This post is brought to you by Bupa.
The Smyth family is limping towards the finish line of Term 3. Our girls are tired (so are their parents just quietly).
When the good folks at Bupa asked if our family would like to join the Family Challenge they've put together with Life Education, Bearhands and I thought we'd have a crack. When we discovered there was a challenge with focussed on sleeping well, eating well and getting outside we knew we'd found the right fit for our family.
Our first focus was to write a sleep plan for each member of our family. I'd recently read a few articles about exactly how much sleep children need, so Bearhands and I agreed a new bedtime for the kids - 7pm instead of our normal 7.30pm. I decided to be in bed by 8.30pm and screen-free from 8pm. Bearhands had fallen asleep on the couch by this stage, so I awarded him extra points for being an early adopter.
The second focus of the "All Systems Go Challenge" was getting outside for some exercise. While Bearhands and the kids do their fair share of huffing and puffing in the fresh air, I tend to do my sweating inside (mostly standing next to the oven!). So this part of the challenge fell to me for improvement.
The third part of the challenge was to swap sugary/caffinated drinks for water. This was a no brainer for the kids - their mother is too mean to let them have anything like that. There was no way Bearhands and I were going to swap our morning coffees, so we agreed to focus on drinking more water during the day to make up for it and to help our kidneys filter our sins from our blood.
The fourth focus was packing a healthy lunch each day. I'm already careful with the kids' tucker, but I whacked an extra piece of fruit in their lunch boxes each day. I tried packing lunch for Bearhands when I knew he'd be out and about. For me I changed the focus to investing the time to make and eat a good breakfast, instead of expecting my body to function with just a half a piece of toast in the tank.
The fifth focus was eating a family meal together at least four times a week. I knew we wouldn't be able to pull this one off - the girls need to eat earlier than Bearhands finishes work, but I decided to sit with them while they ate.
Getting the kids to bed that half hour earlier was hard. I had to take over the bathing regime, because Bearhands wasn't home yet to supervise. Normally, he supervises the kids bath/PJs/teeth routine and I cook our grown-up dinner. I will say that it was totally worth the effort though. Our kids are early risers. It doesn't matter if you put them to bed at 7pm or 9pm, they're up at 5.30am without fail. I was genuinely surprised at what a difference that extra 30 minutes of sleep made to the girls.
It might sound like common sense that more sleep = happier children, but the change in their behaviour and temperament makes working for those extra thirty winks worthwhile. Having a sleep planner is paying dividends for our family and we're keeping it. In fact, I am so convinced that this is a winner, I've designed a free printable bedtime planner for you too, but more about that later.
Getting outside was easy. Once we got outside, I focussed on making the most of my time while I was out there. Between breaks working on the tractor, I pulled weeds. When the kids were out in the paddock, I chased them instead of watching them play. We also discovered that kids are like kittens - they'll chase anything on a string. The girls spent ages one afternoon taking turns flying a kite and chasing it's shadow.
Added benefit for extra credit: I topped up my Vitamin D levels which are a bit low after Winter.
Water. We drank it and I made sure the Big Sister actually filled her water bottle before taking it to school.
We had mixed success with the healthy lunch. The girls did well with their extra piece of fruit. I packed Bearhands smoko for when he wasn't on the farm (the majority of which I found in his glove box later in the week). I made myself an omelette most mornings and fuelled my body for the day. The Bupa website has some kid-friendly recipes on the challenge website, so I let the kids loose in the kitchen one afternoon and let them rediscover ants on a log.
Finally, the family meal was a bust. I sat with the kids while they ate their dinner, but I ate with Bearhands after he'd finished work. I love the idea of eating as a family, but for the moment it doesn't fit our lifestyle. I hope when the kids are a little bit older, we'll be able to share a meal and talk about our day like I did as a kid. I'm not wishing away these young years though. I have a feeling I'll look back on these as the happiest days of our lives.
Believe me when I say that I am truly surprised to find myself feeling so strongly about starting a sleep planner. Regular readers will attest that prior to this, the only thing I've even been evangelical about it baked goods. And yet, I think having a bedtime planner is such a great idea, I've designed a printable so that everyone can start one easily. Plus I made it pretty, so even if your kids already have a set bedtime, you can print one for their room. You can download it here - free bedtime planner.
Bupa, together with Life Education, have developed five family challenges to choose from. Not only are the challenges FREE, they're broken into achievable goals that actually work. Keen to give them a try? Click here and choose a challenge, then pop back and let me know which one you picked.
up for the challenge?
when is your bedtime?