A relaxing bath, a heart-warming story, and a cuddle are hallmarks of a successful bedtime routine. But sometimes even that’s not enough to calm your little one’s nerves when it’s time for lights out.
After a stressful or exciting day, our brains take longer to slow down and disconnect from the myriad of thoughts swirling around in our heads. And while our kids don’t have a mortgage to pay or looming deadlines at work, overactive thoughts can still get in the way of good shuteye.
That’s why sleep experts are asserting the idea that a good bedtime routine starts much earlier than bedtime. In fact, good sleep is the result of everything you do during the day, from eating healthy, to getting exercise, to regulating stress.
That’s where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness encompasses many things, and the amorphous nature of it can make it feel inaccessible. But the truth is that you’re probably already practicing mindfulness with your little one. Any time that you or your little one are actively aware of your thoughts and feelings in the present moment, you’re practicing mindfulness. Drawing, taking a bath, and listening to music, for instance, can all be mindful activities.
So, how can you build mindfulness into your kid’s daily routine? “Oh, great,” you may be thinking, “another parental duty to add to the ever-growing list.” Well, we’re happy to tell you that all you need to carve out is one minute each day to make an enormous impact on your entire family’s mental health, sleep routines, and quality of life. That’s right: one minute of deep breathing is all it takes. And we’ve created the tools to make it fun and easy for your little one to get involved.
Take a Minute With Moshi
Taking a minute with Moshi is a commitment to setting aside 60 seconds each day to do deep breathing as a family. All it requires is stopping whatever you’re doing and taking a series of deep inhales followed by slow exhales for one minute.
You can do it anywhere you’d like — your living room, the backyard, around the breakfast table — just make sure it’s a quiet place where you can sit still and bring attention to your breathing for one full minute. If it sounds almost too simple, that’s because it is.
Needless to say, you don’t have to stop at the one minute mark, but we recommend starting small so your little one stays engaged. The key is consistency. Kids crave routine, whether they know it or not, so set a reminder for the same time each day and stick to it until it becomes second nature.
Before you know it, your kiddo will be doing it all on their own, because as anyone who’s done it before knows, the benefits of deep breathing are immediately noticeable. Which leads us to…
The benefits of deep breathing
So, what are the benefits of deep breathing? Deep breathing helps you slow down your thoughts and calm your nervous system. “Taking long deep breaths – breathing from the diaphragm or stomach – sends signals to your body that it’s time to slow down,” says Dr. Seixas. For kids, deep breathing is a great way to “reset” their thoughts and relax when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Some of the well-documented benefits of deep breathing include:
- Reduced feelings of anxiety and overwhelm
- Lowered stress levels
- Relaxed muscles
All of these things can lead to a calmer, more relaxed state for your little one when it comes to bedtime.
If you have a fitness tracker or Apple Watch, you’ll already be familiar with this exercise, but we created our own deep breathing exercise, designed specifically for kids to learn the practice. The exercise features a soothing, guiding voice and our very own SleepyPaws koala to help kids follow along while he breathes in and out. You can find the video in the app alongside our bedtime audio stories and sleep sounds, but here’s a preview to get you started. Happy breathing!