Although I love being a mum, I have to admit that it can be challenging at times. Take the last few months for example: After being poorly one week Oscar suddenly went from sleeping right through the night to seemingly needing no sleep at all! It was a tough time for the whole family.
Every night we would go through the same routine we’d had since he was a baby and he would seem happy to be going to bed. Yet within minutes of us taking him up and saying goodnight he would start screaming for us. We tried everything over those first few weeks, from letting him cry it out, taking him into our bed with us, and even moving his bedtime to a later hour. But nothing seemed to work.
Each night he would get more and more worked up about going up to bed, and it eventually got to the stage where he would only sleep on the settee. And if anyone dared to try and move him once he’d settled down he would wake up and start screaming all over again.
I spent countless nights trying to sleep on one of our living room chairs, but I was uncomfortable due to having scoliosis (a curvature of the spine) and rarely managed to nod off for more than a couple of hours at a time. I began to feel ill and started snapping at the kids for no apparent reason. I stopped blogging and spent pretty much all day craving sleep and feeling sorry for myself. It wasn’t like me at all – I was at the end of my tether and knew that something had to change.
So I did what most mummy’s would do – I turned to Google. I read countless articles on ways to help kids fall asleep, but there was nothing in them that I hadn’t tried already. It seemed hopeless. Then I came across an article on deep breathing, designed to help people who were struggling to switch off at night. I decided to try and incorporate the tip from that into a nice new bedtime routine for Oscar … and it worked like a charm!
ONE SIMPLE TRICK TO HELP KIDS FALL ASLEEP FAST
So, the next night I waited until everyone else was in bed, then I turned down the lights in the living room and turned on Oscar’s favourite cartoon. We cuddled up on the settee and watched it together, and as soon as it finished I turned off the TV. He wasn’t happy about that – and started crying hysterically. So I pulled him towards me, gave him a great big hug and assured him that everything was going to be alright.
I put his head on my shoulder, shushed him a few more times and then started taking a few deep breaths – in and out, in and out, in and out.
Almost instantly Oscar stopped crying. And after I’d taken 4 or 5 deep breaths I noticed that he was beginning to mimic me, taking his own deep breaths – in and out, in and out, in and out. I didn’t need to tell him what to do as deep breathing is just like yawning – it’s contagious! And it’s a completely subconscious cause and effect rhythm that you can fall into with your little one.
When cuddling your child close to you the deep breathing becomes contagious between you. All you have to do is start the rhythm and your child will soon pick up on it. And it works for children of any age.
HOW LONG DO I NEED TO TAKE DEEP BREATHS FOR?
The amount of time spent deep breathing will vary from child to child, but Oscar tends to become really sleepy after just 2-3 minutes, so not long at all. I know that once he starts getting heavier he’s beginning to drift off to sleep, and so I lay him down on his bed and hold his hand until he falls asleep. Again, this usually takes a couple of minutes. And once he’s asleep he rarely wakes up until morning.
After the first few nights of our new routine I noticed that Oscar would come and cuddle up to me as soon as he started getting sleepy, and he also instigated the deep breathing! One night I asked him why he was doing that and he replied with “I’m going to sleep mummy.” This shows me that he understands how effective the deep breathing actually is and that he’s happy for me to use it to help him fall asleep.
WHY DEEP BREATHING CAN ACTUALLY HELP KIDS FALL ASLEEP
Basically, when you apply the deep breathing technique it helps slow down both your own heart rate, and your child’s heart rate. This allows the body to relax and slow down – which is exactly what needs to happen for them to drift off into a peaceful sleep. It can work for us adults too – if you lie in bed at night and are struggling to fall asleep then just take deep breaths in and out, in and out, and you’ll soon feel your heart rate slow down and your whole body start to relax. You’ll drift off in record time!
So next time you’re feeling stressed because your little one refuses to go to sleep just remember that all hope is not lost. Sometimes kids just need their mums. And a great big cuddle. And a few deep breaths to go along with it …
Do you have any other tips to help kids fall asleep fast?
If so I’d love to hear from you – why not leave me a comment below?