Do You Want Your Kids To Sleep Better?
I know I do! Why not try these 5 magic bedtime questions.
Why Do They Work?
Well, how do your kids go to sleep at the moment? Minds buzzing after a busy day but tired so they fall asleep? Exhausted? Do they take the opportunity to ask any lingering questions or do you run as soon as you can (I know I have been guilty of this!).
Or do you give them the opportunity to talk about the day - and do they take it?!
We have a good bedtime routine - brush teeth, potty/toilet, bath, put on pyjamas, read a book or two in lower light, talk a bit and snuggle, lights out. And it has always worked well. They sleep well and we normally have pleasant bedtimes. But not always. Sometime they are all bouncing off the ceiling, or just chatting away delaying the inevitable.
I used to ask them about what they had done in the day and encourage them to talk. But it didn’t every lead anywhere. They didn’t seem to want to talk (unless it was about a new lego set or similar!).
However research has shown that resolving any questions or dilemmas before sleep leads to a better night sleep - and quite frankly the better the sleep the better the next day! So I wanted them to review their day (and if they were bouncing I needed them to slow down!). So we tried the 5 magic questions (we started with the first 3).
Reviewing or unpacking the day is as important as unpacking our suitcase at the end of a journey. It lets us get all those little bits that we saved out in the open so we can really look at them, think about them and then put them away neatly. Imagine putting your day into a bottle, putting a lid and a label on it and then putting it away! It is one of the simplest natural sleep remedies. Then we can sleep well at sleepy bedtime.
I start with with first 3 magic bedtime questions every night:
We generally end up reviewing the day to remind them (and me) of everything that they did. And they enjoy doing it because the questions are directed at them. I am not testing them on what they remember or what they did. I am asking them a personal question they really want to answer.
And their answers can be surprising. Often it isn’t the expensive trip or toy that made them smile. It is the time they spent one on one with you or seeing their friend. The cake at a party or cuddling the cat.
Maybe something at the start of the day made them frown and they found it hard to let go over the course of the day. I will often gently probe “Why did that make you smile/frown?” or something similar.
Maybe they realise how grateful they are to have good friends or they put something troubling them in perspective and then they can let it go. Or they did something brave but didn’t realise (such as standing up for a friend at the playground) - and now have the confidence to do it again.
And this often naturally leads us onto:
“What do you look forward to tomorrow?”
This helps them (and me) with motivation for the morning - hopefully it will be the first thing that pops into their heads when they wake and they will bounce out of bed happy it will be another exciting day!
And finally, my favourite:
“What would you like to dream about tonight?”
This cuts through it all - what is really important to them! Flying and unicorns currently feature heavily :)
To my surprise the kids love the questions and look forward to it. If I forget to ask they remind me! They genuinely enjoy their questions. When we first started this it took a while to get into it (“Not again” was Fairy’s response a few times!) but then it gets easier. And now everyone loves it.
And the best bit it, it doesn’t matter what age they are - everyone can join in. Even babies and toddlers like to be included (although you might have to listen hard to understand a response!).
If I think about why they love it so much the answer lies in mindfulness - active, open attention on the present. Mindfulness results in a heightened state of awareness of one’s own thoughts, feelings and actions. When you are mindful you are able to observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Rather than letting life rush past, mindfulness means living in the moment and actually paying attention to experience. These questions are a start along the road to mindfulness and learning how to slow down our experience of time so we record experiences properly rather than let them slip by.
In this fast forward age we rarely stop to consider where we have been. These questions remind me and the kids to slow down and check. Super simple and easy to remember (exactly what I need at the end of a long day when my brain is frazzled). Just think ‘smile/frown/learn/tomorrow and dream’ and you’ll have the prompts you need.
Why don’t you try it out today?
ps I’ll let you in on a secret, we don’t always manage all the questions every night and that’s ok, we do what we can and what works!
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