For 20 minutes each evening, my children and I cuddle up together on the couch before bed and read some of our favorite books. Did you know that reading just 20 minutes a day encourages listening and language skills, and gives children a strong reading foundation? You can change selection every couple of weeks. For example, I focus on different themes and rotate every couple of weeks so the kids are always thinking about new things (and this mama doesn’t get bored). I just reviewed a great book, Flippy Goes on a Road Trippy by John Mese and Dawn Kelsey, if you’re planing a trip in the near future.My 4 yr. old daughter loved the energetic colors and smooth texture of the book. We frequently travel to Florida, Chicago, and Massachusetts, so going on a “road trippy” represents family and fun. My daughter especially loves Trippy’s visit to the beach walking on “hot sand” finding shells on the beach.
However, the theme these days are books about napping and sleeping. Some of our current favorites include, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, The Napping House by Audrey Wood, and Peek-a-Boo Board Book by Allan Ahlberg . This came about because getting my 2 yr. old and 4 yr. old to bed was a complete nightmare. Since my DH comes home late from work most nights during the week, it’s all me. I had friends with bedtime routines that just didn’t work with my kids. Some eliminated the day nap in order to get the kids to bed by 6:30. Others had kids that wanted to nap and go to bed early without a problem. I wasn’t about to give up the day nap because I also needed a “time out” to get things done.
I searched and searched for books on the topic of sleep, and they’re are several worth turning pages, but my personal favorite, Elizabeth Pantley’s, The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers (June, 2005). This is when I became a “Sleep Promoter”. Here is the excerpt from The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers that I fell in love with and follow religiously:
“The key to staying, and making it a pleasant routine for everyone involved, is to set a specific bedtime routine that ends in quiet, peaceful darkness. The finale to your bedtime routine should be your quiet presence as your child nods off. If you continue to tal k and interact with your child you may be actually keeping him awa k e! So do all your usual things – reading, storytelling, nursing, back -rubbing – and then turn off the lights and be quiet. The only noise you should make is a quiet “Shhh, Shhh” in response to any movement or noise from your little one. “
And, then it worked. Reading with my children for those 20 minutes has improved things tremendously in the home. If the kids go to sleep early, I can get some things done before I turn in for the evening.
If you’re putting your kids down for a nap, bedtime, or just spending some quiet time with them reading a book, those could be the best 20 minutes of your day. As my parents always say, ” it seemed like just 20 minutes ago you were all toddlers”.
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