Sleep Lessons from the Skating Rink
I may be dating myself, but back in the day one of the “things to do” as a teen was spend the afternoon (and sometimes evening) at the roller skating rink. Rollerblades were just becoming popular, so skates with two wheels in the front and two in the back were still all the rage. I can still remember the lights flashing (yes, we had disco balls back then!), the music blasting and everyone skate-dancing as they made laps around the rink for hours. Oh, and skating backwards? You got total respect if you could skate backwards!
Feeling a little nostalgic one afternoon when the kids had a half day off from school, I decided I’d take four newbies to the skating rink. Not knowing exactly what to expect, the kids’ anticipation and excitement grew, as we got closer to the door. For me, however, the nostalgia quickly turned to “What was I thinking?”
Panic started to set in as I realized I had four sets of skates to size up and lace up; there were four of them and one of me; I hadn’t skated in YEARS and they hadn’t skated EVER; there were four of them and one of me. I took a deep breath, harnessed my sleep coaching skills and applied them to the situation at “feet.”
Confidence was high as the kids skated on the carpet from the bench to the rink itself. Within seconds of each of them putting their wheels to the hardwoods, however, there was falling, splatting against the wall and holding on for dear life. Almost instantly the mood went from excitement to “How the heck do I skate?!?” It was then I realized we were in the beginning stages of the learning process, much like my sleep coaching clients are with their kids – minus the roller skates.
It was amazing to me the parallels between teaching kids to skate and teaching kids to sleep. The same personality patterns can be seen in both coaching scenarios, and the trick is to tailor the lessons to each individual learning style and stage.
But the kids weren’t the only ones in the learning process. I gained some valuable lessons that day myself that helped sharpen my skills as both a parent and a coach:
• I had to change my support and encouragement for every child. What worked for one didn’t always work for another. There was no one size fits all approach.
• I had to be present and listen with my heart, observe their feelings, validate and acknowledge their emotions and empower them in their learning process. This wasn’t about me — it was all about them.
• I had to recognize there isn’t just one way to learn. Everyone has their own path, their own journey.
• Teaching a child to skate (sleep) is a process and requires a lot of patience. Thankfully I had prayer, deep breathing and listening on my side.
• Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever done. Parenting more than one child is even harder.
• I had to let go and surrender control. I couldn’t make them skate any faster or learn the skill any quicker.
• It was in their timing, not mine.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to have taken these children skating that day. I was reminded that our children are going to have A LOT of big emotions no matter what activity they’re doing. This is actually how their brains develop. They are going to need support from a compassionate, understanding parent who can help them wade through all the angry, sad, and frustrating moments, especially when it comes to developing their sleep habits.
And do you know what the best part of all that is? Our children take us on a journey of our own to teach us the exact Loving Lessons we need to learn about ourselves to help us become better people and especially better parents. The more we’re able to be present with ourselves, the better equipped we are to lead by example and support our little ones as they sleep, learn, grow and develop into young adults.
What Loving Lesson has your little one taught you recently?