Tag Archives: health

Bridge over troubled water weight

Here comes the bride
17 pounds ago

Roughly 9 months ago, I was wearing a white wedding dress, and was the smallest size I had ever been in my adult life. I had worked hard to get there, eating healthy foods with no cheating whatsoever, and exercising daily. I was motivated to look my best on my wedding day. Once I set my mind to it, my willpower became unbreakable. I was so successful, in fact, that my wedding dress was a little too big on my wedding day.

I had spent so many months being “good”, that when the honeymoon came, I allowed myself a week of indulgences. “I’m married now,” I joked to my husband. “I can now be fat and happy.” I enjoyed high calorie alcoholic beverages, lots of rice and beans (we were in Costa Rica, after all), BREAD, desserts…pretty much anything I wanted. I figured I was allowed to enjoy myself, that I had earned this after so many months of discipline, and that once I got back home I could get back on the wagon.

17 pounds later...and NOT pregnant
17 pounds later…barefoot and NOT pregnant

I gained 7 pounds on that honeymoon, weight I figured could be chalked up to food weight and lost easily. But I never did lose it. In fact, I ended up gaining 10 more pounds. And here I am, stuck at 17 pounds heavier and NOTHING I do can make it drop lower than that.

I’ve been eating healthy, watching everything I eat and packing my lunch daily. I am exercising, though I just can’t get myself to work out with the intensity I had before. Perhaps it’s because I just don’t have that one thing that motivates me. There’s no wedding dress to fit into, no hundred or so people to stand in front of, no photos to look my best for.

And yet, I am in a slump because I am keeping myself from eating foods just like everyone else, and I might as well be eating cupcakes and hamburgers and ice cream because the scale is not moving and my stomach is starting to look like there’s a bun in the oven.

I’ve done it before. I’ve done it several times before. So why is it so hard to lose weight now? Is 35 that age when the weight comes on….and just stays there?

P.S. Speaking of NOT being pregnant, somehow my name got on a baby mailing list. It might be because I got married last year, who knows. But I have been getting free samples of formula, free diapers, ads for baby life insurance, etc. It’s quite humorous to see my almost 50 year old husband have a near heart attack whenever these mailers arrive at the house. Perhaps it will encourage a little snip-snip, if you know what I mean… Until then, I like to tease him that we can always have another baby so he can watch his kid graduate high school when he’s 70. He’s getting closer to making that call. 😉

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Himalayan Salt Sole

So remember when I went in for a massage a few weeks back, and came out with a recipe for Himalayan Salt Sole?  Well, I’m on the third or fourth week of drinking a bit every day, and let me tell you, this is a magical elixir.

First off, let me give you a recap of what Himalayan Salt Sole (or salt brine, as it’s also called) is.

Note: I’m not an expert on this, but I play one in my blog.  I have received most of my information from several different websites, particularly this one, and from personal experience.

To make the sole (pronounced so-lay), you take a jar of water and add 3-4 Himalayan Salt Crystals to the bottom and let it sit overnight.  If there are still crystals the next day, it’s ready.  It means that the water has become so saturated with salt, the crystals are unable to dissolve any further – there just isn’t enough room in the water.  However, if the crystals are all dissolved, add another crystal or two and wait till the next day.

In a Cliff Notes version of what Sole is, it’s basically liquid sunlight, or as we know it, a pure form of electrolytes.  Consuming the sole creates energetic vibrations throughout the body that last a full 24 hours.  A more detailed (and slightly new-agey) description can be found here.

More than drinking sole, you can breathe it in through steam, bathe in it, rinse your eyes, and many other uses for it.  But I had very specific reasons for needing to drink the sole.  I suffer from what doctors like to blanket as IBS.  Basically, the #2 function just doesn’t work like it should.  But when it does, hooboy.  I can go 3-4 days without a movement, and then I’ll be praying to God from the porcelain throne until the pain has subsided and my insides are turned inside-out.

I’d say more, but I wouldn’t want to give you TMI.

Basically, I just needed to be regular in all senses of the word.  And I preferred to do it naturally.

Next, I was constantly dehydrated.  I tried to drink enough water, and I know I failed.  But still, water seemed to just go through me without actually curing my thirst.

Salt Sole

I began taking one teaspoon of sole in a glass of water every single morning before I even had my first sip of coffee.  And then I waited 30 minutes till eating anything.  The first day, it took only 45 minutes before my stomach started gurgling and I was running to the bathroom.  Worse, I was at work.  Worse still, this went on for multiple episodes for a full hour or so as I ran back and forth.  And it felt horrible!

However, I was determined to give this a fair shot.  So the next day, I timidly did it again.  My stomach rumbled at me a little, but everything managed to remain calm.  But on the third day, pain and misery again.

But that was the last of it.

Ever since then, things have slowly been returning to normal.  The past week I have been regular almost every day of the week.  And I have not suffered a painful episode since.

And there’s more.

Call me crazy, but I actually feel this burst of energy radiating from the middle of my chest about an hour or two after I drink the sole.  It gives me this feeling of being light and happy, and just having the stamina to move around when I had lacked energy before.  It’s not as prominent now that I’ve been drinking the sole daily for weeks now, and I suspect that’s because I’m used to it.  But I do notice I’m run down in the morning when the sole has worn off, and liven up not long after I drink the sole.

Second, I am definitely more hydrated.  I am now encouraging this hydration by making sure I drink at least 4 glasses of water along with the sole a day.  Slowly I’ll build up to 8.

Third, I have noticed I have less desire to cheat with food.  Sure, the impulse is still there.  But it’s easier to fight through it.  I think it’s because I’m more hydrated.  I’ve heard that many times when you want to snack compulsively, your body is really crying out for water.  All I know is that it’s been a week since Easter, I can legally eat chocolate, and I don’t feel that major calling to indulge.  This goes for all unclean foods, and I’m not as hungry as I used to be.

At any rate, I’m totally a believer in this solution.  I’ve even been using the sole in my nasal rinses, and it works just as well as the packets of salt I usually use.

Final tips: 

– I noticed that the sole was hard to drink on an empty stomach when I added it to cold water.  I began adding it to warm water, and can drink it easily.

– Metal should NEVER touch the sole solution.  That means metal spoons, and metal lids.  Use a plastic cap or cork on the jar, or go like me and put saran wrap in between the cap and the jar.  The reason is that for some reason, the sole reacts negatively to metal and will not be as effective.

– Table salt, Sea Salt, or other kinds of salt will not create the same benefits of Himalayan Salt Crystals.

– It’s recommended you give up coffee since it works against the health benefits for your intestines.  At the very least, try to drink coffee closer to the afternoon to give the sole a chance to work its magic.

– Read up more on Salt Sole at himalayancrystalsalt.com or through books like Water & Salt, and always consult your doctor.

Brew your own Kombucha

I hopped on the kombucha boat a little late in the game in an effort to combat the cold season blues that were sapping me of all my energy. I’d heard about the pro-biotic and energy-inducing quality of kombucha, and was totally intrigued. However, fermented tea hardly sounded delicious. I’m not exaggerating when I say I had to find courage to purchase a bottle of it at Whole Foods and take my first sip.

I’m also not exaggerating when I say it had me at hello.

The stuff was delicious, and I was instantly hooked. I read somewhere that those seeking the health benefits of kombucha should drink it every day. But after my 4th day and $12 later, I realized this was hardly healthful to my bank account. So I began reading up on ways to make my own tea.

We pause here for a little Kombucha terminology lesson…

Kombucha: Sweetened tea that has been fermented by a scoby
Scoby: A mushroom-like rubbery substance of bacteria and yeast that floats on top and ferments the tea.
Mother: The part of the scoby that is actually fermenting the tea, located at the bottom of the scoby.
Baby: Layers of scoby that grow on top of the mother scoby that can be separated between brewing cycles.

There are several ways you can go when embarking on the Kombucha adventure.

– You can buy a kit that includes a Kombucha scoby. These are found on various sites and generally include a scoby, organic sugar, organic tea, and a jar for anywhere from $20-$50.
– You can beg a friend to let you have one of the baby scobies and some residual kombucha to help boost it along.
– You can create your own scoby using one of those $3 kombucha drinks, just like the blogger at PaprikaHead.com shared in a blog entry (and who was responsible for starting my own brewing adventure).

Assuming you have a healthy scoby on hand from any one of these measures, brewing kombucha is actually incredibly easy to do:

A. Starting out, place your scoby and at least 1 cup kombucha in a large jar (I use a drink dispenser that I found at Cost Plus for only $15).

B. Heat 12 cups of water to boiling. Once it’s boiling, add 1 cup of sugar and let boil for 5 minutes more until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add 4 organic black tea bags. Let cool completely to room temperature. Add to the scoby in the large jar and then cover with a piece of cloth or paper towel, secured by a rubberband. This allows the drink to breathe while keeping out potential fruit flies. Place in a cool, dark area and forget about it for 7 days (I keep mine on top of the refrigerator).

Bottling kombucha with swingtop caps gives a safe, airtight seal

C. After 7 days, taste-test a small portion. It should have a slightly sour taste with a bit of effervescence. If it still tastes sweet and flat, let it sit for another day. Repeat every day until it’s achieved the desired fermented state. Bottle the kombucha by placing it in separate airtight bottles (I found some beautiful blue bottles with swing top caps at The Beverage People at 840 Piner Rd #14, Santa Rosa), or in a large airtight container. Notice the theme: airtight. This allows bubbles to build up in the tea. Once bottled, you can start the brewing process all over again, adding a cup of reserved kombucha from this batch and repeating the directions to create the sweetened tea for brewing.

Now for the things everyone should know about brewing kombucha:

1. Cold stops the fermenting process, heat activates it. If your kombucha is at the desired taste and effervescence, store it in the refrigerator. If you wish it to become more bubbly or sour a bit more, keep it out. I will usually keep the brewed kombucha out of the fridge for a day or two so it can become more bubbly, and then store it in the fridge to ensure it remains sweet.

2. Allow your brewed kombucha to breathe. Kombucha builds up a lot of pressure in airtight bottles, making them naturally bubbly. It can also create so much pressure that the top of the bottle will fly off and cause serious damage. If you are storing kombucha outside of the refrigerator, open the top every couple of days to relieve the mounting pressure.

3. Teas you should use: Organic teas are actually best for the process as there is nothing in there that can harm the scoby. Teas should be free of oils, so Earl Grey tea is out. And the teas need to have caffeine to properly feed the scoby. The best teas to use are black or green teas. Black tea creates a stronger tea, green tea creates a milder tea with more bubbles. I’ve heard of many combining the two types of tea bags to create a strong and bubbly tea.

4. Drink water! I learned the hard way how dehydrating kombucha can be. Actually, it’s the tea that saps the system of water. So make sure you are getting in plenty of water when drinking kombucha to avoid any signs of dehydration.

5. Start out slow. Because of the pro-biotic qualities of kombucha, it can cause…bathroom issues. Let’s just say that it sweeps out all the toxins in your body very effectively. So start with a small glass of kombucha every day and increase it as your body gets used to it.

6. Be kind to your mother. I’m not joking about this. Weeks into brewing some very successful kombucha tea, a friend of mine came to my house and spied the jar of fermenting tea on my refrigerator. She then proceeded to make fun of the mother scoby mercilessly, slamming the way she looked and how the tea probably tasted. Days later when it was ready to brew, the tea tasted so much like vinegar I had to throw it out. I gave my mother extra love the next brewing session, and in return, my happy mother gave me the best tasting kombucha yet.

7. Only brew kombucha in glass. Metal and plastic don’t react well with the fermenting properties of kombucha, and ceramic with lead can seep into the liquid. Under the same token, do not let metal touch your scoby at all – including metal spoons. If you must use a utensil, I suggest using a wooden spoon.

8. Keep things clean! If you’re going to handle the scoby in between brewing, make sure your hands are clean. Better than using soap, use apple cider vinegar to rid your hands of dirt and oils to make them safe enough to come into contact with the scoby. And when you are done handling the scoby, wash your hands again. Make sure all your brewing equipment is sanitary to ensure your scoby doesn’t grow mold. If any mold starts forming on your scoby at all, you must throw out the whole batch and scoby and start all over again.

9. Flavoring your kombucha. I prefer just plain kombucha, but some people like to add different fruits and juices to their tea. All flavoring should be added after the drink has been bottled and not to the fermenting kombucha with the scoby. Different flavors can widely vary and depends on your taste. My personal favorite is to add a few pieces of mango and some grated ginger to the bottle. Another favorite is a little pineapple juice, coconut water, and coconut extract to create a piña colada kombucha. Experiment with different juices and fruits to create a taste you’ll love.

Scoby babies won’t bite, but they do love to be shared.

10. Share the wealth. Every cycle of brewing will create a new baby scoby on top of the mother. Left untouched, the layers quickly add up. But these layers are actually baby scobies that can be passed on to others who wish to start brewing their own kombucha. Separate the layers (don’t be afraid, the scoby won’t bite), add it to a cup or two of reserved kombucha, and pass it on.

Share your kombucha adventures and wisdom in the comments.

A personal battle with child obesity

One of the lowest points of this past year was when a reader left a comment on my blog, remarking that the Taz had gained a considerable amount of weight. I deleted it as soon as I read it, afraid that he might see it. And then I hemmed and hawed over that comment, whether I should have left it or was right to leave it off.

In the end, it remains deleted, even as I print the words on this blog post.

I mention that deleted comment because weight is a very huge part in our resolutions this year. The Taz is overweight. He knows it. I know it. And it’s been known for a while. It’s something we’ve struggled with all year long. Last January, I mentioned the weight problem and our goals to tackle it. I received a lot of support from other people struggling with weight issues of their own – either with their kid or with themselves. And it really helped to motivate us in our health journey.

But somewhere along the way, we lost track.

Maybe it was busyness, or maybe laziness (or maybe a combination of the two), but I stopped paying close enough attention to what the Taz was eating and how much screen time and play time he was getting. I allowed him to make his own lunches, trusting him to make the right choices in what he was eating. But at 10 years old, willpower can be a very nonexistent thing. A corn muffin and chips sound like a way better lunch than a turkey sandwich and an apple, right? He hadn’t developed healthy habits that were strong enough to be able to make good choices. And yet I was putting the power in his hands.

We were both bound to fail.

What the Taz really needed from me was to take control of the battle for his health. With the New Year fast approaching, I knew I needed a game plan. I was afraid for the Taz’ health, and afraid that he’d be destined towards a life of obesity. Thing is, I didn’t really know where to start. And that’s when I came across the book, Healthy Choices, Healthy Children, by Lori S. Brizee, MS, RD, CSP (a registered dietitian and certified specialist in pediatric nutrition) and Sue Schumann Warner (an award winning journalist and author).

Now don’t get me wrong, I was mailed this book with the hopes that I would do a review on it. And being that faithful book reviewer that I am, I put it aside and almost forgot about it. But in a moment when I was going over a meal plan for the first week of January, I suddenly remembered this book and pulled it out to start reading. What I found were chapters that gave step-by-step instructions on how to turn around bad habits and change them for healthier ones.

The first thing the authors are clear on is having respect for the body. The book comes from a spiritual point of view, but the message is relevant whether the reader is religious or not. We should treat our bodies more kindly, respecting them with healthier food and keeping them active so they can continue to do us good. The authors go on to encourage parents to involve their kids in the shopping and cooking process, teaching them the “hows” of eating. And at the end of each chapter, an action is listed for the week to help continue down a path of healthy decisions.

What I love most about this book is the fact that it is step-by-step instead of all-or-nothing. Each chapter is another rung up the ladder towards instilling good habits in eating and exercise. The guidelines offers small changes that can be made each week – making it the ideal model for busy parents (like me!) to help our families be successful in establishing healthy choices. Real recipes are offered in the book (I’ve actually included a couple on my meal plan for the week), and there are different ideas listed to encourage activities for the whole family. There’s even a chapter on helping picky children (like my veggie-averted son) to eat well.

I’ve found this book to be incredibly useful to help me get the Taz back on a healthier track, and to give me the tools to know how to do it. If you’re interested in checking out the book, Lori S. Brizee will be at the Petaluma Copperfields (140 Kentucky St) on January 28th at 7pm to promote her book, “Healthy Choices, Healthy Children”. I hope you can make it to hear her speak and pick up her book for your own family.

For more info or to purchase this book ($13), visit paracletepress.com.

Greek yogurt and arguing with my brain

I have taken to eating plain Greek yogurt. Not raspberry yogurt. Not even yogurt with a little honey in it. Definitely no granola or even sweetener. Just plain, boring, drab Greek yogurt. Why am I torturing myself like this? Well, bikini season is right around the corner, I bought a really cute one this year, and dang it, I’m going to wear it!

Truth is, the plain yogurt isn’t that bad. The first day I was like, “You’ve gotta be kidding me.” I folded and added a small tiny drop (read: 4 whopping Tablespoons) of honey to my 90 calorie yogurt. But after that, I forced myself to just eat it plain. I’m on day 3 of project plain yogurt, and I’m starting to get used to it.

Of course, plain yogurt isn’t my only line of defense against the fat cells that are lining up, ready to jump on my thighs as soon as I even glance at a pat of butter. I am eating 5 small meals a day, all roughly the same amount of small calories. I am ensuring that my last meal is by 6pm at night and fairly light. And I am drinking water. Lots of water. I’m pretty certain that I am starting to grow gills, I’m drinking so much water. And now I am adding in the dreaded E word. That’s right, Eggnog. Wait, that’s not it. I’m EXERCISING.

I hate exercising. I can eat healthy to my heart’s content (except for when ice cream’s around, or when I succumb to this fabulous cupcake phenomenon that’s going on). But exercise? My body and brain start arguing with each other, and it goes something like this:

Brain: Hey, look! Sunshine! Let’s go outside and run a couple laps!

Body: Are you flipping joking? I’m enjoying this nice comfy couch right now.

Brain: I don’t think your butt can get any wider. Let’s get a move on before it molds itself to the couch.

Body: No. I might sweat. Or get one of those side cramp thingies.

Brain: We can go slowly at first. But if you want to tone those thighs, you need to start walking, running, ANYTHING besides just sitting there on your couch.

Body: Look, I’m wiggling my toes. I’m fairly certain that the muscles in my toes are moving the muscles in my feet, which are in turn stretching the muscles in my legs that are toning the muscles in my thighs. So you see? I can totally tone up AND sit on this couch.

Brain: You have a good point there. Anything good on TV?

Unfortunately, my body is pretty convincing, and my brain is kind of a pushover. But I have managed to convince myself that diet alone is not going to cut it. Just months ago I was on the Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred kick. And I have to say, before I totally threw out my shoulder with the dumbbell lunges, it was definitely working – and quickly! I couldn’t move my upper body after 2 weeks, and kept reinjuring my shoulder whenever I resumed the exercises. But my abs and arms were tight! Unfortunately, I also like to be able to walk without hunching over. So Jillian Michaels and her cronies with the scary looking 14 pack abs have gone to the back of the DVD pile, ready to play again when I have forgotten the torture she inflicted on me. In the meantime, I have settled on some simple ab crunchies while I am reading in bed, and making sure to stretch and do lunges at least once a day. Eventually, I will venture out of my cave and get to walking…maybe even being brave enough to attempt a light jog (don’t hold your breath on that one).  And of course, I’ll continue eating my scrumptious plain Greek yogurt.

What is your fitness and diet routine for keeping healthy?

Creating Good Family Habits

As a parent, I am very concerned with making sure that our home is based on the well-being of our family. I strive to make sure that we all eat the right foods and limit the foods that don’t promote good health. I have kept cable television out of my house so that we aren’t stuck in front of the TV in the evening for hours on end. I have a strict 9 o’clock bedtime for the two of them so that they get a proper 10 hours of sleep a night. But sometimes, even with my best intentions, life gets in the way of keeping to the simple guidelines I have laid out. Bedtime gets later and later as we juggle sports, dinner, and homework. A guilty trip every now and then to Taco Bell is made to save me the trouble of deciding what meat to thaw out at the last moment – again. Video games are played longer than the allotted time allowed, something just as bad as watching TV for hours on end. We all do it. I’m sure that many families can relate to all of this. And sometimes amendments to the rules of the house need to be flexible to fit in with the ever-changing needs of daily life. But when the amendments seem to be the rule instead of the exception, it’s time to get back on track. With a few simple changes, your family can establish habits that are important to maintain balance in the home.

Making Quality Time
Turn off your phone, shut down your computer, and switch off the TV. With the distractions that plague all of us in our day to day lives, human interaction is something that often gets put on the back burner. Look back at this last week and think about the time you have spent with each of your children that could be considered a good amount of time that was spent solely in interaction with them. If you are struggling to recollect when that time was, know that you are not alone. Even if you are a parent that stays home during the day with the kids, it is easy to neglect enjoying one-on-one time with your child every single day. If you have to, take out your calendar and schedule playtime with your child. Become acquainted with their favorite game to play, knowing that their “favorite” changes moment to moment. Turn the radio off in the car and use it as time to share and bond with your children. Read to them before bedtime – even preteens can benefit from a story that the two of you share in those few minutes before the lights go out. If you have more than one child, make it a point to give each one at least 15 minutes of your devoted attention every day. Quality time strengthens the relationship between parents and children, and will help a child to grow up feeling loved and able to make better choices in life.

Sharing Regular Family Meals
In a busy household, dinner might be grabbed on the go, eaten in front of the TV, or gobbled at the counter or in separate rooms. But there is something magical about the time that is spent as a family sitting around a table, enjoying a meal together. Family mealtime is the perfect opportunity to go over each person’s day and to share what’s going on in each person’s life. It’s a good time to help children develop eating manners and know how to use their utensils properly. One thing our family occasionally does is schedule a “candle-lit dinner”. We set the table to the nines, prepare something special, and eat over candlelight, drinking sparkling cider from wine glasses. To them, it is a special occasion they look forward to always. But to me, it is a chance to teach them lessons on how to properly eat with a napkin placed in the lap, holding their fork properly, and eating in small bites with manners. Maybe a home-cooked meal every night isn’t exactly in the cards. Shortcuts can be arranged by freezing food for a future date so that more time can be spent at the table before everyone goes in their separate directions. And don’t underestimate the power of the slow cooker! Throw in the ingredients in the morning, and by the evening your house will smell heavenly and dinner is ready in a snap. Is your toddler pushing aside the green beans you fixed for her? Don’t let a power struggle get in the way of your family mealtime. As long as your child is eating enough throughout the day, skipping dinner due to pickiness won’t cause her to starve. Sometimes, however, dinner just isn’t a feasible time to get the whole family together at once. That’s ok. Breakfasts are also a great time to strengthen the family bond. And remember, it isn’t a perfect process. If your family is done eating by the time you have served everyone their food, chopped up the meat into bite-size pieces, and are finally sitting down to eat, that’s ok. You are establishing a family habit that will benefit everyone for years to come. Studies show that kids who grow up in a home where the family meal is regularly celebrated are less likely to smoke, abuse alcohol and drugs, suffer from depression, make better choices in their love lives, and are healthier in general. Keep that in mind as you reheat your plate while the dishes are being cleared.

Getting the Kids to Clean Up
Once again the kids have gone to bed and you are left staring at what was once your living room and is now a consideration for the town’s next landfill. Evening time that could have been spent preparing for tomorrow and unwinding from the day’s activities is now being spent tackling a mountain of toys and books and little lethal weapons underfoot, otherwise known as Legos. Or worse, the mess is left unattended to and only grows bigger and bigger, your sanity and peace of mind shrinking with the growth. A simple solution? Get the kids to clean. I know what you’re thinking. Simple? Ha! But if done right, it really can be simple. When kids are young, life is a game. So use that knowledge to your advantage and make cleaning one of their favorite games as well. A simple game of “Mother, May I?” can get the room spic and span in no time. For example, you assign your son to pick up five toys. He asks “Mother, may I pick up five toys?” And you say yes. If he forgets to say “Mother, May I?”, he must pick up five more toys. Let each child take turns being Mother (or Father for the boys). The same game can be played with Simon Says. Another game is setting a timer and racing around the room to pick up the most toys possible. When the timer goes off everyone freezes. If everything’s done, a special treat can be rewarded. If not, the timer can be set again. For the toddler, games with numbers can be played to enhance counting skills. Have your child pick up three items. Then six. Then two. Sure, making games out of cleaning might take more time. But by making it fun for kids to help, it becomes less like a chore and more like a really fun game they played with you. Most importantly, don’t forget the praise. Even if the room isn’t perfect, efforts should always be applauded. Being complimented on their help in the housework will give a child much more incentive to pitch in, while criticism will only promote resistance in future clean-up times.

Keeping to a Bedtime
Kids need the proper amount of sleep. And kids thrive on routine. Knowing what happens next without any guesswork helps kids to remain calmer. And it is critical to make bedtime an important part of that predictable schedule. But many toddlers still learning how to soothe themselves to sleep fight this daily ritual. When my son was young, he used to get up after bed numerous times because he needed a drink of water, or a snack, or wanted to see what his dad and I were watching on TV. Occasionally I would let him stay up with us, and his 8 o’clock bedtime turned into something much later. It is tempting to let a child stay up late to enjoy a few more snuggles, or to escape the bedtime conflict. But don’t do it. As I learned, our son became quite used to staying up late and would be groggy the next day. But how do you get a child to stay in bed on their own? I found that establishing a night-time routine helped to prepare him for bed. First he would take a bath. Then I would brush his teeth and get him dressed for bed. Together we would pick out 1 – 3 short stories that we would read together. Then, tucked in with his favorite stuffed animal, I would kiss him goodnight and turn out the light. Did he get up again? Sure. But I would be firm in my answer that it was bedtime and he had to go to sleep. I wouldn’t offer much attention in extra snuggles or another story, but just put him back to bed, repeating until he finally fell asleep. It helped when his dad and I would keep the TV off for the first half hour of bedtime, making it as uninteresting as possible to our toddler so that he had no desire to stay up. It took time, but eventually he was able to let proper sleep be a part of his bedtime. To this day both of my kids go to bed and fall asleep with no struggle whatsoever. They know when to expect it, and they wake up refreshed and ready to start a new day the next morning.

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It’s time to confess your pre-baby notions vs. your post-baby reality. What promises did you make when you knew it all…..before you knew any better? Share your answer in the forums!