February 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
It’s only taken 30 years but I finally know how to go to sleep.
Don’t laugh – it’s been a big problem! My insomnia hasn’t been as bad as some people’s I know, but it’s been enough to be a bother. Lying awake in the dark, listening to my husband snoring, wondering when I’d simply switch off and wondering why I could never consciously find the switch myself.
Until I had my children! And no it’s not sleep deprivation exhausting me, either! When Bean was two, or thereabouts, I tried to teach him how to fall asleep by himself. It was one of the best lessons we ever gave him. He doesn’t use it very often but it’s the most useful one when it’s needed. I taught him to close his eyes, and listen to his breathing. And I would sit holding his hand or resting my arm on his back, and we would breathe together. Sometimes I’d sing. A lot of the time I’d play Twinkle Twinkle to him on my iPhone (the version by Fredrika Stahl is our favourite), and I’d sing along. And he would relax, and fall asleep so quickly.
He has been for sleepovers at his friends’ houses since turning three, and they often report back that he will say he’s going to sleep, lie down, and be asleep within seconds – and doesn’t stir til morning. I’m yet to experience this for myself 😉 Only once has this deviated from the norm, around 5am one morning my friend say she’d woken up to find Bean snoring gently beside her – he’d made his own way into their bed in the night 🙂
Bear is still at the stage where he wants helping to sleep, whether that’s a boob in his mouth lying in my arms, a snuggle in the wrap, or a hypnotic ride in the car (the car thing has taken him a while to accept – completely unlike his brother who was used to it within a few weeks. Bear took a lot longer and really put us off long-distance journies for a while.). But that’s ok. Today he listened when I suggested he close his eyes for a bit while he was in the wrap. Small steps, I’m not pushing him. He’s not at the stage where I can tell him it’s bedtime so he should go to sleep and expect him to – especially if he’s slept extra during the day, like today!
So how have I learned to go to sleep?
I lie in bed with my babies either side of me, cradling their heads as they nurse to sleep themselves. And no matter what kind of a day we’ve had, whether it’s been a great day, a busy day, an exhausting day, a stressful day or a sad day, once they are snuggled in to me peacefully I can’t help but feel gratitude, thankfulness, and love.
Gratitude for the gift my babies are. Thankful that we have had the day together. Thankful that they are with me on this earth. (That one, particularly much at the moment.) Thankful for their being, for their characters, for what I am learning. And love. Rising up from inside, such love for my babies, no matter how much they have tested me during the day. Lying there with them dissolves my frustrations and I suspect it dissolves much of theirs too.
And I have nothing to do except be there with them. I listen to their breathing deepen. I listen to their contented little suckling noises. I feel their hair tickle my face, and bat their wandering hands away. And I fall asleep. Every. Single. Time.
Stillness, gratitude, thankfulness, and love: a perfect recipe for falling asleep!