Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Breathe in, Breathe Out

In the summer semester of my freshman year of college I took a stress management class. We learned about things that create stress and how to handle stress. Our classroom consisted of seriously comfy reclining type chairs set in a circle. During a few of the classes we turned the lights out, sat with our eyes closed and listened to our professor talk us through relaxation techniques. It was easily one of the easiest, and most enjoyable, classes I took in college.

I'd used a few of the techniques to help myself fall asleep and it worked well. Recently my kids have been craaaaazy about going to sleep on their own. They were doing fine for a while but suddenly I have to be laying in there with them. One night I'd been sitting in their room for an hour. I had work to do and as much as I enjoy cuddle time, I needed to get out of there. I was on the edge of losing my cool, when this class suddenly popped into my head. It was an answer to a prayer!

I told my girls I was going to help them fall asleep by telling them a relaxing story. I had them snuggle in their blankets and close their eyes. I had them take a few deep breathes (and tried not to laugh hearing their little selves breath as deep as they could.) Then I started talking in a quiet, calm voice. I described a big fluffy bed and had them imagine themselves climbing in the bed and get cozy. Then I talked about each of their body parts (ankles, knees, hips, back, shoulders neck and head) feeling heavy and relaxing. I described relaxing sounds and feelings (warmth, heaviness etc.). By the time I finished they were both snoring.

It's now a routine for me to tell them "relaxing" stories. I've had to get creative because they want new scenes to listen to. It's remarkably easy, calming for all of us and it completely (okay, mostly) eliminates the nighttime routine terror I was dealing with before.

I did some research on it last night and found a few sites with actual scripts, they encourage your to read them and record your voice so you can listen to the script yourself. I think it's a brilliant idea and I may just record the scripts so my kids can hit play if they wake up in the middle of the night and need help falling back asleep.

I enjoy making up the stories myself, its the writer in me, but even I feel a little funky, like my descriptions are too silly. They don't seem to mind though, so I encourage you to give it a whirl if your little one is having a hard time sleeping. Just picture the most relaxing scene you can think of and take your time describing it in a quiet, calm voice. Just be careful, more than once I've put myself to sleep too!

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