There’s so much more to bedtime than closing the door and hoping the kiddos fall asleep, mama. Mama Pamela explains the fascinating science that suggests why it’s so key to wind down with your little ones.
Lying down side by side in the peaceful dark, I was taken aback when my son flipped a boomerang at me the other night, and just like that asked:
“Mama, on this earth are there people who can read other people’s minds?”
Where is this coming from, I thought to myself?
Could it be because he had overheard that I do a lot of ‘mind work’ with my clients, and maybe thinks reading minds is my forte? Quite obviously not satisfied with my mediocre response, I got the same pending question again two nights after.
“Mama, can people read minds?” Knowing perfectly well, my initial explanation must have flown above his head, I quietly asked him if he understood the first time I explained how my initial explanation of intuition works. Naturally, his answer was no.
Boom! I then recalled an interesting passage I had read on how children open up their deepest questions and concerns just before they transition into sleep. According to the literature, this occurs when they are at their most safe and relaxed state — in other words, when their brainwaves are in flux between the Alpha & Theta cycles.
Generally, children tend to enter Alpha (the relaxed state adults get from meditation and bio feedback) much faster than adults, due to their ability to switch off from daily events.
That is why – and you may notice this as a parent of a young child – that deeper and more meaningful observations, questions, fears, and revelations start to pour out in what I refer to as this magical point in the night.
So what does this all mean? The point I’m looking to drive home is, I am not convinced by all the propaganda that is out there on ‘shutting the door’ on your child at night-time and pushing them to fall asleep alone. Of course, there are the hidden benefits of this method, such as the child developing a high level of independence and a healthy routine, not to mention it also helps to enforce time-based boundaries between parent and child.
However and most importantly, how will you really know what things dominate and lurk behind their emotional concerns or even revelations such as “Mama, I’m so proud I wasn’t thinking of Minecraft in school for the first time!” or “Can we live forever?” or “I am not feeling inspired about choir for some reason”.
This is the magical time; as a parent, there’s no greater gift you can give than your time.
Whether it is helping them figure life out or providing your unconditional support, you are priming them for greatness.
Remember, even if your child appears to be an open-communicator, there is a small likelihood they will be asking their deepest questions to you in their usual (wakeful) Beta state — more likely their questions will be just touching on the surface of getting through the day.
So, although there is a lot of pressure on us as new parents to wean off a young child’s dependency during sleep-time, it’s up to you to decide if you want to make it quick and easy. It might be that you as a parent need your down-time after a long day, and yes, it is more than okay to establish your boundaries. So tucking your child in for 5-10 minutes is sufficient, and will provide them with a routine “Ok, I can open my heart out now, and then mama will leave me to sleep.” Or you might want to allow 20 to 30 minutes for exclusive time with your child for reading, snuggling, and to learn more about them and their unguarded subconscious thoughts.
Something to think about, the next time you considering ‘shutting the door’ and bidding your good nights. As cumbersome as they may seem, I would not trade our night-time conversations for the world.