When I was waking up every night last week I found it really hard to go back to sleep, with thoughts racing through my head. It made me think of our Little Ones with busy minds and how difficult it must be for them at times when they wake through discomfort or something, then just can’t switch off. I know that lots are struggling with helping their Little Ones switch off, so here are my 7 steps to help a busy mind switch off.
Work out why their mind is busy ~ Initially this may seem really hard but it’s so straightforward and an important step, because it helps us manage our expectations of what our Little One can do when it comes to going to sleep.
- Are they going through a big developmental stage? If your Little One’s struggles to switch off come in phases, lasting a few weeks or a month at a time before everything settles back to (their) normal then your answer is yes to this. Hang on in there and do what you can to minimise the overtiredness whilst they’re in this stage
- Are they overstimulated? If you notice a big difference depending on where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing in the day, then this is your reason why. There is so much you can do on a daily basis to help them with this
- Is it just how they are? If they have a busy mind generally and always find it hard to switch off, with it just seeming harder depending on what stage they’re at or what they’ve been doing. If they seem to meet milestones much quicker and are bright as a button, then you have a Little One with a busy mind (it may seem like a real challenge now, but believe me, these are the future world changers!) These Little Ones may always struggle to fall asleep alone, but it doesn’t mean it has to be a battle! Here’s what you can do…
It’s all about timing ~ It’s really important that with a Little One whose mind is going ten to the dozen, you make sure that there is no excess adrenalin flying about, otherwise you’re amplifying the issue. Adrenalin gives them a surge of energy, so will make everything speed up even more and make it even harder for them to switch off. Making sure that you don’t go past their natural bedtime or naptime will shorten the process and will prevent night wakes and early wake up
Wind Down Time ~ the period of time prior to sleep is so important for any Little Ones with a busy mind. Whether it’s naptime or bedtime, they need to have quieter time where we help them change the pace of their mind. Going from busy activity or rushing them through this stage will make it pretty much impossible for them to fall asleep…and the longer they take, the more chance you’ve got of hitting their overtired stage which is when the adrenalin is released. This is when you get 3 hour bedtimes!
Balancing their day ~ our Little Ones are processing so much information all of the time and this has even more impact on those with a busy mind. It’s so important that we give them time throughout the day to process what they’re learning and processing, so make sure that they have some quiet time in every day. Going from activity to activity will just spin their heads!
Empty their head ~ I use a technique called Talking Down the Day, where you go through the day each day with your Little One, talking about what they’ve done, where they’ve been, how they’ve felt and send it all away. This works whatever the age, it’s never too young to start! The only difference is that to start off with you need to do the talking! What this does is bring everything to the front of their mind so they can release it, otherwise when the day quietens down everything that has happened in their day is going to come to the front of their mind. Use this technique at teatime or in the bath for maximum effect…too close to bedtime will have the opposite effect
Distraction ~ the reality is that these Little Ones, whether it’s who they are or just a stage, will find it really hard to just lie down in silence and go to sleep. It makes life so much easier for us and them when we manage our expectations around this. By giving them some kind of distraction, whether it’s movement or noise, you distract them from their thoughts and allow them to switch off much more easily
Rescue Night Spray ~ this is an absolute essential in helping Little Ones switch off and calm a busy mind (it works on Mums too!) It’s all completely natural and safe from any age and used at least 3/4 times a day can have a massively positive effect on naptimes, bedtimes and night wakes!
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