Monday, March 27, 2017

The secret of the morning

I'm going to tell you a secret:

I've mentioned before that I am a morning person, and it is true: I am usually at my best in the morning. My alarm goes off, I get out of bed and my brain starts buzzing about the day I am going to have.

But let's focus on the first part of that sentence: My alarm goes off. I do not wake up naturally at 5 am (it has happened, but it is rare.) And a lot of times, I do not want to get out of bed, but I do it anyway. I have found that the secret is for me to just push myself out of bed and tell myself that returning to sleep is not an option.

My son's alarm goes off with mixed results: Sometimes he is awake and productive, other times he needs to be frog-marched through his morning routine. It depends on where he was in his sleep cycle when he woke and it depends on if it is a weekend or a school day.

The bad part of this is that I know I could actually let my son wake up naturally. His school doesn't start until 9 am, which means we are in the fortunate position of him catching the bus at 8:42 am...I should let him sleep. But there are several reasons why I wake him early:

  • We all need our routines in life. He is lucky that school starts late now, but that is not going to always be the case. Better to get him used to a standard wake up time now.
  • He is getting enough sleep - a little more than 9 hours per night, which is good for his age.
  • I want to spend time with him before I go to work. I know this is selfish.
We are lucky. We are lucky at the late start time of our school, as more and more schools are actually starting earlier, causing their students to be sleep deprived. And now researchers are taking a look at the effects of the too early start of the day for students. It sounds like most people agree that our children should be allowed to sleep in.

What time does your child need to get up to catch the bus? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, March 24, 2017

They may drive you crazy, but you might live longer

I adore my son. I think he is brilliant, funny, quirky, sweet and kind. I love the way he wants to read on the couch next to me when he sees me reading, and the way he throws his whole body around mine in a big hug when I come home from work. He amazes me with how quickly he learns new concepts and the way he digs deep into subjects that fascinate him.

And, of course, there are times when he drives me crazy.

I do my best to take those moments with a grain of salt. I know that I must have driven my parents crazy, too (sorry, Mom). But, to their credit, they don't talk about those times. Instead, they tell me how wonderful I was. 

And that is the type of parent I want to be: One who focuses on the good times.

Hopefully, all those positive thoughts will pay off in the future: I want my son to hang out with us after he reaches adulthood, because having frequent interactions with family may help add years to my life. The emotional support and contact of having your children nearby has a profound impact on you as you get older, although researchers are only now cracking the surface of what all those wonderful benefits are.

I must be doing something right so far as he has announced plans to buy the lot next door to us and build his home there. That works for me!

How far away from your parents do you live? Give me the rough estimate in the comments.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Making the case for regular friendships

My son has an ever-rotating list of people whom he calls his best friend. One week it is a certain child in his class, the next week it is the kid who waits at the bus stop with him and then the week after that it will be someone in his scouts pack. For the most part, I am fine with this: As long as he is nice to everyone that is enough basis for a friendship for a seven-year-old.

Friendships have plenty of time to get more complicated as we get older. In fact, friendships mean so much to our lives that the lack of them could seriously affect our health. In this great first-person article, the author confronts the fact that parenthood has taken away all his time for friendships and he has had to figure out a way to get them back.

I think the story on that link is incredibly common - most parents (including me) seem to disappear from their friends' lives as they figure out the parenting thing. Then as the children get older, we have to figure out if we are going to find friends again or continue on as though our children are our friends. (Hint: you should find your own friends.)

The trouble with this is making the time to do it, but evidently, it can be done. One secret (especially for men) is to have a shared activity.

So, the question becomes: What do you and your friends do to make time for each other? Tell me your secret formula in the comments.

Monday, March 20, 2017

How to tell someone they are cranky

Inexplicably, my son wakes up early on the weekends. I don't know how he does this. I know why he does it, as he proudly tells me that he gets himself up early so he can have "the most amount of fun on his days off as possible." But this still doesn't explain how he will not move a muscle when his alarm goes off on school mornings yet wake himself up a good half-hour earlier than his alarm on weekends.

I have to keep a close eye on him when he wakes up early because usually he will start getting a little cranky as the day wears on.

You see, my son doesn't believe me when I tell him that he needs nine hours of sleep every night. He complains that he isn't tired at bedtime and that it is unfair that I stay up later than he does. He doesn't think it is true that he really needs that much sleep, which is why I show him articles like this one.

He read the article, and here were his takeaways:
  • Did I really used to get 10 hours of sleep every nights? (Yes.)
  • I think it would really be OK if you let me stay up late every weekend. (No.)
  • You know I really don't sleep, right? I just look at the stars all night and take a short nap. (Sure you do.)
  • I'm not really grumpy ever. (Uh-huh.)
For me, the key takeaway was a little different - we've been skipping that calming activity at bedtime. We used to read books together to relax, but lately, it has been him going straight to bed after rushing him through his nighttime routine. Having that calming activity might be something that needs to make a comeback in our household.

What do you do to help calm your children down for bedtime? Tell me in the comments.