With three young children it is fair to say I have spent many hours of my life rocking, patting or cuddling a children to sleep. Sometimes it is just a night here or there but other times I will spend weeks (or months!) settling a child each night. Perhaps to get them to sleep at bedtime, sometimes to resettle at 3am … or perhaps both.
I confess there are times I feel myself getting frustrated by this. I start feeling resentful of all the time I am “wasting” in that dark room while it seems to take an eternity for whichever child it is to fall asleep.
When I feel frustration slipping in I know this is a slippery slope to become a cranky mama bear who loses her capacity to be soft and empathetic. My secret trick to avoid this is to start focusing on ways to nurture my own needs whilst helping my little one fall asleep.
My favourite self care practices whilst settling a child to sleep are:
- Breathing meditation – a great way to create a sense of calm for myself. Simply turn my focus to my breath. Breathe in for 4, pause, out for 4, pause. Breathe deeply and slowly. Focus only on the breathe … not the child who may be chattering and not my mind which may also be chattering.
- Pelvic floor exercises – I don’t know any Mum who does enough of these, myself included. Regardless of whether I am standing, sitting or lying down this is a great time for this self care practice.
- Face or hand massage – if I am lying in bed with my three year old sometimes she want me just to be next to her but not cuddle her. At these times I might choose to give myself a gentle face or hand massage. She never notices.
- Gratitude – if I start feeling frustrated I might start a mental gratitude list to help shift my perspective.
- And if I am really starting to lose the battle with my frustrations I imagine Noni Hazelhurst in my mind reading ‘Go the f*#k to sleep’. My silent mind version of this book helps ensure I don’t actually utter such words out loud in my frustration. If you haven’t heard this you can see it on Youtube Needless to say don’t play it around the kids, it does contain swearwords. If swearing offends you please don’t play this video.
PS. If you would like some other Self Care ideas and inspiration please join me for Self Care Week for Mums which starts on May 4th 2016.
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