What!? Turn screens off an hour before bed?! I hear you cry, ‘no!’. Maybe you’re already deciding you’re not going to read this. That it’s just some more worthy advice on parenting. But give us a minute. Sit with it.
We know it’s an easy win. You’re busy, they’re tired.
We know it buys you time. There’s housework to do, lunches to make, school bags to sort.
We know the digital nanny helps. I know. I’ve often ‘suggested’ cartoons so I can get dinner ready or send work emails that have been playing on my mind.
But I also know that in those times, I’ve felt guilt. I’ve also felt sadness, that there isn’t elastic time to be a ‘good parent’, have a tidy house, and an empty inbox.
So sit with that. Bring a mindful attention to what it feels like to turn to digital to ‘get things done’, and what it feels like when you do. I’m not giving you advice, I’m just inviting you to notice how that feels.
Now imagine a different way.
- Imagine you use that hour before bed to connect with your child.
- Imagine you use it get them to help around the house.
- Imagine you use it to slow things down, so bedtime isn’t a struggle.
- Imagine what you might feel like.
- Imagine what it might feel like for them.
So, there’s no denying research shows that turning the screens off, telly, tablets, phones, an hour before bed, helps kids sleep, for many reasons.
Yet as parents, as with many things in life, we ignore the advice, telling ourselves, it doesn’t affect our kids, we don’t have to do that, it’s not ‘every night’.
But bring your attention back to what it’d feel like to connect, slow down, what might it feel like to create a new routine.
If you’re keen to try, then we’ve got some top tips on how to fill that hour with love, and at the same time, hopefully make bedtime less of a battle.
1. Involve your kids. If you hadn’t noticed, children don’t like change. They change all the time, but if it’s you introducing the change – it’s a hard no! So involve them. Suggest that you’d love to spend more time with them, that you’d love their help, or if it’s your ‘thing’, perhaps try a sticker chart, or other reward system.
2. Think about things you can do together. What tasks had you been doing while they were ‘tuned in’. Was it making their lunch? Why not suggest they can help. Was it housework? What tasks can they do? Dusting, or putting their clothes away.
3. Now add to that list calming things. Perhaps yoga, reading, drawing, a bath, cuddles while reading, some mindful breathing, listen to some music. You could disguise some mindfulness like noticing, by getting them to talk about what is around then, what they can smell, see, and hear.
4. Now decide what the hour before bedtime is going to look like. If you’re a Schedule Family, set times against your activities, if you’re a Routine Family, set activities only and monitor the time based on your chosen ‘in-bed’ time.
5. Meet them where they are. There will be nights where none of this is going to happen. They’re too tired, you’re too tired, or you all got home late. So try to meet this new routine as many nights as you can as children love routine. But also recognise the nights where, for whatever reason, there needs to be a change to it and adapt. If you’re all too tired, use it as an excuse to curl up and ALL rest, read a book, play with their fingers, talk to them about their day. But don’t try yoga and end up with tears. Meet them where they are.
6. Practice intention. We parent as we were parented. So notice what behaviours you bring to the table. If you’re ‘always busy’, or very often have your nose stuck in your phone, or can’t ‘find the time’ to sit down and relax, our children will mirror this. Practice an intention to show them how to be calm. You never know perhaps it will help you too! 75% of Wee Seeds parents noticed a positive difference in themselves after doing our calming mindful exercises with their children!
At Wee Seeds we have guided sleep sessions as part of our beautifully designed mindfulness and meditation toolbox for the early years. They are -
Cosy Toes – Cosy Heart - This lovely sleepy relaxation practice aims to put their bodies — and yours — into a wonderful state of relaxation.
Sleepy Clouds - A beautiful meditation of sleeping clouds to help your wee ones visualise drifting off to sleep.
Waves of Rest - Let the waves rock you and your wee seed to sleep with this relaxing rest or sleep meditation.
You can find them all through Wee Seeds Calm Spaces Course, with its supporting Wellbeing Toolbox