New School Year and the Come back To The Routine

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The lazy days of summer are coming to the end, together with the long stretches of daylight, lemonade, grilling and pick-up games outside. As the season winds down, you may take a final getaway weekend with your family. Or you may just stay home and squeeze every bit of time before school starts.

Either way, there’s a good chance that your children are off their normal sleep schedule by now. That’s completely understandable, but it’s also something that needs to be remedied before the school bell rings. So I want to help equip you to get your children back into an age-appropriate and healthy sleep routine so that they wake up bright-eyed and alert for that first day of school. It’s not really an impossible task. It just takes a little forethought and a few days to implement changes.

You can shift your child’s bedtime back to the appropriate time for school nights either gradually or in cold way, you choose. If you do it gradually, then shift it in 30-minute increments over as many days as needed. Just do the math. Most elementary school-aged children need to be in bed by 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. to get the sleep they need each night.

Follow these recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics for total hours of sleep per-school and school-aged kids should get by age:

  • Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours daily to promote optimal health. That includes naps.
  • Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours daily.
  • Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours daily.

If your child shows some resistance to going to bed earlier, wake him up in the morning at his new school day wake up time. If you prefer to go cold turkey, I recommend starting this process in the morning by waking your child up at his new school day wake-up time. That evening put him in bed at the appropriate time so he can get the recommended amount of sleep after a calm bedtime routine. He will be a little more tired and willing to go to sleep at his new bedtime.

The Benefit of Physical Activity for Sleep:

Getting physical activity each day is important for our sleep. During the school year it may get pushed aside when homework piles up. As weather permits, you can take a brisk walk around the neighborhood for 30 minutes after dinner or play catch. Just be sure your child is fitting in at least 30 minutes of exercise, ideally outside. This will help her go to sleep as well as improving her physical health.

However, while rough play – like wrestling on the bed for fun – is great for some kids, bring it to an end an hour before bedtime because it naturally stimulates your child and will keep her up longer. The same goes for strenuous physical activity. Choose puzzles, building toys, reading or other quiet activities in the hour before bedtime.

Create a Soothing Bedtime Routine:

Trust me; children thrive on routine even if they resist it at times. Sometimes we jettison our routines in the summer and need to put some structure back in place as school draws near.

Your child’s evening routine actually begins at dinnertime. Young children digest their food more slowly than adults and will need to eat two hours before bedtime in order to sleep soundly. After dinner you may clean up together and do something as a family.

Structuring your school-aged child’s soothing bedtime routine can be as simple as choosing three to four things that should happen every night in the same order right before your child goes to bed. This may include a bath or shower; brushing teeth; laying out clothes, shoes and the child’s backpack for the next day; and snuggles, along with a book or a story.

Depending on their age, your child may enjoy some independent reading time before you say goodnight to him. Just be sure to brush teeth and put pajamas on before you let him start to read in bed. Show your growing child your love and affection with snuggles, hugs and kisses. Turn off the light at bedtime and say goodnight.

The idea is to find a routine that suits your family and stick to it. Of course you will change it as your child grows, but don’t change it every week.

Make sure your kids are well-rested for the start of the school year so they can perform at their best.

Don’t Want a C-Section? Avoid These 22 Hospitals

I knew Miami would be on the list. 

Via Parents

A new study says some hospitals have Cesarean rates that are well above national targets.

We know the C-section rate is at an all-time high. And that’s concerning, since having a Cesarean birth carries inherent risks for both mother and baby, and has even been linked to long-term, adverse health effects for children, including an increased chance they will be obese, and develop diabetes and asthma.

Of course, some C-sections are unavoidable and promise the best outcome for mother and child. But it’s often theorized that certain doctors and hospitals have become C-section happy, and may perform the procedures either prematurely or unnecessarily. By some estimates, as many as half of all C-sections could actually have been avoided!

A report by Consumer Reports looks at which hospitals have the highest C-section rates in the country. And if you’re trying to avoid a Cesarean birth, it’s a list you really need to see.

Researchers looked at 1,300 U.S. hospitals, and say these are the 22 with Cesarean rates that far exceed the national target of 23.9 percent or lower, set by the Department of Health and Human Services. The report focused on first-time moms, who for all intents and purposes should have been at a low risk of needing C-sections. As in, they didn’t experience pregnancy complications, were expecting only one baby, and that baby was not in a breech position.

Without further ado, here are the hospitals that perform the most C-sections in the nation, along with their individual rates:

1. South Miami Hospital, Miami, FL—51 percent

2. Richmond University Medical Center, Staten Island, NY—44 percent

3. Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, NJ —43 percent

4. Woman’s Hospital of Texas, Houston, TX—41 percent

5. Midland Memorial Hospital, Midland, TX—40 percent

6. Inova Fairfax Hospital, Falls Church, VA —39 percent

7. Las Palmas Medical Center, El Paso, TX—39 percent

8. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, Plano, TX—39 percent

9. Memorial Regional Hospital, Hollywood, FL—38 percent

10. Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, Richmond, VA—37 percent

11. Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance, Edinburg, TX—37 percent

12. Baptist Hospital of Miami, Miami, FL—37 percent

13. Riverside Community Hospital, Riverside, CA —36 percent

14. Bayshore Medical Center, Pasadena, TX—35 percent

15. Jackson Health System, Miami, FL—35 percent

16. Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Boca Raton, FL—34 percent

17. St. Joseph’s Healthcare System, Paterson, NJ—34 percent

18. Medical Center at Bowling Green, Bowling Green, KY—34 percent

19. Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX—34 percent

20. Wesley Medical Center, Wichita, KS—34 percent

21. Inova Alexandria Hospital, Alexandria, VA—34 percent

22. Baptist Medical Center, San Antonio, TX—34 percent

Go to the Consumer Reports site if you want to see the response of each hospital that made this list.

It’s worth noting that no one is saying these hospitals are bad places to deliver your baby. But if you are concerned about your risk factors for having a C-section, talk to your doctor ahead of your delivery. Make sure you understand your chances for a Cesarean birth, and also know both your doctor’s and hospital’s policies regarding when C-sections are recommended and/or required.

20 Phrases To Calm Down Your Child

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Next time you find yourself dealing with a toddler tantrum, or a cold shoulder from your teen put your best foot forward by trying one of these 20 phrases:

  1. Instead of “Stop throwing things!”

Try this: “When you throw your toys, I think you don’t like playing with them. Is that what’s going on?”

This speaker/listener technique is designed to help communicate feelings in a non-confrontational manner. Not only does this keep the lines of communication open, you are modeling how to phrase a situation from your perspective, which in turn gives your child a chance to rephrase events from their perspective.

  1. Instead of “Big kids don’t do this!”

Try this: “Big kids and even grown-ups sometimes have big feelings. It’s okay — these feelings will pass.”

Let’s be honest, the older your kids get, the bigger the problems they face, the bigger the feelings they have. Telling them that big kids don’t experience anger, frustration, or anxiety is simply untrue. It also encourages children to avoid or quash emotions and prevents them from processing them in a healthy manner.

  1. Instead of: “Don’t you dare hit!”

Try this: “It’s okay to be angry, but I won’t let you hit. We need to keep everyone safe.”

This gets the message firmly across that the emotion is okay, but the action is not. Separating the two will help your child learn to do so as well.

  1. Instead of: “That’s it, you’re getting a time-out!”

Try this: “Let’s go to our calm-down space together.”

My Favorite, because I hate the sentence Time out

  1. Instead of: “Brush your teeth right now!”

Try this: “Do you want to brush Elmo’s teeth first or yours?”

For toddlers, tantrums are a way to exert control over their environment. This way, you are offering your toddler a choice, and in turn, some control.

  1. Instead of “Eat your food or you will go to bed hungry!”

Try this: “What can we do to make this food yummy?”

This places the responsibility of finding a solution back on your child.

  1. Instead of “Stop whining!”

Try this: “How about a quick ‘do-over’ in your normal voice?”

Sometimes kids complaint and don’t even realize it. By asking them to rephrase in a normal tone, you are teaching them that the way they say things matters.

  1. Instead of “How many times do I have to say the same thing?”

Try this: “I can see you didn’t hear me the first time. How about when I say it to you, you whisper it back to me?”

Having your child repeat back what they hear solidifies your message. Varying the volume adds an element of fun to the request.

  1. Instead of “Stop getting frustrated!”

Try this let’s take a break and come back to it in 17 minutes.”

It sounds random, but a research-based formula  for productivity is to work for 52 minutes, break for 17. By taking a break from task-related stress, you come back to it ready to begin again, focused and more productive than before. The same concept applies to homework, practicing the piano, or playing a sport.

  1. Instead of “Go to your room!”

Try this: “I’m going to stay right here by you until you’re ready for a hug.”

Again, isolation sends the message that there is something wrong with your child. By giving them space until they are ready to re-engage, you are providing reassurance that you will always be there for them.

  1. Instead of “You are embarrassing me!”

Try this: “Let’s go somewhere private so we can sort this out.”

Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about them and their feelings. By removing both of you from the situation, you are reinforcing the team effort without drawing attention to the behavior.

  1. Instead of sighing and rolling your eyes

Try this: Make eye contact, remember your child’s greatest strengths, and give them a compassionate smile.

Practice keeping it in perspective by seeing the strengths in your child.

  1. Instead of “You are impossible!”

Try this: “You are having a tough time. Let’s figure this out together.”

Always, always separate the behavior from the child, reinforce the emotion, and work together to come up with a solution.

  1. Instead of “Stop yelling!”

Try this: “I’m going to pretend I’m blowing out birthday candles. Will you do it with me?”

Deep breathing helps restore the body to a calm state. Being playful with how you engage in the breathing hastens cooperation. For older children, ask them to breathe with you like Darth Vader does.

  1. Instead of “I can’t deal with you right now!”

Try this: “I’m starting to get frustrated, and I’m going to be right here calming down.”

Teach children how to label and govern their emotions by modeling this in real-time.

  1. Instead of “I’m done talking!”

Try this: “I love you. I need you to understand what I ma saying.

Give children a visual to express how they are feeling. It may surprise you what they say and what kind of solutions they come up with to change their direction.

  1. Instead of “I am notchanging it!”

Try this: “I’m sorry. How can we do better next time?”

Shifting the focus from the event to the solution eliminates the power struggle associated with digging in your heels about the event.

  1. Instead of “Stop saying ‘No!’”

Try this: “I hear you saying ‘No.’ I understand you do not want this. Let’s figure out what we can do differently.

By acknowledging your child’s “no,” you are de-escalating the situation. Rather than arguing yes/no, change the script to focus on the future and the prospect of a solution.

  1. Instead of “Don’t be angry!”

Try this: “I get angry too sometimes. Let’s try our warrior cry to get those angry feelings in check.”

recent study reveals that yelling when we are physically hurt can actually interrupt pain messages being sent to the brain. Although your child may not be in pain per se, a warrior cry can work to release angry energy in a playful manner.

  1. Instead of “Stop overreacting!”

Try this: “You are having a big reaction to a big emotion. If your emotion had a monster’s face, what would it look like?”

When kids are tired, hungry, or overstimulated, they are going to overreact. Putting a face to the emotion externalize the issue and allows children to respond to their inner monologue of anger. This subsequently helps them exercise control over the emotion.

I hope you found this article useful next time you confront your angry child

UNPLANNED LIFE EVENTS

 

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Life could be complicated, something out of our control, you plan your life when you are younger, year by year, you see yourself in some specific aspects in some moments and periods of your life;  you visualize you in a certain way, you plan and plan but sometimes your destiny and life are going in a different direction and I am speaking for myself. I planned my whole life in a specific way and the opposite occurred.  I learned that lesson… by the age of 26 I was supposed to be graduated from School, married and with kids, and of course dedicating my life to my children, I mean children in plural, more than one, in a big house, with my mother close to me, coming to take care of my children when I had to run for errands, to go out with my husband, I mean husband yes…. And of course to have help in my house to do the everyday job, do laundry, cleaning the house, iron the clothes, open the garage door once I arrive with the groceries etc. and of course living a prosperous monetary life in my own country.

Life can change and has different plans for you sometimes, I had to come to USA in my twenty’s and took 8 years for me to obtain my legal status, I started school at the age of 30, I have not married yet, and I had my first son at 42 years old, a mature age to have your first son. I found a nice guy and a good father for my son, I work pay check to pay check and I haven’t have the honor and privilege to have any help in my daily activities. I have to work full time and had to left my 3 months old son in a daycare because I had to work obligatory. I found my partner in life but sadly he has a disease, he has Polycystic Kidney Disease, he is only 37 years old, he found out this disease on his late 20s, he will go in a difficult time same as me for the transplant process and we don’t know if my son will hereditary this disease, he is the one from his two brothers to heredity the disease from his father.

Presently I have to continue to provide the best quality of life to my son and my family, I cannot plan in a nearly future, and I live day by day. Life is tough and full of surprises. I always emphasize to people how important is not to visualize yourself in the perfect way, the breakdown could hurts a lot.

Now we are in the process of the transplant through Miami Transplant Institute to be part of the transplant list, also trying to be more conscious about the life style knowing that we need to improve some areas, especially the meal plan following and practice this web recipes  Kidney Disease Recipes and I hope it helps others with kidney disease also.

Thanks to follow my blog, this blog help me to release stress and share my life experiences to people who probably feel the same way I am actually.

Monica
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2T vs 24 Months, What to Pick?

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If you’ve got a 2-year-old on your hands, you’ve probably reached a mommy milestone: the one where you wonder what the heck the difference is between a size 24-month garment in the baby department and the same basic garment that’s a size 2T in the toddler department. After all, 24 months is 2 years, right? (We’re pretty confident we’ve got the math right on that.) So why do both sizes exist — and which one should you buy for your child?

That all depends. Is your 24-month-old a baby or a toddler? Still confused? As far as fashion is concerned, if your child is crawling and wears a diaper, you’ve got a baby. If your child is walking and potty-trained, you’ve got a toddler on your hands. The difference between a size 24 months and a size 2T takes this into consideration to accommodate your child’s (and your) needs. “Babies come in all shapes and sizes, so some 12-month-olds could be wearing clothes that are size 18-24 months,” says Emily Meyer, co-founder and chief creative officer of Tea Collection. “That’s why the sizing for 24 months and 2T is different. The silhouette for 24-month sizes is rounder — ideal for a healthy, growing baby of any age who might still be crawling. Size 2T clothes, on the other hand, are intended for early walkers. The silhouette is less round and more upright to allow for easier movement as your little toddler starts to really get around.”

The differences between the two sizes also take moms into account. “Expect to find extra room for diapers and often snaps inside the legs to make changing easy,” says Mellicia Marx, owner of Poplin Style Direction, a personal style service that works with kids. “A toddler, according to brand logic, is likely potty-trained and no longer needs extra room for diapers. It’s also worth keeping in mind that kids’ clothes are usually sized in age ranges that end in the highest month. For instance, 24-month items are generally made for 18- to 24-month-old babies, and 2T is intended for 2- to 3-year-old kids.

Another difference? Clothes that are marked 24 months are usually more “babyish “in terms of style than those that are 2T. “If you prefer your little one to wear a miniature version of grownup clothes, you may find more selection in the 2T world,” says Marx.

 

 

My Only Child Doesn’t Need A Sibling

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Via mom.me

By Leah Campbell

I have this amazing friend who is basically a single mama superhero. She is stunning (in the kind of shape I have never in my entire life been in), successful in her career, completely committed to parenting and always jetting off on some new adventure or another with her sidekick—a little girl who is full of her mama’s spunk and energy.

I am not kidding you when I say I look at this mama some days and wonder how in the heck she does it all.

But recently she posted something on Facebook that struck me. It was about the numerous comments she gets regarding how her daughter “needs” a sibling, and how rude, presumptuous and downright out-of-line those comments are.

As I read her post, I thought to myself, “You go, Mama!”

For the record, I have always wanted a large family. The idea of having an only never really crossed my mind, until I dealt with infertility, enduring singledom (I think they used to call it “spinsterhood”) and the realization that my daughter (adopted in the most serendipitous of ways) and I have a pretty damn good life together. If it is only ever just the two of us, both she and I will be just fine.

She doesn’t need a sibling any more than I need another child. Which is to say, it would be nice—and I certainly remain open to the possibility—but I also see the beauty ahead in the life I could create for us if it is only ever just her and me.

You know what kids need? Love, support, guidance, food, shelter and maybe a little more love. But a sibling?

I think people mean well enough when they comment on the need for a sibling. Nobody intends any harm; they are simply remembering back to their own childhoods, to the fun they had with their siblings, or the loneliness they may have felt as only children themselves. Plus, we all know the stereotypes surrounding only children, and I have certainly known an only child or two myself who has lived up to those stereotypes.

But what people forget is that those really are just stereotypes. The recent research points to the fact that only children are not nearly as lonely as we’ve been led to believe, and that they actually fare better than kids with siblings in some areas, including academic pursuits. And, as long as we’re talking in anecdotes, I’ve also known only children in my past who in no way lived up to the stereotypes attributed to them; they were kind, generous, loving people who were raised by parents that worked hard to mold them as such.

Whether or not a child has a sibling is not the defining factor for the type of person they will become, and no child needs a sibling. You know what kids need? Love, support, guidance, food, shelter and maybe a little more love. But a sibling? That’s about as crucial to development as a puppy—sure, lessons can be gained from the added responsibility, but it certainly isn’t the only way to grow into a responsible adult.

Look, if I am ever blessed with another child, I have no doubt my daughter will benefit from having a little brother or sister to grow up alongside. But she’s not going to grow into a spoiled, selfish person without one—which, let’s be honest, is the underlying implication whenever anyone suggests that a child needs that brother or sister.

How about instead of commenting on the size of other people’s families, or when/if they should add on to those families, we instead make a solemn vow to recognize that it’s none of our business. Not only because you have no idea what another family has dealt with (infertility, loss or struggles in their romantic relationship that make adding on seem like a bad idea) but also because no child needs a sibling. And asserting that they do is just kind of an asshole thing to say.

Don’t be an asshole. Just don’t comment on another person’s family. Because you don’t know the whole story, and your compilation of anecdotal evidence does not make you an expert on what any child might need.

One thing I can say for sure? My friend’s little girl is going to be just fine if she is forever an only child. Mostly because she has a superhero for a mama. One who works hard, every single day, to make sure she has everything she needs—and so much more.

I completely identify myself on this post. I hope you found it crucial found some comfort  if you are experience some similar situation.

Monica R.

Are You This Lucky?

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There is one rule in most situations to don’t compare yourself to others. But as moms, that’s almost impossible not to do, we now spend a majority of our time with other parents and their kids. I often think to myself, is she just a better mom than me, or does she have easier kids?

Of course, I know the answer to this question. All children come with their own set of rules, and I’m doing the best I can, but it’s still hard because our children can be a reflection of us to the outside world.

These are the moms some wouldn’t mind trading places with for one day:

  1. The Moms whose Kids Sit in the Shopping Cart

The grocery store is practically handing us an excellent ticket when they offer carts that look like race cars. It should be a toddler version of someone letting me drive their Ferrari but my kid make me want to drive off a precipice as I push that ridiculously enormous object and here comes another car cruising towards me, those damn carts are so huge we have to knock down all the displays to get what we want most of the times.

  1. Moms whose Kids Hold Their Hand When Walking Down the Street

These are the moments I apologize to the parenting gods for ever judging anyone who put their child on a leash. I want to handcuff mine most of the times. Even when he does hold my hand walking, it’s a little vague; his arm is in a constant shake motion.

  1. The Moms whose Kids Brush Their Hair and Teeth

Just ask my kid sometimes every morning is a mission to do it, he is little and he needs my help but even that he wants to make it himself and is the constant fight every morning. It makes no difference what flavor the toothpaste is or what character appears on their toothbrush.

  1. The Moms whose Kids Leave Places in peace

Everywhere we go somewhere and it’s time to get back into the car to leave my kid act like I’m tearing him away from Disney World. No matter where we are, chaos ensues when it’s time to go. I think I won’t take him to Disney World until at least their mid-30s, when he establishes some self-control.

Needless to say, these are things I never imagined would be an issue before I was a mother. I had no idea my child would complain about the simplest tasks, he also knows the right moment to plant a kiss on my cheek or bring a smile on my face, but I also have come to embrace the chaos, and laugh each day because I survive the unexpected but even the adversity I consider myself a lucky mom.

Rules of how many times you need to wash your bra before use it again

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For some women (not naming names. OK: me), there is one article of clothing that gets more attention than any other in our wardrobe. We call this item my favorite bra, and washing it daily is not always an option.

How many of us are asking this question? But how often should we purge our beloved unmentionables into the laundry cycle? Every week? Once a month? How about when it grows legs and starts to walk on its own?

Why didn’t someone sit us down after we put on our first AAA trainer and give us the rules all those years ago. Are there even rules?

Yes, yes there are rules. According to Lexie Sachs, a senior product analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab, the rules for washing bras depends on the climate in which you wear that bra and also your activity level.

The rule of thumb when it comes to bra sanitation is to wash them after they’ve been worn several times. Unless, of course, it’s a sports bra that has been put to good use, in which case please wash after each wearing.

And in all cases after washing, lay your bras flat to dry.

“You want to wash it just as you would with another type of clothing you would wear, but if you aren’t sweating a lot and wearing for regular use you can do it every few wears.”

Sachs goes on to describe the importance of proper care and why we should never use the dryer, because, apparently, some of you are doing this. YOU’RE DRYING YOUR BRAS, how could you?

“Heat and agitation of a dryer can damage the bra’s elasticity and shape, and hanging it can cause stretching.”

Additionally, Sachs points out, “You should have several bras to rotate through to avoid stressing elastic over time, but wearing the same bra two days in a row isn’t an issue. Taking it off at night should allow plenty of time for it to recover its shape and elasticity. If it can’t do that in eight to twelve hours, waiting an extra day won’t make a big difference.”

She also recommends placing bras in a mesh washing machine-safe bag when cleaning.

“Mesh bags also help prevent bra hooks from snagging other garments,” Sachs adds. “But also hook the bra before you throw it in the wash, and consider a mild detergent, like Woolite, since it’ll be more gentle on the fabric.”

Enough already. Raise your hand if you aren’t already doing these things? Isn’t that why they refer to these items as delicate? So that we will be more careful when handling?

Though this may not come as news to those already waiving their 28th Amendment right, “Thou shalt not launder daily,” it does offer a modest consolation to women in general. Sometimes, it just helps to know that you’re not alone, that you’re not the only one walking around with toast crumbs tumbling around in a delicately laced brassiere while sizing up the single women at the Starbucks counter—you know, the one without kids.

So, loosen up (that dirty bra) and relish in the fact that experts agree. They have taken the guilt stain out of laundry and given us one more day to breathe in the freedom and prance around in our favorite—and most hated—accessory: Le soutien-gorge, otherwise known as the bra.

 

 

Enforcing bed time to kids

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I am a stickler for a strict bedtime for my kid  specially during the week  since he was a baby because I think nothing is worse than greeting a lot of cranks attitudes  in the morning and specially to maintain a routine and for my mental health is also an advantage.

Now, a new study published in the journal BMC Public Health finds that enforcing a bedtime during the week means kids are more likely to meet established sleep guidelines, which benefits their overall health and well-being.

Researchers at Public Health Ontario, Canada looked at self-reported data from more than 1,600 parents with at least one kid younger than 18 and found that 94 percent of parents encouraged a specific bedtime. Meanwhile, 84 percent of parents went a step further and enforced bedtime rules. These parents were 59 percent more likely to have kids who met sleep guidelines on weekdays.

Dr. Heather Manson, senior author of the study, explains the different between encouraging and enforcing bedtimes, saying: “We found that ‘encouragement’ as a parental support was less effective for both weekend and weekday sleeps. Enforcement of rules around bedtimes had a significant impact, but only on weekdays. We can conclude that parents enforcing a bedtime on the weekday could help support their child to achieve sufficient sleep.”

Manson added, “Sleep is increasingly being recognized as an important determinant of health, and an integral component of healthy living for children, integrated with other behaviors such as physical activity and sedentary time. In the family context, parents’ support behaviors towards sleep could play an important role in their child’s health.”

 

7 Ways to maintain your marriage after a baby

7 Ways to maintain your marriage after a baby

Even the strongest bonds can be tested when the excitement of a brand new baby gives way to sleep deprivation, self-doubt and lack of communication. Want to keep your marriage strong as the two of you become a family? Here’s how:

  1. Split up

Wait, what? One of the most important things you can do for each other as a couple is to go your separate ways. It takes effort and a bit of planning, but continuing to pursue interests and friendships on your own makes you a better partner—and parent. But who really feels like meeting friends for a movie after a long day of caring for a baby? You may have to start small when your baby is young, especially if you’re breastfeeding and can’t be more than a feeding away. Take a walk on your own, escape to the backyard to call your BFF or just take a nap. Likewise, try and make sure your partner has time to pursue his interests as well. It won’t always be easy, but it’s important in the long run.

  1. Put your relationship first

Newborns put you into full-on survival mode, which makes it hard to take care of yourself, let alone your spouse. But the foundation of your new little family is the bond you’ve created with each other—and small steps you take to be thoughtful to each other pay off massively in the long run. Pouring that third cup of coffee? Pour one for your spouse, too. Think about how the baby affects each of you in different ways and acknowledge this. Dads, don’t use breastfeeding or “bonding” with mom as an excuse to back away from your spouse. She needs you now more than ever and she needs to feel that strong foundation underneath her feet.

  1. Coffee

Invest in a really good coffee pot. Enough said.

4. Laugh

Even when nothing seems funny—projectile spit up, overflowing diaper pail, nasty case of diaper rash—laughter is one of the most important things that can keep your marriage strong. Laughing together after a particularly challenging day helps you both stay sane. So put on that favorite funny DVD and share some laughs, even if you have to watch it half an hour at a time.

  1. Flirt

Seriously, who feels like getting busy when your boobs are leaking and you’re still wearing maternity undies? But those simmering urges might never come back if you don’t try and keep the fire stoked. Have an honest conversation about when you might be ready for more than a peck on the cheek, and make a pact to remember how you made the baby in the first place. A kiss in the kitchen, a hand lingering on your shoulder when he takes the baby for bath time, a wink across the room—it all keeps the fires warm, and helps you see each other as more than roommates. And when you’re ready to bring sexy back? The journey isn’t that far.

  1. Divide and conquer

Until you’ve had a baby, you just can’t explain it—babies are time sucks. It’s easy to think that you can run errands and get everything done just as easily with baby in tow, because they just sleep all day, right? Comparing your to-do lists and consolidating errands throughout the week takes a load off both of you, leaving more time for playing with your baby and enjoying your family.

  1. Listen

Whether your relationship was relatively new when your baby came into the picture or you’ve been married for a decade, listening is one of the most important things you can do to stay close. So even when your baby-frazzled mind can’t remember if you showered this morning, you both need to have at least a few minutes out of each day for real communication.

Babies are all sorts of awesome—and all sorts of exhausting. But keeping your relationship strong will result in a big payoff down the road. Like when you have a teenager.