After three and a half years, I’ve finally got bedtime routine with my children down.
Bath (Sometimes. When really dirty or we have lot of free time), PJs, story, some lovie-dovie stuff, kiss and then the walk out the door with fingers crossed I don’t hear, “mommmyyyy, I’m thirsty!”
Check, check and check.
I’ve got this sleep thing down!
And yet, I know there’s more to my child sleeping well all night then getting him there in the first place. My belief is a child needs to have routine to fall asleep and then needs to feel loved and feel safe in order to sleep sweet.
In no particular order, here are my five tips to ensure your child feels loved when going to bed.
Tell them you love them.
As I lay with my littlest loves, I go down the list of everyone who loves them. From us to siblings to grandparents and teachers and friends and aunts. Okay, it’s simple and it only takes a minute or two. It’s super sweet when I forget a name and I get reminded of who else loves my little. We always finish by saying, “You are just so lovable!”
This little practice not only ensures my child knows he is loved when drifting to sleep; it sets his subconscious belief pattern to accept he is lovable.
How would you feel to know each and every day how loved you are by others?
See—I mean, really see—them!
Remember looking into your child’s eyes when they were first born? That instant and deep connection? Can you remember who blinked first or looked away?
In our fast-paced technology driven world, we’ve made it possible to connect without really seeing the other person. Holding a gaze with another person can easily make time tick-tock a little slower. Yet, eye contact can make a person feel important. Connected. Two entitles as one.
So snuggle up, ask for a seal kiss and look into your little’s eyes. I wonder who will look away first.
Reach out and touch some.
Right—because who doesn’t in some way touch and hold their child at bedtime.
I get it. I know you are.
So I ask, are you touching with intention and permission?
A simple, “I want to send you my love. May I touch your heart?” Placing your hands anywhere near or over another’s heart is the most basic form of balancing the heart center; our greatest and strongest energetic force within.
Doing so with permission is empowering our littles to learn to accept love freely.
Keep getting a no? Ask them to touch your heart! I’ll bet my elephant journal proceeds you’ll get a yes with giggle and a smile!
Sending love with your breath.
I love to invite my little to take deep breaths with me as we settle down for the night. Often, I’ll add in a little twist and invite him to image he’s breathing into his heart and out of his heart.
If you’ve never tried this practice, I invite you right here, in this moment, to take 60 seconds and breathe into your heart.
Do so by directing your attention over your heart space and envision your breath moving in and out of your heart. You may find your breaths slightly deeper than before. Do this for at least three rounds and check in with self. It’s a great activator of the parasympathetic nervous system—which is in control of slowing our heart rate and relaxing our muscles. Perfect for falling asleep.
After you perfect this breath, imagine sending that breath from your heart to your little. Who knows you may just find you can do this in the middle of the night when they tussle about and find them settle back to sweet sleep.
Physically you are there for at least some of your child’s nighttime sleep routine. How much of your energy is present?
This one is the hardest for me because it’s not a simple to-do checklist but a reminder to be conscious in each moment I spend with my littles before bedtime. Children instinctively know when we aren’t fully present and they will try anything to get all our our attention—thus dragging out the bedtime process and not filling their (or yours) love tank.
So I remind myself with these very words at bedtime, “I am here. I am present with my child.” Over and over until I feel fully engaged. And that also means, no phone in the bedroom! Emails and elephant journal can wait.
I invite you to try these techniques and see how your rest and connection deepens with your children at bedtime. You may just find over time the process moves faster and you get more me time!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Stephanie Hope Dodd
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock