When my first was a toddler and I was pregnant with my second, I would have done almost anything for a few extra minutes of shut-eye. I heard a story about a mom who was so desperate, she let her kids draw on her arms while she took a nap. We tried something less drastic. We stashed little baskets of special toys around the room for “quiet play.” One time we woke up to hundreds of plastic squares arranged in a labyrinthine pattern around the room. It didn’t take too long to clean up, however, and every extra minute of sleep was well worth it.
Now that my first two kids are a little older (seven and five), I look for ways to encourage their independence so I can sleep a little later or, just imagine it, have a few minutes to myself!
Not only is this good for my sanity, fostering independence is also important for kids’ self-esteem. Kids want to tackle tasks themselves and prove they can do it!
Here are four ways to foster independence so parents can get a little sleep!
1. Have the Kids Get Breakfast: After reading a book set on the frontier in the 19th century, my daughter wanted to try to make her own meals. As much as I love to instill a pioneer spirit, I have to be realistic and keep things safe. This video has great ideas for helping even young kids get their own breakfast ready so they can enjoy the sense of accomplishment…and let their parents rest on the weekends. Just prepare servings of cereal and milk ahead of time and put them where little ones can reach!
2. Challenge Them: Set up a puzzle or a riddle and tell the kids not to come get you until they’ve solved it. Bonus: This type of independent creative problem-solving will help them do well in school, too.
3. Entertain Themselves: A “busy box,” with fun, quiet toys you just put out on weekend mornings will buy you a little time with toddlers and preschoolers. For older kids, a little screen time may buy you enough sleep to make the rest of the day an enjoyable bonding experience. Make sure there are clear guidelines about what they can and cannot watch or play.
4. Prep the Night Before: Although my eldest two get dressed independently, now, they still come to me with questions about what clothes are activity and weather appropriate–and my eldest wants my input on whether or not an outfit looks fabulous, too. I can avoid those questions in the morning and buy a few more minutes while they dress if everything is picked out the night before.
5. Make a List: To-do lists are helpful for kids, too. Write out all the things they can do to get the morning started without you. With younger kids who are not yet reading, just use pictures or photographs. Laminate it and tie a dry-erase marker on it and you can check off tasks as they are completed and even add day-specific tasks to the list. Work with them to build in an incentive for completing their jobs–like on this great after school routine printable.
Set-up your kids for success and they’ll rise to the challenge—while you hit “snooze” a few more times. If all else fails, invest in some ear plugs!
What are your tips for building independence so you can sleep-in? Check out more helpful tips from Team Kellogg’s at Kelloggs.com/GreatStartsTips!
Kellogg’s® believes that From Great Starts Come Great Things®. So we’re helping Moms start every day with a tip from the top athletes of Team Kellogg’s™ and Team USA dietitians. The thirty days leading up to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games will each feature fun pieces of advice to help families fuel just like the athletes of Team Kellogg’s. To see all 30 tips, visit Kelloggs.com/GreatStartsTips.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Kellogg’s via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kellogg’s.