One of the most talked about struggles among my mama friends always seems to be centered around bedtime. Despite our best efforts, bedtime routines are often in flux. When you get past the “is this a sleep regression phase?” line of questioning, our minds often wander to all different ways we can just get the kids to sleep at a decent time. And more often than I care to admit, our struggles lead to epic battles with our five-year-old and two-year-old that last much longer and later than anyone in the home needs.
During one particular tough evening while I was visiting my parents out of state, I found myself completely overwhelmed by a screaming, over-tired toddler and a determined five-year-old who refused to lay down in my parent’s guest bedroom. Among the chaos, I had a moment of clarity: I grabbed my phone and opened up the Insight Timer meditation app to search for children meditations.
An overwhelming amount of options popped up, and I clicked the first one I saw. As I snuggled my screaming two-year-old, I remained silent and let the gentle music and soft sounds of the meditation guide’s voice settle my son’s nervous system. We didn’t even make it through the nine-minute meditation, and he was out.
Thinking maybe it was a coincidence, I moved on up to my five-year-old, who was going through all the stages of delaying the inevitable (claiming hunger, thirst, wanting another story, and that he was not tired). I calmly told him it was fine if he wasn’t tired, but that I wanted to listen to some new music with him. He was a little resistant, but I remained quiet, closed my eyes, and within a matter of minutes of the same meditation, he was asleep. It felt like a miracle! And a total mom-win!
When it worked a second, third, fourth, then seventh time in a row, I knew I was on to something. My two boys are balls of energy, who have one speed when they’re feeling good, no matter the time of day or night – approximately 100 miles an hour; so it’s no wonder they have a tough time winding down. I personally have been using mindfulness and meditation for about a year now to set the stage for my day or help me center my thoughts before bed at night, but I had never thought about how it might be beneficial to my children as well. But it has been proven to be the missing piece we needed for calm and effective bedtime routines.
Even on our most hectic days, or ones where there is so much excitement (vacations, friend or family visits, starting a new school), spending time meditating before bed has worked wonders for my boys and their ability to rest. With my youngest, we have transitioned to a nighttime music meditation while we read books, and my oldest has been set on that same nine-minute meditation for months.
The best part about Insight Timer is the app is free, and there are plenty of options. It is also an exceptional way to give older children some ownership over their bedtime routine by choosing a meditation to listen to together. Our favorite meditations are Kids Music: Sleepy Fairy Tale, and Smiles & Snuggles – Sleep Practice for kids.