And Then There Were None

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-12,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

Over the last week, the V5 kissed their last nap goodbye. While it was bittersweet, after 7 days of being nap-free, we believe we did the right thing. The transition went surprisingly well so, I had to share the success.

How did we know it was time?

Most sleep consultants and specialists agree that most preschool-aged children between the ages of 3-5 years need 10-13 hours of sleep every day. For us, this was from 8pm at night to 6am and a nap from 12:30-2:30. In the last few months, we had more and more mutinies during nap time and surprisingly the munchkins that didn’t nap made it past dinner better than those who did. We also noted that they were having trouble falling asleep and winding down at night when they did nap. This Mama turns into a pumpkin before 9pm so the staying up until 9:30-10p had to go. The V5 have always been early birds but even the worms were still sleeping at 4:30am. So, all of these signs pointed to the need to transition.

How to Transition

Like most childhood transitions, whether it be starting solids, potty training or decreasing daily naps, it is best to let the child lead the way. Therefore, be sure not to disregard naps too soon. Those brain breaks are essential for emotional and physical resets during the day.

When it is time to transition, consider a slow fade where you decrease the nap by 15-20 minutes each day. While we didn’t technically follow this suggestion, I believe the kiddos did. In retrospect, their 2-hour nap had dwindled over time.

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-12,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

Practice quiet time. This is an invaluable practice that can follow them into adulthood. This gives our crew time alone to look at books, do puzzles, sing, color or draw. While it is tricky to keep them separated, it pays dividends in the afternoon.

It is important to note that quiet time isn’t equivalent to screen time. While a 30-minute episode of their favorite show may provide the adult with some quiet time, it is not going to provide rest that their mind is seeking but rather will stimulate the brain.

This last suggestion may be obvious, but one must also move bedtime earlier. Our home now becomes meltdown-city around 6:30p. Therefore, we moved the dinner hour 30-minutes earlier to have be able to head upstairs by 6:30p and those sleepy eyes are shut now by 7p.

Benefits of Being Nap-Free

If you would’ve asked me a month or two ago about the benefits of being nap-free, I may have struggled but now I am relishing in the freedom to schedule fun day-time activities without restrictions. It also has permitted more hours in the day to have fun family time as evidenced by the Springtime fun featured below. The best benefit of all may be that they are now sleeping through the night with greater consistency and the bed-time battles have also decreased. This means more time for Nana to recoup and more time for Dad and Mom to be husband and wife.

Park Time

Pool Time

Zoo Time

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Tis’ the Season for Social Learning

We are now a month into the school year and have finally found our routine. The children absolutely love school. If they had it their way, they would go everyday. They enjoy their teachers and the opportunity to teach Dad, Nana and Mom all that they learn each day. It did take a few weeks to understand the concept of friends. I think it was likely because they already have a social unit. But, now I’m proud to say that each has at least one friend they look forward to playing with each day. They also have learned all of the names of the other children in their class.

Their favorite week yet was the mojo week where each day of the week was an opportunity to dress up with crazy hair to tye-dye to their pjs.

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It has been a true blessing observing their social growth in just the last few weeks. I also love to hear the songs they are learning, how they are able to use their scissors more effectively and write their names in the right direction 80% of the time.

My greatest challenge remains helping them to transition to school and back home from school. Getting in the car and then out of the car with minimal yelling, threats and tears is a victory. This is a social and emotional learning opportunity for all of us.  I am learning that less is more and that my directions need to be simple, calm and clear… without threats. It is a work in progress.

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The kiddos have also joined karate! We were reviewing all of the extra-curricular possibilities and landed on martial arts because of the many benefits for developing focus, discipline, respect as well as an outlet to for gross motor development.  The experience has already provided a number of new mentors for the kids, as well as, consistent language to foster reverence for adults and one another. Their class is a mixture of white belt levels and kids ages 4-7 years and thus also serves as a great modeling opportunity and even more friends!

We are very excited for all of the opportunities that this season of life has served up! Major growth is ahead!

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To everything there is a season…

King Solomon in chapter three of the Book of Ecclesiastes writes, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…” The Byrds agreed and sang, “To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose under heaven.” Everyone is aware of change- young and old- life truly is a series of seasons. We can postpone, fear and protest change, but we cannot stop it. I have found that change is best experienced in small steps with a firm foundation.

How does this apply to toddlerhood? From my perspective, toddlers change every day and they are keenly aware of the changes within themselves and around them. The V5 have noted that the leaves are changing from Lily-Green to Theo-Orange, Mae-Yellow, Bella-Purple and Ellie-Pink. They also have noticed that it’s windy outside and “told,” too. Our little munchkins have prompted many changes in the last month and have led us through most of them gracefully.

Bowls to Plates

IMG_0239The V5 have been eating from a bowl for a very long time. We welcomed the idea of transitioning to plates for lunch and dinner because it would teach them to pace themselves. Lily was previously wolfing down her food; she is known to be quite the snake at the table and not chew one bite. But, now she has slowed down to keep pace with her sibs.

It also provides the opportunity to demonstrate what a healthy meal looks like and the food groups present. Chef Theo caught on right away and enjoys demonstrating is well-balanced meal (Meat, Toast and Matoes). The kids have also become very engaged in the meal planning and preparation process. At lunch and dinner, we ask what they would like and each get to choose 1 item; it helps that there are five food groups. Then my little sous chefs walk me through each step of the process. Their favorite meals are:

  • egg, toast, avocado, spinach and applesauce
  • meat, orange potatoes, zucchini and oranges

Diapers to Pull-ups

12190122_10105606212087850_3878022794533863438_nAs you know we are Potty Training Boot Camp veterans. We have experienced two tours. Since the second tour, the V5 have been self-initiating 2-3 trips to the potty each day. Elliott, Mae and Bella are really good at anticipating pee-pee and poo-poo; Lily loves to try and is still learning the internal sensations; Theo enjoys sitting on the big-boy potty. Many potty-training gurus discourage Pull-ups because they are essentially diapers. But, we like them because it gives the kids the independence to try to go to the potty on their own and saves lots of messes.

Cribs to Toddler Beds

IMG_0275When is it time to transition to a toddler bed? I’m not sure there is a best time, but most recommend to introduce them when the crib becomes unsafe. For us, this was when at least two were able to climb out of their cribs and they were able to in the middle of the night. Our transition was quick- all at once. Bella was the first to escape. With great grace she leapt out like an Olympic pole vaulter. We bought ourselves time by lowering her mattress to the floor. Theo was next and launched himself out of the bed in the middle of the night while demanding snuggles. The next day, we chose to transition to toddler beds at nap time. Warning: this change requires consistency and strong boundaries. Prepare a safe room that they can explore in the middle of the night, expect a sleepless night full of tantrums, and do not go back. Once the door is closed, let them figure it out.

A New House
The biggest transition on the horizon is our move to Sun Prairie, specifically the township of Bristol. The kids are really looking forward to the move and I think it is because they know that it is for the better. We talk about the “new house” with great positivity. They have visited and seen how much space they will have to learn and play. We look forward to closing on December 7th!

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Tips to Ease Transition

As I noted earlier, change can be quite difficult but I believe there are many things we can do, specifically parents can do, to ease transition for their children.

  1. Over-Communicate. We practice over-communication with anything new on a daily basis. We have found that the kids do very well when they know what is coming. Whether it is consequences or the day’s events, we see fewer tantrums when they know what’s next. I also say over-communicate, because to an adult it can sound silly to lay out basic steps, like, “when you are doing eating, we will scrape our plates once and then take them to the sink.” But, to a child these are important because otherwise they may not understand why they can’t sit at the table and lick their plates for 10 minutes after the meal (Cough- Ellie- Cough Cough).
  2. Take it slow. Avoid turning a child’s world upside-down. I truly believe that children change a little bit every day, so they are already learning to experience the world a little different every time they wake. Be careful with self-imposed changes, such as those that we have described above. I have to remind myself that small steps also lead to big changes. One example is the transition from two naps to one. Most recommend making this change 10 minutes at a time versus all at once.
  3. Lead by Example. If change is scary for the parent, I believe the child will sense that fear, too. I will openly admit that I am not good at change. But, I am open to trying to become better at it. I like order, sequence and schedules and transitions do not always allow for this. Therefore, as I learn to accept change and ease transition I hope to role model a healthy way to handle change for my children. Because change is new, sometimes spontaneous and can be open-ended, I have found a firm foundation of what is known is important to me. Therefore, I try to provide a firm foundation for my children when we are transitioning, such as my great love for them and the simple reminder that everything is going to be okay.

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Fun Finish… Sneak peek into Minion Mansion: Halloween 2015