IT MAY HAVE ELUDED you until now but with a few easy adjustments, I’ll show you how to achieve the Holy Grail of parenthood: a loving and calm, tantrum-free bedtime routine.
Picture the scene if you will. You’ve spent the best part of an hour coaxing your child to sleep, pleading with them to close their eyes. You’re at least three bedtime stories down and STILL they refuse to lie still or let you leave the room. By some miraculous intervention from some higher power they finally give in to the tug of slumber and you hastily retreat into the sanctuary of your grown-up space completely exhausted. Victory is yours. For ten whole minutes before they charge out of their room announcing they need a drink, the bathroom and a fourth story.
Sounds familiar? For what it’s worth, you’re not alone. In my experience parents the world over struggle to get their kids to sleep quickly and without quarrel.
Well, the solution is a little closer than you may realise. Enter the calm, perfectly balanced, serene parent. That’s you.
Recalibrate your mindset instead of trying to hide your feelings
If that’s not you, that’s where you need to be and don’t even try to fake it. Your child is a master detective when it comes to ‘feeling’ your mood and understanding your energy. They know you better than you think they do, and if you’re feeling tired, stressed out, exhausted or frustrated they will pick up on this. And they will worry and try to figure your emotions out – a process that will wake them up rather than calm them down as they get alert.
Be aware of the way your feelings may cause confusion. If your child acts out at bedtime it could be a sign that he is confused about your energy.
Are you ready for change?
The secret to a bedtime routine full of love is to find your inner ‘energy switch’. As humans we communicate in many other ways than just words and our energy plays a big role in our communication with our children. As parents we tend to operate in “Brainland”. However, our children have not yet moved all their attention into their brains yet. They are still in “Heartland” and they are much more aware of their bodies. Children tend to understand energy better than adults and they sense much more than most adults understand. You simply CAN’T hide your mood from the energy champs.
Maybe you’ve tried to paint on a smile before a visit to a difficult aunt – you know the one. You may try with words to convince your child you’re looking forward to seeing them, but deep down you’re filled with dread. Your child doesn’t buy your smile and isn’t convinced by your quick words. Your child knows you too well.
The same goes for bedtimes as well. If you’re feeling anxious about the ‘battle’ that’s about to take place, your child will react to your anxious energy and ‘weapon up’ accordingly. If you feel too exhausted for bedtime, your child will sense that as well.
The trick is to become aware of your mood and energy, and switch it to a loving, caring energy before bedtime.
Here’s how in three easy steps:
STEP 1: BECOME AWARE OF YOUR ENERGY
Be conscious of your energy and how you feel before and during bedtime.
Try asking yourself the following questions:
- What are your expectations for the upcoming bedtime?
- Which thoughts run through your mind when you think about bedtime right now?
- How does the current bedtime situation affect you?
- How do you feel if bedtime turns into craziness?
- Where in your body can you feel your irritation, frustration, anger, sadness etc?
- How does it feel?
Pay attention to your body and get to know where your emotions typically emerge in your body. Feel into them. Get to know these feeling so that it becomes easier for you to detect how you feel before bedtime.
STEP 2: FIND YOUR ENERGY SWITCH
Once you become more conscious and aware of your energy and of what you’re radiating, the trick is to find your switch. Mindfulness is a very efficient tool that can make a HUGE difference when locating and activating your switch.
Mindfulness teaches us to observe ourselves with an open and non-judgemental mind. You learn to be aware of where your focus is and whether your focus is good for you. For instance if your attention is on the thought that the upcoming bedtime will be challenging, you can recognise this thought for what it is, choose not to think it and strip it of any power it wields.
Once you become conscious of your focus you can shift your attention to a desire to help your child sleep. It is important your switch is filled with self-love. Instead of beating yourself up, be kind to yourself. A thought is just a thought. Now, focus on a calm, positive outcome and a loving routine for both you and your child and so it will be. Pay attention to where your awareness is. Where attention goes, energy flows. Feel the love you have for your child. Grow the feeling.
STEP 3 – PRACTICE AND TURN UP
Once you’re familiar with your energy switch and become aware of where your focus lies, you can work it as you would a muscle. Be curious, play with it, observe it, and dial your energies up and down. Tune into volume. Surround yourself with things, activities and people who fill you with energy and turn down those who drain you.
Like everything else in life, exercising and tapping into energy takes training. However, mastering step 1 of this three-stage process – becoming aware of energy – is often all it takes to enable us to start seeing significant differences in our relationships.
And this applies not only for our children, but in all other relationships as well. The reason why our children often drive us crazy is precisely because they detect our energies and our energies are reflected in their behaviour. The mirror us whether we like it or not. Luckily this also goes for when we are happy and excited.
Pay attention to where you get energy and where you lose it.
CHILD MEDITATION – HITTING THE OVERRIDE SWITCH
My best-selling book The Children’s Meditations In My Heart helps thousands of parents find their switch – just by reading it. Many parents have written to me saying how magical the book is and how it has made a huge difference to their bedtime routines.
What’s it about? The love you have for your child, the great love you have in your family. As a parent you relax while you read it. Whilst you read your little master detective senses you are calm and relaxed, and when you relax, your little master detective relaxes and falls asleep much more easily. You ‘lend’ your child a room in your energy full of love.
The master detective’s reaction will be something like this “I can feel mum/dad is relaxed/ mindful/ loving/ caring/ calm. I love this feeling. It makes me feel very loved and safe. There is nothing mysterious going on in my parent’s energies that I need to interpret and react to. Now I can concentrate on myself. And when I concentrate on myself I feel that my body is tired. Very tired after a long day of being a master detective. I think I will take a little nap.”