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A Bedtime Trick That’s Changing Our Lives

Last week, I made a parenting mistake…

Toby and Anton had won a Bingo game, so I told them they could choose a special drink as a prize. We walked to the bodega, and — because I’ve become a huge softie during the pandemic — they convinced me to let them get their very first Cokes. And then, for reasons unknown, I let them drink them after dinner.

Cut to 9 p.m., when they’re going to bed, and these little boys are WIRED. They’re wriggling around in bed like puppies, and there’s no end in sight. We read, we chat, we sing, we cuddle, and still their bodies are full of caffeinated energy.

Finally, I had a last-gasp idea. “Anton, why don’t you lead a meditation?” I asked, since I remembered his teachers did meditations at school. He agreed, and we all rolled onto our backs.

“First, stretch out your legs, then stretch out your arms,” he said, very slowly. “Now, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth…breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth…”

We already felt more relaxed. “Now, make your body heavy,” he told us. “Pretend you’re falling through water. Pretend you’re falling through glue, but it’s not sticky. Now think of a place you like. Picture lying on the beach, feel the sun on your face, hear the sound of the waves.”

Then Anton asked us to put the soles of our feet together, to make a circle with our legs. “Now put your hand on your heart and think of your loved ones,” he whispered. I almost started crying!

After about four minutes of meditation, both boys were quiet. And suddenly I heard a little snore. They had fallen asleep.

I COULD NOT BELIEVE how quickly it worked. For the next five nights, we led meditations at bedtime; they didn’t always fall asleep, but they became relaxed and silent. Once, during a meditation, I slowly listed everyone who loved them, which felt so safe and grounding (at least to me!); and another time we focused on our bellies rising and falling as we breathed. Here’s a script to another meditation, if you’d like.

Have you ever tried meditation at bedtime? I’m looking forward to researching more, and please share any tips or experiences that you have! I’m all ears…

P.S. A family of five that co-sleeps, how we sleep-trained Toby, and Seinfeld’s bedtime routine for his kids.

(Photo by Maria Manco/Stocksy.)

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