This is how our night time ritual with the Cabbage used to go: bedtime story followed by goodnight hugs, kisses, animal kisses, and butterfly kisses. We'd turn on her pillow pal night light, turn off the light and say "goodnight" while shutting the door behind us. Then the Cabbage would get up and come out of her room like twenty times yelling "I'm not tired!" as she rubbed her tiny fists in her eyes. It was sort of like trying to negotiate with an angry meerkat. Not to mention that the Cabbage has a way of walking around the house as if she weighs six tons instead of 43 lbs. Her bedtime is supposed to me 8:30. My bedtime during the week is around 9:00. I'd just about be drifting off when I'd hear a heard of elephants crash thought the house and shout "I'm not tired!". Since I don't believe that Joan Crawford was right in tying children to the bed at night, I knew I needed to try some other bedtime rituals.
I started talking her through a final relaxation as if she was a grown up in one of my yoga classes. Sometimes I add in fun kid friendly things like floating on clouds, but usually the script goes like this:
Gently closing the eyes. Find the coolness of the breath as it hits the back of the throat on the inhale following it into the lungs and out as you exhale. Starting with the top of the head. As you inhale, imagine drawing the breath in through the top of the head and feeling it travel down the face. As the breath travels down the face, feel the eyes relax and become heavy. Feel the face relax, the mouth relax. Continuing to feel the breath travel down the neck, feel the head completely relax and release into your pillow (or cloud). Let the breath move into the shoulders and feel your shoulders relax at it travels down the arms, into the hands and then out the fingertips. Releasing the shoulders and arms into the bed (or cloud). Breath into the heart and feel the chest open and expand and then draw that breath into the belly. Feel the belly soften as the breath continues to travel down the body into the thighs, into the knees, down the shins and the calves and into the feet. Let the breath spread from the heal of the foot all the way to the base of the toes, through the toes and out the tips. Relaxing and releasing and completely surrendering to the sweetest dreams.
This has become part of our bedtime ritual. In fact, she asks for it and as soon as I say "gently close your eyes" she shuts her eyes and puts her arms down by her side. Now this doesn't mean that she doesn't interrupt me twenty times or that she goes right to sleep at the end. That's the ideal. She does interrupt, but I just gently remind her to close her eyes and we move on. Instead of getting up a dozen times, she gets up maybe once. Some times twice. Usually Michael bribes her with jelly beans on the second "I'm not tired!" and that's it. She's down for the count.
Here's my theory on why this final relaxation thing helps. I talk to her with my soft soothing yoga teacher voice. I call it my hypnotizing voice. I take her from oh-my-god-its-play-time mode to a calmer more relaxed, more conducive to the idea of sleep stage. I'm also spending a few extra minutes with her. In truth she gets up because she just wants some company. Maybe hanging out with her just a few minutes longer eases that need for another human being. Any way, it's not a sure thing. It helps. At least I've noticed a difference.
Next thing, I'll teach her how to do alternate nostril breathing.