The Toddler Sleep Strategy that Has Saved our Sanity!

The toddler sleep strategy that will save your sanity!

….. And vacuum cleaners…. Boy loves to pray for vacuum cleaners.

Sleep has been one of the most contentious issues in our home since the birth of the boy.  We tired tried a number of “sleep training” methods in his infancy with little success because there were too many things that interrupted any good routines that we finally managed to perfect. And while we had different opinions, neither of us were quite comfortable letting our new babe scream until he passed out… (no judgement from me though… I know way too many people who sleep peacefully through the night as a result of it…). Toddler sleep has been eluding us of late though.

I’m excited today to share a new-ish strategy that somehow crept into our nightly routine and saved my sanity.   We recently transitioned to a “big boy bed” – read: a bed that a kid can escape from at will…as many times as he wants…. in 0.15 seconds….

At least it’s safer than his crib Houdini antics…

Boy now had the upper hand.

First, I had to convince him that his bed was special (and it IS!  we shlepped that organic mattress all the way from Canada people!).  Then I more or less hyperbolically sat on him until he zonked out on it. Rinse and repeat.  But it was taking SO much longer for him to fall asleep there then it did in his crib (we had it down to a 15 minute science) – which meant it that our new nighttime routine was gobbling up over an hour of our already short evening together as a couple.

Our Previous Routine to Encourage Toddler Sleep:

  1. Use the potty
  2. Put on a night-time diaper and pyjamas
  3. Brush teeth and wash face
  4. Turn on air purifier
  5. Close curtains
  6. Kneel beside bed and pray together
  7. Sing one of four favourite songs
  8. Place into bed
  9. Listen to litany of excuses and how “not sleepy” he was
  10. Remind him that he was, in fact, knackered
  11. Wait for him to pass out
  12. Sneak quietly out of bedroom.

NOW, the moment we have all been waiting for.  I suspect this would work on kids of most ages from infancy on….  don’t get too excited now, but actually you can, because it makes so much sense, and it’s loving, and lovely, and comforting and just a delightful way to leave a Little for the night.

The toddler sleep strategy that will save your sanity

Take a Deep Breath

No really.  That’s it.  Then take another one.

I’ve been having a bit of a tough time falling asleep for the past few months… and repeated deep breaths were helping me.  So why not him?

Following steps 1-7, our new 8th step is to sit quietly with him (I generally have to remind him that if he talks or moves around he goes straight into bed by himself-  instant calm).  Then holding him against my chest I take 15-20 deep, slow breaths and he begins to match them.

At the end of this, he is still awake, but so relaxed… and almost drowsy.  I put him right into his bed… he still insists that he is not tired… but the proof is in the pudding parents…. 2 minutes to snoozeville.

I don’t want to mislead you into thinking this is a miracle that works 100% of the time… but it’s been close for us!  There have been maybe 2 or 3 days over the last few weeks when he didn’t doze off quickly… but by and large – my boy and I enjoy a sweet time of winding down together, and he falls asleep on his own in under 5 minutes.

A peaceful and happy boy means this mama is full of joy!

Wishing you success and toddler sleep-dust 🙂

10 Things to Teach a Toddler in 10 Minutes or Less

I’m about to start working (my parents are nodding their heads with vigorous enthusiasm at that assertion) – I hear it’s the thing to do in your fourth decade of life (I’m 30…but that means I’m entering my 4th decade… Right? Ack. Say it ain’t so!)  Naturally, I’m suddenly panicked about just how little time I have left with my little Bean before I abandon him for the thing they call…. The Grind. So today I have a rundown for ya of 10 things to teach a toddler in 10 minutes or less.

I’m scrambling to impart my decades (so many decades!!) of wisdom before this happens.  There’s no formal schooling happening in our home right now because I’m a firm believer that kids learn through play – but according to our 3-15 chunks – we do try to do a teeny bit of slightly more “formal” learning everyday.

In a way, it’s an experiment to see just how much a little 2-year old brain can process (spoiler alert:  EVERYTHING), it gives a little more structure to our day, and he finds it highly amusing. Win-win-win.

So if you find yourself with some time to kill (Some of these work really well in lengthy car ride situations as well) – go to town (pun so intended) with some of these!

10 Things You can teach a toddler in 10 minutes

10 Things to Teach a Toddler in Under 10 Minutes

1. A capital of a country, or where the extended family lives (i.e.: Auntie Annie lives in Pickering)

10 things you can teach a toddler in 10 minutes

2. A letter and what it is for (N is for Nana, or M is Mommy’s letter)

3. How to (properly) do a small chore (tidy up the shoes in the hallway, put dirty clothes in the laundry machine, make a bed, wash your hands, put away books)

4. How to say “hi” or “thank you” in another language (the little will sometimes blurt out “merci beaucoup” and there is nothing sweeter)

5. A short Bible story or verse (with actions, always with actions)

6. A fun new song

7. A game that gets them moving (like “tag”), or how to do a squat, oh and lunges are aaaa.dorable.

8. How to put on or take off an article of clothing (shoes and socks have been a doozie for my little Einstein! Haha!)

9. How to write the number “1” or “7” (the easiest I reckon for their pudgy, uncoordinated hands)

10. How to give better hugs or kisses (puckers and squeezes for daysss) …. The gift that keeps on giving – for at least a decade….right?

What else have you seen success with?  I love how independent he is becoming, and we’re having the best time enabling him!

A 30 Year Old Mom – Lessons Learned

Hellooooo world! I’m a 30 year old mom!

Hard to believe and yet…. FINALLY. I polled the whole store when we were glasses shopping last week to make sure that my new frames would make me look older. Or at least over 16 – and I think we were successful. Stay tuned. This girl is growing up 🙂

A 30-year old mom - Lessons learned - Cutting Edge Kid

Is it okay if we go a little off-road today and do an update instead of a straight up cutting edge kid solution?

Virtual thanks!

So remember when I talked about how we do birthdays chez nous? (Read about our limited gifts approach here) – well husband did not disappoint. Every year since we got married he has planned a special overnight trip for us – Montreal, Niagara Falls, Ras Al Khaima resort and this time……drumrollllll…… ATLANTIS the Palm here in Dubai :). Man he’s a keeper.

I’d heard about this mystical land, and it lived up to the rumors. A suite bigger than our apartment, unlimited waterpark and aquarium access, calories for daysss, and my first night away from the son!

Surprise and soul searching - cutting edge kid
That washroom though!
Surprise and Soul Searching - Cutting Edge Kid
The view by night

A 30-year old mom - lessons learned - cutting edge kid

I woke up to a love letter, rose, latte, croissants and cannoli for breakfast (another husband win!), and we packed our bags for a secret destination, son in tow. 30 seconds after getting into the car, I began to hear “you are arriving at your destination” in Stud Muffin’s best GPS voice. And we were – this staycation was just minutes away in distance, but planets away in everything else.

I just think that these times away from reality – these little bites of carefree timelessness we enjoy are infinitely refreshing and so valuable for our little family. The son got to enjoy “so much fishies and stingrings” plus hours of fun in the lazy river, before husband dropped him off at home so we could enjoy a romantic dinner and peaceful slumber.

Atlantis Lost Chambers Aquarium - cutting edge kid

Atlantis Aquaventure - Cutting Edge Kid

People say that you can grow older without growing wiser and better. I bet it’s true. But I also think it’s hard to do if you have a child (or many). It is a serious reality check to see your worst self surfacing in his tiny ways, and an inspiration to see him choose to do good, to be kind, and so full of joy.

In my two years as his mother, I have learned that:

– Routines rule and make for a more peaceful home – but sometimes we just need to break free of them and have serious unencumbered fun
– Everything I say and do matters, but I am blessed to be given chance after chance
– Everyone is happier when the son is well rested (read about that here)
– Any time I overestimate his abilities, he comes through and lives up to my crazy expectations. So I expect a lot.
– Every little issue that we have as parents is a direct blessing from the LORD and one that develops a virtue we need (known or not)

So in this next year, and next decade of my life, I am working on becoming the best version of myself, so that I can be the best example to my children and the best wife to my most wonderful husband. I’ve seen kids who turn out to be wildly different from their parents, but by and large we are products of those who raise us. My birthday wish and constant prayer is that I would be an intentional mother that raises cutting edge kids who will raise other cutting edge kids and win this world for Good.

The Definitive Guide to Stop a Toddler from Whining!

I am the mother of a 2-year old. They told me 2 would be tough – the terrible-twos – right?  I would like to rename them the terrific-twos. I’d like to, but I can’t just yet. Because, WHINING. But even this is manageable. Get excited – I’m going to let you in on a little secret – how to stop a toddler from whining.

“I don’t want to wear pantssssssssssss maaaamaaaaaay” (English accent on the mommy…who knows.)

“There’s a grain of rice of my chinnnnn……..”

“I can’t find my nooooooooose”

How to Stop a Toddler from Whining
It can be that traumatic.

My lovely little can turn seemingly innocent, pleasant words into the most hair-pulling of sounds.   Other than that, so far, I’m LOVING the 2’s. He is the best he has ever been! Sweet, polite, intellectually absorbent, kind, hilarious, generous, and so preciously affectionate. Bring it on baby!

But.the.whining.   We can do without.

How to Stop a Toddler from Whining

So I whipped out a little strategy I like to call “The Whining Seat”

It has seen an almost 100% success rate over the last month. You may want to take notes.  Here goes:

Child decides that ____ is a national catastrophe.

Child proceeds to whine.

Whining reaches the ears of a sensible person (me).

I detail reality for him in toddler-friendly language.

Whining persists.

Sensible individual calmly says “son, do you need to sit in the whining seat?” (this “seat” changes based on where we are in the moment – but is generally high off the ground so that he can’t escape without help…. Think countertop, high chair, table, dresser….etc)

Whining persists.

Son is placed on said Whining Seat.

As he is placed on the proverbial WS I explain that he can whine if he wants to, but he has to stay there until he is done. As soon as he is quiet and talking normally (or can flash a smile) he is free to go.

How to Stop a Toddler from Whining

Honestly, I don’t know why this works. But it does.

In a way, it’s a little mockery…. I stand in front of him while he does his time and gesture to “carry on…keep going….let it all out”… usually he finds that funny and bursts out laughing to end the whine. Then I clarify, “are you all done whining sweetie?”, and I get a “All done mammayyyy” (the English accent is real.). Freedom ensues.

From then on, for a reasonable amount of time, the simple threat of a return to his lofty perch is enough to quell the beginnings of a whine.

Again, don’t understand the psychology, but it works and keeps us sane 🙂 Terrific-two’s for the win!

Can ya’ll give it a shot and tell me what you find?   I’m over the moon.  Wishing you every success, and the most peaceful of homes!

Kids Learn By Example

There will be lots to come on the topic of teaching language to our children (ie: multiple languages, how to learn colors etc.) but here’s a quick one today to remind us all that our kids learn by example.

We were at Church the other day when I had a huge coughing spat. At the end of it I flippantly said “oh goodness!”…. and heard it repeated for the rest of the hour courtesy of my little parrot. I had said it with a smile on my face (of relief, because the coughing was done) – so said little bird thought it was funny, and exclaimed it more and more urgently until we walked out the door.

Whenever he wants to do something like color… laundry…swim…or lick my toes… he’ll say to me “may I have swimming please mommy” and then cheekily add “maybe later” (my frequent response)…. Or when he runs to the front door, he mockingly says “don’t open the door” with my exact voice inflections!   Infuriatingly cute.

He’s picking up crazy amounts of Hindi from our Indian nanny now too. What the what?!

Kids Learn by Example

I remember when my little niece was just a tiny little tingu and barely talking yet, her dad would say things like “honey your behavior just now was highly inappropriate” and we would kind of giggle about how crazy those words must have sounded to an infant… but you should hear the girl now. She’s barely three and has a better vocabulary than some adults I know.

Studies have shown time and time again that talking to our kids (reading and singing count too) – but just using language around them is how they learn and assimilate their mother tongue. I was talking to a friend who works in a daycare the other day who told me that she can tell how parents talk at home based on the things their children say. Anyone else blushing?

Kids learn by example, so watch what you say. Watch how you say it. But keep saying good things!

Kids Learn By Example