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At least I used to think so.
Then I had my daughter and read The Baby Sleep Solution by Suzy Giordano. Her sleep-training method, which involves getting (and keeping) children on a schedule, proved to be invaluable for my daughter and our family the past two years. Having a regular routine helped my daughter to develop healthy sleeping habits that keep her energized and productive throughout the day.
It got me thinking… if a routine worked so well for my daughter, could it help me too?
Starting a ritual
I knew the only way I was going to stick to a bedtime routine was if it was truly helpful to my daily life. I chose to focus on three areas — body, mind and soul — in the creation of my routine. What kind of tasks could I work into my evening that would nourish these aspects of my life?
Here’s what I came up with…
I often put the needs of others before mine. But if motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that my own self-care is vital to the happiness of my entire family.
So, every night after putting my daughter to bed, one of the first things I do is stop in the bathroom to wash and moisturize my face; replace my contact lenses with my glasses; brush my teeth; pluck eyebrows, etc. I’m done in 10-15 minutes, tops.
Some nights, I do a foot soak. Other nights, a special facial mask. If I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll paint my nails. But there are many nights when I don’t do anything beyond the basics.
There are always things that need to be done around the house, right? Each night I try to chose one simple thing I can do that will make the following day flow better.
If I’m grocery shopping the next morning, I write my shopping list the night before. If we’re eating a slow-cooked dinner the following day, I do all the prep the night before. If my daughter and I are going to the zoo, I’ll prepare and pack snacks/beverages the previous night. Or, unload the dishwasher if I haven’t gotten to it yet.
You get the idea. The tasks are never complicated. They don’t take up a lot of time. But they all ensure that there will be one less thing stressing me out the next day!
Give the mind what it wants
As part of my bedtime routine, I make an effort to nourish my mind each night. But, depending on the type of day I’ve had, that nourishment can take on several forms.
If it’s been a productive day and my mind is still craving engagement, I’ll read a book or do puzzles on my iPad to unwind.
Some days, my mind is mush by evening time so I’ll grab a doodle book instead. (Have you tried these? So. Much. FUN!)
Other days, my mind just won’t quiet down until I hop on the computer to finish a blog post, or schedule a tweet.
When my husband goes to bed, I use the quiet of the house to reflect on my day and write in my gratitude journal. Recognizing and being thankful for the smallest of things improves my attitude and spirit on both the good and bad days.
Then, I meditate with a set of oracle cards and crystals to request guidance from my angels and guides. Sometimes it’s a quick “What do I need to know about tomorrow?” type of question. Sometimes it turns into deep soul reflection. I use the quiet to reflect upon my life goals and passions.
If I’m not too sleepy at this point, I also love using the 5- and 10-minute meditation sessions on the Yoga Studio app before bed. The brief, guided mediations are quick, simple to follow and really get my body in the relaxed state it needs for restful sleep.
Get enough sleep
My bedtime routine would not be complete without getting to sleep at a decent hour every day. It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I still stay up later than I should. But… I’m working on it. I’m working on making sleep a priority, especially after going through Crystal Paine’s Makeover Your Mornings online course.
Crystal is absolutely correct when she says that a good night’s sleep is one of the secrets to waking up excited about each day. I’ve found it really does make a difference. I just need to stop fighting the night owl in me. ;)