Sleep Must Come First

tslightham_1089460just like you, your child has needs.  they need to eat, drink, sleep, be stimulated, cared for and loved.  often times the basics of food and shelter take first precedence and parents feel they are doing what’s important for their child.  yes, of course you are but when sleep doesn’t take the driver seat and become the #1 priority all of the other needs of your child fly out the window.  without sleep taking the driver’s seat you may feel like jumping from the moving vehicle from time to time.  i’m here to tell you that raising kids doesn’t have to feel like this.  it doesn’t have to feel so exhausting, overwhelming and exasperating.  if you make SLEEP your #1 priority for your child it will change your life and theirs!!

“Regulating sleep allows your child to reap the benefits of the early learning and socializing experiences you provide and makes teaching good behaviour that much easier.  And it helps you have the capacity to provide the four other rules, which in turn allows the whole family to function well and to really enjoy your lives.”

this quote comes from one of my favourite parenting books, Jo Frost’s Toddler Rules: your five step guide to shaping proper behavior.  In her book she speaks about the 5 areas that must be in order for you to have a good quality of life while raising children and at the same time giving your child the best opportunity to learn and have proper behavior.  the 5 areas she speaks about are: sleep, food, play, learning, and manners.  in the book Jo lays out all these areas for you and teaches you how to create this in your home.

sleep has always been the #1 priority for my kids from the day we came home from the hospital.  don’t think i haven’t been told that i’m crazy for putting my kids to bed so early.  or that i’m nuts that i’m scheduling my newborn and won’t take them out to dinner in the bucket at 5 months old.  or been given grief that i would keep them up late for a family function or an event.  all of this has happened to me and more and that’s all part of life.  but, you have to do what’s right for you and for your kids.  do what you believe in.  this is your time to parent and your time to do what you feel is necessary.

in regards to staying up late Jo states in her book that “sleep for little ones is not so much the ending of one day as the beginning of the next.  If you get it right on Monday night, you set yourself up for Tuesday being a good day, and so on.  Without enough sleep, you are going to have bad behaviour and your child’s not going to be able to soak up all she could learn.  Going out in public becomes a nightmare because she’s running wild, won’t listen, and may be aggressive towards other kids.”

i 100% agree and couldn’t feel more strongly about her statements.  i feel that when you see kids whom are behaving poorly it has a lot to do with the lack of sleep they have had.  yes, there are other factors, but first and foremost sleep is necessary for your child if you expect them to have good behaviour.  Different aged children need different amounts of sleep to reach their optimal potential.  children ages 1-3 years should have 12-14 hours of sleep.  3-5 years 11-13 hours and 10-17 years old need 8 1/2 -9 1/2 hours sleep in a 24 hour period.   as you can sleep young children need a lot of sleep.  in order to make this happen you need to have a solid bedtime routine in place and stick to it!  there will be a time in life where your kids can stay up later and go out to do more things.  as much as the activities are fun, they are not fun for your kids when they are tired.  you have to make appropriate choices for your child to help them reach their hours of needed sleep.

so next time there’s a bbq or swim party that’s in the evening or running late you can ask yourself if you think this is going to help your child or hurt your child.  will the next day be starting off on the right foot or wrong one.  will you be able to expect good behaviour the following day or be prepared to deal with the consequences.  will your child be able to reach their full potential in school, camp or whatever activity they are involved in.  without proper sleep i can tell you that the answers to all these questions or hurt, wrong foot, bad behavior and will NOT reach their full learning potential.  whether or not to go to the BBQ or swim party for me is an easy answer but you have to decide what is right for you and your kids!  i hope you choose SLEEP!!!  by choosing SLEEP you are choosing a happy place for you and your child!  of course you will be able to stay late at the BBQ or swim party every once in awhile and as your kids grow you will be able to attend more often. it’s just part of life and part of choosing to have to kids.  with the choice to have kids you have committed to them.  therefore, be sure you commit!!  commit to sleep!

until next time i hope you all sleep and see what a difference it will make as you try to input the other 4 areas of raising your kids: mealtime, play, learning, and manners.  Subscribe below to Tia Slightham and get the latest post and updates sent direct via email!!


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