I greatly dislike tossing and turning and being unable to go to sleep when I want to. What I dislike even more is when I just drift off to sleep and a noise wakes me up. I’ll be honest. I really don’t like being awakened at all in the middle of the night. Usually, it’s my dog scratching or moving around, but it could be my kids randomly crying out in the next room, my husband making a noise, etc. You get the idea.

One option to avoid this is to take sleeping pills so I am in a deeper sleep. There are a lot of drawbacks to this method, though. Most of the over-the-counter sleep aids are just Benadryl re-packaged and increased in price. (It’s true. The active ingredient in both is diphenhydramine .) Also, I don’t really like taking medicine unless I really need to and a doctor would laugh at me if I tried to get sleeping pills so I could stop being awakened by random noises. (And rightfully so.) There is also the possibility of my body getting dependent on them, etc. The risks outweigh the benefits, in my opinion.

Another option is ear plugs. They hurt my ears, though, and I need to be able to hear my children if one of them wakes up with a legitimate problem.

The solution I have discovered is to use a sound machine in my bedroom. It covers over those little noises that wake me up, doesn’t make my ears hurt, and I can still hear my kiddos in the other room if they really need me to. (I’ve written before about ways to make sure you can hear your kids and still get a good night’s sleep.) It has made a world of difference just to have that light background noise covering over all those little things that was causing me to not sleep very well. I’ve started waking up only when I am supposed to–when my alarm goes off.

If you’d like to do a little experiment of your own, you can try this free white noise generator. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t help you to sleep better.

How do you get your children to spend more time with you, especially when they have children (your grandchildren!)?

It’s a tricky relationship- your own kids grow up, get married, and have their own children, whom you are dying to spend time with.  However, even when your own relationship with your children are good, life is so hectic, so busy that even the best of intentions usually do not amount to much face time.  So, how do you entice them to make family time a priority (without coming across as overly demanding)?

I’m going to speak as a daughter and daughter-in-law now.  We had our first child a month after we moved out of state.  We had our second child 4 months before we moved out of the country.  As such, I know a bit about the stress of travel and spending time with family.  It’s not even that we don’t want to spend time with them, it’s just that it’s complicated, covers several time zones, and is quite expensive.  The main thing that has encouraged us to spend the money (and all our vacation time) is how much effort our parents put into the planning and preparation of our trips.

  • They usually try to help us out with the cost of the trip.  Even a little shows that they value us enough to spend their money to get us there.
  • My parents bought a crib, a pack n play, a high chair, and a stroller when we had the first grandchild.  Four grandchildren later, all items have been a great investment, both emotionally and financially.  In contrast, my in-laws chose not to purchase those items, but rather to borrow them for our visits.  I can’t tell you how nice it is to arrive to a house that is literally furnished for our kids’ needs.
  • Lastly, both sets of parents have modified their homes for us- they let us tape up garbage bags to cover uncovered windows (like French doors) so our children can sleep well.  Additionally, they have fans and/or sound machines to cover the unfamiliar noises in strange homes.  We all appreciate a good night’s sleep.

When I add it all up, it’s easy to see that both sets of grandparents have bent over backwards to make our trips “home” as easy and enjoyable as possible.  Knowing that, it’s hard to say no to a trip to visit, even across the pond.  I’d say that we all benefit from their effort!

Here's a picture of my dog, Jack. I like him much better now that he isn't waking me up all the time.

My little dog Jack sleeps in the same room with us. He used to sleep on the bed with us, but he hogs the covers and refuses to move in the middle of the night, so we bought him his own little bed and now he sleeps in the floor next to us. It seems that all should be well and we should all be sleeping like a baby.

That has not been the case, though. Jack had some skin issues, so was constantly scratching and licking himself. (Thankfully, we changed his food and he is doing better now.) He still gets up in the middle of the night to eat, and his nails make a clickety-clickety noise on our hardwood floors and down the hallway. He now has the occasional scratch, sneeze, moving from one side of our room to the other, etc. The dog was waking me up more than my kids ever did and I was starting to resent him for it. I was waking up exhausted in the morning because my dog had been making little noises all night long and kept waking me up.

I could have just made Jack move into another room to sleep, but I didn’t have the heart to do that. I already have some guilt because I feel like he doesn’t get enough attention from me since most of my attention goes to my two children. (They give him way more attention than he has ever wanted, though.) Besides, he scratches at our door when he isn’t in there with us. Its in his genes–he’s a lap dog. He wants to be close to us. He’s not waking me up on purpose.

The solution we came up with was to start using a sound machine in our bedroom at night and I cannot believe how much better I am sleeping. The subtle white noise covers over Jack’s sounds enough that I don’t even notice them anymore. I am no longer feeling animosity toward my dog and am waking up feeling refreshed instead of groggy and mad at the dog. Jack might be sleeping better too, but I couldn’t tell you whether that is true or not since, thankfully, he isn’t waking me up at night anymore.

Experienced Travel

Kids are often awake on a plane when others aren't (or don't want to be).

We have done a lot of traveling with our 2 kids.  It used to be that taking the short 2-hour flight with one very content child from Iowa to Texas would stress me out.  2 years, 1 child, and dozens of flights later, I chuckle as I think about all the places and time zones we’ve been in.  Very little stresses me out now.  Maybe that’s a wee overstatement, but I usually fly very confidently with both my children.

Most of my confidence comes from experience and preparedness.  I usually think through all the timing and changes I can and try to plan accordingly.  I have come to know both what bothers my children and what aides them in getting the rest they need, regardless of the time zone or transportation.  I have also resigned myself that travel of any kind just doesn’t afford kids the same routine, and that’s okay.  Losing a few hours of sleep is the price we pay for the privilege of traveling.

Do You Have a Sound Machine?

I will say that one of our funnier moments was when we caught a late night flight from Germany back to Scotland, but not our city.  We landed at 11pm and still had a 3 or 4 hour drive to get home.  In hindsight, we should have gotten a hotel.  Sadly we assumed that our kids would nod off and sleep most of the time.  Well, that didn’t happen.  Our older daughter did her best to sleep, but our son, bless his heart, was continually disturbed by the lights from the oncoming cars.  He would wake up, screaming, right next to his sister.  Since they both are normally quiet while sleeping, our daughter had never had to deal with this kind of noise.  She did her best to sleep through it, but finally asked with bleary eyes and a tired voice, “Do you have a sound machine?”

That was the day (well, the night) we learned several things.  First, if it’s well after bed time for everyone, go ahead and get a hotel room.  Second, do what you can to prepare the kids for the changed environment by talking about it ahead of time.  Lastly, bring our portable sound machine for overnight car trips.

Traveling for the Holidays

Christmas is a season of spending time with family and enjoying each other.  For us, it also means being in the air and on the you road a lot….a whole lot.  It also means too many shared bedrooms and lodgings.  In fact, where we are now we are sharing a room with our 4 year old daughter (I would never consider sharing my 2 year old son- he’s the only one on his own).  As sweet as she is, she is still 4, and if you don’ have one, you need to know that 4 year olds toss and turn…a lot.  And they moan off and on all night- not enough to really complain about, but enough to cause parental concern to rear its unwieldy head just in time to see that she’s still asleep.  Sigh.

Bless My Sound Machine

And, so, I find once again that I am indebted to my trusty sound machine.  I guess all of us are indebted to it.  I imagine our daughter is not the only one tossing and turning.  Actually, we have to sneak in the room, get under the covers, and then spend the night attempting to find the perfect sleep position, which will inevitably elude us until about 6 am, at which point, we might as well give it up because our son will soon be rising.  However, from 8pm until then, our sound machine keeps the other 3 of us asleep.  Bless it.

One of my favorite times of the day is after the kids have gone to bed. I settle down on my couch with my (not-so) trusty laptop and hopefully a cup of (decaffeinated) tea. I bask in the freedom of being able to sit somewhere for a few minutes without someone climbing on top of me, asking me to do something for them, or having to break up an argument. The background noise of my most favorite time is always two white noise machines–one in my son’s room and one in my daughter’s room. When I hear that, I know that I have made it through another day and my children are now sleeping sweetly in their beds.

My kids find the sound of the sound machine comforting too. They’ve always slept with one and don’t know any other way. About a week ago we forgot to click the sound machine on before we left our daughter’s room. Her shouts quickly made us run back in there and we made her little sleep world right again. In fact, when my children pretend to sleep during their play time, they go and turn on their sound machines before they climb up in the bed to “sleep.”

The beauty of using a sound machine to sleep is that it frees my children up to get the sleep they need–not only so they are in a good mood the next day, but for proper development. They are not constantly being awoken by other noises. Using a sound machine also frees me up to be able to move around the house without having to constantly worry about waking them. I like staying up late, so I usually exercise, wash the dishes, straighten the house, and sometime get some cooking done. My daughter’s bedroom is directly across from the kitchen, so most of that stuff happens literally right outside her bedroom door and she sleeps through it.

I really do appreciate those white noise machines.

Holidays=Less Sleep

I am finding that the holiday season means I sleep less and toss and turn more.  With Thanksgiving come and gone, I can’t help but think about Christmas and an endless to do list.  My mind wanders as I try to write and my list just never seems to get any shorter.  The result is that I’m just not sleeping as much as I need to be.

Sound Machine to the Rescue

A simple solution is the ever-faithful sound machine.  The quiet white noise it produces is just enough to help me tune out distraction yet not be a distraction itself.  It reminds me of being a kid and riding in the back seat on a road trip with my parents.  As we picked up speed, their conversation got quieter and quieter to the point that no matter how interesting what they were spelling really was I simply could’t decipher it.  Their seemingly low voices  and the sound of the car running turned into a soothing lullaby that practically lulled me to sleep.

Similarly, the white noise from a sound machine acts as a shield against outside noises and even my own rambling mind.  The simple noise helps keep my brain sweetly occupied so I can rest and actually enjoy the holidays.  And you know what?  I’ll take a sound machine over meds any day of the week.

Looking for a great gift idea?

It’s always a risk to try to pick out sentimental items for others, and most people buy themselves what they want in terms of clothes and jewelry.  And then there’s the hard to shop for man who has everything he “needs.”  These types are tough to shop for.

I have recently, meaning on the past few years, come to appreciate the practical gift.  In fact, it’s hard not to appreciate the practical gift- who doesn’t love something they can use?  As such, I thought I’d post one of my favorite possessions, one that travels with me regardless the luggage limitations: my portable sound machine.  Actually, I have more than one.  They allow me to work and sleep anywhere.  That applies to my children, too, though I usually don’t make them work.  ;)

2 Apps for this Practical Gift

  1. Anyway, sound machines are clutch for new parents and parents of small children who worry about waking their kids up- why not pop a sound machine in baby’s room?  For parents of older children, there’s always the application of tuning out their sleep-overs and rowdiness that keeps them awake well past their preferred bed time.
  2. As for work, anyone who works in a cubicle or over-crowded office knows the time suck of office noise.  Being able to tune it out and stay productive is priceless.

There are countless applications, which show why a sound machine is a truly practical, and therefore successful, gift for even the tough to shop for.  I’m sure a pair of 3-carrot diamond earrings or a sports car would impress more, so if you’re inclined to go in that direction, by all means, do it.  For the rest of us, sound machines fit under the tree quite nicely.

{Check this out for more practical gift ideas!}

White Noise for Sleep-Overs

I am amazed at how truly useful I find white noise to be.  Just this week I visited my best friend and her 3 children a few hours away.  I brought both my kids- we had a grand total of 5 children under 6.  Any other time, I would have been quite stressed about the sleeping arrangements, but this time, I had a plan.  I brought my travel sound machine for my more finnikcy sleeper.  As bed time drew near, I set up my son in a pack n play in the laundry room with the sound machine.  My best friend put all the girls together and since they’re older, we trusted them to sleep just fine.  That only left the baby.  As sweet as he is, no one expected him to sleep through all the extra noise and chaos going on literally outside his door.  Thus, we ran a sound machine for him as well.  In all honesty, I can’t believe how well it worked.  All 5 children slept well and without stress….so did their mothers.

Holiday Travel

It’s the holiday season.  If you did in fact survive Thanksgiving, then you only have Christmas left to go.  And it’s not that the day itself is all that bad, it’s all the days surrounding it.  If your family is anything like mine then you have lots (and lots) of company…at your house.  Or, maybe you’re the company…at their house.  Either way, no matter how well you might get along, it’s an acoustic nightmare.  From nap time to bed time, household noise can be quite stressful.  Whether you’re worried about the noise your own family is making for others or vice versa, many hours of sleep can be lost.  The result is haggard and harried people the next morning, none of whom are very festive or excited about eggnog.

Sound Machine App #1

If your company is making noise, use a sound machine for your own family.  It will help cover the added noise of extra people so that you (and your children) can still get good sleep.

Sound Machine App #2

If it’s your own children making too much noise for grandma or other visiting kids, why not offer a sound machine to your company?  They can choose a nature sound they like and tune out your own rowdy kids.

Sound Machine App #3

If you find yourself traveling for the holidays, it’s time to consider a portable sound machine.  Chances are, you’ll feel more relaxed and more at home.

Whether it’s for you or your guests, sound machines are a wise investment because they protect everyone’s number one concern: sleep.