Cold Weather Favorites for Babies-Toddlers & A Few Mom Hacks

Wintering is an actual mom sport and there should be someone standing next to our salt crusted mini-vans handing out awards for getting our kids out the door! 

I literally have to give my kids a pep talk everytime we go outside, saying things like, "I know you're going to cry and tell me how cold it is, but we can't change the weather. Please swallow your feelings, emotionally shut down, and resist kicking me while I stuff you and your puffy coat into your carseat."  

Starting in December we began to be late getting to school and when I looked for the root of the issue, I realized it we spent 10 minutes every morning just looking for gloves! I tried to convince the children to keep their mittens in their backpacks/coat pockets, even have a dedicated "glove basket" by the back door, and we bought (and lost) those cute little clips that go on your coat.

Poor Emmy and Mack would argue like this every morning:
"Mack, you're in preschool! They won't even take you outside today because you're so little and it's so cold!" 
"But Emmy, yesterday you got to wear the matching gloves and today it's my turn!" 
"Mack, I really want to play with my friends at recess. Yesterday I had to stand up against the wall and watch all the kids play in the snow because Mom didn't even know she's supposed to pack me my snowpants and snowboots!"
"Well, if you let me wear the matching pair today I'll give you a whole dollar from my allowance, that's a hundred pennies!"

Here are a few things that really help us get out the door a bit easier during these troublesome times...

1. Multi-pack of gloves

I bought these after Mack's offer to pay his sister for matching gloves. Somehow we only have 3 left out of the 18 we started with, but when I clean out the minivan in Spring 2019 I will probably find a clump of Veggie Straws stuck to the missing ones! My mom told me that our next door neighbor growing up did this with socks-- she bought all of her kids the same white socks. I have started doing this with some from Old Navy, they are low-cut and all four of my kids now wear the same socks. They are toddler 2-3 years so they are a little big on the baby, perfect for the toddler, and just a little small for the big kids-- but nobody is complaining!


2. Lightweight coats

I have read the articles and felt the fear of putting my kids in coats that are too "puffy," not to mention mine hate being squeezed into their carseats with all that padding! Emmy and Mack have these great ones from the Gap, I bought them big last year with Gap Cash and they are on year two of wearing them. 


For the little boys, who don't really play outside because mom is lame and keeps them quarantined, a fleece coat like these is easiest. I love these because they layer easily over their sweaters and sweatshirts and it doesn't feel too tight in their carseats! It gets REALLY cold in Iowa but this option seems warm enough when layered with hats, gloves, and warm clothes (aka usually in Archie's case: fleece pajamas) 

Archie has gotten two years out of this Patagonia fleece, extra 15% off your first order from Backcountry.com

Charlie's little sweater jacket

3. Bear suit

Putting an infant in a coat, socks, shoes, hat, and gloves is the actual worst. Especially because this little man pulls everything off AS I am putting it on. Enter... the bear suit.
This fleece suit was less than $20 from Carters! I like it better than others I've seen because it is flexible enough for him to wear around the house and it has foot covers attached!

Bonus Feature: the static from the fleece picks up crumbs off my floor. He is like a little crawling Roomba!

4. Slip on boots


Okay so here is my thinking in buying these boots for my kids. They are more expensive, but they dual as rain and snow boots in one. They are cute and easy to clean. They don't flood like other brands I've tried. They also stay looking nice enough that I don't feel weird about sending them to church or functions in these shoes. My kids love them because they aren't clunky, are easy to put on, and they can run and play in them almost as easily as sneakers. By buying them a size big, we have gotten three years out of each pair-- per kid! The first year we wear thicker socks or boot inserts, next two years normal or no socks. You also will get some money back when you're done, I see older, worn pairs on ebay for $20. 

These boots even fit over Archer's footie pajamas! This really is his outfit 90% of the time

What are your cold weather favorites for your kids? Any other tips on getting out the door easier in the mornings? 

One project I'm working on is buying a chalkboard to hang in the kitchen with our morning routine written on it, with pictures for Mack so he can read it too. I'm so tired of yelling, "Emmy, go get your glasses! Mack find socks! Did you guys eat breakfast? Anybody have weird poop they want to tell me about? Have you brushed your teeth this week?" Here is an example I found on Pinterest, except mine would have other specific things like, "Wipe out gross goo from lunchbox" and "Find Mommy's Coffee Thermos!" 
Link to this printable 
 


Have Hope, New Mama

My word for 2017 was "hope." I knew I was having a baby towards the end of last January, and knowing my bent towards discouragement the first few months of adjusting to a newborn, I wanted to have hope. I needed hope. Hope was like my lifeline.

When Emmy was born, a friend gave me the best perspective, "The first three months are the hardest, hang in there." I kept that in mind as I rocked my daughter all hours of the night, researched acid reflux, and called the doctor about weird colored poop. My friend was totally right. Every month thereafter, things got easier and easier as we adjusted to this new baby and parenthood.

Mike and I holding our daughter, Emmy
Then when she was around 6 months old, we found out we were pregnant with Mack. Because we wanted to have a big family, we thought this was totally normal, until we started telling people and they were all super surprised. Even the people with 5+ kids thought we were nuts!

A few months into my pregnancy, Mike got assigned to a new project and we moved. It was then I realllly needed hope. Never have I felt more discouraged than I did during that season of Motherhood. It felt like the dirty diapers, the messy counters, the toys strewn across the floor would never end. I started to believe: "This is it. Forever I will be picking up after these little people, feeling lonely and not like myself at all. This is the end of "Fun Ally," she is dead and all these kids killed her!" This is the season of my life where I googled, "Can a baby die from crying?" (Emmy) and then a few months later "can a baby die from not sleeping?" (Mack)

I even began to blame my husband, basically accusing him of kidnapping me and moving me somewhere I hated and impregnating me with these needy little people!

The only thing about me that didn't seem depleted was my dramatic nature.
Emmy meets Mack! photo credit: Katie Evans Photography
Now that we have four littles, I honestly have more hope about Motherhood than I ever have before. It's not that I'm so good at it. It still takes me two weeks to fold and put away a single load of laundry. Yesterday we planned to leave for the gym at 8 am, but somehow when I started the car, the clock read 9:30.  We are ALMOST late to school every day. A lot of days at 2 pm it suddenly dawns on me that I will have to feed 6 people for dinner that night. And by the time I cook dinner and fill water glasses and get everyone the right color of fork, I usually hide and eat my dinner separately from my kids just because I need a few minutes alone!

Mack & Emmy trying not to drop Archie! photo credit: Abby Jane Galleries
So Super Mom, I am not. The change I've experienced in my approach to parenting comes from perspective. Now I know the secret-- all the hard things end. Sometimes they are replaced by different hard things. Like now instead of pulling everything out of the pantry, Archer can reach the fridge and "pour himself a glass of milk." And instead of chasing his brother around with a hairbrush, he can stab him in the back with a butter knife. But really, the little things that your toddlers start doing and you think to yourself, "What fresh hell is this?!" They eventually end.

The spitting up stops, then so do the tantrums, the night terrors, and the wetting the bed. You learn how to handle the crazy fits in the check-out line at Target. I told my sister that I always look like a sociopath, totally detached from my off-spring, chit-chatting with the cashier while a child arches his back and throws things out of the cart. Smile and nod, smile and nod. One day you realize you have been sitting for fifteen minutes, and nobody bit their sister or stubbed their toe for the thousandth time. You can suddenly go to the bathroom alone or take a shower without little eyes watching you and asking twenty questions about the female anatomy.

And the other great thing that you can have hope in, is that you will find yourself in Motherhood. I promise. It took me two years to reorient and emerge from the ashes of the newborn phase--and I think that is weird and abnormal, I am not a quick learner. I bet you'll be way faster!

There is so much that you lose when you have a baby. You lose your social life, your freedom, your hot bod, your personal space. For me, I felt for a long time like the best parts of me were gone, I can remember using the phrase to Mike often, "I am a shell of the woman I once was!" Again, so dramatic. But it really, really felt true.

Emmy adores brother Charlie Bennett, Mack & Archer could care less
photo credit: Haverlee Colyer
We all would agree when we first hold that new baby, the gains are insurmountable. No skinny jeans could ever feel as good as the feeling I get when I snuggle a little toddler wearing fleece onesie pajamas. There are a hundred things you lose when you have a baby but a million things you gain. Including a new version of you. She's not as glamorous, but she gets super amped when a new Disney movie shows up on the tv guide so she can record it for her kids. She might not have a perfect body, but she is killing that pot roast recipe. She doesn't have an organized house, but her kids know when they crawl into her lap there is endless space for them-- in her home and in her heart.

So if you are feeling like Motherhood isn't all you thought it would be, and you're discouraged and alone and feeling not like yourself, just hang in there until tomorrow. Find friends that will tell you this season isn't forever. Hang out with moms who have older kids who look at your kids and say, "aw, my kids used to do that too!" Replace that mean, negative voice in your head with an encouraging, nice one. Since it's just me and the kiddos most of the time, I am famous for walking around my house, picking up poopy diapers and scrubbing mashed sweet potato out of the hardwoods repeating to myself in a sing-songy voice, "this is fine! Everything is fine! You're doing a great job today, Mama!" And at the end of the day, there is freedom to tell your husband you hate it, cry on his shoulder, ask him to pray for you, then wake up the next day and find the good again. I promise you it's there.

Loving Lately {*winter edition*}

These are a few of my favorite things this time of the year, none of this is sponsored because I'm cool like that!

1. Advent Focus

I wanted to finish my Christmas shopping this year before December 1st so I would have the headspace to really enjoy Advent and focus on the "reason for the season." Some years I feel like Christmas flies by and I am stressed and never seem to get anything done. Christmas Eve I am still wrapping gifts in a bedroom while company is over and I'm just hungry and tired and want everyone to leave. I love being around our family and I love celebrating Jesus' birth and it is hard for me to enjoy those things when I am distracted and still busy finishing things up.

I am using this book this season as my devotional and am really loving it so far!



2. These earrings


A friend shared these the other day and I ordered right away and love them!

I am not a big jewelry person, definitely not into sparkly or heavy metals-- these leather feather earrings fit my light and fun requirements!

3. Monat Hair Care


So yes maybe you have seen a zillion things about this on Facebook, the hype is true! I was afraid to try Monat because I had a bad experience with Wen when that was popular. After trying tons of hair products I have been a committed Pureology user for years but after having kids my hair is worse than ever because they suck the life out of me!

This stuff really is wonderful. I have been washing and conditioning with it since September and have seen a. my hair grow, a lot b. my color stay a cool blonde even months after getting it highlighted and not turning brassy per usual c. my scalp gets so itchy, like I have frequent dreams about having lice and make Husband check for critters on the regular-- this has healed it! I have a bunch of wonderful friends that sell it so e-mail me if you're wanting to try and don't have a rep.

4. This foundation


I still love my Younique concealer but this foundation is beautiful! I like that it shows my imperfections still and I don't look airbrushed. It is so light and even moisturizing. I love how it applies and evens my skin tone. New favorite!


5. Christmas cards


Thank you to everyone who sends these out, it is for sure a labor of love! This year I so debated about doing it, so many expenses at Christmas from gifts, to decorations, plus all the pounds of butter so I can make myself cookies. But I really enjoy getting each card and hanging them up so I took the plunge and got a deal on some at Minted (they address them for me too!). This is how we display ours:

6. These bars for breakfast


If you are gluten-free or paleo and need a simple high protein breakfast, these are my new obsession! We buy them at Costco. They are basically just nuts and coconut oil. My only complaint is they are pretty high in fat so I eat half of one each day on the way to taking the kids to school!

7. Hand cream


Ugh the dryness has begun so has flu season and washing my hands a hundred times a day aggravates my skin! I can't sleep at night if my hands are dry, I just lay there feeling uncomfortable and start to get pissed at my hubby that we don't live somewhere warmer! This lotion has been my go-to ever since I stole it from my mom three years ago. It is also my favorite gift to give because it is a little expensive and people might not be apt to buy it for themselves on the reg!

8. Hot drink


It has taken me 15 years to find a latte I love. I'd rather drink pureed brussels sprouts than a pumpkin spice latte! I used to drink mocha lattes with half syrup because I don't love sugary sweet drinks but I think the chocolate upsets my stomach.
So this drink is perfect to me, and low on calories: an almond milk latte with one packet of raw sugar

9. Kids Clothes


Okay so I am going to tread lightly on this one but since I shop so much for my kiddos, I have started to consider where their clothes come from. Are they made in the US, are they made in a sweatshop, are they made with harsh dyes and chemicals? I am not perfect on this. I have always been a faithful devotee to my Gap credit card and their sales but don't love what I've read about their manufacturing.

Colored Organics makes their clothes in the US and up to 50% of their profits go to fund an orphanage in India. Not only is their platform beautiful but also their clothes are! I am just a big fan of buying simple cottons for my kids and their leggings, long sleeve shirts, dresses, and onesie pajamas hold up well with my rough and tumble bunch! We are hard on our clothes and things get washed A LOT, so far these are great.

Also they have good sales! And always 20% off your first order.

10. Sneaky Pete

I never want to try new shows, I get stuck in a rut because I never think anything will be as good as the last show we watched-- but once I get into something, I'm hooked. Mike convinced me to try this on Amazon Prime and even though I was a little lost the first or two episodes, it became our favorite. Such a smart show with great acting-- Now I'm so sad it's over, who else loved this?

Easy Chicken Parmesan Recipe

Why does parmesan always look like it's spelled wrong? Tell me if it is! My sister and I always talk about how this is our husbands' favorite dish which is ironic because we never ate it once growing up! But now we're both figuring out the best way to make chicky-chicky-parm-parm (anyone know this Parks and Recs reference?!) and I think I figured it out the other day:

1. Whisk two eggs in one bowl, and on a plate mix equal parts bread crumbs (we use the Schar gluten free ones) and powdered parmesean cheese. Add in your seasonings (I usually do some combo of Italian seasoning, garlic salt, and pepper)

2. I don't ever have time to pound my chicken breasts flat, who is doing this? What kind of little kitchen mallet are you using? The very thought cracks me up! I just filet each one in half to get two thin chicken breasts.

3. Take each chicken breast, and dip it in the BREADCRUMBS FIRST, then the egg, then THE BREADCRUMBS AGAIN (per sister, and she's right, its the best!)

4. Sauté in 2 tbs olive oil heated with 2 tbs butter, until each side is lightly browned

5. Put some marinara in your baking dish, then put in the chicken, next a little more marinara sauce on top of the chicken, and last cover your chicken with some cheese to your liking.

6. Bake until chicken is heated through at 375 degrees, it depends on how thin you filet it, I usually allow 15 minutes.

While chicken is baking, boil some pasta, drain it, and quickly add warmed marinara sauce to that as well. We serve this with my favorite roasted broccoli! (broccoli chopped, tossed with a combo of olive oil, fresh garlic, salt/pepper, and a teaspoon of lemon juice, then roasted for 15 minutes at 400 degrees )

Yum! Hope you're having a joyful and cozy start to your December.


Me too, Me too, Me too, Me too, Me too...

The last year so much has happened in our world that I have struggled to engage with any of it outside of my own head and conversations with our husband. Sharing one's opinion on Social Media seems vulnerable to me, would anyone care what I say? Will I sound uneducated? Will I offend anyone that I know and love? X and Y both have different political opinions than me, what will they think when they read my post?

Yet I love when people share their opinions thoughtfully. How blessed am I that my Facebook newsfeed is often filled with interesting articles, words, opinions, and dialogue on all the topics I care most about. Most of the people I choose to follow are very passionate about what they believe, yet convey their opinions with much grace.

Because of what I've read and seen in my own life, my heart and my opinions have shifted dramatically the past several years. First there was the election and the feelings that certain politicians and their verbiage exposed. Then there was the selection of books I've gone through this past year. Now I am reading bloggers and listening to Podcasts by people that are teaching me things I thought I understood... but don't. I'm talking about heavy things like racism, privilege, and feminism.

Now with the Harvey Weinstein scandal breaking last week, a whole new set of emotions and passions and opinions have awakened in my heart and I can't help but speak up. Thankfully a growing platform has made it easy for me, a few simple words cover the tumultuous wave of feelings that I have: "me too."

One of Weinstein's victims said she didn't speak up for years because of the intense shame she felt, she stuffed the memories and feelings as deep down as she could, burying it and moving on as best she could. I remember telling a friend once that I did the same thing, calling it a little "drop-box" I kept in the back of my mind. I would take the negative, abusive experience, mentally put it in the box, and keep it as separate from my self as I possibly could.

That's all fine and dandy until you watch a movie that has a scene that triggers something, making your heart race and your stomach nauseous, or a feeling towards men in your life that you just can't quite name, or an obsession with a national news scandal that leaves you unsettled, shaken, and desperate for more victims to speak up come forward-- suddenly you realize that that lock on your mythical "drop-box" may be broken.

I am following this story with great hope-- the social current buzzing around my generation feels electric, and ready for a big change. Things for my daughter will be certainly be different than they were for me. The younger generation of men that we are raising up can be taught by their parents and friends how to treat a woman, not just by a reprimand to "be a good gentleman and hold open the door for her" but rather to be a good man and speak up, stand up, and defend the women around you.

I am thankful to have worked for and along side some very good men. Some of the best I could ever know. The value and worth they saw in me gave me so much courage and made me a more whole, strong woman. But I have also encountered many, many men who saw women in a way that breaks my heart. As a young impressionable woman looking for security in many of the wrong places, those men scared my heart in a way that I continue to feel pain from.

The best thing that ever happened to me was meeting and marrying my husband. Nothing has been more redeeming in my story, in my life than being loved by a good, kind, and honest man. When I hear all the "me too's," (and think of the hundreds and thousands of the ones unspoken, let's never forget, 1:4) I think, now what? Where will these women all go from here? I hope that many of them have found paths of healing. Mine came from a wonderful counselor (one in almost every state we've lived, I think it's like four or five-- so if you need a good one, ask me!) solid communities of women where people are actually vulnerable and share what's beneath our sometimes made up facades, books of course, and most of all finding ways to hope.

Things will be different, the boys living under my roof are being raised up to be strong men who know the value of every human on this Earth: whether those humans have different colored skin, different sexual orientations, different backgrounds, different cultures, and different gender.


Keep reading, keep talking, keep praying...




Helping Kids Become GREAT Sleepers: Tips & Trips from a Mediocre Mama!

It goes without saying that sleep is one of the cornerstone issues new parents face. When I meet other moms, it comes up within minutes of conversation because so much of our well-being depends on how our little ones sleep at night! Without sleep, it is hard to function much less find joy in raising babies. Thankfully we have coffee and friends to love on us and encourage us along the way. Most of my sleep philosophy comes from advice from other mamas, endless visits to the pediatrician, and experience raising my four babies!

I'll preface by saying that I believe sleep is like 95% uncontrollable. Some kids come into the world as great sleepers and others... not so much. So if you have a four-year-old who's still not sleeping through the night, you're probably screwed.

This advice stems from my experience controlling the "other 5%." I will say that all four of my children sleep between 12 and 14 hours a night, their ages are five, four, two, and 7 months. When my daughter was born, my husband worked out of town for most of her infancy and toddler years. My sanity depended on her sleep schedule and we had such a rough start!

Here are a few of the things I learned along the way...

1. Start Them Young

Experts say the first three months, there is little hope of putting a baby on a schedule. I follow the protocol of nursing/giving a bottle right at bedtime, in a dark room, then laying my baby down while they're still awake. This is so important from the very beginning so that your kids learn to fall asleep in their bed instead of your arms! This is like a 50/50 happening in at first because I love having my little ones snuggle me; but eventually my need for a break wins out and I lay them down awake, say some soothing words, then shut the door. 

Baby Charlie's room, blackout curtain source
A doctor told me that once an infant sleeps through the night, they are able to do it again, without a middle of the night feeding. This was not my experience with Mack, but my other three started to go without middle of the night feedings somewhere between 8 and 12 weeks. They went through changes and growth spurts (I still follow "Lucie's List" to get e-mailed updates regarding Baby Charlie's expected milestones!) but I found letting them fall back asleep on their own through the night led to better sleep habits with each child.

While sleep training, I will let my babies cry for a few minutes. This is different for everyone! I do support some of the "cry it out" methodology. I will go in and soothe every so often, pick up my baby, calm them while standing next to the crib, then lay them back down and try again. During this time, I don't speak to them or turn on the lights. Before we start bedtime, I make sure they're full and have a dry diaper so I know that's not the source of crying. This can go on for quite a while when you first start! Honestly, I can remember doing it in 2 hour stretches at first, soothing every 10-15 minutes. Overtime they will recognize this is time to sleep and the crying may stop completely (it always did in my case!) 

2. Stay on Schedule

When my oldest was a few months old, I read somewhere that babies at that age need between 12-14 hours of sleep a night. I realized since I woke her up at 7am so I could get to work, that meant she could go to sleep between 6 and 7 pm. I thought it couldn't hurt to try, began putting her to bed at 6pm, and it worked! This was a lifesaver for me as my husband wasn't home and parenting alone all day left me exhausted and in need of some alone time. I also worked from home in the evenings and it gave me time to eat dinner, watch my favorite show, and get some work done! Now my daughter is 5 years old and in kindergarten. In the summers bedtime is way more laid back but we're getting back into our old routine. I put the little boys to bed by 6:30, and the big kids are in bed at 7.

I can see how this wouldn't work with people who work outside the home, have nightly sports/activites, and later dinner times. We still spend so much time at home that it is no problem for me to feed my kids around 5 pm, then do baths, books, and brush teeth! 

3. Binky/Lovey

Two of my kids kept pacifiers and now I have two thumb-suckers. Each person also has their own "lovey" a small attachment blanket or stuffed animal I introduce around 9 months/a year. I love things that can help them recreate their sleep environment. We try to keep these just for bed time and as soon as my toddler sees his lovey, he instantly puts his thumb in his mouth and lays on the floor! 

Archie and his beloved truck blanket

4. Sound Machine

Again with creating that environment, having a sound machine helps us set the stage that sleep is different from anything else we do. Mike thinks I have damaged our kids' hearing with these (because they all shout non stop!) so I am keeping the volume lower than I used to. When we travel these are always packed, and I keep a back-up around if one happens to break. I've crawled into sleeping kids rooms with a flashlight in my mouth to put batteries in these during thunderstorms-- just in case the power goes out!

5. Black Out Curtains

Everyone's room is as dark as possible. I have blackout curtains over every window and also several of them have brown pillow cases tacked up as well. Since it is still light out most of the time we go to bed, I have to trick them into thinking it's dark and also don't want my kids woken up by the sun in the mornings. We operate in a war-time mentality around here when it comes to bedtime, and their rooms are like little bunkers! 

The boys' room, blackout curtains from Target, not pictured: old diaper boxes filled with various clothes and garbage, a clump of used bandaids I found when I made Mack's bed, and a stack of contraband toy weapons I found in the closet

6. Short Routine

Until my kids are two or three, I give them a kiss, lay them in bed, and walk away. I read a story to my older two, then pray over them and sometimes sing one song. I don't lay with them very long although I feel this is important and when my husband is home, I spend more time talking and hearing their little thoughts and stories. However he is still gone a lot and I have been with these sweet people all day and usually am ready for some me-time! 

7. I Do Not Negotiate with Terrorists!

Nobody got out of bed the first few years but now I'm getting a lot of repeat offenders-- asking for cups of water, urgent cries for a bug bite remedy, complaints about growing pains. Most of the time I will simply send them back to bed. Sometimes the door from the lower-level opens and I will just shout, "No!" from the couch before even hearing their requests! This doesn't always work and sometimes it's easier to give in and quickly meet their demands and send them back to bed. I really try to nip anything in the bud as quickly as I can, and often offer bribes for staying in bed if it is becoming a habit (something simple like the promise of a glass of orange juice or a few chocolate chips with breakfast usually does the trick!)

8. Middle of the Night Shenanigans

You know how they say with adults, it takes you 21 days to make something into a habit? With kids, I think it's 1 time. My kids will wake up in the middle of the night to tell me something then BAM, we are having middle of the night conversations for 6 months! I am a heavy sleeper and can't be relied on in the middle of the night to help anybody. Thankfully I will hear the baby but the big kids are often left to fend for themselves.

Once when Mack was three, he came upstairs to tell me he wet the bed. I told him I'd come help him, but fell back asleep! The next morning during breakfast, I remembered what had happened and said, "Oh no! Mack what did you do, I'm so sorry I never came!" And he happily said, "That's okay Mom, I just changed my clothes, threw the yucky pull-up in the trash, and laid a blanket down where I peed and went back to sleep!" Three cheers for independent kiddos-- but I really did feel bad for not showing up! 

9. Wake-up Rules

We have a strict rule that nobody wakes up before 7am. That is super hard to enforce with babies. I think some kids just need less sleep than others! However, when mine were little, I would put them back to sleep if they woke up early. Sometimes I knew they were hungry, so at 5 or 6 am I would give them a few ounces, change their diapers, and put them back to bed. Eventually it became a habit for them to sleep late and they skipped the early wake-up time. Mack used to go to bed at 7pm, then sleep until 9 or even 10 am! I have an early riser but I put her to work, having her help me make everyone's breakfast and do a few quick chores so there is less incentive to wake up early!

The room of my early riser, who makes her bed every morning, packs her own lunch, and lays out her outfit for the next day as soon as she gets home from school. Basically she acts like she's not related to me in every way-- and it is all kinds of awesome! 

Disclaimers:


1. One of my kids woke up every two hours through the night, until he was ONE years old, and he also barely slept during the day unless I was holding him or he was in his jumper.

2. If people are sick or teething, every rule goes out the window and it is crazy-town.

3. None of my babies/toddlers are great nappers-- even the 7 month old barely takes two long naps a day and often goes with one short one, falling asleep in the car here and there between errands and school pick-ups. I think this is the price I pay for having great night sleepers. That break during the day may be more important to you, and then you should do what's best for your own family!

4. I have always loved the idea of having my kids sleep in bed with us but I just can't do it. I do not sleep at all when they're there and for some reason, neither do they. We just stare at each other all night until I get up enough energy to walk them back to bed. I love the idea of co-sleeping though and support it in every way! 

5. If my kids don't go to bed by 7 or 8 pm, they are up until 9 or 10-- every time. I think there is a window and once it closes, they are ready to party... indefinitely!

I can't stress more that every family and kid are different. If you don't spend as much time with your kids during the day, I can see how you would want to stretch those evening hours. It is is amazing how well kids thrive when they are simply loved.

I would love to hear any tips you have, please share in the comments anything that works for your family that I may have missed!

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