Our top 4 ways to a bedtime truce
Most of us long for those moments of bedtime snuggles, connection and whispered sweet nothings as our kids drift off to sleep with a smile on their faces. But the harsh reality is that, “Time for bed”, is often met with groans, excuses, frustration and arguments.
By the end of the day, you just want unwind, sit back and do “you” and yet when you’re continuously met with “I can’t get to sleep” or “I’m scared”, our patience often wears thin, and we become snappy and abrupt.
Just like us, our kids need the opportunity to unwind after their day and prepare their little bodies for sleep. When we provide this space for them, we maximise our chances of ending up with a little “me” time.
Following are 4 great strategies for helping your child, prepare their body for sleep….
1) Colouring mandalas:
Through my work running Mindfulness & Meditation Programs for Kids, I am always astounded to see the energy level drop and a sense of calm take over whenever we do mandala work. Colouring is a wonderful form of meditation for children as it centres their attention.
Mandala colouring pages are easily accessible on the internet and generally free. The word mandala comes from the ancient Sanskrit language and loosely means “circle” or “centre”. Within its
circular shape, the mandala has the power to promote relaxation and healing. Print a few out, dim the lights slightly, put on some soft music and bring out the colouring pencils.
Ask your child to set an intention for whilst they’re colouring; maybe something like “I will go to sleep easily tonight” and colour away. Give them a time frame of up to 30 mins and make the mandala age appropriate. For children whom struggle to leave things unfinished, ensure that the picture they are colouring is achievable in the time frame allowed. You don’t want to undo all of that beautiful, relaxed energy with an argument because they’ve not finished. Free mandala download… http://mzayat.com/singlec/459876.html
Does your child struggle with bedtime fears? Are they suddenly happy one moment and then once lying in their beds, they feel vulnerable and don’t want you to leave?
Try encouraging them to set energetic boundaries and calling in protection. You might use angels, unicorns, lions, fairies….whatever your child relates to, and talk them through this mantra. (We use angels here so that’s what I’ll go with)….
“Four angels on each corner of the property. Four angels on each corner of the house. Four angels in each corner of my room. Four angels on each corner of my bed.”
After each line, get them to picture their protectors, firmly in place, before proceeding to the next position.
You can also ask your child to pick a colour that makes them feel safe, get them to close their eyes and picture a beautiful coloured bubble around them like a force field.
3) Breathing and Meditation:
Deep breathing and meditation go hand-in-hand, but so many of us don’t know how to breathe properly. One of the easiest techniques I use for teaching kids how to breathe deeply, is to have your child to select their favourite small stuffed toy, and place it on their belly. Ask them to take a deep breath in and see the toy rise, then as they breathe out, get them to watch it fall. Get them to continue to do this as they are laying down listening to their bedtime meditation.
There are literally so many options for this. You can find guided scripts online, that you can read out to your little one(s). Or there are apps that can be downloaded.
You may like to download entire albums of guided meditations for children from iTunes, like this one that I have used for many years for my own children, https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/meditations-for-children/369555259 and podcasts are also a great option.
If all else fails, you can turn to YouTube and find some beautiful, calming and sleep inducing music to play (not to watch).
Meditation is such a powerful gift to give to our children and studies show the immense benefits. From better concentration, higher grades at school and improving neural pathways in the brain, meditation is an essential tool for everyone, but especially kids.
4) Awareness & Empowerment:
Why is it mama (or papa) that you’re so invested in your child going to bed? Are they really tired, or is it because you are craving “clock off time”?
Imagine your partner or friend demanding that you go to bed and to sleep at this very moment (sounds like a dream come true hey? Haha). But in reality, you’d probably fight back. Tell them you weren’t tired; that you’re in the middle of something; that they can’t tell you what to do…right?
Once our kids reach a certain age or maturity level, it’s important to empower them with the ability to make decisions that directly affect them. Of course, boundaries are important, but what if I told you that you could have your cake and eat it too (without having to share it with the kids)? Would you believe me if I said you could get the “you” time you’ve been craving, whilst allowing your kids to choose when they go off to bed?
Let your child know that they now get to determine when they go to sleep (stay with me, I promise this goes somewhere great). Really boost them up and let them know how responsible you feel that they are, and how you want them to be able to make the choice as to when they are tired enough for sleep.
There’s a catch though (isn’t there always?). Once in their room, they must stay there. If they come out for anything other than the toilet, which doesn’t require you, a) knowing about and b) assisting with, then they have shown that they’re actually not responsible enough and will immediately be sent to bed…TO SLEEP! And if they stay up half the night and don’t get up for school the next morning, or are too tired or grumpy to function, then they’ve also shown that they still need you to decide their sleep time.
Set a “bedtime”, organise a snack, drink, books to read, colouring in pages etc, read your story to them, have your snuggles, kiss them goodnight and leave the room. Now it’s up to them. They are now learning to listen to their body, and are able to have some control over an important part of their day.
And you….well you can now go eat that cake in peace, spend time with your partner, take a bath, read a book, or catch up on Netflix or Facebook.So, there you have four wonderful strategies for helping your children go off to sleep at night in a peaceful and connected manner. Finding what works for your kids is essential, but these techniques can all be easily tweaked to suit your child’s personality.
Here’s to calm bedtimes, rested kids and happy parents.
Trinity Kids Australia