Download the Bedtime Routines PDF here to create your very own routines.
Welcome friends to Episode #103 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. When we begin to review the times in our day where we feel the most challenged, bedtime and evenings can be one of them. We often have an ideal that we feel we’re not living up to in our lives whether it’s our own use of the evenings and how we transition into sleep, or how our kids transition from the evening into sleep. Whether you are in a period of transition or you want to make some necessary adjustments, today’s podcast on bedtime routines for adults and kids will help you create a routine that works for you and your loved ones.
If you’ve listened to my podcast on sleep meditation for kids, you’ll know that we’ve had our own share of sleep struggles. Sometimes we have kids who have no trouble falling asleep and winding down and sometimes we have the opposite.
Maybe the sleep struggle isn’t with the kids, but it is with you. Your own nights just seem to get away from you and you wake up lacking the energy to do what you need to do the next day.
As a result of working through my own sleep struggles where I felt that I was just a night owl who didn’t need more sleep, my kids’ sleep struggles and the evening routines of so many of my clients, I know this is a topic that is hugely important to the quality of our days.
No matter where we are right now, you’re in the right place because I’ll give you a few key mindset shifts you need to make if you’re desiring to improve your evening routine.
Acceptance vs Complacency
The first shift to make is deciding that you want it to be different. So many of us get into a place of status quo and not wanting to make another problem show up in our lives that we accept what is already happening and decide not to do anything about it.
There’s a difference between acceptance and complacency. You can accept that you’ve struggled with this and still not be complacent about what you want to do with it. The challenge we have is thinking that we don’t have time or energy to deal with this problem when in reality, you’re already using the time and energy to deal with the problem. Every single night.
Every time you do the back and forth of trying to fall asleep and not falling asleep. Every time you fall asleep with the kids and wake up in their beds in the middle of the night and then go try to do some work or something else. Every time you continue working because you’ve given up on falling asleep at your desired time. All of these patterns use time and energy. Hours and hours and hours of time and energy.
I often hear people say that they don’t have time for coaching or that they’re worried about how much time they have to work on coaching topics and what I have to explain to them is what I’m sharing with you now. You’re already spending the time. You’re just not getting the result you want. We just spend our coaching time making a plan and you spend your time executing.
What if you had the same 24 hours that someone else had and had a different quality of life in that same 24 hours. You did what you felt was important. You were less anxious and worried. You felt more confident and well rested. You made progress. This is the difference between being worried that you’re not going to have the time to do the thing that would improve your quality of life, and actually taking an hour out of your week to think about what you want and how to go about it – and then HAVE your experience be different.
Accept that kids have a hard time winding down from the day. Accept that you have a hard time winding down from the day. But don’t be afraid to think that it’s possible to have something different as well. You can have an evening routine that works for you and your life. You can bypass complacency and move into a feeling of possibility that isn’t based on just wishful thinking but based upon strategies that work.
Our days begin with our nights
I often think of the phrase, “our days begin with our nights” when I’m thinking about doing that one last thing in the evening and pushing back the sleep schedule. Or, I think about how the way we’re setting up our evenings will determine how our kids feel the next morning. Transitions matter. The evening routine is one of our most precious times to relax, catch up with loved ones or just ourselves, and to set the tone for how we want our next day to go.
Studies have shown that sleep loss impacts mental and physical wellbeing. Sleeping less than 6 hours a night can lead to anger, irritability, frustration and loneliness. It can also lead to weight gain, gastrointestinal issues, subdued immune responses and reduced cognitive abilities.
As much as we prioritize our ability to get things done during the day, we must also prioritize our ability to prepare to get things done – which is with our sleep. Studies have also shown that bedtime routines help adults and kids have better wellbeing, behavioral, and developmental outcomes.
The most important things to consider when developing your own bedtime routines is consistency and your objectives.
Consistency creates routines. It reduces barriers of pushback either from yourself or your kids. It utilizes less energy to have consistency because you know what happens every night. Some of us might find consistency boring, but I would consider that consistency when applied to activities that help you and your child have better emotional and physical outcomes is the type of boring we desire. We don’t desire the surprise of negative emotional, physical and development outcomes. Sometimes, boring is exactly what we want. Especially the good type of boring.
Your objectives also matter during a bedtime routine. We may have a goal of going to sleep by a certain time or having our kids go to sleep at a certain time, but I would reconsider that the objective of a bedtime routine is not to have yourself or kids asleep at a certain time. Instead, I would focus on creating the optimal conditions that allow for sleep at the desired time. We shift our attention away from the stress-inducing thought, “they should be sleeping by now” or “I should be asleep by now” – which inhibits sleep. We move our attention towards things that relax us like warm baths, meditation, gentle yoga, massage and darkness. Change your objective and you’ll be much more relaxed. If you’re more relaxed, it’s easier to fall asleep.
How to create a routine
If you want to create a routine for yourself I would think about 3 things. Consistency and conditions. I have a PDF you can download if you go to www.mayempson.com/103 to create the bedtime routine for yourself or your kids.
- Consistency: What time does your routine begin and end?
- Start time
- End Time
- Mental: What activities will mentally relax myself or my kids (e.g. calm stories, relaxing visualizations, meditation)?
- Physiological: What conditions need to be present for my body to relax (e.g. dark room, no screens 1 hour before bedtime, no eating 2-3 hours before sleep, stretching or yoga, deep breathing)
The routine that’s working for us now is to do all of the following:
- “The List” (10-15 min): PJs, Pick out clothes for next day, Brush teeth, Floss, Tidy room – the kids have a list that they work through each night.
- Read a story (5-10 min): Depending on how much time we have spent doing the aforementioned list, we’ll either read a story or just move straight to yoga.
- Yoga (5 min): We’ll lead them through gentle stretches and breathing exercises that they can do seated or lying down. This helps them relax their bodies, and bring awareness to any places where they may feel tension or stress. It also teaches them that they can do simple things like taking a deep breath or folding forward to relax the body.
- Meditation (5 min): we’ll lead them through a focused awareness meditation – which is a visualization. We will incorporate calming imagery like being nestled in a cloud or on a leaf or surfing effortlessly as well as calming cues like, “you feel so safe. You feel relaxed. You feel loved.” We’ll focus their attention by saying things like, “you notice the stars up above you” or “you see the clouds moving just like your thoughts – they come and go and come and go” or “you see the waves coming and going just like your thoughts”. This helps their brain move into the theta state which is the same state you move into as you drift off to sleep. I’ll even say “and then you drift off to sleep” at the end to cue that this is the time they transition into sleep.
This has worked wonders for our kids, reducing the time between them being a wake and them being asleep exponentially. It has reduced my daughter’s anxiety and I’ve been asked so many times about this that I decided to do a podcast episode because everyone wants that kind of inner peace. Even my husband who was not a consistent meditator is now sold on the benefits. As he leads them through this, he experiences the benefits so consider that even if you are just doing this for your kids – you’ll also receive the benefits of relaxation and a ritual that is conducive for you going to bed as well.
There’s more to the practices if we go into the earlier stages of the night. All of this is what I teach my clients in my coaching program. We go into more detail and depth around ways to visualize and how to visualize. Also what to do to help you transition and end your days in a way that prepares you for your next day feeling energized and less stressed about what’s coming. Even if you don’t know how to do this, I will teach you how. This is just the tip of the iceberg and if you love these practical strategies and understanding what simple moves you can make to your life to optimize your days and nights, you will love coaching.
Most of all, I hope this podcast helps you think about what you can do to start a routine that works for you and your family. If you want to learn more about what it’s like to work with me you can go to www.mayempson.com/contact.
Is it time for a reset in your life? Do you want to figure out what’s next?
No matter what success means to you, coaching will help you get there faster and more sustainably. We work towards results in every area of your life. Time management – spending more time on what’s most important. Creating a mix of work and personal life that is sustainable. Career and Business – deciding what you want next and how to achieve it – whether it is more flexibility, purpose or deciding to start your own business. Energy management – improving your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health so you build confidence in designing your own life. If you’ve got some changes you want support in thinking through, book your free consultation at www.mayempson.com/contact today.