Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Naps-Hold them sacred

Poll Results: What age do you think naps are not needed?
Total Votes: 5
Age 3--0%
Age 4--60%
Age 5 or older--40 %
I have no idea--0%

According to Judith Owens a pediatric sleep expert we are about right here is what she says:
Most children under the age of 1 take two naps a day — usually one in the morning and another in the afternoon. By 18 months, most have given up the morning nap but still need an afternoon snooze to make it through dinner without a meltdown.

Even when you've kissed the morning nap goodbye, your toddler's likely to continue needing her afternoon nap for quite some time. At age 4, more than 50 percent of children are still taking naps. And even though the majority of children (about 70 percent) stop napping at 5 years, 3 in 10 still need a nap at this age.

That said, every child is different. Much depends on how many hours your toddler sleeps at night. Toddlers need approximately 12 to 14 hours of sleep in each 24-hour period. So if, for example, your child goes to bed at 8 p.m. and doesn't get up until 8 a.m., she may get her full quota of rest all at once, giving her no reason to need a nap. But if she doesn't get 12 hours at night, then ideally she should get some zzz's during the day. (more from Judith click here)

I don't watch a lot of TV but one of the shows I've seen a few times and quite enjoy is Supernanny on ABC. Have you ever thought, I sure wish Jo would come to my house and help me? She has some really good ideas. It seems like there are many homes that struggle with bedtime and nap time. These habits children establish can run deep and when mom or dad tries to change them there are often lots of tears from both child and parents. I saw one episode where the mom went into a toddlers room over 30 times putting him back to bed. By the time he went to sleep mom was a wreck.
I know by the end of the day I'm ready for some alone time to wind down and decompress. If my kids have trouble settling down it enough to put me over the edge. So what does this have to do with naps. I really believe their is a connection between naps and bedtime.
When my babies are getting a little older (usually around 2 months), and I feel they are ready to start going to sleep on their own, in their own crib, then I start sleep training during the day with naps. I always start with naps because I'm much more with it during the day then in the middle of the night or right before bed and exhausted. I'm also more patient and have my wits about me. Having your babies learn to go to sleep on their own can be really hard, but it's so worth the effort to be able to lay your baby in their crib and go to sleep without a big ordeal and tears.

What can help establish regular naps? Here are things I do that I've found help.
1. Hold nap time and bed times at a consistent time as much as possible. Once you get a consistent time you can play with the schedule when you have an appointment or an irregular day. Kids can be pretty flexible as long as you don't always change on them.
2. Have some traditions that help settle your kids-If you always do the same thing before naps and bedtime this really helps your kids and babies know its time to rest. We go to the bathroom, read a story, turn on our relaxing music, and give kisses and sing our nap or bedtime song.
3. Establish rules about leaving the room and bugging mom and dad and follow through with consequences.
We have really made it clear in our home that once it's bedtime or even nap time it's time for mom and dad to be together or to be alone. My kids like their doors open and lights on so they can read books. If they leave their room I say, "That's one, if I get to three doors are closed and lights are off." If they get out again, I count, "That's two." Third time, "That's three" Then I close the door and turn the lights off. I usually don't have to do this but I did at first because kids want to know if your going to follow through.
4. For nap time- I keep my kids in separate rooms. My kids at night time share rooms. We have two in each room but during the day I like to keep them all in different rooms.
5. Replace Nap Time with Quiet Time when your child is ready. Like Bonnie and Alisha commented on a previous post. Naps vary from child to child. My first child took a nap everyday until he started first grade. My second child at the age of 4 took a nap only once in a while but he was still given the opportunity everyday. When your kids are fighting going down for naps which they all will at one time or another, I say "That's is fine, you don't need to take a nap at all. Mom still needs a little quiet time so you can choose a quiet activity for an hour on your bed." Our rules for quiet activities they can choose an activity (no electronics like a Leapster, TV, or toys). Often my kids will choose puzzles, books, and magazines. When my kids started to be able to read the clock they were very prompt in coming out when it had been an hour. During the summer my one and three year old always have a nap. For my six and eight year old I'm very flexible with. Today both were so cranky because of the late night the family had so I had them both took an hour of quiet time. My six year old feel asleep but the older one just had some down time which really helped his attitude the rest of the day. Sometimes I think kids just need a little time to think and be still. When they get older I can see this as a good time to encourage them to write in a journal or read scriptures.

I guess you can see I hold naptime very sacred. It is my time to regroup, study, ponder, and sometimes do a creative project that I can't do well with all the kids up. I read an excellent book last week I'd like to share a quick thought. "Eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim... No longer fed by by a feeling of indispensability or purposefulness, we are hungry, and not knowing what we are hungry fro, we fill up the void with endless distractions, always at hand--unnecessary errands, compulsive duties, social niceties. And for the most part, to little purpose. Suddenly the spring is dry; the well is empty...Every person, especially every woman, should be alone sometime during the year, some part of each week, and each day." --From 'Gift from the Sea' by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I have found this very true with myself. I love be mom and serving my children, but I get to a point where I can tell I haven't taken enough time for myself to recharge and I'm more impatient and cross. I challenge you to find some alone time. Set a goal to find a little time to fill your pitcher so you can keep giving to your children. Nap time is just one time during the day you can try to find some quiet time to recharge.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


So the winner for the contest is Jeana! Jeana is both a follower on Facebook and on google friend and she invited 25 friends to check out this blog. Wow! That is awesome! Jeana has won the cookbook Set for Life! This is my favorite and most used cookbook in my kitchen. I featured the granola recipe from that book. It's a great cookbook and even has some great advise on good eating habits for children and adults.
I decided to wait till tomorrow to post about napping, since their is still one more day to vote on the poll.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Check out the new look and Win a Prize!

I got a fun background from Leelou Blogs.--come over and check it out! She has some really cute templates. But it took me forever to get the layout fixed. I need some feedback on colors of text a layout. If you can't read it or if it gives you a headache please let me know, I would love some suggestions.
Also...I had a napping poll that was deleted with all the carryover. So if you could be so kind to vote again or vote for the first time that would be awesome. I only gave a week to respond because I wanted to do a post on Sunday about napping, and I'd love include your opinion. I have so much fun writing these posts and I hope you enjoy reading them. If you have any suggestions on topics or anything please comment below. Also if you have any friends, or family who loves children: invite them to read. The more the merrier, all of us benefit because we get more awesome ideas.

How do you keep up with your favorite blogs? I read all my blogs from igoogle. This is a customized homepage that you can add google reader to. Then you can subscribe to your favorite blogs and whola whenever something new is posted it shows up on your igoogle home page. The other great feature is if you are just swamped because it's been a while since you have checked it you can click mark all as read and bam-they all disappear. Has anyone figured out how to use NetworkedBlogs on Facebook? I haven't found an easy way to check if the blogs you are following have new posts. These are the only ways I know how to follow a blog. If you know of others please let it be known!

Last thing, On the main page of my blog on the right hand side is a place you can click to follow. You can do it through facebook or google or both. Right now there are only three people on the google friend connect (I'm one of them so there is really only two) and we are so lonely. So to encourage you to invite people to read this blog I'm going to give away an awesome prize. (I've seen other bloggers do prizes so here goes)
Here is how it works:
1. Sign yourself up as a reader for either or hopefully both google friend and facebook
2. Invite your friends and family to join (if you have questions on how to do this let me know)
3. Finally post a comment to this post by Saturday July 25th that you did the above requirements and how many friends you invited

By doing this you will get one entry into the contest. The most enthusiastic invitee (whoever invited the most friends) will get five additional entries in the contest. The prize is a book that I have featured on the blog. I will do the drawing and will have my husband pull a special name out of the hat and you will be notified as a winner! Your prize will be delivered to your home via mail next week! Have fun and Good Luck!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Healthy Recipes: Homemade Granola

Since I am trying to feed my children a variety of healthy foods, I thought I would occasionally share some recipes they enjoy. My mom would make this for us as kids. I love it hot right after it's been cooked with cold milk. Here goes for the first one which uses a lot of food storage items as well:

Favorite Granola
(From my favorite recipe book- Set for Life by Merrill She also has a great section in the back about healthy eating for pregnancy and nursing and great ideas for family eating as well)
4 cups old-fashioned oats (I also use a combination of other flakes like barley)
2 cups rolled wheat
1 cup unprocessed oat or wheat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1-2 cups slivered almonds
Mix these dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Heat the following until the sugar is dissolved:
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar (you can substitute honey)
Add after heated:
1 teas vanilla

Simply add to the dry ingredients until mixed well and bake in a 200 oven for 1 1/2 hours. For chunky granola do not stir during baking. Break into bite-size pieces and add 2 cups of dried fruit (our favorites raisins, dried apples, pineapple, craisins, coconut and dates). Store in an airtight container. Serve as a cold cereal. Excellent as a topper on Yogurt Parfaits.
All the main ingredients in this recipe you can get at a health food store or most grocery stores. Let me know if you try it out.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The worst cleaning job-mopping

This is pretty random: but last week I was dreading the inevitable...my kitchen needed a serious mopping. The crusted spaghetti, sand, visible muddy footprints and other food chunks that my dog wouldn't even eat (yuck!) was my first clue. I had a brain storm and remembered when I was little I loved to mop the floor. It's because we put sponges on our feet and skated around till it was clean. We had a blast. So I decided to try it and involve the kids. It worked! I enjoyed doing it with someone and my floor got clean.
After I posted last week about chores I wondered if I overwhelmed many with the chore chart for my kids. It really looks like a lot that they have to do. But because I started having him help with little things around the house when he was two and three years old, he became more and more capable and responsible. Also a lot of the things listed aren't really jobs but they are things I want them to get in the habit of doing like reading scriptures, praying, brushing teeth, and exercise (ride bike). If your just starting out doing separate chores for your children, remember to start small so you don't overwhelm your kids. It is so rewarding when my kids just do something because they know they are suppose to and I didn't even have to remind them about it. But just as I discovered with my mopping, jobs are funner in doing them with others. To help each other get motivated we like to turn on the kids fun music to listen to while we clean. Or we will help each other do the dishwasher, (each of us have certain items we are responsible for, plastic, glass, and utensils) and sometimes we have races. One thing I like to do is give them a little treat when they get so many jobs done. It just depends on the day. Sometimes they are so motivated to get up and get going and other days they need a little more encouraging. So I have to keep my thinking cap on.
Boyack in her book "The Parenting Breakthrough" says there are things you can do to help make doing chores an excellent opportunity for growth and training and about how in the world you can get your kids to work. Briefly they are:
Develop a Backbone: Using chores as a training method cannot be done by invertebrate parents. Parents must be in control and have their wits about them or it will fail. But also having a militant attitude and a total control-freak mind-set will also fail. Be firm and clear and unmovable.
Remember the Importance of Work: She said that work at home should be a priority. The training for the work we do as adults rests largely in learning how to work as a youth.
Use Lots of Methods: Some methods or chore charts work for a while and then they need to be modified for the age of your children or just for variety. Do what works for your kids. Some ideas she gave was the 1. pocket chart with a pocket of to do and done. 2. Zone Management-divide the house in zones and each person is responsible for keeping his zone clean and tidy. 3. Chore wheel 4. Random choice-kids choose their chores by random ways, drawing slips of paper, popping balloons with chores written inside 5. Monthly rotation 6. Blitz method--This works when you don't have a lot of time and everyone pitches in to get the house picked up7. Sixty-second straighten: See how much they can do in their room for 1 minute. This can be fun variation.
Define the chore clearly and then have them report when they believe it is complete. This is when the training is emphasised. You could even have on a card step by step process of cleaning the sinks or their room. This will help them see the process and understand your expectation
Set a definite time frame: Have a time frame when the jobs need to be done.
Have a no-nonsense attitude: Don't cave in to whining and complaining and back down or give second chances.
Use Rewards: Stickers, a kiss from mom with red lipstick, coupon for ice cream, etc.
Use both arms: If your married use your spouse to back you up on chores.
Be persistent: Just keep plugging away day after day, week after week, month after month and it will get better and easier but never perfect.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Potty Training Question

I got a question and started replying to it and it ended up way too long for a comment so I decided just to make it it's own post. I would sure love some other feedback to help this mom who is frustrated with potty training.
Question: I read in another section that your goal was to have your kids potty trained by three. That was my goal as well and my 3 and a half year old still has accidents and has only stayed dry all night once. I feel like potty training is a never ending process and I know I made many mistakes that probably contributed to this, but do you have any suggestions? We did give her a big surprise for staying dry all day for a week. A great book I read was "The Everything Potty Training Book." It had several different methods and many great statistics and information. I also like "My Big Girl Potty" for my daughter, there's "My Big Boy Potty" for boys.

First of all, I probably did say my goal was to potty train by age 3 but this may not be realistic for every child. I have never read, "The Everything Potty Training Book." I think I've read the "My Big Girl Potty" if its the one that is written for children like a story book. My kids really liked this book.

I believe children will be ready at different times even though we would love for them to be potty trained early. Also, I think children could use going to the bathroom as a power struggle with parents because they are in control of this. Maybe she just needs to know that it's her choice to go to the potty and let it be her thing.

You may ask her if she would rather go back to wearing diapers during the day until she is ready to go potty every time in the potty. If she does then go back to diapers. Don't let it bother you one bit. Maybe it would be good for the whole family to take a break because it sounds like the fun of being a big girl is gone for both your 3 year old and mom and dad. If you are frustrated with it then your child is probably frustrated too. In the Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood book it says, "Like any task we're expected to perform under pressure, potty training becomes an undesirable chore." pg 35 If your child wants to continue with her big girl pants then one idea is to lay low and tell her that you know she is a big girl and you have every confidence that she can go to the bathroom when she needs to. Tell her you are going to stop reminding her and that when she needs to go to the potty she can choose to take you with her or go by herself. Take out the reminding and you being extremely anxious about it. Another thing that helped my first was when he had an accident I really had to not get upset (and believe me it was hard) but I instead talked about how sad it was. I like how Love and Logic words this response: "Oh, you had an accident! That's too bad! I love you, Sweetie." Then you can make them apart of the clean up by asking them to put their clothes in the laundry and getting you a rag to clean it up, etc.

Now the nighttime water (or in other terms bedwetting) is a completely different story. My oldest was 6 or 7 before he stopped wetting the bed. We tried everything. After consulting our physician on many occasions at well visits he recommended a bedwetting alarm. This really worked. In the instructions of the bedwetting alarm it talked about how children are not doing this on purpose, they simply sleep so soundly that they don't wake up to go to the bathroom. It is a physical response and their body has not learned to tell their brain when they need to go. The alarm requires parents to be extremely involved but it was well worth waking up a few times at night for a couple days and taking him to the bathroom.

It doesn't work to not give them any water hours before bedtime or waking them up before you go to bed to go or lectures about wetting the bed, or even having them clean the mess up. Believe me we tried all these things. There is also medication and herbs that you can try but I really didn't want to add other side effects that go with Meds. The thing with the alarm is they really need to be a little older--I think the age recommended was five. In the meantime don't sweat it--after I have talked with other parents this is really common for a lot of children.

I know they are really expensive but you can get overnight diapers for bigger kids. I would just use diapers if they still will fit your girl. I also put water proof sheets over the mattress so it doesn't get ruined and I also put a waterproof pillow case over the pillows.

I hope this helps a little bit. But try to look at the long picture here and realize that as long as they are potty trained by kindergarten you will be just fine. =)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Teaching Children to work

My sister in law Deonne recommended the best book about chores and teaching your children responsibility. It's called "The Parenting Breakthrough" by Merrilee Browne Boyack. First of all I love Boyack's opinions about teaching children and discipline. In my opinion she has it spot on. She gives so many ideas to get children to do their chores and help out at home. My favorite part of the book is the "Master plan" She talks about how we as parents need to decide "How I want my children to turn out" Some of the things I thought of, I want my children to have their own testimony of the gospel, be able to keep a job and know the importance of hard work, love to learn and read, get a long with their family and want to come back and spend time with their aging parents =). After you do this then you need to set realistic goals and learning objectives to accomplish this. This is the part I love. By the age of three my child will: Learn to dress self, use the toilet independently, brush teeth, pick up toys, say prayers, etc. She has a list for each age that is really comprehensive but she recommends you supplement things to the list as well. Here are things listed on a five year old--Straighten room, vacuum, empty garbage cans, set table, clear table, make own lunch, warm up canned food, get allowance.
So I have really liked this to help my kids learn valuable lessons of life and they are really learning how to help around the house. I really believe children need to do more around the house then clean their room. As a part of living at your home their are things that can teach them it's not all about them. I have found that when they are in charge of cleaning something they start realizing that they have an impact -they are a contributing member of more then just themselves. I love this quote from the book.
" Doesn't it seem these days as if we find ourselves surrounded by work-phobic youth? These kids are largely a result of lazy parents; that is, parents who take the easy road. Sometimes I wonder if my children are the only ones who do chores beyond self-maintenance. Self maintenance tasks are pseudo-chores: 'make your bed, pick up your toys, brush your teeth. These don't contribute to the family. By and large, parents have forgotten how important work is in the home. They have a hard time getting their children to work, so they give up. It's easier to hire maids and gardeners or to do it all themselves." pg 51
I think about my grandparents generation and even my parents generation and they helped on the farm. Feeding the animals, picking vegetables, making bread. Because of so much convenience in our life it can be easier to just do it yourself. But I think we are doing our children a disservice. It will be harder for our kids to adjust to real life when they move away from home. Will they just automatically know how to do their own laundry, clean the bathrooms. I would rather have them already know because their are plenty of other things they need to adjust to.
I think summer is a great time to start implementing a new job plan, because your kids have more time at home. For a long time each of my kids had a cup of index cards. I wrote and drew a picture of the job on the card. When they got done with the job it went in the cup. When all their jobs were done they got to go play. My two older kids now have a chart that they mark their jobs off on. This has worked really well since some days they have different things to do. I have put the job chart to give you an idea on Google Reader.
I'm new to loading a document so let me know if this doesn't work for you. Your welcome to use this and modify it to the needs of your family. It was really easy to create and works great for my kids. I update it as necessary and then we laminate it so they can use it over and over. I get some dry erase markers and they mark it up each week. We do fun things when the kids need some motivation. Sometimes I put a M&M on each index card they can eat when they get a job done. We let them do half their jobs and then take a break and watch a cartoon. For some families I know it works better to do all the chores on Saturday or Friday because of all the extra activities planned in the middle of the week.
You will have struggles when you try to implement a new job chart. But just remember the big picture-you are teaching children responsibility and work values that will help them for the rest of their life. I believe it's worth it!
PS. I have a poll on my blog I'd love for your input. 7 more days till it closes.

Mindless Eating-start good habits early

Food is a huge issue in any family. If you think about it preparing meals, eating, cleaning up meals, planning, and shopping consume a large portion of our day. We eat about three times a day, and more if you count snacks. It can be a huge battle. If you stick to your guns to the food rules and table manners, battles start to disappear. I promise because we had to fight for a while with our first ones and it does get better!
I am the "Nutritional Gatekeeper" of our home. My husband has a huge impact as well. According to Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, the Nutritional Gatekeeper is the person in your home who does most of the food shopping and meal preparation. The gatekeeper has a huge influence on what is eaten inside and outside of the home. I just finished reading this book and I love it. I had no idea that there would be ideas on how to be a better parent in here but behold there was very practical ideas that help teach our children good eating habits early on. As the nutritional gatekeeper of your home here are some ideas the book gives.
--We inherit the attitudes about food and eating. Studies show that watching someone grimace while eating scares children away from tasty food and smiles and friendliness work in reverse--you can attract more children to foods they are unfamiliar to.
--Use positive associations with food that are healthy. Like: Spinach makes you strong like Popeye, Fish makes you smart, carrots give you great eyesight, broccoli are little dinosaur trees, and so on. These positive associations help children like these otherwise not so kid-friendly foods.
--fat-forming transformation in our eating habits takes place between the ages of three and five. A three year old will eat simply until he is full no matter how much he is served. By the age of five, a child pretty much will eat the portion that is on his plate. Be careful about giving too much food and then also expecting them to eat it all. Teach your child to listen to their bodies to tell them when they are full.
--Snack time hints: Portion out a serving size for snacks and then put the container of goldfish, pretzels, etc. away otherwise they will just keep eating. He recommends using baggies to portion out correct serving sizes especially if you buy food in bulk. Children and adults use external cues to determine whether they want more to eat. If it's available they think they're still hungry.
--Be careful not to use food as a reward (If you get an A on your test, we'll go out for ice cream), as comfort(Eat this cookie it will make you feel better), guilt (Clean your plate children are starving in China), or as punishment(Finish your food or you can't watch TV). -I really need to work on this!
--Be a good marketer of healthy food. Show by example and be convincing that healthy foods can be fresh, crunchy, refreshing, and make you strong, smart...
--Offer variety--Try new recipes, new ingredients, ethnic foods and different types of restaurants. The more foods you expose your child to, the more nutritionally well-rounded he will be.
--Use the Half-Plate Rule. A balanced meal is not steak and potatoes. Half your plate should have a vegetable or salad.
--Only serve the vegetables family style. Serve the meat and potatoes at the stove. This will help the family not overeat by getting seconds. If they are really hungry the vegetables are right there for the taking and it won't hurt to get some more of that.

I really liked all this advise I had one other to add
--My kids love snacks and desserts--they would rather eat these then their meal. Our family rule is if they don't eat their meal then they don't get snacks and desserts. If after 1/2 hour they say their hungry we will either say sorry you didn't eat all your food or we pull their plate out and they can eat their meal now. This has worked really well for us.
Check out his webpage it looks great at well as the book http://www.mindlesseating.org/