The $2 hack to make my kids sleep on vacation

“Vacations are so relaxing and easy!”—said no parent of young kids. Ever. We recently spent four days in Newport, Oregon, which was lovely but not restful in the least. On top of all the prepping and packing and passing back of 18 varieties of snacks on the drive to the central Oregon coast, neither kid sleeps that well away from home. Somehow, though, despite feeling a bit run down on vacation, my creativity remained intact, and I am now obsessed with the parenting hack I pulled off to make my kids sleep on vacation.

Like on most vacations we take, I couldn’t make my kids sleep on the first night. Although I had brought noise machines and loveys and special blankets, we didn’t have the blackout curtains we rely on at home. Once morning dawned, with both kids wide awake, I knew I had to try something different.

My protests of “it’s too early” didn’t cut it.

Family travel can destroy sleep habits. Fortunately my $2 hack to make my kids sleep on vacation totally worked! Zzzz - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Peeper opened the blinds and begged to differ. “Look mama, it’s sunny!” She said. “It’s not too early!” So we spent the early-early morning semi-conscious on the couch, praising the geniuses who invented Saturday morning cartoons.

Then on my way to the drive-through coffee shop (OMG CAFFEINE THANK YOU), I stopped at the dollar store down the street. I’m not sure where the idea came from, but I dropped $2 on aluminum tin foil and pulled off one of my best parenting hacks yet—which not only helped make my kids sleep on vacation but also stopped me from swearing off family vacations entirely. (Win!)

This $2 hack to make my kids sleep on vacation is a game-changer for family travel and vacation! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

A mom’s guide to prepare for sleep training

So your baby doesn’t sleep, which means you don’t sleep. Mama, I so have been there. If that’s the case, you may be ready to try sleep training—extinction, Ferber, cry it out, or whatever name you’re using. And if that’s true, you need to prepare for sleep training.

And I’m not talking about prepping your tiny Sleepless in Seattle. I’m talking about preparing you for sleep training.

Because while sleep training is hard on the baby, it’s equally (if not more) difficult for Mom.

I’ve sleep trained both Peeper and Kiwi—and am SO FREAKING GLAD I did. But it’s still hard to worry about your baby and know you could end her tears by sticking a boob in her mouth or bouncing her for 2 hours on a giant yoga ball.

Despite that anxiety many of us moms feel, studies repeatedly show that sleep training is not harmful in the long run. A recent study out of Australia showed that the babies in a Ferber-like sleep training (where they’re allowed to cry for gradually longer periods until they fall asleep on their own) had just as strong bonds with parents and fell asleep on their own faster than their peers in a control group who did not do sleep training. What’s more, they actually had lower evidence of stress in the afternoon than babies who weren’t sleep trained.

Plenty of parents still debate sleep training, and that’s fine. But for someone reading this—likely a parent who is ready to give it a try—having someone try to convince you that sleep training is unsafe is just not helpful.

That’s why I offer these tips to prepare for sleep training. They’ll help you stay strong, get through the few tough days and make it to the other end. When you and Baby are sleeping better, I’ll take a bet that you’ll be glad you tried sleep training, too.

Prepare for sleep training, cry it out or Ferber—by prepping yourself, Mama! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

For one boob nap, a second child becomes an only child

As I tap this one-handed on my phone, I’m nap trapped. My toddler has fallen asleep breastfeeding, leaving me unable to put away all the kids’ new toys, go through unopened mail, unpack our suitcases or do any of the other things on my list. But I am not complaining. Today, I’m happy for this boob nap.

Kiwi rarely falls asleep on me these days. And on the occasions she does, I can’t let her snooze on me. I don’t have that flexibility; I have a preschooler.

But Peeper went down to Eugene with her dad to pick up our dog, so for today I am mom of only one kid. And that “only child” has a doozy of a cold. So it’s really not that shocking she fell asleep at the breast—and why I let her keep sleeping on me, boob nap style.

When my toddler fell asleep in a boob nap, I stayed put. She and I both got exactly what we needed. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Preparing kids for Daylight Savings Time

I keep forgetting about daylight savings time—and then remembering with a sick feeling, as if our agricultural forbears hit me in the gut with a bushel of corn. And as a planner, I’ve been reading oodles of online articles about preparing kids for daylight savings time.

Consensus is clear: Gradually adjust kids’ bedtimes and wake times so that when DST hits this Sunday, they’re already on the new clock.

Naturally, then, my girls are helping by preparing us parents for daylight savings time.

Preparing kids for Daylight Savings Time to get more sleep? Watch out; your kids might turn the tables on you. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Nap hikes: The gift of silence

When Baby wouldn't sleep, I set off into the woods—and she fell asleep! Nap hikes are a blessing for both of us. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

We recently went camping for the first time as a family of four. It was Kiwi’s first time sleeping in a tent. And as I feared, my notoriously terrible sleeper slept pretty much not at all.

We stayed at Stub Stewart State Park just one night—a compromise to our usually longer trips since we figured sleep would be such a nightmare—and it’s a good thing, since I sat upright in our Forester with Kiwi alternately breastfeeding and dozing on me the entire night. I didn’t even attempt to get her to nap in the tent because I was tired, not insane.

So for each of her naps, I buckled her into my baby carrier and set off on a hike.

But even in my bleary, exhausted state, I treasured those nap hikes. Read more

7 tips to enjoy a hotel stay—with a baby!

 

Not long ago I traveled up to Seattle for my younger sister’s baby shower. We spent just one night in the emerald city to the north and stayed in the Alexis, a boutique hotel blocks from Pike Place Market with gorgeous, spacious rooms and a fantastic restaurant downstairs. I wish I’d known a tad bit more about how to do the family travel thing right and plan a hotel stay with a baby.

Hotel stays used to excite me—a night away, new and luxurious toiletries, someone else to make my bed. But now? Not so much.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in feeling a wee bit anxious bringing a baby to a hotel. Will the guests next door call the front desk if my little cries? Will the guests next door throw a raging party and prompt me to call the front desk?

You can take some of the uncertainty out of family travel—and even enjoy a hotel stay with a baby. Seriously.

When you're on a family vacation, help your baby sleep in a hotel with these tips. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

(This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click and buy, I’ll earn a few pennies. Thanks for supporting this mom blogger!) Read more

Kiwi is 7 months: Sisterhood

Baby fox toy Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Everybody’s doing a brand new dance now,
I know you’ll like it if you give it a chance now,
Come on baby, do the Locomotion!

The last month Kiwi has been all about moving around!

She’s not crawling, although she’s made it to all fours and is occasionally rocking, the first steps toward that milestone. But she intentionally rolls toward a destination where she’s set her sights—a beach ball, her toy piano, and especially Finn.

Baby fox toy Ten Thousand Hour MamaBaby and dog Ten Thousand Hour MamaShe also moves by whale tale splash, a special move she’s waiting to patent. While on her back, she lifts her entire body up to her shoulders and slams it back down on the ground. She swivels around like this and, by all measures, looks very proud of herself.

Sisters forever

Kiwi has also started the Peeper Fan Club. She is, of course, President. The two of them have also started a band. Kiwi does solo side projects, too.

Kiwi Rock from Catherine Ryan Gregory on Vimeo.

Sisters band Ten Thousand Hour MamaSisters band guitar Ten Thousand Hour MamaSisters Ten Thousand Hour MamaShe’s pretty much obsessed with Big Sister. Peeper can do no wrong. Even when she is hitting Kiwi in the face with a pom pom or grabbing toys away, Kiwi stares and giggles.

Sisters Ten Thousand Hour MamaSisters Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Oh so tired

Over the last few weeks, everyone in the house has been passing a cold back and forth. Kiwi has been sniffling for what seems like forever. During the day she’s still her usual cheerful self, but the nights have been brutal.

Every night is worse than the last. My euphoria over her successful sleep training has been replaced by despair as I feed her to sleep every two hours. And the last few nights, she has been awake in the deep, dark hours when everyone else is snuggled safely in their dreams.

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart; parenting two is even harder. But when I’m living in a sleep-deprived fog no quantity of caffeine can touch, beautiful rays of light break through: the love these girls share.

Shine on, sisters.

Sisters Ten Thousand Hour Mama