My kids have always had a pretty detailed bedtime routine. There have been a few staples in the routine, and other fleeting fads. Believe it or not, at one point, we giggled through YouTube videos of cats using the toilet and at another they would ask for one more view of “What Does the Fox Say?”
Our routine is that we hang out for awhile the four of us, and then we split up and switch so each child has some one-on-one time with both me and their dad.
For my daughter, the order of her routine with me has varied over the years, but it’s always included a bedtime story, back-scratching or “creepy-mousing” (drawing on her back with my fingers), getting up again to go potty, and usually a drink of water somewhere in there too. As much as I love this time with her, truthfully I was actually beginning to despise the word “again.”
A couple months ago she started having a hard time settling down. I don’t know if she had outgrown some of the routine, or just in getting older and with her transition to Kindergarten, she seemed like she was craving a change. (I’m learning this is one of her big values. Her brother on the other hand, loves everything to stay the same.) So I decided to bring in something we’d never tried before and started going through a relaxation meditation exercise with her. In the exercise, I invite her to relax all the parts of her body one by one, starting with her eyes all the way down to her toes. I say things like “feel it getting heavier and sinking into the bed.” I taught her to breathe deeply during this exercise through her nose, “filling up the lungs with air” and pushing the air out of her mouth making a “haa” sound.
At the end of the guided meditation, we thank her body for all the hard work it did for her during the day, for the walking, the running on the playground, the sitting still in class, and the movement in P.E. We thank her body for being strong and for digesting her food and letting her know when she was thirsty or needing to use the potty. We thank her body and then let her body know that it is her turn to rest. We ask her body to sleep well so she can be at her best the next day.
In all honesty, in the beginning, I started this practice as an experiment. I thought it would be a one-time thing and we’d have to come up with something new the next night or after a few, but she keeps asking me to “say the words that relax my body.” This has become the part of the routine she asks for and I’ve noticed her settling more quickly. I love that she is learning how to speak to herself and listen to her body. It’s my hope that in showing her how, she will one day do for these things for herself: nurture a healthy relationship with her self and practice gratitude for her day. I love that she is beginning to recognize the difference in how she feels when she has made a healthy choice for her body. It’s my hope that over time, she will become more aware that our mind, body, and spirit exist for us to consciously connect them so they can work and flow together in the highest good.
I had been thinking my three-year-old was too young for this exercise, so for weeks have been only saying it with my daughter. Last night, I thought what-the-heck and asked if he wanted to try “Sissy’s” bedtime routine. Of course, he said “Yes!” (He wants to do everything she does at this age.) So I began naming each of his body parts, asking that he relax each one. He smiled and giggled, but was mostly quiet and politely listened to each part. And after the “Thank you body for…” part, he opened his eyes with a big, bright smile and whispered, “Again.” ♥