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Happy Family Habit #7: Making a commitment to getting good sleep.  Part of a great series on small habits families can tackle 21 days at a time to be happier together.

Happy Family Habit #7: Get the Best Rest Every Night

Is it just me or do the 3 weeks between our Happy Family Habits, fly by?  Really, what?!, I’m still working on teaching my kids something cool

Today Kristin’s exploring a habit, good sleep, that I feel is VITAL to good parenting.  It’s so easy to put caring yourself on the bottom of the list but we all know that well-rested parents are more patient and more fun parents.  So make the commitment today, we’ll help with our tips.

And speaking of good parenting, today’s my mom’s birthday! (See how I did that?)  Happy birthday mom!  Thanks for all the happy memories you’ve given to me over the years.

Something as simple as sleep can make or break a day.  Get an adequate night of sleep and we wake up feeling energized and ready to seize the day.  We have patience with our kids and our mood is high.  On the other hand, getting too few hours of zzzz’s makes problems seem insurmountable and it’s easy to snap in a tense situation.

As school is starting, this is the perfect time to think about our sleep habits as moms.  Creating healthy habits in this area makes sure we are at our best.  When we take care of ourselves first, we have the energy to take care of the kids (and husbands for that matter!).  It’s a simple thing to overlook, but I want to challenge us to take a look at our current routines and see what we can do to get a better night’s rest.

Let’s talk about bedtime first.  Sometimes we can hit a wall at 4:00 and feel like we’d be ready for bed by 6:00, but along comes that second wind and we can’t pull ourselves away from the TV at 11:00 to brush our teeth and climb into bed.

Create a consistent bedtime

If you go to bed at the same time every night, your body will get into the habit of falling asleep faster and you’ll end up with more rest.  It’s hard to do this at first, but if you set the time (say 10:00) in your calendar or on your phone, you can start prepping for bed about an hour before.

Make sure the school lunches are made and backpacks are packed.  Any tasks that would come up right before you shut your eyes, should be taken care of well in advance.  I also like to think about the next day before I go to bed.  I make lists of anything that I need to take care of or don’t want to forget.  That way I’m not waking up in the middle of the night thinking about my to-do list.

Create cues for your body that it’s time to sleep  

This can be as simple as brushing your teeth and washing your face a half hour before bed.  If you get into the routine of doing something the same way at the same time, your body will listen and be ready for rest.  ‘Winding down’ activities are also cues.  Reading or even just listening to music can take us from full-throttle mom responsibilities to a level of rest.

Consider where you sleep 

If we take a look around our bedroom and see a mess, it’s hard to think about it being a peaceful place of rest.  Try to remove the piles of laundry and stacks of paperwork before bedtime comes around.  If there’s any place in your house you want to invest a little money into it’s your bedroom.  Recently, we added a wood plank wall behind our bed and some sconce lighting with dimmers. I look forward to getting into bed every night.  It’s a little oasis from my busy life!

Wake up at the same time every morning  

This is the same as bedtime.  If you create the cues, your body will get into the routine of rest and waking.  Sleeping with the shades open helps to wake with the morning light.  Light is a cue to your body that it’s time to wake up.  If you live in a place where the sun rises earlier or later than when you need to wake, an alarm will do the trick.

I like to pick a softer sound on my alarm so I’m gently woken instead of jarred awake.  It’s just a little cue for my body to start waking. When we decide what time we rise, it creates that tiny bit of quiet margin before the day starts for the rest of the family.  Once you’re up, you don’t have to run to the coffee maker!  Try some light stretching as another cue for your body that it’s time to start the day.  And once you’re up, lighting a candle, reading or doing an early morning work-out are all ways to squeeze in a little extra time for yourself.

Maybe you’re already well-rested and have plenty of energy, but if you’re lacking in either try adjusting your sleep habits.  Here’s to starting this school year well-rested!  And if you have any tips for getting the best rest every night, please share them in the comments!

QUESTION OF THE DAY

How do you try to ensure good sleep for you and for the kiddos?

 

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Kristin is a former teacher turned children’s photographer in southern California. Visit her website to read all about her adventures in photography, cooking, and her love of style.

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