Hey y'all, I made a mistake in my last blog post.
In order to help your child "fall back," you need to make their bedtime, naps, and meals LATER, not earlier.
My apologies for the confusion! (And thanks to Eleni and Bethany for calling it to my attention!)
Daylight savings time ends November 6 in the United States and October 29 in Mexico.
This will be the last time that Mexico adjusts its clocks for DST.
If you heard that the United States voted to stay permanently on DST and are confused, you are not alone.
The United States Senate voted last March to have the USA be permanently on DST however, President Biden still has not voted on the measure and neither has the House of Representatives.
Even if it passes, though, it wouldn’t take effect for another year, until fall of 2023.
In the meantime, here’s how to manage the time change if you have young children.
The expression is “spring forward, fall back,” but that is confusing to many, myself included!
To clarify, when the clocks "fall back," it means that 2 am on Sunday is suddenly 1 am.
If you have a young child, I highly recommend making the transition a gradual one.
Starting a few days ahead of time, move your child’s schedule “back” a few minutes. So if she normally wakes up at 7 am, naps at 9 am and 1 pm, and goes to bed at 7 pm, get her up at 7:10 am, make her naps 9:10 am and 1:10 pm, and bedtime 7:10 pm.
You’ll also need to adjust meal time accordingly by moving those back 10 minutes also.
If you can make these changes gradually over a week, awesome. If you can only do it over 4 days, 15 minutes at a time, do that. And even if you can only spread it over two days versus one, that is still worthwhile. But the more sensitive your sleeper, the longer I suggest you take for the transition.
I suggest you grown-ups try to do the same or you will feel jetlagged for several days the following week. In case you have forgotten, it's a pretty miserable feeling. Which reminds me, it's time to start transitioning my kids and myself!
If you are struggling with sleep challenges in your family, schedule a free sleep consultation and get your family the beautiful rest you have been dreaming of.
One of my clients' biggest struggles with parenting is holding boundaries. You set a rule in place but then your child asks for an exception and you say no but they keep on asking and getting increasingly upset and then you start to second guess yourself.
"What's the big deal? It'll take me two seconds. I would be really mean to say no to something so simple. I don't want my child to be traumatized by lack of response."
You give in and fulfill the request and, surprise surprise, your child has yet another request, two minutes later, that is against the rules. You start to feel resentful. Your child starts to whine. You snap. They cry. You feel terrible.
Rinse and repeat.
If something like this happens in your home, don't feel bad. You are not alone.
Children are really, really good at testing boundaries and therefore, pushing our emotional buttons.
Would it make you feel better to know that it's actually the job of young children to test boundaries? That that is their way of understanding the world? And it is your job to hold those boundaries, to show them, over and over again, that the grown ups are in charge.
When you don't do that, your child will test boundaries even more, seeking that safety from you even more. Though for sure your child will never say, "Thanks for not giving me that cookie before dinner. I really feel safe now."
Here's an example of how to set a nighttime boundary.
Let's say your child has a habit of calling you back to their bedroom multiple times each night after lights out. You find yourself getting increasingly frustrated and short-tempered about these nightly callbacks, because they are interfering with your opportunity to eat dinner and finally unwind from the long day.
Step one: Set the boundary. A boundary is something you will do, not something you need your child to do.
In this example, setting a boundary would look like saying, at bedtime, "listen, lights out will be the last chance to talk to me. I'm not going to come back after that. Is there anything you need now, before I go?"
A boundary is not, "I need you to not call me back to your room anymore after lights out, okay?" That boundary is relying on your child to act a certain way. Boundaries are only ever about our own behavior.
Step two: hold the boundary. You kiss your child goodnight and leave the room. A few minutes later your child starts to call for you, saying she is thirsty. She has apparently forgotten that there is a bottle of water next to her.
You feel your body start to react to the stress. You really want to respond and just quickly go to her and remind her that there is a bottle of water next to her, but you told her you wouldn't come back.
Your brain thinks things like, "What's the big deal? It'll only take one minute. What if she's dying of thirst? I'm being really mean by not just telling her that. Also, it would be so quick to give her the water and if I don't respond, she could call to me for an hour."
Then your conscious brain says, "Wait, Abby and I practiced for this. She's not dying of thirst. She has water next to her and a truly thirsty person would remember that. She is seeking connection and testing a boundary. This is a normal thing for a child to do. It's my job to hold the boundary anyway, even when it feels mean. She needs me to stay strong, even when it feels terrible."
3. Step three: manage your emotional reaction. You label your response as a stress response, remind yourself that your child is not in physical nor emotional danger, and focus on straw breathing.
You lay your hands on your chest and tell yourself, "It makes so much sense that I am feeling stressed." You allow the stressful response without reacting and changing your behavior. You do not go to your child. Even as her calling gets more urgent. You feel compassion for her but you do not change your own behavior. You keep breathing. Eventually she falls asleep.
4. Reconnect. In the morning, when her OK to Wake Clock turns green, you greet your child affectionately. You talk about what happened the night before, with compassion, not as a way of teaching her to change her behavior, and not as a way to assuage your guilt. “You really wanted me to come last night. I guess you forgot that your water bottle was right next to you, you silly goose! Was that hard for you? Can I give you a cuddle now?”
5. Reinforce consistently. The next night, before lights out, you remind your child of the boundary. "Remember, after lights out, I won't come back. Is there anything you need before I leave?"
You don't make it a problem if your child tests the boundary even more vigorously than the first night. You know that this is actually a common reaction to a new boundary, even more testing. You have a plan in case your child leaves her room, another boundary, to return her to her room. You don't feel angry or resentful of your child testing the boundary. (At least, not consciously!) You keep on managing your emotional reaction without changing your behavior.
After a few nights of consistency, evenings have gotten noticeably easier. You realize that the nighttime calling -- which had been going on for months before our work together -- has mostly subsided. You no longer dread evenings.
You also realize that you had to pass through that “river of misery” in order to have your evenings back. You realize that you didn’t need your child to change, but you needed your own thoughts to change.
You see that it was only after your thoughts changed that your child’s behavior changed. Your child actually needed you to give yourself permission to hold a boundary in order for her sleep to improve.
Where do you have trouble holding boundaries with your children? What are you making that mean about them, or about you? Schedule a free sleep consultation or a free life coaching consultation -- depending on the type of boundary -- with me and let's help you shore up your resolve so you can have the peaceful parenting experience you dream of.
As a (former) NICU nurse and pediatric nurse practitioner, I'm pretty passionate about vaccines.
But in case you aren't as confident, here's the latest details on the safety of the COVID vaccine for pregnant and breastfeeding people from "your local epidemiologist Katelyn Jenner," a PhD, MPH, biostatistician, epidemiologist, and parent to two children.
If you want to read her article yourself, go for it.
And if you want the TLDR, it's this: The COVID vaccine is both safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding people, and evidence suggests that some protection crosses the placenta to the unborn child.
My slightly longer summary:
So if you were on the fence about getting (another) COVID vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding, Katelyn Jenner and I both recommend it. (I suggest you take her word much more seriously than mine. Though I am a pediatric nurse practitioner, I am not an epidemiologist nor specialist in COVID.)
Dr Becky, parenting coach, psychologist, and my latest obsession, tells us to embody authority with our children.
She quips, “We don’t tell our kids ‘if you run into the street, you won’t get dessert.’”
No. We have strict boundaries for our children’s safety, and not a lot of guilt about it. We understand that it’s for their own good.
So why, then, is it so hard for so many of us to have clear boundaries around other important things, like bedtime?
We don’t feel guilty for preventing our child from being hit by a car. Why do we feel guilty for making sure they get enough rest?
Well, the reason is that we have this mistaken belief that it’s our job in life to prevent our children from ever feeling pain. And while this is a very understandable goal, it’s also a totally unrealistic one. Humans experience all kinds of emotional pain. At every age. From screaming at the indignity of a diaper change to getting rejected by a college. Life hurts.
We can’t prevent our children from feeling pain, but what we can do is teach them that they can live through it, that they are capable, that we will love them through it all. Maintaining boundaries with loving firmness helps them learn this.
Also, and this is important, children tend to be anxious little people. They don’t quite understand how the world works. And being absolutely consistent in your boundaries with them actually makes them less anxious in the long run. They know that Mom or Dad or their Adult is always in charge, and that’s reassuring.
And of course, they are less anxious and more happy when their biological needs for food and sleep are being met.
One of the ways I help clients is by helping them set boundaries with their children. It’s really okay to skip bedtime stories if your child procrastinated too long over toothbrushing. Not as a punishment, but because bedtime is 7:30 and the clock says 7:30.
It’s really okay to not go back in the bedroom after lights out to give one more hug/kiss/sip of water/fix of the blanket. These are not biological needs. These are your child’s last ditch attempts to connect with you and while perfectly understandable, the time to connect has ended and now it’s time to sleep.
Children are never happy for us to set boundaries. It’s not our jobs, believe it or not, to make them happy. That is their responsibility. It’s our job to keep them fed and safe and warm and loved. Love does not mean being accessible 24 hours a day.
Our job as parents is to get comfortable with discomfort. To not need our kids to be okay with bedtime. To assert our authority and insist on bedtime anyway.
If you need help maintaining bedtime authority, you are not alone! Schedule a free consult and get your entire family sleeping beautifully in two weeks or less, guaranteed.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.