Top Ten Signs That You Are Suffering From Sleep Deprivation

Claire began sleeping through the night when she was 6 weeks old. So, by the time Lucy came along, Chris and I had been sleeping like regular people for 4 years, 1 month, and 3 days. The sleepless nights and harrowing devastation of sleep deprivation were a distant memory. We had been through counseling. We had served our time in support groups. We had moved on.

And then, in one fateful night, everything changed. And magically, when our sweet, sleepless baby came into our lives, our four year-old forgot how to sleep too. Like a skeleton in the closet, that monster of sleep deprivation reared his ugly head. Only this time, he had doubled in size.

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Doesn’t she look peaceful?  I’m pretty sure she’s about to drift off.

Now that we’ve come through that dark valley and are once again residing in the land of the living, I’d like to reach out and offer a life line to others who are suffering.

I’ve compiled a list of the top ten signs that you are suffering from sleep deprivation – most likely due to those little people living in your house that you refer to as your children. If one or more of these symptoms applies to you, please reach out and seek support. Help is available!

Top 10 Signs That You Are Suffering From Sleep Deprivation

10. You fight to put the baby to bed instead of the four year-old so you can maybe catch a cat nap in the rocker.

9. You are sleeping on sheets that may contain spots of <insert: poop, spit up, urine, etc.>

8. You buy Visine and under-eye concealer by the case.

7. For your birthday, you asked your parents for a nap.

6. When you hear a noise down the hall in the middle of the night, you hope it’s an intruder and not your child coming to ask for a glass of water.

5. You wonder daily about the mathematics of sleep and why your two hour stretches that total up to six hours don’t feel the same as six hours used to feel.

4. You pray the most fervent prayers of your life – begging God, bargaining with God, hoping for just a few peaceful moments of rest.

3. You wonder if this is Ever. Going. To. End.

2. You light candles for POWs who are held in prison camps which utilize sleep deprivation as a method of torture.

1. You have an IV hooked up directly to your coffee pot.

Dear friend, please know, it will end.   The stars will align, the monitor will stay quiet, and the pull-up will stay dry. And on that glorious night, when you sleep that glorious sleep, the memories of your torture will start to fade. Finally, the healing can begin.

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Being a Teacher

I’ve been seeing lots of blog posts and articles written by frustrated teachers in my news feed.  These teachers are writing about frustrations with administrators and the decisions they’re making.  They are frustrated with lawmakers and the constantly changing and growing legislation trickling down to those of us actually inhabiting these classrooms.  They are frustrated with THE TEST and how much it’s changing our profession and our students’ lives.

And I get it.  I understand where they are coming from.  In my nine years as a teacher I’ve seen some decisions made that I didn’t think were best for kids and they made me angry.  I’ve heard stories of educational leaders that sound like tyrants.  I’ve seen THE TEST grow and grow and grow.  I can only imagine how veteran teachers must feel seeing things change so much since they began 20, 30, 40 years ago.  It’s definitely a flawed system.

But as I’ve read these articles I keep coming back to this:  We’re in it for the kids.  We’re not in it for success or fame and we’re definitely not in it for the money.  And while we may not like what’s put upon us from above, the kids coming into our classrooms each day still need the same things.  They need love.  They need acceptance.  They need someone who will put in the time with them.  Someone who will help them learn to think and love to learn.  Isn’t that what being a teacher is all about?

Being a teacher is about teaching, but it’s about so much more than that.

It’s about pushing them to do more than they ever believed they could.

It’s about being that one constant thing when Grandma gets cancer or Mom and Dad split up or big sister dies.  Being constant when their world is crumbling.

Being a teacher may mean being the only smile and hug they get that day.

It’s being the one to introduce them to Jan Brett and Eric Carle and Dr. Seuss and teaching them to love books and reading.

It means being the one to say, “I’m proud of you” and seeing their face light up in a smile.

Being a teacher means watching them perform the dance they “choreographed” last night without laughing and clapping when they finish.

It’s being the one to give them a breakfast bar when they come to school crying because their tummy is rumbling so loudly.

Being a teacher is being the person who notices their fancy haircut or new tennis shoes or missing tooth.

It’s being the one to pull them aside when they just don’t seem okay and letting them talk.

It’s being the one who introduces them to The Golden Rule and using eye contact and respectful body language.

Sometimes being a teacher means being mom and dad, counselor, and motivational speaker.

It’s being the one who wipes their tears when they skin their knee or their dog dies or their cousins move away.

It means being the one who tells them they’re strong and tough and brave when they doubt themselves.

Being a teacher means being the one who watches their amazement when they look back at their writing from nine months ago and can finally see that all their hard work paid off.

It’s being the adult who teaches them to say, “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you”.

It’s being the one to proudly wear their Rainbow Loom bracelet and tape their painting up on the wall.

It’s being the person who will not accept less than their best and will hold them accountable to be who you know they can be.

Being a teacher is all about teaching.  It’s about teaching them how to add and subtract.  It’s about teaching them how to read and write.  It’s about teaching them how to think.  But it’s also about teaching them what love looks like, every single day.

And no matter what laws are passed and how big and scary THE TEST gets, love will always be the same.

Traveling Tips

Our family travels a lot.  Both sets
photo 1 of grandparents living out of state + two teacher schedules + a sense of adventure = the perfect recipe for lots of trips!  Here’s what our summer has looked like since school let out June 7th:

June 10th – 24th: Florida
June 25th: Amarillo
June 26th – July 3rd: Estes Park/Albuquerque
July 4th – 11th: Home, Sweet Home
July 12th – 20th: Cozumel

Now that we are home, I thought I would share some of our traveling tips with you.  These are very simple, but they have really helped make our trips smoother and easier.  (Super nervous about adding another kid into the mix soon, by the way.)  So, here we go…our family’s tips for travel.

1.  Each person gets their own suitcase.  This has helped tremendously in keeping our things nice and neat when we’re away from home.  I hate having to rummage through a suitcase full of all of our clothes and shoes, trying to find the particular shirt I want to wear.  This way, we know where all our stuff is and our suitcases stay tidy for the whole trip.

2.  Pack kids’ clothes in ziplock bags.  This was our first time to do this, and I am a huge believer now!  I laid out Claire’s clothes in outfits – shorts, top, panties, and bow all together.  Then she helped me bag them and put them in her suitcase.  They lay flat and are great to pack.  Then each day she could just pick out a bag with the clothes she wanted to wear.  So easy – I will pack like this forever!

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3.  Pack lots of entertainment.  We pack books, activity/coloring books, markers and crayons, simple games, lacing cards, and baby dolls.  We also have a magnet set that is a life saver for trips.  Seriously, it entertains Claire for hours.  I couldn’t find the exact set online, but here’s one that’s similar (I actually like it better).  Of course, when all else fails, we pull out the almighty DVD player.  Bless God for that little device.

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photo 4_74.  Pack snacks.  Who doesn’t like to eat on a road trip?  I’ve found that there is much less whining (from Claire as well as Chris) with snacks readily available.  Whether we are traveling by plane or car, we pack a bunch of easy to eat, non-messy snacks in a large bin.  Some of our usuals are pistachios, apples and oranges, raisins, popcorn, peanuts, and some sweets.  On plane trips we also pack treats to help with take off and landing like lollipops and gum balls. On road trips we also bring a cooler with drinks.

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5.  Make a road trip time line.  We love this idea and have used it for our road trips this summer as well as our 3 week road trip across 5 states last year.  Just print out a little car or truck from online (here’s a cute one), let your little one color it in, cut it out, punch 2 holes in it, and string it with ribbon across the backseat.  Then, as you move along the road, you can change the position of the car on the ribbon.  Claire loves to watch our progress as we drive, and it really helps cut down on the “Are we there yet?” questions.

photo 2So, what about you?  What are your family’s travel tips?

Overprotecting: Fear of the Fall

My overparenting series began here, and you can find the second post in the series here.

As I start this third post in my overparenting series, let me be clear.  I lean toward overparenting.  I have such a hard time watching Claire struggle, watching her hurt, watching her learn the hard lessons.  I want to take away her problems and fight anyone who hurts her feelings (even if that someone is a 4 year old little girl in her class).  I want to make her path smooth and somehow ensure that her days are full of joy.  I worry about her.  A lot.  My love for her drives me to want to do these things, but my love for her also tells me that I shouldn’t.  I am learning to balance protecting and teaching her to be brave.

I tend to look at things in my life and compare them to the way “things have always been done”.  Something about the past speaks to me, and my logic says that if people have been doing it for thousands of years, it’s probably a good strategy for me as well.  So much has changed in the past 100 years in our society.  Really, everything’s changed.  Shelter, transportation, careers, entertainment, morals, relationships, parenting.  It’s all different.  So when I think about parenting, I tend to look back and compare what we’re doing now with what “they” did then.  One of my favorite songs is Different World by Bucky Covington.  Here’s a short portion of the song:

We were born to mothers who smoked and drank

Our cribs were covered in lead based paint

No child proof lids, no seat belts in cars

Rode bikes with no helmets and still here we are, still here we are

For better or worse, we do live in a different world.  We must be vigilant in protecting our kids from the evil they’re bombarded with.  We are very protective over what Claire watches, sees, and hears.  Compared to others with kids our age, we may be viewed as helicopter parents in these areas.  I want to do everything I can to shield Claire from the evils of this world until she is at an age that Chris and I think she is mentally and emotionally ready to handle them.  I have great respect for parents who take a stand to protect their kids from scary movies, inappropriate language, and images portraying sexuality.

It seems to me though, that this generation of parents is determined to protect their kids from things that they don’t need protection from.   Kids are shielded from every conflict, every difficulty, every simple change in routine.  They grow up thinking that the world revolves around them and that their feelings are the only ones that matter.  There are occasions where parents need to step in and get involved for their child’s protection or wellbeing, but I think these cases are very few and far between.

When kids get their feelings hurt, parents get involved.

When the lunch menu at school changes unexpectedly, parents get involved.

When a child doesn’t get to play as much as others on their team, parents get involved.

When a kid is punished at school for bad behavior, parents get involved.

When kids have disagreements, parents get involved.

When a kid makes bad grades on a report card, parents get involved.

When a child has lots of homework to complete, parents get involved.

When kids attempt a difficult challenge, parents get involved.

For the love!  Where in the scheme of things does personal responsibility come into play?  How do kids learn to roll with the punches?  How do kids learn conflict resolution?  How do kids learn to accept failure and strive to try again?  How do kids learn to handle rejection?  How do kids grow to accomplish their goals?  When we try to shield our kids from every disappointment or difficulty, we create a cushioned little world for them to live in.

The problem is, the adult world isn’t soft.  Life is hard.  It’s filled with rejection – from potential jobs, potential dates, potential dreams.  It’s laced with adversity – disease, broken relationships, and tragedy are all part of the package.  Isn’t it better for our kids to learn to deal with difficult peers when they’re five than when they’re twenty-five?  Isn’t it better to learn the heartbreak of rejection when kids are picking teams on the ball field than when they get turned down for their dream job?

By the time our kids reach adulthood, they should be well versed in adjusting their plans and goals, dealing with people who treat them poorly, and confronting challenges.  When Claire goes off to college, she should be a problem-solving champion, not a novice.  When we don’t allow our kids to struggle through their problems – when we insist on rescuing them over and over again – we are setting them up for failure.

I recently read an article about how we stunt our children from reaching their potential as leaders.  It is excellent and definitely worth the read.  Here’s an excerpt.

This may sound harsh, but rescuing and over-indulging our children is one of the most insidious forms of child abuse. It’s “parenting for the short-term” and it sorely misses the point of leadership—to equip our young people to do it without help. Just like muscles atrophy inside of a cast due to disuse, their social, emotional, spiritual and intellectual muscles can shrink because they’re not exercised.

As difficult as it is for me to watch Claire struggle through something that challenges her, I know the reward will be great.  There is nothing quite as sweet as watching the look of triumph on her face when she accomplishes something that she didn’t think she could.  My job as her mother is to teach her to meet adversity – head on, with courage, and with grace.  Each time I do this, I am giving her the opportunity for growth, and I get an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the courageous woman she will become.

Overparenting

Never in my life have I taken a job more seriously than being a mom.  There is such a heavy responsibility placed on parents’ shoulders.  It is sobering to know that the decisions I make today will have an impact on Claire’s life forever.  While that is true, here’s something else that’s true:  People have been parenting since the very beginning.  Throughout history, families have been started and children have been raised over and over again – without the help of parenting books, babycenter.com, or therapists.  Parenting was just part of life.  Children were loved and they were also expected to behave a certain way, be responsible, and contribute to the family.

The next few posts on the blog will be dedicated to the idea of overparenting.  We love our kids and we want the best for them.  But sometimes in our passion to give them the good life, we cross a line and begin to cripple who our children are created to be.  We do this by overprotecting, overindulging, and overinflating.

Kids used to be tough.  My dad tells stories from his childhood of walking to school in snowstorms, running wild through the hills of the Ozarks with his cousins, and shooting a BB gun with no adults present at the age of 5.  I’ll tell you one thing – in those days kids were responsible.  If not, they learned responsibility quickly through the natural consequences of their stupidity or by their Daddy’s belt.

I’m not saying every parenting technique used in the past was a good idea.  I’m thankful that my parents didn’t buy into the idea that children should be seen and not heard, didn’t beat me with a belt, and told me they loved me every single day.

What I do think is this:  For the most part, kids back then learned responsibility, knew what it meant to be held accountable, and learned to stand on their own two feet.  They were expected to do their chores, solve their own problems, and grow up to be productive members of society.

Compared to that, kids these days are wimps.  And truthfully, many of them are entitled, irresponsible brats.  These little ones have beautiful destinies to fulfill, but they never will if we continue to enable this helpless, irresponsible behavior.

Kids need to fall down and scrape their knees.

They need to lose.

They need to learn to work, and work hard.

They need to make their own mistakes and deal with the consequences.

They need to struggle to attain something.

They need to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them.

They need to know that others depend on them.

They need to solve the problems they create.

When we take these experiences away from our kids, we cripple them.  They have to learn these lessons one way or another – as kids, when the stakes are low, or as adults, when the cost is much higher.  In order to be successful (and happy) in this world, our kids have to learn responsibility.  It’s impossible to protect them from every hardship and every painful situation.  We can’t hold them forever – we have to teach them to stand.