“As a parent, I really feel that with my kids I can’t plan what their expectations for themselves are, that’s none of my business, and I don’t want them to feel that they have to live up to any of MY expectations” Jack Savoretti, March 2019
Since hearing this fantastic quote I’ve been thinking of the dreaded situation where your child is the one ‘acting up’. When yours is the one running around boisterously whilst all the other children are calm. Or the one having a tantrum when the rest of the children are playing wonderfully! It happens to us all at different times though it can leave us feeling as though we are doing something wrong. But this is rarely the case! We simply don’t see what happens for other families at other times. It’s often just our perception of the situation and what we expect from our children. And this is the subject of my post this week; managing our parental expectations.
When the going gets tough, it’s great to stop and have a think about what we, as parents, are expecting from our children and I don’t just mean their behaviour. Who are we hoping they take after? What do we want them to be when they are older? How do we expect them to react to certain situations? Often, until we stop and think like this, we don’t even realise what our expectations are, or that we even have any but more often than not we do. Once we have ascertained what we are hoping for and expecting, we need to take some time to work out if we are projecting these expectations onto our children? And how we can let them be authentic and true to themselves.
Challenges and Advice
Much of the advice available points to parents being in the right and that their children are wrong for behaving in unwanted ways. It’s easy to worry that if we allow children to display their own personality unchallenged then they will become unruly and ‘spoilt’ but this simply isn’t the case. From birth, babies do have their own personalities and even from early on we need to let them develop in their own way and not the way we expect or want them to.
I’ll be honest and say that this was one of the most difficult parenting challenges I faced with my own son. I felt that to keep him safe, I had to try to gently control him. Unwittingly, I tried to manipulate his behaviour so it fitted into my own comfort zone. I didn’t realise I was even doing it and now, many years later, I see that I was acting to stop feeling fear when I thought I was losing control of a situation and of him too. If I had just relaxed and let him express himself we both would have felt freer to be ourselves.
Boundaries and Parenting
This isn’t to say that we should allow children to run amok and do what they like! Boundaries are the walls around children that keep them contained and feeling safe. It is our job as parents to gently contain and nurture these little people; teach right from wrong; teach them how to respect others and how to navigate their way through life. All the while being mindful that their way might be different to yours. This is all easier said than done at times. Being comfortable in letting children express themselves through drawing and painting and play is a lot easier to handle than a full blown tantrum in public caused by the frustration of a child who can’t have what they want.
Are We Asking Too Much?
Just as in my previous post I suggest that you take a step back from the situation whenever you can, take a deep breath and think about how both you and your child are feeling and ask if, maybe, you are expecting too much from them? It’s a lot to ask a three-year-old to sit still during a long family meal. And to come away from the park when they were having such a lovely time. To not to snatch when a playmate has an interesting toy they want. It’s a lot to expect a teenager not to argue back or to slam the door when they’re angry. It’s this understanding that brings an acceptance that can diffuse difficult situations.
So, it is important to keep in mind that our children are simply displaying behaviour in keeping with their level of psychological development and to remember that the children that appear to be sitting still or playing nicely together will all have their own meltdowns, just at a different time. Children are not small adults, therefore they cannot act like adults and small things are often the end of the world to them and they will react accordingly. Try to keep calm, keep in mind what is going on for your child and to keep a level of understanding in your mind. It helps to bear in mind too that when you look around and see other parents seemingly with their lives all neatly under control, that you are only seeing a snapshot and are not seeing the full picture which includes their own struggles and insecurities.
Be aware of the expectations you put on yourself as a parent too. We are often influenced by our own upbringing. Whether it was positive or not, we might want to give our children the same or the opposite as we had. Maybe we thought a lot about the parent we hoped to become. Our hopes for our child’s achievement at school. Who they would choose as friends. Sometimes these may not come to fruition and we can feel a disappointment or even anger that things are not working out as we feel they should. This can only end in stress, not just for us but for our children too. Take that step back. Remember that our children are not an extension of us. They are becoming totally separate people with their own needs and desires. And it’s ok that these might not match our own.
Of course, it’s important to realise we want what’s best for our children. We must also always offer a guiding hand. We can do this by relinquishing control and letting nature take its course. This gives hope to enable them to grow into their authentic selves. To also reduce anxiety and promote a sense of trust and acceptance of us as parents and of themselves too. Have fun. Enjoy their company. Look after yourself and know that every day you can only do your best. If you feel you have made an error of parental judgement or lost control of your own sanity briefly, let it go. And start afresh tomorrow. Oh, and don’t forget to breathe…
P.S. We always like to add in a couple of affiliate links to each post that we think might be of interest to you as a parent. If you choose to click a link and make a purchase on that really cool new item (for you or your baby!) then it’s at NO EXTRA COST to you. We receive a small commission from the retailer and that helps us with the running costs of the website, business and blog. Thanks for all your AMAZING support! Love Caroline & Sharon xx
Before we get to this weeks post, something new and exciting is happening at The Little Sleep Coach I’d love to share with you. Something I think you’re going to love!
I’m partnering up with parenting expert Sharon Powell, to create Peaceful Parenting Solutions. What does this mean you might be wondering? This means that I’ll continue to work with families for one to one sleep consultations for a little while longer then we’ll be launching exclusive online early parenting and gentle holistic infant sleep courses to help more families in more places with the right support and guidance they need.
You’ll soon see some additions to The Little Sleep Coach as we add more information about what’s in store for young families just like yours. Don’t forget you can join The Little Sleep Coach Community and you’ll never miss any news or updates (and you’ll get a gift, your FREE ultimate infant sleep guide).
These courses won’t be full of the basic information you could simply find in a book. Oh no! Our souls and goals have aligned and now we’re powering up together to create courses you truly need and want.
Our courses will be informative, fun, interactive and supportive. They will be delivered in bite-sized videos so you can watch them anytime, anywhere, at your own pace, as many times as you need. They will answer all the parenting and infant sleep questions you have and more! I truly believe you will get results and that you can go from experiencing baby sleep struggles to baby sleep success. From toddler tantrums to toddler calm. So whether you’re about to become a parent (congratulations!), are a new parent or have been a parent for a little while, we’ve got you covered and have a course designed especially with you in mind to help achieve the peaceful family home you all deserve!
Now allow me to introduce Sharon Powell. We met during our meditation and relaxation training last year. A mum of one, a reiki geek and one of the first people to carry out the Solihull Training Programme in the UK 20 years ago. She’s full of warmth, knowledge and a desire to help other parents have the best parenting experience they can have, in the most peaceful way possible.
So for this weeks post, Sharon has created an insightful exploration all about how to stop a public toddler tantrum in its tracks. Over to Sharon…
How To Stop A Public Toddler Tantrum in its Tracks
Let’s face it, parenting can be tough! From the moment our long awaited baby is in our arms for the first time, we can be bombarded with so much conflicting advice and differing opinions. Then we add our own anxieties into the mix and those first years can fly past in a haze of uncertainty and worry. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel more confident, empowered and in control of your parenting?
I was shopping in the supermarket recently and gradually became aware of a screaming toddler who wasn’t going to stop any time soon. I looked around the corner and could see immediately what was happening. Mum was flustered, looking at the shelves, not communicating at all with her toddler, who was facing away from her in his buggy. The hood was up and he couldn’t see much of anything, including his mum. It was a perfect storm.
Think about how your toddler might be feeling
As parents, we’ve all been there, coping with the looks of other shoppers, some tutting with disapproval…”can’t they control that child?”, others looking on with sympathy. Even though it shouldn’t be, as this is all part of normal childhood behaviour, it can be excruciatingly embarrassing when we find ourselves dealing with a toddler tantrum in public. Yet as the parent, it’s up to us to take back the control and calm the situation. This is where we need to take a step back and rethink how to proceed.
How is our child feeling? How are we feeling? The importance of these two questions cannot be emphasised enough in every parenting challenge. With a little planning and thought it could be possible to avoid a tantrum while out in public.
From your child’s perspective, shopping is boring! Imagine being strapped into a seat when you’re are buzzing with energy and not having a clue when it’s going to end. Imagine being in a strange place and not being able to see a familiar face or hear any words of comfort. From our perspective, we may well be rushing, needing to shop, tired and frazzled. It’s a volatile combination, especially as children can often feel our vibes and anxiety.
Actions to take to help prevent a toddler tantrum
Here are a few key points to keep in mind to help minimise toddler outbursts, anxiety and upset…
Have your child facing you in the buggy
While there is no conclusive evidence, either way, I feel it’s best to leave your child’s buggy parent-facing for as long as possible. Yes, children do like to see what is around them. They can still see a lot at the sides and behind you. Plus they have the comfort of seeing the familiar face of their caregiver. Lots of eye contact, pulling funny faces and chatting randomly or about what’s happening can keep children occupied while you shop. Consider getting down to your child’s level occasionally as you chat about what you are doing or buying.
Plan your shopping or errands
Try to plan when you will shop or do errands at quieter times to avoid long queues and lots of people.
Aim to keep the trip as short as possible.
Have some healthy snacks to offer a little distraction too.
You could also offer for them to help you by holding an (appropriate!) item such as a small carton or packet. I once gave my toddler some courgettes to hold and by the time we’d left the shop, all the ends were nibbled! That was one way to encourage him to eat his greens as he never usually ate them if I prepared them at home!
Communicate with your toddler
When you’re busy and in your ‘to do’ mode, it can be easy to forget to take a moment to explain to your child what’s happening. If your child is able to understand then share with them where you are going, what will happen and when they will be coming home. Just spending a few moments doing this will prepare your child, removing the unknown factor that can cause frustration.
How to cope when a tantrum is unavoidable
If a tantrum happens, it’s important for you to keep calm, although you may feel like throwing a tantrum yourself! As adults we can express our feelings in a way that children haven’t yet learned to do and, if you keep this in mind, it is more likely that you will keep your cool. Try to understand your child’s anger and frustration and empathise with them. They will hear the comfort in your tone of voice even if they can’t understand the words yet.
Keep your hands gently but firmly on your child, this will soothe and contain their emotions. A tantrum is a child’s way of expressing distress and knowing that they can do this in a safe way will shorten the episode and reduce its intensity.
Ignore those around you, just focus on calming your child.
It can be tempting, mid-tantrum, to offer a reward for good behaviour. Yet suggesting sweets or a trip to the park to stop the tantrum isn’t a good idea as it will teach your child that unwanted behaviour will lead to treats. Try to stay strong and remember this episode won’t last forever, even if it feels like it will!
Self-care for parents
Being aware of your own feelings is equally important. If you are tired, overwhelmed or unwell, understanding your child’s emotions may be more of a challenge and that’s okay. Just accept that today is not a good day and do the best you can. Prioritise rest for you both and give yourself permission to relax. If you can, enlist a good friend or trusted family member who you can confide in if you are feeling overwhelmed. An empathetic ear and a cuppa can work wonders! Looking after your emotional health with meditation and mindfulness has also been proven to have a calming effect on your whole life. It can often help you to stay calm in tough situations.
Above all, try not to judge yourself as a parent or compare yourself to others. This is especially the case with all the pictures you see of seemingly perfect families on social media. These are cherry-picked moments and you can be sure that life isn’t always like that. Be kind to yourself. Remember your child is growing, learning and simply communicating with you. You can only do your best. Stay authentic and your child will know that you can be trusted.
I hope this post has given you insight into ways in which we can help our little ones by diffusing and often stopping a public toddler tantrum. It’s important to think about them and their, often big and confusing feelings. It’s also important to think about your feelings. Responding and not reacting to the situation can really help you. Take a moment to pause, breathe and respond in a way that is positive and helpful rather than counter-productive. In fact, the way we are with our children can also mirror the way to communicate with everybody in our lives, clearly, calmly and with empathy. Good luck!
P.S. Just so you know, I always add in a couple of affiliate links with each post. This always includes a great offer that I think might be of interest to you as a parent. If you choose to click a link and make a purchase on that really cool new item (for you or your baby!) then it’s at NO EXTRA COST to you. I receive a small commission from the retailer. That helps me with the running costs of my website, business and blog. Thanks for all your AMAZING support! xx
I often hear from families who tell me their toddler was a great little sleeper then BOOM. Something happens, something changes, something shifts. Their once peaceful toddler has bedtime battles, night sleeping struggles as well as nap refusals. While tiring and frustrating, rest assured, this is really common and quite normal. There can, of course, be many reasons for these exhausting changes and I’m going to explore the top seven causes I come across and what you can do to help your toddler back to better sleep.
Sometimes it can feel like there’s so much to think about working through their sleep issues, leaving you worn out, fed up and stuck. It’s ok. I hear you. That’s why I’ve written this post ‘how to easily help your toddler sleep’ so by the end you’ll feel confident in how to move forward with their sleep.
Firstly, here are the seven most common causes of toddler sleep struggles I often work with. For all of these seven causes, read on to see lots of ideas and tips I’m going to share which have really worked for families I’ve worked with.
New Sibling Arriving
Having a new baby arriving can not only be a stressful time for you when managing a toddler but also for your toddler. It’s one thing to talk to your toddler about the baby in your tummy that will be arriving yet often it’s a hard concept for them to really grasp and understand the reality of the new arrival. I’d always encourage talking about becoming a brother or sister, however, avoid the suggestion they will be a ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister’ as sometimes they might feel overwhelmed with an expectation they don’t understand and actually they are still your baby! Remaining consistent with their routines and involving them as much as possible in helping when baby arrives often helps.
Start of Nursery or New Childcare Routine
This is one which some little ones breeze through and others really struggle. Your once independent child may suddenly become quite clingy and this can be down to them feeling unsettled in a new environment or with new caregivers. Sleep can then be impacted. Maintaining a strong, consistent bedtime routine and wake time is really important. And also, remember to be really consistent with how you respond to each night waking. Not allowing them into your bed at midnight but then by 4 am it’s ok is very confusing and will only make things worse in the long run. It’s not the bedsharing that’s the problem (unless they are a duvet stealing wriggler!), it’s the inconsistency of how you respond to their needs.
A night terror is often more upsetting for you more than your child. Research shows your little one will not have any recollection of a night terror. They occur mostly in the first few hours of nighttime sleep and before midnight. Most common in older toddlers and pre-schoolers but they can also happen to babies too. Your little one may seem very upset, scream, kick, shout strange words, look wide-eyed or vacant.
They usually pass quickly but there are three key things to bear in mind. Firstly, if they are potty training but not yet dry at night, take them gently and quickly to the toilet. Often a night terror can be triggered by the need for the potty. Second of all, don’t try to rouse them out of one, just let it be. Ensure they are safe and you are nearby. Thirdly, a common trigger can be over-tiredness. Do keep this in mind if your little one has more than the odd episode. If over-tiredness is the cause then I’d advise looking at their bed and nap times to ensure they get a more balanced and optimised sleep structure.
These can be a very common occurrence for toddlers and older children and usually happen in the early hours of the morning during lighter sleep. As soon as their imaginations begin to have a life of their own, so can their dreams. To a small child, this can sometimes feel very frightening. It can be hard for them to distinguish between the nightmare and reality.
I’d suggest is to offer cuddles, reassurance, acknowledge what they tell you and empathise with them. Telling them ‘it was just a dream and it’s not real’ can make things worse as it feels very real to them! I’d be mindful of how easy it can be to bring them into your bed at this point. If you’re 100% ok with this, then great! But just be aware of how you may be ok with it at 6 am but not at 3 am! Think about different rules can be very confusing for little ones. Have a clear yes or no rule, be consistent and it’ll be easier for all of you in the long run!
Outgrowing their Cot
As your little one grows and becomes a little less, well, little, you will have most likely have moved them, or be thinking about moving them, to a toddler bed or have some kind of sleeping arrangement for them that means they are no longer in a cot. Their new found potential freedom can sometimes cause some unsettled nights and disruption for all the family.
While I always suggest to keep your little one in a cot for as long as possible, it usually is the case that either a safety issue (being able to climb out and injure themselves) or a practical issue (needing to go into their own room or bed due to a house move, new sibling etc) triggers the move. Usually, the transition is best about 3 years old but I have known toddlers under 2 years old move to a toddler bed. It’s a bit like potty training in the sense there is no right or wrong time; you are the expert on your child and if you choose a time when you feel they are ready then it can be a smooth and easy transition.
If you’re worried about them falling out of the bed, you could get bed rails to keep them safe. Or you could even start by them sleeping on the cot mattress in their room. This is also a good option if they are struggling to get to sleep and you need to stay with them for a little while to settle, perhaps when using the gradual retreat method.
Again, with any night time confusions and upset at the change to a big bed, it’s all about, have you guessed it…consistency! This is my absolute keyword and the foundation of all my work. Don’t make things harder for yourself when you’re already tired. Create clear boundaries and stick to their routines. and respond the same way each time they wake.
Developing Imagination and Anxiety Starting
This one is a huge inescapable one! Your toddler is growing, developing, learning and as they do, it’s only normal that their sleep might change. Suddenly, there could be monsters under the bed. Perhaps they don’t want you to leave them at night. They could be afraid to go to sleep. In these situations, your toddler needs reassurance that everything is ok. Let’s go back to the comfort of their nightly routine. A warm bath, a favourite story, a cuddle. Remember that routine is your friend. How you choose to help your toddler is your choice but whatever you do, be consistent. If you decide to stay with them until they fall asleep, then do that until you can reduce the time you stay with them but keep doing it and gradually retreat. If you decide they can come into your bed one night but not the next then that is really not consistent and quite frankly, confusing for them to understand.
They could be overtired as they are going through the delightful ‘one nap is too much, no nap is not enough’ phase. Your toddler might think jumping on the bed is really fun though actually, it’s time for sleep. This is most likely over-tiredness. What happens is we all have a ‘sleep pressure’. Naps for babies and young toddlers through the day release this pressure. However, if we miss a sleep window for a nap or miss a nap altogether then the sleep pressure builds to a point where the body tries to compensate by flooding it with cortisol, the awake and nicknamed ‘stress hormone’ (though it does serve lots of other positive uses to!) What this might look like is your once sleepy toddler becoming like they have a second wind, an energy boost that makes it look as though they are not tired, when in fact they are over-tired and it becomes a challenge to not only settle them to sleep but frequent night wakings can also happen.
If they are at the tricky dropping a nap stage yet they still can’t make it through the day without being shattered, I’d strongly advise including a quiet time each day which involves laying down, on the sofa or in their room, with stories and perhaps relaxing music. As long as they are resting for a period of time, ideally at least 30 minutes, then it can sometimes be enough to take the edge off.
Firstly, it’s really important to think about how their daytime can affect their nighttime. For example, if you’ve had a rubbish day at work and feel stressed about your week ahead, it might be more challenging for you to drop off or you may wake in the early hours worrying. The same goes for your little one. If they feel worried, insecure or anxious, it can affect their sleep too. The following daytime tips offer ideas to help them feel secure and loved, which can really help their sleep.
Of course, you know you love your toddler but don’t assume they automatically know it! Tell them often and show them too. Spend quality time with them. Offer them lots kind words of encouragement and cuddles too.
Play a Game Together
This is a vital part of their development and learning. Engaging with them in jigsaws, trains, lego, make-believe, music, whatever they love, discover the fun with them! The filial play concept is also a great way to connect and bond with your child. It’s actually a type of therapy but you can implement the concept of it at home easily. Essentially, it is a special play time where you and your little one are playing but it’s totally child-led. For example, you could have a special toy like a tea set or some animals and you spend about 10 minutes fully immersed with them. Don’t suggest things to your child but reinforce what they say or do such as ‘you’re pouring some tea and giving the cup to mummy’. This way of connecting with your toddler is really powerful and there’s lots of research about it. Have a look at filial play therapy to get a deeper understanding of it.
Help your little one feel included in decision making. It can be things like which clothes to wear or what to have for dinner (offer simple choices such as this or that and not an endless list. That can be overwhelming and too much for your toddler to process). This can help them feel valued and respected.
Boundaries are important. It can feel hard sometimes when your toddler is having a meltdown. Those toddler tantrums can be hard to cope with and you feel like giving in to whatever they want. But actually, having consistent boundaries can help kids feel more secure and safe. Certainly, I’d advise you to pick your battles but ultimately, make sure your expectations of your toddler are realistic for their age and maturity. Respond to good behaviour with positivity. Try to respond calmly, not react to your child’s negative behaviour. Remember, the calmer you are, the more this models to your child a positive way of being.
Let them know you’re listening
Having patience in listening to your little one can be really important too. They may take a long time to express themselves with sharing a story but it’s just as important to them! Empathise and get down to their eye level. Ask questions and help them feel listened too and understood.
Make sure you keep an eye on maintaining their routine. Often I hear from parents who are so sure that nothing has changed then as we talk more, it might come to light that they have dropped a nap or bedtime has shifted so that both parents can be home to do bedtime. Obviously, things will change as your little one outgrows things in their routine but it’s important to be mindful of remaining as consistent as you can for them. This really helps them to feel safe and secure, helping bedtime be smooth and sleep better.
These tips are in no particular order. Have a read, see what might work for your toddler. There may be things you’ve thought about, perhaps not. Either way, there are lots of ideas to help you move forward in positive ways with your toddler’s sleep.
• Limit screen time and especially none two hours before bedtime.
• Quality time during the day together.
• Encourage helpful activities and duties around the home.
• Make a bespoke bedtime book. A real story with pictures of them and their bedtime routine.
• Have a wind-down time before the bedtime routine, think jigsaws, puzzles, books & tidying away.
• Maintain a consistent, predictable soothing bedtime routine with the same rituals in the same order every single night. Usually, about 30 minutes is right. Mini routine for naps.
• If your toddler is verbal, try to find out what the battle is over. Do a bedtime inventory and work out what’s going on for them.
• Having socks on can help regulate the core body temperature. Especially helpful with early morning wakings from the cold.
• Dress them in 100% cotton layers, bearing in mind that they’ll be warmer in the evening and colder in the early hours of the morning.
• Bedrails if they are falling out.
• Make sure their room is a happy place. Stories and Sleep. Don’t discipline them in their room.
• Ask your toddler to look after something special of yours and keep safe (age appropriate!).
• Create a monster spray with an old plastic bottle, some water and glitter. Works wonders at getting rid of the scary things in their room together!
• Reassess naps and bedtime. Usually, by about 3 years old a daytime nap is dropped (though I’ve cared for 4-year-olds who still napped some days so it’s only a guideline!).
• Make a bespoke bedtime book. A real story with pictures of them and their bedtime routine.
• For older toddlers, create a special sleep box where they can decorate an old box and put some special items inside such as photos of a holiday, special trinkets. They can choose one from the box to put by their bed or safely under their pillow. It can help them focus on special memories and reduce anxiety.
• Ensure your toddler has a consistent routine not only for bedtime but for meal and snack times too. Hunger can affect their mood (just like us!) and also impact sleep.
• Plenty of fresh air and exercise. Did you know a 2-year-old can walk a mile a day!
• Here are some really lovely ideas for bedtime stories for your toddler. Don’t worry if they ask for the same stories over and over each night. This is often because they find it comforting.
So whatever the sleep struggles, there are ways to easily help your toddler sleep. Remember to always hold in mind that you will all get through this. Use some or all of the tips and ideas I’ve shared and then stick with them to give them a chance to work. My golden rule for sleep struggles and most areas of life, be at work, studying or learning a new skill, is to be consistent! Chopping and changing the way you parent will only hinder any positive change and confuse your little one. Good luck and I always love to hear how you get on. Hop on over to Instagram and let me know!
Do you struggle to get to sleep? Or do you have an older child that finds it hard to drift off? If so, this ‘How to Sleep Better Using my Amazing Sleep Hacks’ post is a great way to help you all head off into the land of nod. It’s a great way to help you relax and feel ready for sleep. Don’t forget to check out my sleep hygiene quiz to ensure you’re giving yourself the best chance of a good nights sleep too. Once you try the sleep relaxation exercise below, you may find that you want to tweak it slightly to suit you better. Or that it works even better if you add in some of the sleep relaxation tips further down too. Whatever works for you! Sleep is so very important for us all; for our health, development, brain function and well-being. So I’m on a mission to help you get plenty of it!
Sleep Relaxation Exercise
Prepare yourself for sleep with your usual nightly routine and settle yourself into bed.
Lie in your bed with your eyes closed, legs straight and arms down by your side.
Imagine you are lying on a beach. The sun is warm and you can hear the waves gently lapping close to you.
Focus on your right foot and point and stretch your toes as far as can, as if to the end of the bed. Keep stretching your right leg, as though it is longer than the other leg.
Count to five in your head.
Flex your right foot so it’s pointing up to the ceiling.
Count to five again.
Relax the right leg and allow it to melt into the bed.
Repeat the same process with the left leg and toes.
Now clench a fist in your right hand as tightly as you can.
Count to five in your head.
Allow your right hand to melt into the bed.
Repeat with your left hand.
Now focus on your breathing. There’s nothing purer than an awareness of your breath!
Breath in and out through your nose, thinking about the breath going in your left nostril and out of the right nostril.
Do this ten times.
Repeat stretching and breathing exercises until you feel relaxed and sleepy.
Amazing Sleep Hacks
Grab a power nap in the day.
Have a calming bedtime routine such a getting ready for bed, a herbal tea and a book.
Exercise in the morning.
Eat food high in tryptophan such a turkey, almonds, tofu, eggs for your last meal.
Make sure your sleeping environment is optimal; clear away clutter and no technology!
Don’t check the time when you wake up (except if you want to for your baby’s feed) as it can cause sleep anxiety. The panic of ‘argh I’ve only got 2 hours until the alarm /kids wake up’ can be more stressful when trying to return to sleep.
Some gentle yoga and meditation can help relax you for sleep.
Write any worries and to do things down the night before to help clear your mind. I love all these…
If you have a baby or toddler that you expect will wake in the night, prepare ahead and get some sleep in when they go to bed too. I know this might mean missing out on that episode of your favourite show or not getting the laundry or some admin done. But believe me, those evening hours from 7 pm until 12 am are the most restorative and crucial for deep sleep.
Plan a support system /tag team with your partner or close family and friends if sleep is becoming a real challenge in your house. Have one of you do the weekend night wakes and take it in turns on alternate nights. Perhaps for your family, it would work better to do a shift from 7 pm – 12 am then swap for 12 am – 6 am. Teamwork makes for a more harmonious family home!
A sleep tip that is so powerful yet often overlooked is actually your mindset! How often do you focus on how much sleep you’ve had (or not had!) and convince yourself that’s not enough and you’ll be exhausted? I know I’ve done that plenty. This is especially when using my Fitbit! When I see I only had 4 hours last night makes me expect myself to be tired! So I moan a bit, then just as a self-fulfiling prophecy works, I feel tired all day! So my ultimate sleep hack is to try to shift your sleep mindset. Allow yourself to focus on giving yourself the best opportunity for optimal sleep and focus on the sleep you get, not the sleep you don’t.
Lastly, whether it’s dropping off to sleep or getting back to sleep you find hard, instead of lying there getting in a tizzy, get up and have a little read, a stretch or a warming drink. This can help bring on sleep much more than waiting for it in bed. Don’t check your laptop, phone or watch TV either!
While a lack of sleep, for whatever reason, can be super stressful, especially over a prolonged period (hello parenthood!) there are definitely lots of ways to help minimise sleep anxiety to help you sleep better.
Remember, think quality over quantity so getting some good sleep between 7 pm and 12 am is a really good idea. Take a power nap during the day if you can (no more than 30 minutes otherwise you might feel groggy when you wake and ideally be awake by 3 pm).
It may help to think about getting about 7 hours of sleep a night but that doesn’t necessarily need to be in a full block of sleep. That’s why going to bed earlier (especially when you expect you might wake or be woken up in the wee hours) allows you the ‘sleep opportunity’ to get more sleep. Stressing about your lack of sleep will only add to the difficulties in sleeping!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my post ‘How to Sleep Better Using my Amazing Sleep Hacks’ and got some useful tips to implement. Don’t forget you can head over to my Instagram where I like to hang out, a lot, probably too much. See you there!
Together, let’s get sleep sorted!
P.S. In case you’re a newbie to my blog (in that case a very warm welcome!), I do always add in a couple of affiliate links with a great offer to each post that I think might be of interest to you as a parent. If you do choose to click the link and make a purchase on that really cool new item (for you or your baby!) then it’s at NO EXTRA COST to you. I receive a small commission from the retailer and that helps me with the running costs of my website, business and blog. Thanks for all your AMAZING support! xx
Perhaps you’re wondering about mindfulness as a mother and if it’s for you?
You’ve heard about it and maybe you’re thinking it’s all about Buddhism, chanting and takes a lot of time to practice? I’m not a Buddhist, don’t chant and don’t have much time. Yet I can confirm mindfulness does not take those things!
Maybe you’d like to get started but there feels so many books, apps and resources however you’re not quite sure where to begin? That’s how I felt but within days of bringing mindfulness and meditation into my life, I felt like a new me. It had a profound effect on me and continues to strengthen, focus and relax me every day. I truly believe it can help you too.
Discovering several years ago how mindfulness can enrich and calm my everyday life to feel less stressed, more in control and yes, to sleep better. My hope is that by sharing what I know, you, mama, can benefit too!
While I don’t have a magic wand (I wish I did!), I do have some top mindfulness tips you can try to help you feel calmer, more in control, sleep better, be closer to your baby and more connected to your partner.
The best bit is these mindfulness tips I’m going to share are FREE AND CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE!
Whoah, does that sound great? Even more, sometimes, it’s the simple changes you can make that make the most difference! I say that a lot when it comes to sleep consultations too. Tweaking routines and making small adjustments can get great results. That’s why I believe mindfulness can work so well in your life as a parent.
It’s not about shaking up your whole day to day life and routine. It’s simply just finding five, maybe ten minutes to yourself as well as thinking differently about your moment to moment experiences.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is really all about awareness and attention of the moment to moments you experience.
It’s not just a practice but an approach too.
It’s about being connected to the present in your day-to-day.
It’s about acceptance of yourself and the world around you.
Mindfulness is about focusing your attention again and again in the present.
You can’t change your reality but with mindfulness but you can change your relationship with it and that changes EVERYTHING!!
We live in a very busy, chaotic world where it’s sometimes hard to find a quiet space, a stillness to really feel ourselves.
Add being a tired mother to the mix and it can feel overwhelming and hard to feel connected to who you are. You can feel you’ve lost your identity.
By bringing mindfulness into your life, you can feel more grounded and present to help you be you and be the best mama you can be too!
What can mindfulness do for me?
Mindfulness can have a positive effect on many things in your life such as:
Feeling more focused
Lowers risk of a relapse of depression
Easy Mindfulness Tips for Tired Mothers Daily Practice
So you’re ready to give it a go? Great! Let’s go through some really easy quick ideas to get you started.
Practising mindfulness for five or ten minutes each day is a really good starting point which feels manageable and doable with a baby to care for too!
Find a quiet time to start a daily practice. This could be during your baby’s nap time or once they are asleep in the evening. You could add it to your evening bedtime routine. Firstly, take my SLEEP HYGIENE QUIZ to make sure you’re preparing yourself for the best sleep you can have.
Sit comfortably and relax into a posture that feels right for you. Close your eyes if you’d like. I do and find I’m more able to engage when I shut off my vision (though I also practice with my eyes open but that’s relaxation meditation which I’ll write about another time!)
Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose (think of peace/love /contentment/calm)
Think about your breath filling into your tummy.
Hold your breath for a few seconds…
Breathe out slowly and deeply through your mouth (think of peace/love /contentment/calm)
It might be helpful to count your breathe as you go in…one…out…one…in…two…out…two…etc. This is about your awareness of your breath, not how many you are doing.
Be still, feel calm and focus on your breathing.
Be aware of your whole body breathing.
See, it’s easy, right? Continue for as long as you feel comfortable. You could set a timer, your alarm for a relaxing piece of music, or just go with the flow. Whatever works for you. There is no right or wrong with mindfulness!
Over time, your head will be clearer, the thoughts whirring in your mind will dissipate.
Be patient & be kind & fill yourself with self-compassion
Easy Mindfulness Tips for Tired Mothers at Home
There are so many things we do without thinking about at home. Are you guilty of any of the following:
Checking your phone without really knowing why?
Making a cup of tea without really being focused?
Having a shower but just going through the motions?
Getting dressed yet you’re not really engaging in what you’re doing?
Eating a meal but you’re not really thinking about the experience of what you’re eating?
All of these can become a different, more positive ritual if you take a moment to focus and think about what you are actually doing. Waiting for the kettle to boil, have a look out of the window. Is it raining? Is the sun shining? Have the flowers in the garden come into bloom?
What about engaging with your children?
Do you find yourself giving your baby some tummy time yet all the while keeping an eye on them you’re quickly checking Instagram? (Not judging. Promise!) Instead, why not set aside phone time when your baby is asleep and be with them. Watch their faces, smile at them, cuddle them and enjoy the feeling of being with them every moment. This is mindfulness.
Easy Mindfulness Tips for Tired Mothers on the Go
When you’re walking, feel the sensation of your feet underneath you and how that feels for you. Are you rushed? Do you feel grounded? Are you able to feel the movement of your steps?
You’ve stopped at traffic lights. Breathe and think about where you are. Do you instantly take your phone out of your pocket while waiting for the green man? I used to do that all the time. Now, I pause and breathe and look around me. I engage in my present. And it feels good. Why not give it a go?
Try to not always respond immediately (and often with frustration) to the kids whining or the baby crying. It’s ok to take a deep breath and moment. Feel grounded. Be aware of where you are in that moment. Are you standing? Feel your feet on the ground. Are you sitting? Feel yourself in the chair. Focus on what you can hear. Traffic. Birds. Wind. Chatter. Enjoy the moment of feeling calm and present.
Here’s some things you can take away from Easy Mindfulness Tips for Tired Mothers…
Mindfulness is easy
Practising it can enrich your life and help you in many ways
Mindfulness doesn’t take a lot of time
I’m a huge fan of Dadi Janki. She’s 102 years old and the active Spiritual Head of Brahma Kumaris. She has some amazing and inspiring quotes, one of which I’ll share now…
A mindfulness tip for you…
To feel calmer and grounded, do this breathing exercise to help. It’s definitely one of the easiest mindfulness techniques and gives quick and amazing results!
Breath in for the count of seven…
one two three four five six seven
And breath out for the count of eleven…
one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven
Repeat THREE times.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading EASY MINDFULNESS TIP FOR TIRED MOTHERS.
In this together,
PS. If you have a baby and were wondering if there’s a sleep trick to send them quickly into the land of nod, read my BABY SLEEP TRICK post. You might be surprised!
I always add in a couple of affiliate links with a great offer to each post that I think might be of interest to you as a parent. By choosing to click a link and make a purchase on that really cool new item (for you or your baby!) then it’s at NO EXTRA COST to you. I receive a small commission from the retailer and that helps me with the running costs of my website, business and blog. Thanks for all your AMAZING support! xx