If you are anything like me, a chocoholic, I urge you to give this decadent treat a go.

Disclaimer:

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto®. For the most up to date information on single serve coffee makers, specialty coffee pods, and offers by NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® company, please visit the website at: www.dolce-gusto.us.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Before Deployment: Connecting With Other Military Families

Guest Post From the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program
 
National Guard and Reserve members across the country are trained to be in a constant state of readiness for military deployment, but loved ones may not feel ready. When the call to service comes, families may feel isolated as they prepare for the upcoming separation.
 
Deployment can be stressful for your Service member and your family, who may be experiencing a range of emotional issues.  You are not alone: Thousands of other military families like yours are navigating the same challenges and can offer support and understanding.
 
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program can help your family establish a support network that will help make deployment easier. Here are five tips offered by Yellow Ribbon for connecting with other military families:
 
1. Find a military family readiness/support group in your area.
Available through both military and community organizations, family readiness/support groups are a great place for meeting other military families in your area. Meetings bring families together for socializing over a meal or other activities, and some groups offer on-site libraries stocked with useful books, videos and DVDs on military and family issues. Learn more through the National Military Family Association (www.militaryfamily.org).
 
2. Participate in activities and groups in your unit or community.
Attending the activities that are often planned for military families—including scrapbooking nights, ice cream socials, military kids nights and holiday dinners—can help you feel more like a part of the local community, especially when you’re missing your Service member. Playgroups and military spouse groups provide additional opportunities to meet people in a similar situation and exchange advice and information.
 
3. Get involved with Operation Military Kids (OMK).
Every parent knows that deployment can be stressful for children. OMK aims to help military kids cope with deployment by bringing them together for fun activities with other kids who understand. Sign your kids up for a variety of social, educational and recreational programs.
 
4. Stay in touch through military publications and websites. 
Your loved one’s unit, post or base newspaper is a vital source of information about workshops and programs offered to spouses and families. Some units will share news and announcements through Facebook and Twitter so you can stay up-to-date on upcoming events or opportunities to meet with other families.   
 
5.  Keep connected after deployment through a Virtual Family Readiness Group (VFRG).
Once your loved one is deployed, you can maintain these new connections through a Virtual Family Readiness Group, a controlled-access web system that links Service members to their families and units. The VFRG provides a secure means for your Service member to communicate with family members far from home, and the unit commander posts updates so that you have access to the latest information.  Each Service has different types of VFRGs, so be sure to contact your unit or command Family Programs staff for details.
 
Preparing for deployment can be a busy and stressful time, but making the effort to build a network of other military families—and to maintain these connections once your loved one deploys—will help all of you through the difficulties of separation.
 
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program can help you get the support you need. Search and register for an event near you at www.yellowribbonevents.org

Friday, January 24, 2014

Over Half of My Life



A couple nights ago, I came across my old diary.  It covered the year before I met Ben up until I had Nephi.  I thought it would be fun to read through it.  When I started, I had no idea the memories and feelings that would come flooding back.  I remembered the joy of coming home from my LDS mission, then the loneliness that followed.  How hard it was that I couldn't seem to get a date.  I felt like there was a huge hole in my heart and I didn't know how to fill up the void.  I was depressed.  I cried a lot.

Then I finally started dating a little and it gave me hope for the future I wanted.  And then I met Ben.  After our first date, I wrote that I knew I was going to marry him.  And 5 weeks later I did!!  (For full story click here and here)

I talked about pregnancy and the ups and down.  I talked about some struggles we had with school and finding jobs.  I remembered all the hard times and all the amazing adventures!  When I finished, I sat back and it really hit me how much I have changed.  How much I have grown.  I wanted to go back in time and tell that girl how wonderful life was going to be for her!!  That dreams were going to come true!  That now, 10 years later, she has 3 kids and that Ben has an amazing job and that we are getting ready to purchase our first home in Texas!!!  She probably won't believe me... so I would most likely give her a hug and tell her that everything was going to be FANTASTIC!

I also started thinking about back when I first met Ben.  He was 14 and I was 16.  Then I realized something crazy!  This last summer marked the half-life anniversary!  That means, that I have known Ben for over half of my life!  Ben, on the other hand, reached that point 2 years ago... since he is younger.

This is what Ben looked like when we met:

 Looks a LOT like my little Nephi, doesn't he??

This is what I looked like:
You can totally tell here that we are 2 years apart.  There is a huge difference between the age of 14 and 16.  Ben was shorter than me those days... (A HUGE thanks to my old high school friend, Sara, for sending me these year book photos!  Kind of funny to think they were in the SAME year book and we never had a clue that one day we would hook up!)

Then his Jr year he shot up a bit:
And even a little more his Sr. year...
 And while he was finishing High school still, I was getting ready to finish up college:

Then I left for a mission for the LDS church:

Ben left for one as well 6 months later:

Then came that special day we finally met up again!

And got engaged:
Yes... I think we made an odd couple... at first.

But I think we grew into each other pretty well over the years!!





 And you have to admit... we do make some pretty cute kids :)

And it goes to show that love has no bounds.  Not where eternity matters.  And neither does happiness. I have to admit, the half of my life with Ben has been the VERY best half hands down!  And I look forward to MANY more years together!

AND if I haven't embarrassed him enough... This is a Facebook status I posted a few days ago:

Ben and I aren't very lovey dovey on Facebook or in public places. We just don't roll that way, we keep our feelings for each other very private. But I want to step outside my private box, and say what an incredible man I have. He doesn't get a lot of kudos for his hard work, mainly because he is a very low-key, humble guy, so this wife has to toot his horn every once in a while. The sacrifices he has made for this family are countless. He works harder than other man I have ever met -- and that's saying something. Ben has worked so hard in this training this week, he has had a total of 4 hours of sleep since he woke up on Sunday morning. Since we got here, he has been getting maybe 10 hours of sleep a week. I honestly don't know how he functions... if I don't get my 8 hours per night I am useless. But this man presses on. Does assignment after assignment, taking tests, and still doing hard PT in the mornings with his Marine instructors. THEN instead of coming home and saying how wonderful he is and how he "deserves" special treatment, he holds me in his arms and tells me how amazing I am. ME?! Seriously!? He told me last night how he knows how hard I work to keep the boys out of his hair so he can study and how he knows that it isn't easy for me to keep the peace. AND THEN instead of kicking back and chilling out, which he totally earned, he helps me with dishes or laundry or cleaning AND still has a moment to tell me how beautiful I am and how blessed he is to have me. Wow. I am the blessed one! I get to be married to my best friend and soul mate! PLUS I get a hottie in uniform! Doesn't it get any better?  So a shout out to my one and only, Ben sd-- a most amazing man.

-Cat

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The (Tough Love) Military Wife Survival Guide: A Book Review

When a new military wife asks me for my best advice, I point her toward some of my favorite military wife books.  I learn the best from books, and I think there is a wealth of information in books written by military wives who have been there and done that.  I have been an Army wife for almost 5 years, and I STILL feel like a newbie when it comes to certain things.  Better to send my friends to people who know more than I do!  (However, I am always willing to answer questions to the best of my knowledge -- I love helping out my friends!)

I always enjoy reading books by my fellow military wives.  You would think that they would all cover the same old stuff.  But they don't!  Each wife that writes because she has something unique to add to the fray.

The most recent book I have been asked to review is called The (Tough Love) Military Wife Survival Guide by S.M. Westerlie.

This book starts out with a few basic tips to help the new military wife... all great information that we all need to know.  Then she goes on to talk more about the emotional welfare of the military wife -- which I really like.  She talks about the pros and cons of moving all the time, making new friends (the people to embrace and the ones to avoid), and adjusting to life with a serviceman -- including dealing with deployment, PTSD, adultery, and even abuse and suicide.  She gives some fantastic tips and shortcuts to make life easier and doesn't skirt around the less attractive truths, but makes sure to emphasis the bonuses and greatness of choosing a military life.

I don't always agree with the author (on some of the small things), mainly I am just a different kind of thinking girl.  But I think she is classy, handles bad situations with grace, and seems to hold her own when it's important... I think we would be fast friends!  Besides, I appreciate someone who stands up for what they believe in, even if I disagree.  

One thing I wish the book had was more personal stories.  She has some GREAT tips and some stories, but I would have loved to read about more!!  Maybe I am just nosy :)  But I learn best from personal examples... I think people take advice to heart more if you drive it in with a personal example.  But that's just me.

Whether or not you are a new military wife, a seasoned one, or not even one at all!!  I think you would enjoy this book.  It was an easy yet informative read.  So my lovely, crocheted hat off to S.M. Westerlie for a job very well done!


-Cat

******

I use Grammarly's plagiarism checker online because this "Cat" doesn't copy!

Military Families and Sleep

My name is Diana Julian and I am a Certified Child Sleep Consultant. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share my knowledge on this forum. Military families make so many sacrifices and have endless sources of worry; I am here to help make sure that your child’s sleep is not one of them.

I will start by saying that I am not in the military, nor is my husband. However, we are in a situation where my husband works away from home 3 weeks out of the month. After I had my first child, I found myself with a 9 month old baby that had never slept for more than two hours at a time. My child was exhausted and so was I. I was not able to be the Mother I intended to be because without proper rest, that is next to impossible. I decided that this was not working for my family and I was determined to make a change.

After going through the experience of hiring a sleep consultant, and then going through the process to become one, I knew that I wanted to help other Moms who are separated from their husbands on a regular basis. Once I took control of the situation I was no longer overwhelmed and fearful of my child’s sleep habits; instead, I was now in control of it. Investing in your child’s sleep schedule benefits the entire family because when children sleep well, so do their parents.

With one parent is alone in a household to care for their child, it is essential that both the parent and the child are getting adequate amounts of rest. If you do not have the option to hand your baby to the other parent and take a break, without a proper handle on the situation, emotions and behaviors can spiral out of control. Never underestimate the power of a solid schedule. A set routine is essential in order to maintain sanity.

I want to clear up some common misconceptions about sleep and lack thereof. First, I want to address a phrase that parents commonly use; “crashing.” When a parent is home by themselves, they have to take their child with them in order to run errands, make appointments, honor commitments and so on. If a parent keeps their child up past their biological sleep wave, they often think that this will result in their child “crashing” at the following sleep period. This is a big misconception and in fact, it works the other way around. When a child misses their scheduled sleep time, their body immediately starts producing cortisol which helps to give them their “second wind.” By the time the child who skipped their nap is put to sleep for the night, they have already entered the “overtired” state which cause’s large amounts of cortisol to run through their body. This makes it ever harder for the child to fall asleep and stay asleep. What often happens is that when parents make plans to leave the house during their child’s usual nap time, they often decide that they will put their child down for a nap when they return home. As a result, the child is now expected to nap at a time that does not coincide with their circadian rhythm. This leaves parents baffled at the fact that their child, who should be extra tired, is now throwing a fit and fighting sleep. Periods of time that do not coincide with our internal clock are known as the forbidden zone of sleep.

The forbidden zone of sleep for adults is from 6-9 pm. TV executives caught on to this notion and that is where the term “prime time” comes from. TV stations play their most popular programming during prime time due to the fact that adults are naturally awake because it is during their forbidden zone of sleep. The same way adults have a forbidden zone, so do children. This is why there are ideal nap times for children depending on their age and an ideal bedtime in addition.

Parents are often confused when they expect their child to fall asleep quickly because they appear exhausted. A child’s sleep structure is often times counter-intuitive to us as parents. This is the reason why it is imperative to educate ourselves on the facts in order to be prepared. It is just as important to parent your child at night as it is during the day. This starts with respecting their need to sleep, and giving them the opportunity to experience quality sleep and not just fixate about the quantity.

In a one parent household, whether you are a single parent, or have a spouse who works away from the home, these sleep conditions need to be learned. It is beneficial to learn them before your child is born, this way you are prepared, knowledgeable and educated on why and how babies sleep the way they do. Once you take control of the situation, although you will have to schedule outings and activities around their sleep times, in return you will have a well-rested and happy baby. Children who are having their sleep needs met will thrive due to the fact that these proper amounts of sleep are contributing to their cognitive development. And let’s not forget the endless amounts of reasons that it is just as important for the parent to be rested as well.

Most new mothers have the luxury of having a family member close by to hold their child while they catch up on sleep, but some of us don’t. It is essential for parents to have time to ourselves, and time to get things done around the house. Also, it is important that we have time to rest and recuperate for the next day of nonstop supervision of our toddlers and infants. Protecting your child from harm is natural to us as parents; protecting your child’s need for proper sleep is just as important.

Guest post by Diana Julian, you can check out her site at BigSkyLullaby.com