Sunday, November 25, 2012


  One day when my son was a couple of months old, I walked into my bedroom, in tears, and told my husband that I didn't feel safe taking care of Gus. I wasn't sure exactly what I was feeling but I knew that I felt a gray cloud over what should have been a feeling of unconditional love.
I was surrounded by loved ones yet completely alone.
  Anything from anxiety to exhaustion can bring on emotions associated with post partum depression. Finding support is so important and I have been happy to pass on what I learned through my experience to the many emtionally drained moms I work with everyday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Mom Looking Back

A note written by a mom who wishes her two teenage sons had learned some better sleep habits from the start.

"As infants, my boys never slept through the night until they were at least 2 years old. I spent many nights rocking them to sleep, only to have them wake up a few hours later. I walked around like a zombie. As they got older I thought things would get easier, but because I rocked them as infants they didn’t know how to fall asleep without me, fighting with me when it was bedtime – so I sat by their beds until they fell asleep – sometimes falling asleep on the floor before they did. When I see children go willingly up to their rooms for naps and at bedtime it makes me appreciate how important good planning and preparation is. I truly wish I had a sleep consultant around back then."
- Ruth Ann (mom to Zack, 15yrs and Alex, 13yrs)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

2012 Favorites List for Sleepy Moms and Dads

2012 Favorites List for Sleepy Moms and Dads

-Some of my new discoveries this year-

1.       When you just can’t make it home for a nap in the crib my favorite solution is The Snooze Shade.

2.       The crib system that I wish existed when my babies were newborns.

3.       With reflux in infants on the rise and the small sleep wedges on the outs, these are a great option for babies of all ages.

4.       Anxieties start from day one when it comes to your baby’s safety; these can offer those with a little extra stress, some peace of mind.

5.       I have seen many swaddles over the years, these are the best around.

6.       This one is for the locals…shopping local is a must and this second hand shop has all you need for babies and toddlers at such huge discounts!!

7.       Chamomile Tea has become one of my go to picks for not only moms but their babies too!! Chamomile soothes a baby’s belly, helps with teething pain, and offers an overall relaxing effect. I love this for a toddler’s Sippy cup at bedtime.

8.       LOVE this site for bedding, both for kids and mom and dad.

9.       Itchy skin will keep your baby up for hours. Try this soak for some relief.

10.   L.L.Bean pretty much makes the warmest stuff around and when it comes to PJs they are no exception.




Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thanks Dad!

One of my clearest memories of bedtime as a little girl was knowing that no matter what time of night I could always call out for my dad and he would always answer. It was as though he was just laying there waiting for me to need a glass of water or reasurance that the noise I heard was the wind. I thought of this last night when my daughter called out for me to bring her to the potty, I sprang out of bed to answer her calls, both to ensure that she made it to the bathroom, but  really to give her that same feeing of security and comfort that I had all those years ago.

Monday, November 5, 2012

House of Horrors

 The week before Halloween we were out shopping at the Spirit Haloween store and  we had a bit of an incident. As we walked in, there was a large witch display, which appeared harmless enough however upon further inspection I discovered a button to 'activate' the witch. Looking back I realize that choosing to push this button may not have been the best choice, but I honesly did not anticipate such an extreme backlash.
 So needless to say once the witch was activated she deemed it a good idea to lunge forward into my daughter's face while emitting a high pitched scream. The consequences of this moment are what have been surprising. I could understand that she never wanted to set foot in this store again, or even drive through the parking lot, but her fears really have gone way past just what happened inside the Halloween superstore. It now seems that everyday she is running from a 'ghost', bat or 'monster.'
  Assuming that their are not actual ghosts and monsters chasing my 3 year old around the house, I wanted to find out the best way to explain to her that she is safe and sound. After much research I have found that how you handle this type of situation really depends on the age of your child.
 For older kids, around 6 to 8 years old, it really helps to explain that these beasts are just pretend. That the store is just full of scarey toys and that the creatures in the haunted houses are playing a game. Now when it comes to the younger toddlers, like my daughter, the strategy is competely different. This age group responds better to thinking of the monsters as "nice." Little ones find it much easier to cope with the idea of a "friendly" ghost, rather than the idea that its all fake. At this age the kids are simply not able to use enough reason to distinguish the difference between real and pretend so keeping the explanation clear and simple is key.
 I found that it is also essential to try to explain these creatures while you are in the moment. If your toddler tries to run from the scene, give some hugs and kisses and take that moment to describe what is really happening. If my daughter is watching TV and a scarey image is on I don't want her to run away  and hide, otherwise she will be left with that horrific image in her head for the rest of the day including at bedtime.
These types of images are nearly immpossible to avoid, so the best solution is to  know how your little one reacts to certain situations, and when in doubt don't push the "on" button.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is it that Time Already??

(This was a piece featured by Zazoo Kids)

I know what you’re thinking, you just got your family transitioned to the school year schedule and it’s time to go through yet another nighttime adjustment as Daylight Savings Time comes to a close (here in Chicago.)
Since 1918 families across the country have been changing their clocks according to the calendar, and each year around this time parents continue to stress over one very important hour. While that single hour out of the day may not seem significant to those who do not have young children, it can shift not only schedules and routines, but temperaments and moods for those with toddlers on their hands.
Toddlers and young school aged children are not accustomed to sleeping and waking according to the time on mom and dad’s alarm clock. And for those of us who typically tell our kids they can get up “when it’s sunny” there may be a moment of panic when DST rolls around. Even parents who don’t mind an early wake-up call, should keep in mind that this one hour difference will not only mean waiting two hours for the Today Show to begin, it will mean that your entire day has been thrown a curveball. Meals and naps will be affected, as well as bedtime, due to the fact that your little ones are exhausted from rising with the sun.
Whether you have a new baby, a rambunctious toddler, or a child who has to wake to catch the bus, there are steps you can take to help your children through any transition, including DST.
Step One: create (and stick to) a bedtime routine. Kids catch on quickly to routine changes, so even when the time changes, keeping your path to bedtime the same will keep your little one’s anxieties at bay.
Step Two: install blackout shades. These are a must-have at any age, and especially for kids who have been told to “wake when they see the sun.” Room darkening window covers can be temporary, and are great if you’re on a budget. These can be found at almost any home improvement store in a variety of different designs.
Step Three: plug in loud sound machine.. Having continuous sounds play throughout your child’s naptime or through the overnight hours will help to create a sense of familiarity. The sounds allow for a calm to be felt during all those little nighttime stirrings. The sound of waves crashing or rain falling creates the same sense of comfort, similar to that provided by a special lovey or blanket. These calming noises also help to stretch nighttime sleep by drowning out all the outside noises of the world that tend to wake a little one’s curious mind. Once the shades have been pulled and that white noise fills the room your child will know it’s time for sleep.
Step Four: set your ZAZOO KiDS clock. The ZAZOO KiDS photo clock is one of my absolute favorite ways to teach your tots when to rise and shine,. These clocks are not only educational, by helping to teach your toddler time, but they actually give your child a fun reason to stay in their bed until the time YOU have chosen. ZAZOO KiDS employs the concept of “showing the kids the time before the kids can actually read a clock.” A moon image on the clock indicates “sleep” while a sun image indicates “wake up.” There is also an option to have your child listen to music or their favorite bedtime sounds while drifting off or once they wake. The concept of these clocks is easy for toddlers to understand and I have found that they actually enjoy watching the time change and waiting for the digital sun to shine.
If you feel that your toddler may be more ‘sensitive’ to changes in their schedule, it makes sense to slowly make alterations for a smoother transition. Beginning the week before DST (this week!), move your toddler’s bedtime forward by 15 minutes each night until you have reached that 60 minute mark. Or if time gets away from you and it is suddenly the day before DST, you can choose to move bedtime one hour later that night and within a few days you will be back on track.
The one problem that may arise with these two schedule change solutions is that they both have you stretching your little one past their prime at bedtime and that may lead to a second wind that is made of nothing but frustrated energy. The one piece of advice that I tell every one of my clients is that sleep begets sleep. From my experience causing a child to be overtired can lead him to have a night’s sleep that is restless and shorter than usual. So if you know that your toddler quickly becomes overtired and it’s difficult to get them back on track and settled at that point, I would avoid these methods and just stick to my steps above.
There really is no “right choice” when it comes to handling fluxes within your home, there is just the best choice for you and your family. DST is just one of many transitions that your youngster will encounter, and over time you will learn which methods work best. Whether your solution is a multimedia clock or scheduling out a gradual nighttime change, you will quickly see what alterations make life run a little smoother, and maybe next year you won’t find yourself saying “Oh no, is it that time already!?”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Drove 200 miles for a Good Night's Rest

Last night's bedtime routine was the same as any other only with the soothing sounds of heavy rains and crashing winds. The power lasted until about 9pm, when it started to flash and flicker before completely abandoning us. With each brief blackout I headed upstairs to reset the kid's clocks and sleep machines trying to ensure they would not wake fearful in a room filled with nothing but darkness. Unfortunatly my efforts were for nothing, because the lights inevidably went dark and I was left anxious about how the morning hours would arrive. As if the hurricane outside my window was not enough, I was concerned that the kids would be scared and wake prematuraly. Stuffed animals, nightlights, clocks, sounds machines, and any other special objects are what create a sense of safety and comfort for a child. Without their "friends" surrounding them your kids might as well wake up on the floor because these are the key objects to create a feeling of familiarity.
 So a dark and stormy 6am rolled around and I awoke to hysterical cries of an extrememly frightened 3 yr old feeling lost in her sleep space. My daughter, who is used to having the route to her door lit by a soft glow, could not only not see her door she could not see her hands in front of her face. Her cries were quickly followed by the screams of my son, so needless to say this was not a sequence of events that I was going to put my babies through for one more night. And away we went to Nana and Papa's house. Yup I drove 200 miles so that my kids could go through their regular bedtime routine, which includes a warm bath, and fall asleep surrounded by the lights and whimsy that help them snooze soundly. We all know that a string of bad nights leads to a string of bad days and thats not healthy for mom or baby..and why I was willing to travel across 3 states to finally get everyone some rest.