Categories
Children Parenting Summer

Why I try (and still fail) to keep a summer sleep schedule.

It’s officially summer!

We just had our first camping trip as a family down at Harrison Lake State Park a few weeks back, and it didn’t turn out too bad. The planning part wasn’t awful. Gathering all of our supplies that we needed the week before the trip was a bit hectic. Honestly, the worst part of the whole planning process was the packing that had to be done near the end. I had lists, upon lists, upon lists to make sure we did not forget anything, had things prepacked in advance before the day of departure, and we still managed to forget essential items.

Also, we thought we could survive without coffee for the whole week. We were sorely mistaken. I’m definitely investing in a percolator and a manual coffee grinder for our next excursion. Or, I could just pack some instant coffee or get some preground stuff and just make some good ol’ fashioned “Cowboy Coffee“. However I decide to do it, I’m definitely not leaving home without the caffeine bean again. Yes, I know have a problem, thank you.

After going on this trip, I became curious about sleep schedules for kids during the summer, since it seemed like everyone I knew had a different way of approaching the subject. Some held very strict standards, and every event or item of the day was planned around bedtime. Others were more lenient and allowed their kids to stay up late during the summer, but would then go back to bedtimes once school started back up again. Of course, this all varied depending on factors like the child’s age/developmental stage, the kind of schedules the parents or caregivers had and based on what the kids liked and what they didn’t like. It was interesting to see the different strategies that everyone had managed to make work for them. And I saw that these methods got tweaked over time as the kids got older, or after a big change in schedule occurred.

parenting-style-during-summer-break
I think we’ve all seen this gem floating around the internet lately, and I can definitely relate…

According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is recommended that preschool-age kids get between 10-13 hours of sleep per night, while older kids get between 8-11 hours a night. This is because it can be harder to readjust sleep patterns when fall comes back around, and days start to become shorter and the sun starts to set earlier. If their circadian rhythm gets thrown off, it has been shown to affect future habits in sleep, diet, and activity levels. A Japanese study on a group of 400+ 18-month-olds also found that those who had earlier bedtimes with enough nap time during the day had shown positive effects on neurodevelopment.

From what I remember, my mom didn’t really enforce a sleep schedule on us. (But I also don’t remember anything significant before the age of 15.) My mom worked and was definitely a busy person during the year, but she never had to enforce a bedtime. I think she let us learn the hard way what would happen if we decided to stop sleeping. We knew how to listen to our bodies and figure out when we needed to sleep during the summer. So enforcing a summer bedtime on my own daughter, even while on a vacation, was completely new territory for me to wade into.

Anyway, we rented out the only cabin that existed in the whole park, and it was amazing. The reason why Harrison Lake held a special place in my heart? It was clean. Quiet. Peaceful. Felt like miles away from home, even though it was only an hour drive. And it was also a big part of my childhood. I would go with my mother and younger sister almost every year. It was our way to unplug and unwind for the summer, and I had many fond memories of the place. Now with a husband and child into the mix, I had hoped to be able to completely unplug once again and enjoy alone time with myself once again. My hopes were shattered that first night as PJ was still adjusting to her new environment, and Dan continued to use his phone to play games. I remained committed to my tech-free decision despite this. My phone was off and out of sight, and I don’t regret it.

harrison-lake-state-park-ohio-vacation-camping-sunset

At first, I was devastated. I began thinking about how I may not get the chance to have a quiet moment during my first vacation that I’ve had in years. PJ stayed up late for the first few nights in, but then I think she realized she was getting tired during the day. Luckily, there were few tantrums and was able to take a few power naps.

Once PJ adjusted, she became the happiest little girl on the planet. She ended up LOVING the trip, and I am excited to report that we will be planning another trip before the camping season ends. She loved being outdoors and exploring. And my heart melted as I got to watch her enjoy the simple activities I used to enjoy when I was younger.

Watching her eat a s’more for the first time was absolutely hilarious.

mom-and-daughter-camping-harrison-lake-state-park-ohio

While I did struggle with my conscious about putting her to bed while the sun was still out most of the time, that feeling of guilt quickly disappeared once I saw her snuggle with her favorite teddy bear and blanket and rolled over into a little baby burrito to prepare for her snooze. I wasn’t a complete control freak for the whole week, either. I let her stay up way past her bedtime for a couple of nights to roast some marshmallows with our guests and watch the stars with us.

When we got home, it was super easy to get her back onto her regular schedule for the summer. The first night home, she was eager to get back into her bed, with all of her familiar books and stuffed animal friends she missed while she was away. Now, we’ve never heard her say she actually wanted to go to sleep until we returned from that trip. We really must have worn her out! This whole thing was a success in my book.

homestead-ice-cream-shoppe-archbold-ohio-tabitha-marquis-family-photo
At the Homestead Ice Cream Shoppe in Archbold, OH.

So in my experience, a sleep schedule during the summer works for us. This is only my two cents about it. And there are definitely days where I suck at enforcing it. There are definitely pros and cons about sleep schedules, especially during the summer, but for now, this method seems to work for my family. I’m sure it will probably need adjustment down the road, but as long as everyone is happy for the most part, I’m okay with it.

My kid is napping happily in her room as I’m wrapping this up. I’m just so blessed to have such an awesome kid. Whether she sleeps well or not, she’s amazing. While she sleeps, I will continue to be grateful for these rare moments to myself in the kitchen, nibbling on my favorite dark chocolate and sipping my afternoon Sunday tea.

Life is good, guys. Enjoy the little things.

harrison-lake-state-park-family-picture-june-2019
Some things never change. (From left to right: Me, my mom, and my sister Tabitha.)

**Special thanks to my sister, Tabitha Marquis, for these awesome photos!**

Categories
Holidays Uncategorized

What I really want for Mother’s Day.

It’s funny.

I have to keep reminding myself that I’m a part of this whole deal now.

Every time I think of Mother’s Day, I immediately start wondering what to get my own mom. Not the fact that I have been a mom for a little over two years now. And I really still have no idea what I’m doing.

I have a two-year-old now, and she’s wonderful. But full of temper-tantrums and fussiness lately. The “terrible twos” or “terrific twos” or whatever the hell you want to call it, she’s got it now. Sure, there are bad moments, but also a lot of great ones I get the opportunity to witness.

Dear reader, if you are reading my post and wondering how money is going to magically appear for a gift you probably can’t afford, fear not! I have some ideas for you that don’t cost you anything but a bit of time and sweat equity. If you have the cash to spend, great! I also have ideas for you, too. But don’t feel like you have to go crazy.

I am a very busy person. (What mom these days isn’t?) As such, I love things that save me time and money, as well as my own sanity. I have become so scatterbrained at times, even the simplest of tasks may not be done unless I write them down or put them in my calendar. So here are some ideas from my own hectic perspective. Keep in mind, these are things that I would like, and not necessarily every mom would want. I’m probably a bit weird.

Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

coffee-is-my-friend
I cannot brain until I has the coffee.

I somehow manage to wake up at 4:30 in the morning most days of the week. However, I really can’t start my day without this miracle in a cup. It would just not be possible. This is also one of the nice little things I have for myself to start my day off on a positive, caffeinated, and awake-enough-to-function note. I have a coffee grinder at home, so I like to have the whole bean stuff on hand. Nothing beats freshly ground awesomeness in the morning.

And a helpful beverage container for on-the-go.

yeti-tumblers-are-freaking-awesome
These have been life-savers during long days (and nights).

If you wanted to make a great pairing to the above, I definitely recommend one of these babies. I have two that have been through hell and back, and they still work wonderfully. I definitely wouldn’t mind adding more to my collection.

A helpful subscription service or membership.

treat-yo-self-box-subscription-box
Someone get me this. ASAP.

From subscription boxes like Smartass and Sass, grocery memberships like Costco, and the almighty Amazon Prime subscription, there are many options out there to choose from. If it helps me knock off stuff on my lengthy to-do list, or is just a nice way to treat myself at the end of the month, I’m down for it.

Cleaning services for the win.

maid-cleaning-services-send-help-plz
Did you see my sink? I need help.

Personally, I wouldn’t care if it was a professional or a friend coming to my aid here – I could always use a hand around the house and the yard to keep things clean and tidy. Seriously, it’s like a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders when I come back to a clean home after a long day of work.

Seriously, this one’s great if you know a new mom who is probably sending out SOS smoke signals from the burnout she could be experiencing. Even offering to cook dinner one night would not go unnoticed!

A chance for some alone time.

black headphones with mobile smartphone

A chance to recharge my batteries? Hell yeah, I’ll take it.

A moment of silence after weeks of noise, screaming and lack of personal space? Yes, please.

A nice, long, hot and uninterrupted shower that allows me to shave, exfoliate, and make me feel like a goddess again? Yes, yes, and yes.

I’ve always loved my alone time. After dealing with people all day (no offense, I love people most of the time), this allows me to reconnect with myself and how I am feeling. It’s definitely something I wish I could do more often.

Whether you offer to babysit or give the money to afford a sitter, this gift to me is a godsend.

Money for therapy. Or a spa day.

love romantic bath candlelight

Anything to help take care of my mental and physical health is a must these days. Making time for self-care is essential to my well being, and without it, I wouldn’t be able to kick ass as much as I do during the week. Whether it’s a gift certificate for a massage or a friend to vent my frustrations to, both are amazing things to have.

Wine and chocolate.

No picture or explanation needed here. Just because life.

A playdate without kids.

Moms need to stick together, but we also seem to be eternally exhausted. Can we just binge watch Netflix shows in our pajamas together? With some pizza and the above wine and chocolate, it would be perfect for me.

A thing from my own kid.

No matter what it would be, it would make my heart melt. It could be a picture of them, a picture they drew, or something that will remind me of them during the day, especially when I’m away.

And one last thing… Sleep!

alone bed bedroom blur

I need this to function. Allow me to take a nap once in a while. And I’ll be yours. Smitten forever.

 

Categories
Health

How I forgave myself after I messed up. Again.

January is just about halfway over. I already fell off of the fasting bandwagon earlier this month, after I tried to get through all of January without coffee. (I am weaksauce.) Although, I was coffee-free for about 10 days straight. That’s a record in my book. My addiction to caffeine is a bit stronger than I’d like to admit.

How about exercise? I managed to get in 30 minutes of exercise today, even if I did have to improvise with some interesting looking weights. Hey, my upper arms are still pretty weak, and wine bottles filled with water made for great dumbbell substitutes for triceps kickbacks!

It is also fairly hard for me to attempt anything like running and jogging in place without a proper bra. Otherwise, it’s just downright painful. I was able to jog in place for 10 minutes straight today while watching Netflix.

Progress, right?

In my previous post that talked about the changes in my postpartum body, I had mentioned that I had hit a weight loss plateau at around 200 pounds. Well this week, I managed to break it! I dipped to about 198 on Wednesday, before completely ruining my progress on Friday – after I tripped up and ate half of an extra-large pizza from Vito’s. Oops.

I gained the 2 pounds back at my weigh in this morning, along with some belly bloat and shame.

I guess if I have any more job interviews that ask me what my greatest weaknesses are, I should just list them as follows: coffee, pizza, wine, and chocolate.

coffee_and_computer
The oversized coffee mug from Target makes 3 to 4 cups of coffee look like one harmless mug.

Another thing also happened in the past week – I received the great honor of being a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding! The bride and her matron of honor met at my house for a quick brunch and planning session, and I was just thrilled to have some company over! It’s officially my first time being part of the VIP list in a wedding party, so I wanted to do my best to help plan and get my friend prepped for the big day. That’s also why the blog hadn’t been updated in a hot minute – my bad, guys!

bridesmaid_card_heart
Of course, I said yes, duh.

Even today, it is still a bit difficult for me to forgive myself if I end up overindulging at dinner, or if I forget to upload a blog post, even if I’ve committed myself to upload at least twice a week. Once something happens that disrupts my progress, it’s easy to just throw in the towel and just conclude that it will happen again, so why even bother trying to keep up, right?

Don’t quit on me just yet.

Here’s the thing. Habits are tough to break. That’s not always a bad thing since good habits take time to develop. Once they’re in place, it is easier to stick to them.

I didn’t always drink coffee. Especially not black coffee. That habit developed after I had started working early in the morning at an inventory service that crammed us all in a van and lugged us around to various places in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. We would all be reporting for duty at 4 am. I had just graduated high school not long before that.

It got worse when I picked up a job at an O’Reilly’s while in college. There were a lot of days that I would be studying until past midnight, and I would just put on my work uniform to bed at 2 am. I would roll out of bed at 6:30 and be at work to unload the truck pallet at 7 am.

So naturally, I developed a habit.

If I can do that with a simple cup of black coffee, then who says I can’t start a new habit that is good for me?

I actually was doing really good with my fitness goals before I became pregnant – I had a membership at the local YMCA and I took advantage of the free fitness classes and facilities there. Along with hitting up the gym 3 times a week, I was also filling in my “off” days with regular yoga classes that I enjoyed! I was even meal prepping regularly! Guys, this was big for me.

meal_prep_well_done
Proof that I actually did meal prep, even while pregnant. I can do this again.

I started to pick up more classes to switch up my routine and step up my intensity level of training. I was going to the gym every single day of the week! Then I found out I was gonna have a baby after three months in. I had to slow down and take it easy after that. Starting today, I am slowly getting back into a regular exercise routine. And it is not easy to do that when I had been enjoying my lazy time on the couch with Netflix and video games during the final days of my pregnancy. The lazy time had also become a habit.

With the bad habits I’ve developed over the past year, I’ve also started to create new ones that are more beneficial – subbing tea for coffee some mornings, eating better with portion control in mind, and limiting the amount of time where my eyes are glued to a screen. (Because my eyes need a break, too!)

morning_tea_and_breakfast_with_book
Enjoying tea and oatmeal while having a rare reading opportunity.

It may not seem like much at first, but keep in mind, this is how a lot of habits start. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until things go unchecked and start to become a bit out of hand. For example, I should not be drinking 12 cups of coffee a day, but I could easily do so. Yes, I have a problem. I know.

So if I keep focusing on things that will end up improving myself in the long run, maybe that will distract me from giving the bad habits the time and energy I would otherwise spend on them.

Starting up a new habit is tough, but with enough persistence and patience with myself, I’ve learned it is possible for me to start getting back in shape. There will be days that I don’t feel like doing any workouts, but I know that I have to do it, even if I don’t feel like it. And I can’t beat myself up when I fail, or I will be too afraid to try anything again.

So instead of getting discouraged that I only exercised 30 minutes today, I can pat myself on the back, and get ready to do it again tomorrow. Instead of giving myself a guilt trip over eating too much food in one sitting, I can set myself up to prevent that for the next meal I have. I will get there, I just have to take things one day at a time.