Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A little consistency equals better sleep

I am traveling for work this week. I actually enjoy traveling for work, because it usually means meeting up with coworkers on the opposite coast, connecting with my amazing team, and having some fun nights out. But I am grateful that I don't have to travel all the time, because I know that it creates some chaos for my husband and son.

Here's the thing: They are perfectly fine without me. I know that. But, I also know that my family is like a well-honed team. We are used to our schedules and our time together at night throughout the week. My traveling throws a kink into that - especially when I am on the opposite coast.

One area that I know I impact? My son's bedtime routine. By being in a different time zone, his bedtime lines up to the same time that I am wrapping up my workday. And I am usually late, which means my son is usually late getting to bed.

It turns out that even if I am home, my working schedule has an effect on my son's overall sleep. Moms with tight working schedules are unable to keep their home schedules in check. And as we all know, our evening schedules - the time when we are getting together, trying to make dinner and finish homework - are the busiest time of a family's collective day. And that is the time we need preserve so that we aren't in a rush or running late and everyone can go to bed on time.

That is a struggle even for people with flexibility in their schedules.

But take hope: Regular bedtimes are the key (at least according to the study on that link.) If you can be consistent about your child's bedtime - even when your own work/life balance is in flux - you can erase the effects of all that rushing around.

Bedtime...it's always the key (for children and adults).

What do you dislike about your working schedule? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Everyone is arguing over screen time

It has occurred to me (on more than one occasion) that it doesn't actually matter what the screen time rules are in our household, because someone will find a reason to argue over them.

I say this because we've recently swapped the model in our household, where our son no longer automatically receives screen time every day (his to lose) but has to earn it through good choices and behaviors (his to gain). He's not happy about it, especially when he likes to point out that this is not the way it works in his friends' households or that his parents are above these rules.

I hear his arguments, but they do not sway me: Screen time restrictions exist in our home for a reason.

I am also not swayed by any arguments by my son because it seems that all smartphone device rules cause family fights. Daily.

Of course they do: No one likes limits on the things that they become addicted to. And smartphone use is definitely an addiction.

My son pleads his case and I remain firm. Will he bring up the topic again tomorrow? Probably. But, in my defense, I have notice fewer fights around the topic since we've made the switch, since it is no longer a given right. Only time will tell me if this works out long term.

What are the current device rules in your household? Share them in the comments.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Parental free time

When I meet new people these days, I am trying to remember to ask them what their hobbies are. Although I am generally interested in what other people choose to pursue in their free time, I have noticed that a lot of people don't have hobbies. Or maybe they do have hobbies, and they don't want to share what they are.

If I am talking to another parent, I understand that the problem may come down to time. One recent study has found that parents self report that they have about 32 free minutes to themselves every day. That's not a lot of time to work on your hobby of choice, but I also wonder if there is a lack of energy factor at play here as well. If all your free time is put into a short block and it probably happens at the end of a long day, then I am guessing you may not have the energy left (mental or physical) to learn a new language.

But maybe there is another factor at work here - that no one wants to admit that they are not good at something yet. Learning to play an instrument takes a lot of time and devotion - no one expects you to play concertos overnight. But saying that you play piano as your hobby instantly invites others to start asking questions about it, which derails confidence levels if you are just starting out.

So, I am going to think differently about my questions to people around their personal pursuits of happiness. I don't want anyone to feel on-edge or pressure to answer. Because while I think it is important for everyone to have a hobby - something that they enjoy doing outside of work or being a parent - I also think it is important to feel good about having that hobby and not under pressure to be the best at it.

I want my son to see his parents involved in our hobbies and know that it is OK to have things we are not experts in, but still enjoy. I want him to know that we are still learning, too.

Do you have a hobby that you enjoy outside of work? Do you want to talk about it in the comments?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Keeping risks in our lives

When my son was little, I had to squash down my Mommy worry and encourage him to take risks: Yes, you can go down that big slide; yes, you can try to cross the monkey bars; yes, you can swing higher.

As he gets older, the risks I encourage him to take are less physically challenging: Yes, you can go play with those children you've never met before; yes, you should try this new food; yes, you should try harder math.

It's those second types of risk that I still struggle with as an adult - seeking out friendships and trying new activities that push me out of my comfort zone. And when I try to shake myself out of my rut, I need to make sure my son is paying attention.

So, we watch a TED Talk together in the car ride line before school starts on how taking little risks increases your luck. And afterward, I talk with him about the new risks I am taking in work and in other areas of my life and how they are paying off.

It's one of my better Mommy-lead-by-example moments.

My Mom sent me a related article encouraging risk taking to combat the confidence drop that happens in young girls when they hit puberty.

What does all this tell me? That children - of both genders - need to know that their parents take risks and what those risks lead to (even if it is failure). We don't want to be the reason our children never challenge themselves.

What type of risks are you encouraging your children to take? (And good luck with any new risks you are currently taking!) Tell me in the comments.