My two kids are a mixed bag when it comes to sleep. My daughter has always been a great sleeper and made it easy on us. I believe that is because she was a preemie and got used to a schedule during her time in the NICU. (71 days!) She was the toddler that would come tell me “nap time” with her blanket in hand and lead me to her room to tuck her in. And she’s never been one to call me back into her room after I’ve said goodnight. Her little brother on the other hand…
Oh, I couldn’t have kept count of how many hours I spent trying to get him to sleep. As an infant, he’d wake up the second I laid him in his crib. I’d shush and sway him until I couldn’t take it anymore and tears flowed down my face. I begged, pleaded, and prayed for some sleep! That is definitely a time that I wouldn’t want to revisit.
As he grew, bedtime became easier but the overnight trouble began. He’d wake often, sometimes complaining of nightmares, and not settle back down in his room. Eventually this, too, resolved.
Then came the nights where I swore I was going to wear out the carpet between our bedroom and his. I’d say our goodnight and tuck his little 9 year old body tightly into bed. As soon as I got comfortable, I’d hear him call for me. His mind wouldn’t settle or his thoughts drifted to a place that made him worried or scared. And on and on this went a few nights each week.
My boy is confident, outgoing, and very charming. We call him “The Mayor.” Shaking hands and kissing babies? Pretty much. But come bedtime, he turns into a totally different kid. He becomes worried and anxious; uncomfortable in the stillness and the darkness. Despite reassuring him of his safety and our constant presence, he struggles. It has taken some time to find the combination of things that help but I think we’ve finally nailed it. I am so happy that we are able to help him.
1. No YouTube or violent/scary games, shows, movies, etc.
I figured out pretty quickly that YouTube was a major culprit. He’d watch things like Nerf or box fort videos that were innocent enough but the ads that played contained images that haunted him at night. It’s been two years since YouTube has been blocked on any device that he has access to and let me tell you – it’s been the best decision. (YouTube is a dangerous place for kids anyway and their parental controls leave everything to be desired. But that’s a long post for another day.) We also censor other media that would be upsetting to him.
2. Limit caffeine consumption
My son is definitely sensitive to caffeine. We’re a soda-free household but he was occasionally taking part at restaurants or friends’ homes. Other sources are tea, iced tea, and chocolate. We have banned all sodas and make sure that any tea he has is decaf or, preferably, caffeine-free. Chocolate is something all of us enjoy but we limit his consumption in the evenings. Sometimes rules like this cause disappointment or even defiance in a kid but I just remind him what his night will be like and he is happier to comply.
3. Weighted Blanket
You’ve probably heard of the benefits of weighted blankets and we can definitely say that we’ve experienced them. The general rule of thumb is the blanket should weigh 10% of your body weight. My requirement was that it come with a removable, washable cover and be made from 100% cotton fabric. After a ton of research, I went with this one and my sweet boy has been sleeping under it ever since. He says it feels like he’s being hugged in his bed.
4. Essential Oils
We use our Young Living essential oils two different ways at bedtime. It has taken some trial and error but I am so happy that we’ve found a combination that works for him! First, he rolls the KidScents SleepIze blend onto his chest. It’s prediluted with kids in mind. Here’s what YL has to say about it: Help your child settle in and sleep tight by diffusing or massaging this peaceful aroma directly before a nap or bedtime. Carefully blended with a variety of calming, quieting oils, SleepyIze™ promotes an atmosphere conducive to a calm, restful sleep. Whether diffused or applied topically, SleepyIze is an excellent way to help your child naturally relax at the end of the day.
Secondly, we run a diffuser just before and during bedtime. We use this diffuser in his room and so far have been very happy with it. It has a large capacity so it lasts many nights without needing to be refilled, has several color choices that my son loves, and has a timer function which was a must for me. He feels comforted by the light as he is falling asleep but studies show that light at night is not good for our health. With the timer capability, I am able to ensure that his room goes dark after 1 hour.
For over a year, we just went with lavender in the diffuser. Lavender is the king of relaxation, right? Well is was a real-life testament to every body reacting differently to oils. Lavender wasn’t cutting it for him. I needed something that would give him feelings of comfort and bravery. Once I had the idea, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner!!! Meet our Bedtime Bravery Blend. It smells amazing and does exactly what I need it to.
5. Guided Meditation
The best way I have found to reign in my kiddo’s runaway thoughts at bedtime is guided meditation. And my favorite way to get this guided meditation is with the free app, Insight Timer. They offer meditations and bedtime stories specifically for kids. I don’t receive anything for recommending this; in fact, the app creators don’t even know I exist. We just use it nightly and have been so happy with the results. They have wonderful offerings for adults, too. I tell people about it all the time.
As the seasons of life and stages of childhood have come and gone, the way we’ve dealt with sleep issues has changed as well. I hope our current routine can offer some help in your house too, mama.
** As part of the Amazon Associates program, I may receive a small commission for products linked here. This will be AT NO EXTRA COST to you. And remember – I will never suggest a product that I don’t actually use and love. Only genuine recommendations here, always.