OK, so I am not about to give you parenting advice anytime soon. BUT sleep is the holy grail, isn’t it? And it’s what helps your MUMFACE look and feel great, so this is like playing the long game to better skin, if you like. It’s a beauty sleep cheat sheet of sorts.
We have had so many ‘sleep regressions’ over the past four and a bit years of parenting, I’m inclined to say night wakings and dodgy bedtimes have actually been the norm, with a few weeks in between that have made us think we’ve finally got it nailed. But sure enough, back in December things took a downward turn again, and bedtime went from peaceful story time to GETINTOBEDOTHERWISESANTAWONTCOMEISWEARTOGODIFYOUGETOUTOFBEDONEMORETIME… None of our old tactics worked, and at four, our daughter had got the better of us. Star charts, marbles-in-a-jar and finally, bribery, all fell on deaf ears as she went crazy every night. A night light, Gro Clock, lullabies, gradual retreat, silently putting her back in bed, special toys, a new bed, different sheets, a new blanket, a ‘quieter’ mattress protector, more new special toys, another new night light… suffice it to say about £750 later we were still awake. And the less sleep we got, the worse the bedtimes became and it all began to get on top of all three of us.
Then a friend – she of The Mama Squad in fact, but she is actually a superhero – told me to try Alan Wick. His ‘CLOSE YOUR EYES SLEEPY CHILDREN’ hypnosis CD tells gentle stories and coaxes the child into a relaxed state so they can drift off to sleep on their own. I was sceptical because I thought any kind of sound at bedtime would be distracting and actually keep her awake (we’d tried countless lullaby CDs back in the day and realised they made things a whole bunch worse), but now she’s old enough to listen to the words, follow his instructions and fully relax every inch of her body. IT WORKED! She fell asleep within minutes of the first play, no shouting, running around or crying.
We also incorporated in some new products from our beloved Bloom & Blossom – their new pillow spray and massage oil are divine, and adding a very brief massage of our daughter’s back and shoulders signalled a change from the fun of bath time to the tranquility of bedtime. I say brief, because I now know that whenever you start a new routine, only introduce something you know you can sustain for potentially years to come. I squeeze her shoulders gently, hold my hand on her chest (heart chakra – got it from yoga, innit) and back, then sweeping down her back once or twice is all it took. Then she has a drop of oil to rub her own belly and arms. The pillow spray means she has a very clear sleep signal as she gets into bed. The light goes off, Alan begins his calming stories and we’re away.
In fact, lying on my bed next door I basically pass out, too – he’s that good. I’ve also sent it with her to my mum and dad’s for a sleepover – only her third time away from us ever – and it worked just as well there. She went to bed with no hitches.
Long may it last!