High-demands in parenting turns sleeping hours into a premium commodity from day one. But, sleeping is a very necessary "task" to keep parents healthy and happy. So how does one cope?
Here are a few tips that worked well for me when I parented my rambunctious and intelligent children.
The Early Morning Nap
The easiest way I could take a nap was as soon as I got home from dropping my kids off at school. I worked nights and very early mornings. This allowed me to be an international executive, put in my hours and spend my days with the kids. However, to make sure I was fresh, I would teach myself to take a quick little nap right after I dropped them of to school. A silent home allowed me to get an hour of deep sleep in the morning, supplemented by other daytime naps.
The Reading Nap
Since reading is such an important activity for my kids – vocabulary, social studies, reading comprehension - we had reading time every day. However, when I was so very tired that I desperately needed to sneak in a nap, I realized that allowing the kids to read to me was a wonderful way to create a productive time for them, and a nice little nap for me.
The key is to wake up as soon as they stop reading. It is amazing how wonderfully our minds work when we need to depend on it. I learned to take a little nap, wake up when they stopped reading immediately, replay the last sentence in my mind, and make a clever comment about it. Try it, it is a rewarding and enjoyable way to get a semi nap in. A few of those per day go along way for an overly tired parent.
The After-School Nap
Most parents and schools know about this tradition. When they are young, kids come home from school tired ready for a nap (though, they might not admit it). Spend 30 minutes to cuddle with the kids, caressing my child’s backs would easily tip them into sleep. This is also a great way to have a light chat and learn what is going on with them. My kids would share what bothered them, what was exciting for them, and what their dreams are. Afternoons are a great time of the day to establish nap time. The parent can set a good example by also participating in the nap (wink wink).
The Sports Game Nap
Another way to get a necessary nap is at the children’s sports games, though, this nap requires expert levels of sneaky. I often brought a wonderful woven blanket to the games. I also brought magazines. Magazines are wonderful for napping. At the games, I would find a buddy parent who understood my need for a quick power nap. My buddy agreed to wake me when it was time to jump up and cheer. The magazine served as a strategic tool, to keep the sun out of my eyes and hide the fact that I was taking a power nap. The magazines were also a great incentive for my buddy, who I invited to share my blanket and relax with my pile of magazines.
Early to Bed, Early to Rise
This is an old wives tale and it works! The most important way to get enough sleep was of course the fact that the earlier the kids go to bed, the sooner parents get to sleep. Everyone benefits when the family has a strong tradition of healthy sleep behavior. When the kids were very young, I put them to bed by 5 or 6 pm. I didn’t mind them getting up early, because it is lovely in the morning, the kids enjoy playing in the morning, and having that pattern established since they were born.
To get the kids to sleep that early, they had to be tired. Toddlers have an amazing capacity to wake up in the evening after dinner. So to make sure that this would not happen, I instituted exercise routines as soon as they were capable of it. They got to run 10 laps up and down the hall way, they got to touch the floor and reach up to the sky, children’s musical games are great for dances. The kids enjoyed getting physical and I enjoyed the peace and quiet in the house when I successfully put them to sleep early.
When the kids were a bit older they read to me. Eventually they wanted to read their own books and we had a quiet house full of interesting conversations during our meal times. Early to bed, early to rise was a motto in my house for the kids. Working really early made me productive and it allowed me to spend the days with my kids.
Getting to bed early is a wonderful way of life that is an underrated pleasure. Don’t forget to sleep when you need it. Make sure you and your kids get enough sleep. Sleep is awesome. Ahh, it is now time for me to turn in. Good night!
About the All-Star Blogger
Edie Okamoto is a Bay Area resident who raised her children while running an international business consultancy from her home. Now that the children are grown she enjoys sharing her many wonderful parenting and business experiences, as well as observations about current events and culture.