Posts Tagged ‘ family time ’

Pajama Walks Before Bedtime

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Parent and child walking at nightEditor’s Note: In an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month with advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart on Goodyblog and on Parents Perspective.

The daily choreography of dressing, feeding, teaching, and transporting our kids is daunting, and often leaves precious few moments for truly enjoying them. When you think about how much time we spend stressed out with our young kids, you can’t help wondering how many more meaningful moments we could capture from each long, hard day if we could only decompress some of those stressful minutes. Well, you can! Let’s start with one of the toughest challenges: bedtime.

Perhaps no period of the day is more stressful for parents than the minutes leading up to bedtime; they can be chaotic and tense. The kids are bouncing off the walls, hyperkinetic from a full day of action, impossible to calm down. You’re exhausted and need the kids in bed, asleep, to regain your mojo (or to go to bed yourself!). But they need one more glass of water or one more story. They suddenly remember the homework they forgot to do, the friend they forgot to text, or that their favorite team is on TV tonight (“please, mom, just one more minute!”). The night-light isn’t bright enough, the hallway is too noisy, the closet is scarier than usual. Kids are at their imaginative best when finding ways to delay or disrupt bedtime.

There is lots of advice out there addressing the best ways to calm and quiet the kids before tucking them in. As spring nears, with warmer weather and longer daylight on the way, one of my favorite techniques is a pre-bedtime pajama walk. Not only does it give kids gentle, tranquil moments when they can decompress from their hyper after-dinner activities, but it also gives parents special moments with their kids that otherwise might have been lost to TV, social media, and video games. Or, worse—these moments might have been wasted yelling and screaming at each other. The key to pajama walks is the pajamas. First, get the kids completely ready for bed: teeth brushed, faces washed, pajamas on. Then take their hands for a walk, or put them in their stroller, on their tricycle, or on their two-wheeler, and meander slowly around the neighborhood. No snacks en route (their teeth are already brushed!); don’t kick a soccer ball along the way or bring baseball mitts; postpone animated conversations until tomorrow. These are the mellow moments.

I’ve given a lot of thought to why pajama walks work so well—and they do work well! It’s because kids understand the concept of “going someplace.” They go to Grandma’s house, to the store, to preschool or school, to the park. But “bed” isn’t “someplace,” and kids don’t get the idea of going to bed, so they don’t — they dawdle and fuss and resist. The beauty of pajama walks is that kids are going someplace, so they (and you) can bypass the drama of bedtime inertia. It may take a couple of laps around the block, but by the time you return home with your kids, they will be in a fresh-air trance and ready for a bedtime story; they may even fall asleep on the way and just need your tender transfer into the house and under the covers.

And now it’s time to find your mojo again.

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Sesame Street Lessons: Bedtime Routines
Sesame Street Lessons: Bedtime Routines
Sesame Street Lessons: Bedtime Routines

Image: Father and son walking at night via Shutterstock

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Celebrate Presidents Day as a Bonus Day with Your Kids

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Silhouette of family on a beachEditor’s Note: In an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month with advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart on Goodyblog and on Parents Perspective.

On February 17, 2014, the country celebrates Presidents Day, which coincides with George Washington’s birthday. Known as the “father of our country,” Washington is said to have been a devoted stepfather to the two children of his wife, Martha. I cannot tell a lie: I really don’t know if it was the Washington family routine to take a day off (from the day-to-day demands of the Revolution and of the Presidency) for his birthday to spend quality family time. But for many parents and kids, Presidents Day means a three-day weekend, so if you’re able to take the day off with your family, I encourage you to do so.

Three-day weekends are unique parenting opportunities. Unlike the usual overbooked experience of a two-day weekend, filled with soccer games, playdates, and to-do lists of chores, a three-day weekend is bonus time for the family, especially if your kids are home from school and less programmed than usual. If you’re lucky enough to have Monday off, think twice about scheduling golf or tennis with your adult buddies and shipping your kids off to friends’ houses. If there are chores around the house, do them with your kids. If you can’t resist the Presidents Day Sale at the furniture store or car dealership, take your kids along with you and go for ice cream afterwards. If your plan is to sleep in for an extra two hours while the kids are watching TV, change your plan – sleep in an extra hour (you’ve earned it!), but spend the second hour with the kids not watching TV.

There are 940 weekends between your little girl’s birth and the day she leaves for college. Sounds like a lot, right? But if she’s 5 years old, you’ve already used up 260 of those weekends. And only about 100 of them are three-day weekends so, by the time she turns 5, you’ve already used up 25 of those! If you’re like most parents who think their kids are growing up too fast, you probably already wish you could have some of those weekends back. Even though you can’t, now is the time to make sure you don’t have any regrets about how you spend the remaining weekends of your kids’ childhoods. And three-day weekends are the perfect place to start.

Get out your calendars and mark down these official federal holidays (which include a few three-day weekends) for the rest of 2014: Memorial Day (Monday, May 26); July 4 (a Friday this year); Labor Day (Monday, September 1); Columbus Day (Monday, October 13); Veteran’s Day (Tuesday, November 11); Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 27); and Christmas (Tuesday, December 25). If your job doesn’t let you take off for all these special days, you can still spend the time you have wisely.

This February 17, take a little time to talk with your kids about George Washington and other great presidents in U.S. history. Give your kids a shiny quarter or a crisp dollar bill and point out George’s image. Or try throwing a rock or a penny all the way across a river (who can afford to throw away a sliver dollar today?).

On Presidents Day, honor the father of our country, and your kids, by doing something really fun that the whole family will remember until Memorial Day—the next three-day weekend!

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

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Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting

Image: Silhouette of family on a beach at dusk via Shutterstock

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