My kids have never been good sleepers. Getting them to sleep at night has been a nightmare. I’ve resorted to letting them cry it out and sleeping on the floor in their room until they fell asleep and then contorting myself into crazy positions in an attempt to escape their room without waking them, only to sneeze at the last minute and have them wake up in hysterics because I wasn’t next to them anymore. I even used a baby gate and blocked them in their room. If they fell asleep crying at the gate, all the better.
But I’m a softie and inevitably I’ve given in time and time again. Mostly, I think it’s because I really don’t mind snuggling, even if I have a million other things to do. Deadlines be damned if my kids need mommy to cuddle. They are only little once.
Still as much as I love the cuddling, they do need sleep and I need sleep and I do need to clean my house and write a few articles before 3 a.m., so I’ve had to find simple ways to help my little ones fall asleep with little or no fuss. Here are a few kid relaxation techniques for sleep that work for me (and feel free to leave a few tips too!)
This may sound weird but it works like a charm. I have my girls lay in their beds and close their eyes. Then I have them take a few deep breathes and focus on relaxing their bodies. As they get settled I begin telling them a story in a calm soothing voice. The “story” has them imagine they are walking along the beach or lying in a comfy bed or floating in the water, whatever I’m in the mood for. I have them imagine the details and feel their body sink into the water or the mattress. Have them imagine feeling the heat of the sand and the coolness of the water. I talk slowly and quietly. The first time I did this they were zonked out in five minutes and I did a victory dance out the door.
White noise or music:
I have a CD filled with quiet music (some Disney tunes, some church hymns, some lullabies) if they are having a difficult time falling asleep, I turn the music on quietly and sit next to them rubbing their backs. The rule is they have to be quiet and listen to the music or it goes off. I have to sit up or else I find myself nodding off too.
A great way to nix nighttime routine nightmare is to incorporate a warm bath or shower before bedtime. The warm water helps their bodies relax. Add a little lavender scented soap for a calm scent. While they are bathing or showering, the lights in our apartment get dimmed, the TV is off and we put on quiet music. They get a small snack and some water before bed. This quiet relaxed routine is a great way to transfer to sleepy time.
Even young kids can learn to help themselves relax at night. If you are so inclined you can even make a recording of your voice reading a relaxation story or singing a few songs. When they wake up, encourage them to turn it on and try to fall back asleep before coming to find you.
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