One Parenting Habit that Shifts Everything

What if you found one habit that's critical to every other part of being able to enjoy your family. Or heck, just being able to deal with them.  Well, this is the one that can shift everything. Yup, everything. Post includes affiliate links which cost you nothing, but help us run this site.

In her recent book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, Arianna Huffington describes the day she collapsed, breaking her cheekbone on the ways down – simply out of exhaustion. It was a turning point for her and changed her definition of success. I was at a conference recently and got to hear Arianna speak. She said hands down, her keystone habit for living a full and fulfilling life is getting enough sleep.

5 Ways to Sleep Better Tonight

I want that fulfilling life. I want to be present every day. I have so much crazy good stuff in my life and I want to be awake enough to enjoy it.

Aside from being more present in the moments that matter, I want sleep because lack of sleep is my number one anger trigger. It builds up – the less I get sleep the less I can be patient, the less I can get myself to prevent a mama tantrum.

Getting enough sleep.

I don't know if you need 7, 8 or 9 hours – you know what it means for you to get enough sleep, and if you do nothing else to make your life better this month, do this. Make sleep a priority.

Without Enough Sleep

Five ways to get better sleep tonight:

1. Prevent blood sugar drops in the middle of the night.

Not eating enough, drinking too much alcohol, having too much dessert – all of these things can set you up for a blood sugar crash in the middle of the night – making you more wakeful and making it much harder to fall asleep again after any sleep disturbance. On the other hand, being sure to get a decent dinner without too many simple carbohydrates helps you sleep well.

2. Find the best sleep solutions for each child.

If you want to start a fight on the internet, tell people how they should get kids to sleep. I co-slept with each of my kids. This was best for us at first, but with my second, I would have gotten much more sleep if we had transferred him to his own bed much earlier. I wish I had listened less to internet chatter and more to my own family's needs. With my third I trusted that everyone getting more sleep was best for our whole family and worth a few tears. She still co-slept with us, but once I realized it was intruding on our whole family's sleep more than it was making for healthy connection, we transferred her to her own bed.

Related: Ideas for getting your toddler to sleep in later

Sleep is key.

You can be a better parent, make better decisions and enjoy your kids more if you get sleep. I don't know the answer for you, but I know life is better if people get more sleep. It's worth studying and choosing the solution that works best for you.

A couple sleep book recommendations (Amazon affiliate links):

3. Get in movement or exercise during the day

I'm sure you've heard before that exercise helps with sleep. It's true. You don't have to train for a marathon – do some jumping jacks, go on a walk with your kids, learn a yoga routine you can do at home or join a class at a place that has childcare and use exercise as a way to get some time to yourself.  Just find a way to move you body.

4. Find other times to take to yourself.

It feels so dang good to be surrounded by quiet with no one asking you for something. When we don't take time to ourselves we crave it desperately. I have been known to stay up over and over 'til way past late in order to have time to myself. It's a viscous cycle. You're too tired during the day to be proactive about making plans for yourself, the thought of getting a babysitter or swapping childcare with a friend becomes an exhausting proposition, so you avoid it again. And you stay up late. And you're exhausted again the next day, and so it goes.

I get time to myself by creating a family routine that works for us that includes down time, asking for help from my spouse and other family members and by doing things with the kids like hiking and having picnics where they'll go play and I can relax.

5. Tame the Worries with Visualization.

You know that worry wheel that starts spinning in the middle of the night?  You wake up and you can't  get back to sleep because the hamster wheel of worries starts spinning and spinning. Around and around you go with nothing to show for it in the morning except a foggy head.

Visualization helps me tame the worries and get back to sleep.  I actually use the intro meditation from the bedtime mediation stories that I read to my kids – I know it well and find it effective for calming worried thoughts: Starbright–Meditations for Children

More Resources:

What is your main reason for not getting sleep?  Are you ready to make this a priority?