Lots of parents tell me that their children are remarkably happy, despite getting enough sleep.
The truth is, it can be hard to tell if your child is getting enough sleep. This is because obvious signs of fatigue (like yawning and eye rubbing) are much less common in overtired children.
Here are some less obvious signs that your child may not be getting enough sleep:
1. Does your child get hyperactive or manic, particularly in the late afternoon or early evening? Overtiredness can actually mimic the symptoms of ADHD. This is because overtired children usually don’t wind down, they wind up… think of the Energizer Bunny.
Babies may need ever more bouncing, swinging, rocking to stay calm. Older children may be bouncing off the walls.
2. Do you regularly need to wake your child for school or daycare? A well-rested child should wake on their own at the appropriate time.
3. Does your child sleep late on weekends? As delicious as it is for parents, sleeping late is a sign of chronic overtiredness.
4. Does your child fall asleep before a scheduled nap in the car or stroller? Or does your non-napping child take a nap at any time if in the car? A well-rested child shouldn’t doze off in the car unless it’s a car ride at a scheduled time.
5. Is your child clumsy, irritable, or easily frustrated? A “difficult” child may actually just be a tired child.
If your child is showing one or more of these symptoms, try moving bedtime a few minutes earlier each night. A good goal for most children under 6 years old is a bedtime between 6:30 and 7:30 pm.
PS If you would like help figuring out if your child is overtired, schedule a free consult and let’s discuss it. Prices from 2020 ($399 for a two-week package) will be honored until the end of January, 2021 -- just ask on the phone call.
Video: Erika's Story: As A Single Mom by Choice, I Was Working All Day and Up Most of the Night With My Daughter
Erika, single-mother-by-choice to Marlo, 15 months, was exhausted. As a single parent, she had no choice but to work full-time. And then she was up much of the night with little Marlo. She had tried everything.
Listen to her amazing results in this short video.
And if you are ready to transform your own family's sleep just as dramatically, schedule a free consult.
PS Prices just went up! But mention this blog post on your free consult before the end of January and pay 2020 prices ($399 for a two-week coaching package instead of $450).
What have you got to lose... besides those dark circles under your eyes?
It’s that time of year again. New Year’s resolutions have rolled around again.
With some embarrassment, I admit that I love New Year’s Resolutions.
Not because I don’t like myself but because with each new year, I feel like I have an opportunity to reinvent myself. I find it fun to think about what my best self would look like! And sometimes, my resolutions actually work! In 2002, I resolved to floss daily. And I actually did it. Although I have fallen off the wagon recently. One more thing to add to my 2021 resolutions, I suppose. Luckily, it’s a lot easier to resume new habits than start new ones.
This is good news for those of you who have slipped into some less-than-ideal sleep habits. Though I am proud and amazed to hear my former sleep clients have stuck to their amazing new habits and have children who are rested, happy and sleep-loving.
Gretchen Rubin, author of multiple New York Times bestselling books including The Happiness Project, offers five tips on how to keep your New Year’s Resolutions.
Here are her tips:
Here are my own goals for 2021. Telling others about our goals improves your odds of achieving them!
Telling others your goals will keep you motivated. So please comment and tell me yours!
And if your 2021 New Year’s Resolutions include better sleep so you can enjoy your family, sign up for a free consult and learn how easy it can be to achieve better sleep in two weeks or less, guaranteed.
Many of us spent the holidays with our family like this, on a screen.
But if you are considering traveling beyond the couch in the future, you may be worried about how it will affect your child's sleep.
One of my current client couples decided to cancel their holiday travel plans so that they could devote themselves fully to sleep training. While I applaud their committment, that is not always an option for all families.
If you are considering travel now or in the future, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. The "half-life" of vacation. My friend Jess coined this term, which means that however long you were on your trip, it will take roughly half that long to get back to normal with your child's schedule. So if you were gone for 10 days, expect it will be approximately 5 days until things are back to normal.
2. The closer you adhere to your normal routine while traveling, the faster things will go back to normal. Even with the "half-life of vacation" principle, there are many things you can do to hasten (or delay) the return to normal. If you have night weaned, try not to offer night feedings on your trip... while also recognizing that sometimes, you have to prioritize the needs of a houseful of family and friends over your own family's needs. If you've stopped bed-sharing, try not to resume if you have another option... and have compassion for yourself if there are no other options.
3. Maintain bedtime and naptime schedules whenever possible. If your child goes to bed late and wakes up early (as a result of that late bedtime) every day of your trip, everyone will suffer. Limit the exceptions for truly special evenings. Keep bedtime early and naps on schedule whenever possible. If you have to have one nap on the go, have the next one in a crib or bed.
4. Schedule travel around your child's naps and bedtimes if your child will sleep in motion. My older child would only scream in the car -- it was exhausting -- so I let her take her first nap at home before we left home, if it was a short drive, or else planned for a no-nap day and a very early bedtime. We also mostly avoided car trips and took planes or Amtrak when possible.
My younger child would take naps in the car if I played the "correct" soundtrack on repeat and prevented Big Sister from talking loudly. With two kids, especially a high-energy younger sibling, driving became a much more appealing option than flying or taking the train.
Every child is different. Some children will keep on sleeping if you transfer them from bed to car at 4 am. My children would never do that. But if yours do, go for it! That's a fantastic time to travel -- zero traffic.
5. Travel with children is a trip, not a vacation. You'll be doing all the same work of parenting, but in an unfamilar (to your child) setting. Which means more work for you. Bedtimes and meal times will surely be more challenging. That's not to say you shouldn't go, just that you should have realistic expectations about how much fun you can expect to have.
6. Keep some healthy food in the rotation. Extra treats are par for the course when it comes to vacation travel... but if your child eats nothing but processed carbohydrates, you can expect him to become constipated, and that will be misery for everyone.
7. Prioritize fresh air and exercise every day. Small children need outdoor time every single day. If you're stuck in an airport, walk around and let her look at "the sights" -- the airport is a fascinating place to little ones. Otherwise, bundle her up appropriately ("there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear") and get her outside. Ideally more than once per day. Fresh air helps with naps, with general crankiness, with separation anxiety, with bedtime, with picky eating... it's just a win all around. And it doesn't have to be you pushing the stroller -- your sister-in-law will probably be an acceptable substitute for your child.
Let's face it, travel with young children is never relaxing. And there will almost certainly be times when you choose it anyway. Trying to keep your child as well-rested and on schedule as possible will help your "re-entry" pain.
If you'd like help getting your family great sleep so you can truly enjoy your time together, whether at home or away, book a free consult. Find out how your family can get the sleep you deserve.
I’m a big fan of asking for help. I figure it’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to admit that we aren’t good at everything and need help. We all need help with something.
I hired a coach in December and it’s life-changing. She is working with me on multiple levels: parenting, anxiety, growing my business.
And she’s not just helping me grow as a person, as a mother, as an entrepreneur, she’s also helping me think consciously about what kind of growth I want to achieve. She’s taught me to recognize, and question, the unconscious thoughts I am thinking that are shaping my life in negative ways.
In my business self-coaching program, the coach suggests considering the cost of not coaching. If I didn’t get business coaching, how much income would I not earn as a result? If a client got relationship coaching, that could save her marriage. How much would that be worth to her? If you got weight loss coaching, you could prevent a future heart attack or diabetic amputation. How do you put a dollar value on adding healthy, productive years to your life?
And if you are a parent who is sleep-deprived and living with an overtired child, what is the cost to you of reducing your enjoyment of your parenting, your job, your spouse or friends? You work so hard to have this beautiful, perfect family and now you aren’t reaping all the benefits you deserve.
Have you considered the health impact of cortisol, the stress hormone your body produces when we are tired, on your body?
Cortisol leads to increased weight gain, depression, heart disease and other chronic diseases. I experienced weight loss, improved memory (I seriously used to wonder if I was experiencing early dementia because I forgot words so often), more energy, improved sleep, and better focus when I was able to decrease my own cortisol levels.
People hire personal trainers to make them show up to the gym and maximize their time there. Why not hire someone to strategize, reassure, and cheerlead you across the finish line to achieving great sleep and truly enjoying your family? Unlike a book or online course, a coach can help you troubleshoot the specific circumstances that arise each day with your unique child.
If you are ready to make 2021 the year you get your family well-rested, so that you can truly enjoy your time together, set up a free consult and find out more about the process. The hardest part is taking the first step.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and former NICU nurse. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.