Since stumbling upon Sara Marlowe’s inspiring take on mindfulness and parenthood twice in one month, I’ve been tuning into the less-obvious and more magical ways I parent and work with parents. Before I explain, I encourage you to check this out. I’ve been sharpening these mindfulness techniques for a few weeks and it’s reshaping old patterns with my daughter and pre-dinner meltdowns have mellowed out.
For sleep deprived parents working on sleep with a baby or child:
I am delighted to discover that the magical elements of practicing mindfulness in order to ‘own it’ apply to your efforts too, in a big way.
Let me explain.
Last week I received an update from some courageous parents who recently embarked on making changes with their 10-month-old daughter’s sleep. On paper everything was bang-on. They were following their sleep plan beautifully. I couldn’t wrap my head around why they were still struggling around bedtime putdown. I turned to their notes again to read between the lines.
They didn’t believe what they were doing would work. They didn’t believe their daughter would be able to sooth herself to sleep, happily. I could hear it in their words.
Of course! This is hard stuff. Change is harder for us as parents than our children. We talked about what was bunging up their confidence and what they were experiencing in the wake of making these changes.
Whammo – the next night their daughter fell asleep in her crib without much fuss at all. They did the wild and awesome ‘happy’ dance outside of her (silent) room, and I did it on the other end of the phone. And then they celebrated over their first quiet dinner together since having a baby. They ‘owned it’ and their baby responded immediately to the small adjustments to their own confidence. Magic!
Babies and children are much more in tune with these subtleties then adults, and their B.S. detectors are keen. This is how they understand their world, especially before they understand language.
Check your confidence meter if you are making changes around your baby or toddler’s sleep.
The gusto you carry with you is often more important than how or what you are actually doing. Really. I witness this everyday as a sleep coach, so much so I’ve added an ‘owning it’ clause to every sleep plan I create. Just as these little guys pick-up on our grumpy moods and stress, they know when we trust in them. If we ‘own it’, they just might too. These are the words we say to ourselves as we camp outside of their bedroom doors. This is how we breathe as we lean over to sooth them in their beds or cribs. This is our posture as we exit their rooms at bedtime. It all matters.
Here are some less tangible, yet potent things to explore around tackling sleep issues:
pause to notice how you’re feeling. Is hesitation, pressure, doubt, fear, judgment or unease lurking around? What might happen if this goes pear shaped? What’s at stake?
if you feel good about making a change – believe in it! Go for it wholeheartedly. Imagine your mind smiling. It will work. And if it doesn’t, it will very soon.
take a few deep breaths, peel your shoulders back and feel your feet making contact with the ground. If you have to fake-it-to-make-it, that’s OK, at least keep breathing.
Be OK with any outcome:
when the pressure is off, we all relax. If it doesn’t work this time, try again and again.
I created Supportive Sleep Coaching because it’s very difficult to make big changes around our babies and toddlers sleep without help. Babies are amazing at testing our confidence. Find genuine support wherever you can (a partner, friend or professional).
Talk to your baby or child before going for it:
I’m not kidding. Your 6-month-old baby may not understand words yet, but having a little chat with him before making changes around his sleep really helps! Your confidence and assurance will cut through to cultivate trust and make change possible for him. More magic.
Paying attention to how we feel helps us get on board with ourselves and our babies and children notice. I would love to hear your experiences, positive and negative, with this bit of magic.