Excerpts of the this post were taken from Mom Paradigm ~ the world between naps. Written by Lee-Anne Ekland.
Mama Needs Sleep
I’ve had issues with sleep since before my son was born. From working in a job that wasn’t fulfilling me anymore to the physical stress it took on my body (I was a skincare therapist) I was a mess. And when you don’t sleep your world isn’t as rosy and bright as it could be. Lack of sleep affects everything you do, but most importantly it affects your ability to think clearly and to focus on the task at hand. And over time, it impacts your health in ways that are impossible to overcome unless you get more sleep.
Now that OLM (Our Little Monkey as we like to call our son) has just turned three years old you would think I’d have it figured out by now. However,raising a busy active child has its challenges as you know. My quality of sleep has improved but I’m not logging in the 8 or 9 or 20 hours I need to ‘catch up” if that is even possible.
I am not waking in the night as much these days but because my world has done a complete 360 three times since he was born. And now of course there are new stressors to consider.
Sometimes I find myself unable to relax at bedtime because of thoughts of to-do lists and stress about having forgotten something important. So when my brain kicks into overdrive I’ll open up a guided meditation app on my phone. The words soothe and distract me enough that I am drifting off in no time. I also start the day off with about thirty minutes of yoga to help me cope with my busy sleep-deprived mama brain.
The Relaxing Game | Teaching Toddlers to Meditate
OLM has, I think, inherited my busy brain gene. At bedtime the last couple of weeks he has been telling me that he can’t sleep. I’ll read a story or five and leave the room and soon after he runs out exclaiming,
‘Mommy I can’t sleep!’
I don’t know whether this is ‘normal’ or not. I just know that because meditation has helped me, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t try it with him. So when my son tells me he can’t sleep I tell him I help him by playing The Relaxing Game.
It’s similar to a guided meditation technique that I’ve learned to help myself relax and is has proven very useful to help my son unwind.
We start with him lying in his bed and me sitting on the floor beside him. I gently stroke his forehead, if he lets me, and start by asking him to think about relaxing his body. I speak softly and tell him that we are going to play a game so he can sleep. I might get him to wiggle his toes or fingers if he’s squirmy and then ask him to feel them relax. I may also gently rub his feet if he’s into it.
It’s goes something like this:
‘Think about your toes…wiggle them..then feel them relax…now think about your ankles, feel them relax… now your knees and your legs and your hips and your bum. Wiggle your bum…(this usually gets a laugh), now feel your tummy relax. ‘
I’ll give him a little tummy rub and move on to the upper body until we’re left with the face. And, we change the order up depending on what is most wiggly! He loves to wiggle his nose and every part of his face. He hasn’t mastered the ears yet but we’re working on it.
The whole meditation, (done with eyes open for now) takes about five minutes. By the end he’s usually quite relaxed and ready to go to sleep. Sometimes I tell him a story to follow up if he’s not ready.
When the game doesn’t work it’s usually because we’ve had a stretch of a few lazy days. We’ve stayed in and watched too much TV or we’ve not been as physically active, or I’m stuck for ways to keep the creative juices flowing.
Teaching my son to meditate has been a lesson in patience along with a fascinating journey into helping my squirmy guy understand that he can teach himself to calm down and relax. The Relaxing Game works so well that now he’s asking to play. And that makes my heart sing! Now if I can only get him to do yoga with me rather than crawling all over me when I am in the middle of it!
Downward dog just isn’t the same when you have a toddler on your back.
But then again, it brings a whole new element of fun and strength training to my practice.
Lee-Anne Ekland is the Community Director at Modern Mama Vancouver and manages the content here on Modern Mama. When she’s not working here and there, she’s over here at Mom Paradigm.com. Mom Paradigm focuses on sorting through the amazing and tumultuous journey that is motherhood through the eyes of her child and blogs about healthy living, lifestyle, parenting on occasion, wine and skin care.