Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blood, Sweat and Rears

Ninja Moms know that parenting is not for wimps.  From attending to scraped knees, chasing after active toddlers, or wiping down many rears throughout the course of a day, a Ninja Mom has earned a good night's sleep.  But as we all know, mothering is a 24/7 job and so many times, an honest night of rest just isn't in the cards.  Many Moms of young children would say that the best gift they could receive would be a full night of sleep. But unless the husband books a single reservation for you at the Holiday Inn, we know that a full night of rest is unlikely to happen.  Often we forget how very essential sleep is to the body.  But the fact is, we cannot be on our A-Game without an adequate night of sleep.  But let's be real.  People who say that they sleep like a baby -- usually don't have one, right?

What are some ways to gain a little rest when you have active children in the house?

Get On A Schedule
Establishing a routine in the evenings is imperative to gaining sanity and order to the usual chaos. You can help your child adjust to winding down in the evening by setting up a Menu of Events several hours before bedtime.  For example, allow your child to have some playtime just after dinner.  Junior can play with toys, games or watch TV in an unstructured setting while dinner clean-up is taking place. After dinner clean-up, you could take Junior for a short stroller-ride or walk outside, expending up some of his energy so that he will be ready and relaxed come bath time.  For young children, this can be a pleasant and much anticipated time to romp around a bit outdoors, exploring the yard or neighborhood.  If you have a dog, you could take Rover along for the stroll.  Being outside and active will not only be fun for Junior, it will help clear your mind and perhaps provide some time for conversation with your spouse, as hopefully he will be able to join you.

After the evening stroll, a relaxing bath will feel welcome to your little one.  Many children enjoy being in the water, so it helps to have a few toys for your child to play with while you attend to the bathing tasks.  The toys need not be fancy.  Small, simple plastic cups can provide ample entertainment.  Did you know that water play teaches your child about spatial properties as he dumps cup after cup in the tub and transfers water from one cup to the next?  The tub is also a great hangout for those cheap Happy Meal toys or action figures.  Your child can enjoy imaginative play as Spiderman or Strawberry Shortcake take leaps off of the edge of the tub into the water.

A story is a great way to follow up the bath, because let's face it -- nothing beats a great bedtime story.  Junior is now clean, and snug in his favorite pajamas.  Most likely he is relaxed and smells nice.  Cuddling up for a story is pleasing to the both of you, as it provides relaxing moments and time to bond.  The story need not be long, and chances are that your little one will request it be read over (and over) again.  But a Ninja Mom has patience and knows that reading to her children is one of the best things you can do for him.
Here are some suggestions for wonderful bedtime stories to be shared with your kids:

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
This is a classic and a favorite for every generation.  The familiar bedroom setting with the predictable turn of events where the rabbit says goodnight to everything in the great green room, will provide your child with a soothing story to set his slumber off right. 

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
This is a great story about a little boy who goes for a walk and takes his purple crayon along, drawing many adventures on his journey. At the end of his adventures, he draws his bed and then falls asleep.  This story is sure to capture Junior's imagination as well as put the thought of zzzzzzz's into his head!

Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam McBratney
A whimsical tale of Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare.  This story has adorable illustrations and exemplifies the love bond between parent and child.

Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep by Joyce Dunbar
We all should hear something happy before retiring to bed, right?  In this story, Willa cannot sleep because she is afraid of having a bad dream.  She asks her brother Willoughby, to tell her something happy. Willoughby tells her of the many things that will be waiting for her to wake up (her toys, her slippers, her breakfast, the morning) to enjoy the next day.  This story brings the secure thought that the coming day will bring joy, happiness and new adventures.

Animal Sleepyheads 1 to 10 by Joanna Cole
This is a rhyming story that is great for helping your little one gain familiarity with numbers.  From 1 to 10, Junior can count all of the animals happily sleeping the night away.

Once Junior is secure and asleep, it is time for the Ninja Mommie to Power Down for the night.  It's important for you to get into a routine as well.  We all know that there are evenings when you may be tempted to skip washing your face or even brushing your teeth.  Don't skip these important things, no matter how exhausted you feel.  A Ninja Mom has to be healthy to stay stealthy!

Finally, when you are laying in bed reviewing the events of your crazy, chaotic day...give yourself a pat on the back.  Finding gratitude in something...anything, is important (even if the day was the pits).  Because life is a lot like the book Tell Me Something Good Before I Go To Sleep.  We all need to feel secure before we drift off.  We all need to know that we did the best job possible that particular day, despite the chaos.  Sleep tight, Ninja Mommie, and know that the coming day will bring forth new joy, happiness and untold adventures.