Why I didn’t try this sooner, I will never know!
If you are like me, you will do anything (within reason, of course!) to encourage your child to go to sleep. My son is a very active and insanely imaginative 6 (almost 7) year old who just loves loves loves to delay bedtime. No matter how tired he is, it is one excuse after another… “I am not tired”, “I have to pee”, “I need my blanket”, “I am scared of fire trucks”, “what is the score of the hockey game” and my personal favorite “I want to do yoga with you”. Most of the time, there is an awful lot of yawning and eye rubbing in between his excuses. He totally fights sleep and as much as I would love to do one more downward facing dog with him, sometimes bedtime is bedtime!
Recently, I began to take just a few minutes after we were done with our nightly routine and he was snug in his bed to walk him through relaxing his entire body. We start with the tips of his toes and move all the way to the crown of his head and just focus on the body and the breath as we relax. This is something that I have done in adult and kid classes time and time again but for some reason it didn’t occur to me to try it at bedtime with my own kiddo. The first time, I thought it was a fluke. “He must have been really exhausted after that tball game”, I thought…he was asleep within minutes. But to my utter amazement (and delight) it continues to work like a charm! In fact, two nights ago, he fell asleep by the time I got to his elbow, which I do think was a record for us.
This has become a sort of nightly ritual in our household. He actually asks for “relaxation” and even offers his constructive criticism and feedback if the need arises. A notable comment last night was, “mom, you are doing really well, but you have to slow down, you know…and actually give me time to relax”. Thanks buddy!
So, if you are looking for a way to help your child get some rest (so you can get yours too!) give it a try. Encourage your child to get nice and cozy in their bed, ask them to close their eyes. I always start with a few cleansing breaths in through the nose and out of the mouth. Then just begin to guide them through breathing in and out gently and relaxing various parts of their bodies. At first, if they are wiggly, just keep talking gently and reminding them to breathe and relax. I bet they will become still soon and hopefully they will be relaxed and ready for sleep in no time. One warning though…if you are tired, you might just put yourself to sleep!