I love having my grandkids here.  It’s tiring, but rewarding!  It also gives me a lot to blog about!  Three random thoughts come to mind today:

First, this is the longest span of time Landon and Rilyn have ever been away from their mommy and daddy.  Landon, 8 months, doesn’t know much difference, but Rilyn, who will be 3 in April, is keenly aware.  Everyday she has woken up in the morning and from her afternoon nap and said, “Today my mommy is coming?”  (Her mommy and daddy are on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic.)

I decided to make her a paper chain to give her a visual of how many “sleeps” she’ll have before her mommy and daddy come home. Every time she wakes up from a nap or in the morning, she gets to take off one link on the chain.  As the chain shrinks, she gets closer to when her mom and dad get home.  This has greatly reduced the questions and given her a sense of time and security. Sometimes as moms…and Nanas…we have to learn how to speak a child’s language.

Second, when Erica was little she had long hair that I learned to braid in a dozen different ways. Rilyn’s hair is getting long enough to do that and she’s good about sitting still and letting me get it out of her face before breakfast every morning.  I’m glad to discover that I haven’t lost my touch!  If you have a little one with long hair, this twist is so easy.  Its just like a French braid, but you only use two strands instead of three.  If you’d like to learn how to do this, let me know and I’ll try to put up a You Tube video tutorial.

Third…bedtimes.  With little ones in the house, I am reminded of the importance of regular/early bedtimes.  For kids. For parents.  Why is bedtime important?

For Kids: 

Kids need sleep.  They need more sleep than adults need.  Little ones ages 1-3 need 12-14 hours a day and ages 3-6 need 10-12 hours a day (including nap and night sleep).  Good sleep contributes to physical health and reduces discipline issues. As the kids get to school age, sleep is necessary for learning and focus.  (You can find a complete list of sleep needs from birth to 18 here.)

Kids need routine. They need a regular bedtime routine and a regular time they go to bed. 8 pm was bedtime for our kids through grade school.  9 pm as they got into middle school/junior high.  10 pm in high school (although when Mark and I hit the sack around 9 or 9:30 so do our boys these days).  Bath, story, and prayer makes for a good bedtime routine for little ones.

For Parents:

Parents need a break.  When kids go to bed, it’s much-needed time for mom and dad (and Nana and Pappaw!).  Mom and Dad can get a few things accomplished without interruption AND they can intentionally spend time with each other.  Each night after the kids go to bed, Mark and I do a quick pick up of the house and then we snuggle on the couch to watch some TV or read.  Occasionally we play a game of Bananagrams or Yahtzee.  This gives us much needed talk time!

Parents need to be parents.  When kids don’t have an established bedtime, it’s usually because the kid is in charge rather than the parent being in charge.  Parenting is all about leadership. Kids don’t do a very good job leading themselves…that’s why they need parents to lead them!

So what about you? Do you have anything to add about “childspeak,” hair braids, or how you do the sleep routine at your house?  We can learn so much from each other!

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