We recently moved out of our home for nearly three weeks whilst we had builders in to do a bathroom renovation (part of the reason this blog has been so quiet!) and whilst we were away I really noticed the difference that a change in rhythm – or more accurately, losing most of our rhythm! – had on Frida. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that having a strong daily and weekly rhythm is something that I am a big believer in, so much so that I even run a popular course on the topic. I see time and again how much of a positive impact it has on our life, and how much we all crave it when our rhythm is disturbed or becomes chaotic.
Whilst Frida had a lot of fun staying with her grandparents, I think she also found it hard in some ways. It’s not surprising: staying with family and the excitement that brought whilst missing her home, her things, and her playmates she sees regularly, plus having the uncertainty that some things would look different when we got home… It was a perfect storm, and something had to give. And that thing? It was bedtime.
Most nights we were away saw Frida go to sleep between 21:00 and 22:00, which is far too late for her (and definitely too late for her parents!) Although she was sleeping in later in the mornings, she wasn’t as well rested, and our priority as soon as we got back into our own home was to reset Frida’s bedtime rhythm as quickly as possible. Thankfully being back home coupled with us putting her old bedtime rhythm back in place (with a couple of additional elements added in) has worked well and she’s now going to sleep around 20:00 which feels better for everyone.
For anyone curious about what our bedtime rhythms look like, I thought I’d share it here. I should say that sometimes Frida’s bedtime rhythm is less structured and more fluid, but at the moment we are sticking to a firmer structure whilst we get back into the flow over the next few weeks. I also want to point out that although this rhythm is set by us, it’s done by observing her needs, and if it stopped working for her we would change it. Our role as parents is to support her in getting the rest she needs, not to force her to lie in bed when she’s not tired, and we always take her body clock and developmental needs into account when tweaking her bedtime rhythm!
Our current evening / bedtime rhythm is as follows:
We eat supper around 6pm, which I will usually prepare just before we eat. It’s usually something simple like roasted vegetables with vegetarian sausages, pitta bread with salad and falafels, a tofu stir fry, or veggie egg fried rice (we are not strictly vegetarian but we eat very little meat).
Frida then gets into the bath at around 6:45 for half an hour or so. When the bathroom was being renovated we had a dimmer switch put in so that she can have a relatively dark bathroom as she starts to unwind before bed. I’ve found it makes a really big difference to the ambiance! Before we would often light a candle and have the hallway light on instead of having the main overhead light on in the bathroom whilst she had her bath. Sometimes if she hasn’t eaten much supper she might have a banana or something in the bath.
When Frida is out of the bath she goes straight to her bedroom where her Lumie bug nightlight is already switched on in her room. I was really uncertain about buying it, but I liked that it’s a low-blue light light so wouldn’t keep her awake (light with a blue tone, for example the light that comes from screens, is bad for preparing the body to sleep). I apply some magnesium oil to her legs as it’s supposedly good for encouraging sound sleep, and put some sleep blend aromatherapy roller on her wrists, feet, and behind her ears. This inevitably is accompanied by lots of giggles! Then she gets into PJs, I brush and plait her hair (this is the best way to stop it getting get really tangled as it’s pretty long now), and brush her teeth.
We then bring her a mini hot water bottle for her feet and her “warmsie” (a soft toy / wheat bag that you heat up in the microwave) to cuddle, and read her a couple of books. If my husband is doing bedtime he will also tell her a story, and she sometimes asks him to count sheep for her. The aim is that she’ll be asleep around eight, though of course this varies a little from night to night. She sleeps for around 11-11.5 hours and usually wakes up at some point between 7-8am.
After Frida goes to sleep, I then have time to clean, catch up on some work if necessary (though I try my best to get most of it done during my working hours so I can rest in the evenings), read, take a bath, or spend time with my husband. I also try and see friends for dinner at least once a fortnight as it’s so good for my overall happiness to do things which aren’t linked to family or work.
You can read more about Rhythm in the Home, my popular online course on crafting a rhythm that serves your family’s unique needs. February’s course is sold out, but the April course will go on sale on the 7th February. I look forward to working with some of you then!