Why You Need A Good Nights Sleep

Sleep deprivation seems to go hand in hand with becoming a mother. It seems that the day you welcome your beautiful bundle of joy, you also say goodbye to a full night of sleep.

Our sleep deprivation though, seems to follow us moms well beyond the newborn stage. We are vigilant about our children getting the sleep they need, but end up putting our own sleep needs on the back burner. We want to do it all. Not to say that we can’t, but we would be so much better with a solid night of sleep behind us.

Most of us know this. I know this and yet I am probably one of the worst offenders of staying up late to relax, organize, write and blog. It is so tempting. The house is quiet. I can actually hear myself think.

Well if you are anything like me, sometimes you just need a friendly little reminder to nudge you into action. It’s time to start making sleep a priority and here’s why.

What Sleep Deprivation Does to our Bodies

The immediate effects of sleep deprivation are daytime drowsiness, decreased concentration, mood swings and low patience. These things we know, we feel them the morning after a less than optimal night of rest.

  • Leaves us prone to Type 2 Diabetes and obesity: ongoing sleep deprivation can affect our metabolism and not in a good way.
  • Can make us depressed. The link between depression and sleep deprivation are intertwined and can create a vicious cycle.
  • Decreases our immune function and leaves us prone to illnesses.
  • Decreases our life span.
  • Makes us look older: a recent study revealed that getting our beauty sleep is no myth. Apparently, our lack of sleep shows up on our faces and makes us less attractive.

Well those are just a few untoward effects of sleep deprivation, and I think they are reason enough to hit the sack early, don’t you?

Need help falling asleep? Here are some sleep hygiene tips:

Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Finding your own magic number is key and should be based on how you feel the next morning. I think 7 hours is ideal for me but I rarely clock that in. I hope to change that.

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. I know, I know, this is much easier said than done.
  • Make your bedroom a place of calm and keep it clutter free.
  • Get daily physical exercise, but not too close to bed time.
  • Avoid large meals too close to bed time.
  • Avoid alcohol, smoke, and caffeine before bed. These have been shown to interrupt your sleep cycle.

Here’s hoping we all get our beauty sleep tonight. Sweet Dreams.

Do you get the sleep you need? If not, are you going to make a change?

Motherhood Is Easy

We’ve discussed the Fake Mommies and we’ve talked about the SAHM debate. It seems that many of you, no matter what path your own journey of motherhood takes, understand that being a mother is hard, often filled with guilt and the sense that there just isn’t enough time.

Rebekah Hunter Scott’s book, Motherhood is Easy…as long as you have nothing else to do for the next 50 years… is a humorous and refreshing take on just that.

Sometimes, in the face of the Mommy guilt, the sense of time slipping away and all-too-common feelings of inadequacy that can surface, it really helps to sit back and laugh. Scott’s book had me laughing from the introduction, and the laughs didn’t stop there; I devoured this book like it was a box of chocolates, frequently putting it down only to laugh so hard I scared a cat out of my lap.

Motherhood is Easy… has Scott taking lighthearted look at motherhood, from the early days of sleep deprivation, to learning that sometimes, “Because I said so”, is an adequate answer to your questioning toddler.

Included is actually some pretty good advice as well. Avoiding the mommy haircut, for example, may just save some new moms from taking the scissors to their own heads. Add in a so-true-you-have-to-laugh description of Super Daddy arriving home at the end of the day, and nearly every mom will find something to relate to in here.

While most veteran mothers will find something to relate to and laugh at, the people who should read this book are those new and expecting moms who need to learn that it’s OK to have those thoughts, and even more importantly, it’s OK to laugh at them.

So get yourself a glass of wine (white so you don’t stain the carpet when you slosh it over the side of glass laughing) and crack open Rebekah Hunter Scott’s Motherhood is Easy…as long as you have nothing else to do for the next 50 years… and find yourself looking at your own parenthood journey in a new, and better, light.

On Having A Techie Toddler

My toddler loves technology. I know conventional wisdom says that we must keep our children away from too much television and computer time, but I beg to differ.  My SmartPhone is my toddler’s favorite toy.  Talking on Skype keeps him in touch with both sets of grandparents, who happen to live in opposite corners of the globe.  (Literally.  They live 12 time zones apart.) We love watching Curious George on PBS during breakfast. Oh, and I just bought my little one an $8 Buzz Lightyear “laptop,” which he absolutely adores.  (Did I mention this new MacBook look-alike buys me 5 minutes to answer my email? It’s glorious.)

I do understand that little ones shouldn’t be glued to the TV or to video games. In fact, I only let Paolo watch a few select programs on PBS during the week and Baby Einstein videos. (Currently we have been watching the farm video in Spanish; Paolo loves the cow sock puppet.  He thinks it’s absolutely hilarious.) Other than that, he’s not really allowed to watch anything else on television, and at 15 months he is clearly too little for video games. (I’ll have to tackle that when the time comes.)

At the same time, in this day and age, technology is a part of our lives, and teaching moderation is an important lesson.  Without Skype, Paolo would barely know his grandparents. With one set in southern Italy, the other in Hawaii and us in the Midwest, video chat has been an absolute lifesaver.  Not only does he know his relatives’ names, faces and voices, his Italian language skills are reinforced by chatting with his nonni in Italy.

I’ve read some articles condemning parents for letting their children play on their SmartPhones, saying the screens are the same as watching TV. But Paolo loves to play with mine; he pretends to make phone calls and babbles away into the receiver. He laughs and laughs, and make-believes that it’s for me, passing the phone my way to play along with him. And it keeps him happy and busy during errands or in the car. As a mom, what more could I ask for from a SmartPhone?

When it comes to toddlers and technology, I say moderation is key.

Don’t Touch Poop!

My wildebeest of a two year old just clomped up to me wearing a pair of my boots and offered me an invisible “nack” out of the palm of her hand. Swoon. Part of what makes children such spectacular little creatures is the way in which they, as of yet not tampered with, are so perfectly themselves. She is a manic and unpredictable wildebeest of a child and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But midway through applauding her animalism I caught a whiff of something unsavory. As she reached her hand into my mouth to delivery an imaginary cracker I realized what it was: her hands.

“Don’t touch poop,” has become something of a cause célèbre in my home. She loves the slogan, but seems to think it means, “Yes, please do touch your poop. Touch it in your diaper. Pull it out, put it on the floor and maybe try your hand at sculpture.” I say it over and over again while waving my hands parallel to the floor in the international sign for “DO NOT DO.” I say it while wagging my finger. I shriek in horror. I wretch. And still, even with all these cues, she touches her poop while chanting proudly, “Don’t touch poop! Don’t touch poop!”

I put her down for naps in onesies under overalls under winter coats. I put her on the potty and cheerily goad, “This is where you poop. Poop goes here.” On the occasion that a poop happens to make it into the potty I peel out the praise. “Hooray! Poop on the potty! Poop on the potty!” Silly me. Now she pulls the poop out of her diaper, carries it in her own grubby hand to the potty, drops it in and then gives herself an unselfconscious round of applause, saying, as if the words had no meaning, “Don’t touch poop. Poop on the potty. Yay!”

Of course I prefer her potty hand deliveries to her sculptures, but really, what kind of choice is that? And yes, I know that a preoccupation with bodily functions is par for the course with a toddler and her behavior, no matter how maddening, is normal. Plenty of parents before me have dealt with fecal fascination and, with apologies to the expectant and those contemplating offspring, plenty more parents will deal with this in the future. But that doesn’t make it any less a Freudian nightmare for me, her mother.

If anyone has a solution for the daily poop-tastrophes in my home, I’m all ears, but I have a feeling this is just one of those things I have to wait out. If it were at all practical she would spend her entire life in a sleeper put on backwards, but 1) that would make diaper changes impossibly time consuming and 2) I’m trying, even if ineffectually, to minimize the psychological damage on my poor child. She is, after all, just being herself and that self is really, really, really into poop.

JJ Keith is a stay-at-home parent to a prodigiously mischievous toddler daughter and a relatively subdued infant son. She sometimes works as a college writing instructor and periodically takes freelance writing jobs, but she spends most of her time trying to find a balance between respecting her childrens’ budding independence and enforcing the “no eating dog food” rule.