The 3-Minute Sleep Trick That Saved My Son From Sleepless Nights
BY NATALIE RUSKIN
Photo © azy.azz/Twenty20
Apr 3, 2019
The list of sleep interventions are still chest-tightening to recall: The doulas, night nurses, dozens of “miracle” sleep solutions, a high-priced sleep consultant and countless hours trying to settle our son after the already drawn out bedtime “entertainment.”
Sometimes the solution that sticks shows up in your most desperate moment, staring right back at you. This was certainly the case for me one Sunday evening following several repeated bedtime visits after the first goodnight.
I had been solo-parenting my two young sons all weekend, the younger was 1.5 and the older just over 3.5 years old. It had been a particularly early wake-up for both boys that morning and, in my half-roused state, I opted to bypass my morning meditation practice for baking the boys blueberry muffins. Somehow, the fantasy of being the kind of mother who bakes on a weekend morning trumped a deeper intuition in me to meditate before muffins.
For a decade leading up to having kids, meditation was a vital part of my life and I often joke with my clients today that if I didn’t meditate I’d probably have to medicate. When perpetually sleep deprived, self care becomes a faint whisper and, paradoxically, we avoid the effort to reclaim the very thing we need most.
After the birth of my second son, a good night’s sleep became a distant island I remembered visiting in my past. The mindful practices I’d worked so diligently to hardwire — meditation, exercise and conscious eating — were put on the backburner in favour for easy comforts like almond butter from the jar and online shopping for bibs and water bottles.
'Drifting into meditation, I was roused by the loud snoring of my sleeping son. He had fallen asleep!'
On that Sunday evening, as my older son called out for yet another song, another sip of water, another search-and-rescue effort to locate Bumpy in his sheets — I surrendered. Standing at the doorway of his room, tears streaming down my cheeks, I was desperate. Silently and helplessly, feeling like a prisoner to my own child, I sat on the floor, cross-legged with my back against his bed rail, and I prayed. I said the serenity prayer over and over and over: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
I tracked my breath and calmed the tension in my stomach, my jaw and shoulders. I felt the release of effort. My son rustled his bedding and mumbled words to songs and, like I do in meditation with my own inner thoughts, I let his sounds be background. I stayed with my breath and my body, and again, felt the release I had been longing for. I forgot where I was; I forgot about feeling imprisoned.
And then — the miracle happened.
Drifting into meditation, I was roused by the loud snoring of my sleeping son. He had fallen asleep! All I did was the very thing I needed most for me. The mother of invention is necessity and, on that desperate evening, invention emerged!
Also recommended: 'I Can't Sleep': School-Aged Kids Have Sleep Issues Too
Since that evening over one year ago, my son calls for a meditation every night after his story. And, often within three minutes, we hear the sweet sound of deep snoring.
I often stay sitting for some time after my son falls asleep, enjoying the calm connection of being near him in silence at day’s end. And I re-emerge feeling restored, calm and able to reconnect with the evening mindfully, beyond the instant comforts and later-regrets of late-night snacking and online shopping.
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