A plethora of scientific evidence shows that most children thrive in atmospheres of structure and routine. Providing a sense of normalcy in your child’s life is a key factor toward building a strong foundation of love and support to help a son or daughter reach his or her full potential.
My youngest of 10 children is soon to be age 12. My eldest recently turned 34. I have navigated the ebb and flow of parenting for several decades. As many parents of children in various age groups can likely relate, my older kids often poke jibes about how “lax” my husband and I have supposedly become regarding their younger siblings. “What is going on here? We were never allowed to do that when we were their ages!” This is a common interjection that is inevitably exclaimed during most family gatherings, bringing laughter and stories of old, leading to contests about who happens to be mom’s or dad’s current “favorite” child.
It’s true that as parents, we’ve changed through the years – isn’t that the point? We’re on a journey and are striving to grow closer to God and to better ourselves through the experience of raising a family together. We make mistakes, hopefully apologize as needed and do the best we can with what we have to provide a safe, healthy, faith-filled, loving environment for each of our children as we help them prepare for adulthood.
One thing that has always been consistent in my parenting style is that providing a sense of daily routine and structure in my children’s lives is a priority. Some of my most joyful memories are those I find in reminiscing of my children’s “baby” days. I often quip that we had “nothing” but we felt like we “had it all.” Money and material things were minimal, yet our hearts overflowed with joy as we carried out the basic tasks associated with our daily state in life.
Each day included a routine of playing, rocking, praying, bathing, snuggling and most importantly, a regular bedtime. I adamantly believe that my children have enjoyed good health (for the most part) in mind, body and soul because they always had adequate sleep. Bed times also allowed us parents to have a bit of “adult” time as we wound down from our busy work-filled days.
Nowadays, children as young as 10 stay up until well after midnight, often using electronic devices and engaging on social media, many times without their parents knowing, sometimes with parental knowledge but with parents saying they “can’t do anything about it.” These same parents wonder why their children have trouble focusing on their schoolwork, why they’re moody or suffering adverse health conditions.
Not only are many youths severely sleep-deprived, they are dehydrated, as well. In fact, I predict that if a mass-movement of parenting would take place across the country with a goal of helping children get more sleep and drink more water (not soda) we’d see a major shift from poor health to better health in a short amount of time.
Studies show lack of sleep increases a child’s risk for obesity, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Children nowadays often suffer from such adult health problems at an alarming rate. Sleep deprivation adversely effects the immune system. Myriad behavioral problems are also linked to inadequate sleep, from crankiness, hyperactivity and poor school performance to temper tantrums.
Replacing electronic activity during waking hours with reading, outdoor play and social interaction with people who are physically present in the room are other simple improvements that can be added to more sleep hours and drinking more water to help children overcome many of the physical, emotional and mental impediments plaguing our modern society.
Don’t be afraid to be seen as a “mean” parent or “uncool” or “old fashioned.” Insist that your children go to bed at a decent hour getting 6-10 hours of sleep every day) and give them water to drink instead of soda, energy drinks or other processed-sugar hydration products. Don’t forget that parents of exhausted children often become exhausted themselves. If your kids have trouble falling right to sleep, you may want to allow them to lie in bed and rest a while but it’s best to avoid letting them keep electronic equipment in their rooms all night.
The sooner you help your kids improve their health by getting more z’s and drinking more water, the sooner you may feel more energized and up for the task of helping them become strong, healthy, capable, joyful adults.
Writer Bio: Judy Dudich
Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.