My husband is the chill one in our family. One of the first words people use to describe him is always "zen." Not me. I get wound up about things, and at bedtime, it really didn't help us at all. As my son transformed from a baby into a toddler, he started feeding off my frustration and lack of chill at bedtime, and things started to get ugly. Every time he would pop out of bed, or hand me the same book for the tenth time, or start messing with some toy in a distinctly not sleepy way, I would find myself grinding my teeth and overall tensing up. My tension would egg him on farther into the frustrating behavior, and away from sleep. Handing me the book would become smacking me with the book. Running around his room became running headbutting. His turning violent only wound me up more, and bedtime sometimes stretched out over an hour.We made the shift from two naps to one, at the suggestion of a lot of experienced moms of older kids, but that only got us about halfway out of our bad patterns. My husband made the observation to me that if you don't resist what our kiddo is doing at bedtime, he eventually comes to rest on his own a lot faster. So now I have a new bedtime and nap time mantra: I trust that my child wants to rest.
When I was giving birth, the affirmation "I am calm, I am safe, I am relaxed" helped me ride the overwhelming waves of contractions, so it makes sense a positive affirmation could help me keep my cool during the relatively more manageable task of helping my toddler get to sleep. Now when my son pops up, or does something else that seems distinctly unsleepy, I remind myself that he wants to rest, and he's doing what he needs to do to get there. I trust that my child wants to rest, and I trust that he knows how to get himself there. I take deep breaths, counting silently to ten on each in-breath, and to ten on each out-breath, which makes me feel more restful, which I'd like to believe in turn creates a more restful environment for my little guy. I try to take the time I spend hanging out in his room while he gets to sleep as some relaxing down time for me too, instead of rushing it to get to other tasks or time for myself. Now that I have given up my agenda about what getting ready to nap looks like for him, I am finding the transition to bedtime and nap time can be a restful moment for me. Now we can enjoy winding down together, instead of winding each other up.
You can come up with your own affirmation that works for you. A few others I like are:
My child knows how to get to sleep
We each find rest in our own way
My baby's body loves to sleep
Do you have affirmations that help you in parenting? I would love to hear them. Comment on Facebook and let's have a conversation.