Sanity is a moving target when parenting little ones, isn’t it? Just when you convince your older child that creatively blending the words “frog” and “yuck” is not a good idea, you discover that your toddlers new favorite trick is to dip his older brother’s toothbrush in the potty. (I wish I wasn’t speaking from personal experience here, but . . . )
While it’s inevitable that some days will not go as planned, I’ve developed a secret weapon against frazzled nerves – a little evening routine that wipes away the spills and disasters of the day, both for me and the potami.
It’s super simple, and although there’s a glaring omission I’m sharing it anyway. Ready? Here it is:
After toys are put away and pajamas are snuggled into, I let the older potami pick out an essential oil blend to place in the diffuser (They love this one, this one, but this one is their favorite. I love it, too, and often wear it as perfume.) After that we brew up some relaxing sweet dreams tea and I make a small snack – usually something with a lot of fat to help stabilize blood sugar throughout the night. (Think crackers and cheese, or a little sweet potato smothered in butter and cheese.)
As I shared in my post on 18 Science-Backed Tips For Deeper, Longer Sleep, I’m a huge fan of herbal teas before bed, especially when they’re blended with a few sleep enhancing ingredients. Until recently this was something I just did for myself, but the potami started requesting their own blends. Ummm, YES I CAN DO THAT, I said. (Because as you know, the few moments you have alone at night when the house is still are sacred.)
And so I did, and it’s worked so well that I thought I’d share two of our favorite recipes with you.
About The Ingredients
Before we get to the actual recipes, though, I want to explain why I chose each ingredient.
Catnip, chamomile, and passion flower are all gentle, kid-safe herbs with mild sedative qualities. In addition to their popularity among herbalists and even children’s books (remember how Peter Rabbits mom used to put him to bed with chamomile tea?), these herbs are now making their way into research.
According to this PubMed review, the sedative effects of chamomile may be due to a flavonoid called apigenin, while this study found that passion flower improved sleep quality when taken as a tea before bed.
Though not considered a sedative, one study showed that lavender’s aroma improved sleep in individuals suffering from insomnia. When brewed as a tea, lavender buds release their aroma while adding flavor.
Herbs For Flavoring
My son loves the fruity flavor of hibiscus and my daughter loves the sweet taste of licorice root, so I incorporated these flavors into their blends.
Grass-fed gelatin is rich in several amino acids, particularly glycine, that are thought to calm the body and promote healthy sleep. Here’s the brand I use.
As mentioned in this study, some experts believe that “a major function of sleep is to replenish glycogen stores in the brain that have been depleted during wakefulness.” While not formally studied, some people believe a little honey before bed supplies the liver with a boost in glycogen that helps the body complete this task, thus increasing how rested we feel in the morning. Of course, it tastes good, too.
If you crave salty and crunchy foods when you’re stressed, there’s a good reason for that. According to this study, salt improves our stress response. There is even some evidence to suggest that it raises or oxytocin – aka the feel good hormone – levels as well. (source)
As you know, stress hormones impair sleep, so anything we can do to reduce our stress load is helpful.
Now, Back To That Routine . . .
After we finish our tea, teefies are brushed and I flip on the Sleep Genius (which is what I switched to after ditching my white noise machine) and an essential oil diffuser.
We don’t keep a night light on in their room (Wellness Mama explains why here), but I do turn on this salt lamp so that they can read in bed. (And now you see the glaring omission – story time fail! Right now my toddler is just not cooperating with storytime, so we’ve taken a break from it.)
They’re usually asleep within minutes, which means I can turn the lamp off and start preparing babypotamus for bed. He’s always the holdout. 🙂
Then it’s my turn to relax, hang out with Daddypotamus, and eventually brew my own cup of Sweet Dreams Tea to sip on while I journal for five minutes or so. Then it’s off to sleep for me!
Now, how about those recipes?
Chamomile & Licorice Blend
This mild, licorice-flavored blend is my daughter Katie’s favorite. It incorporates three calming herbs: catnip, chamomile and lavender. Rather than give exact amounts, I’m sharing the proportions with you so that you can make as small or large a batch as you’d like. You can use a teaspoon of each or a tablespoon – all you need to do is measure equal amount of each.
- 1 part catnip (where to buy catnip)
- 1 part chamomile flowers (where to buy chamomile flowers)
- 1 part lavender blossoms (where to buy lavender blossoms)
- 1 part licorice root (where to buy licorice root)
Passion Flower & Lavender Blend
This aromatic, slightly fruity blend is my son’s favorite. I usually make this blend using a tablespoon as my measurement, so that would be two tablespoons passion flower, one tablespoon lavender, two tablespoons catnip, etc.
2 parts passion flower (where to buy passion flower)
1 part lavender blossoms (where to buy lavender blossoms)
2 parts catnip (where to buy catnip)
1 part chamomile (where to buy chamomile flowers)
2 parts hibiscus flowers (where to buy hibiscus flowers)
Sweet Dreams Tea Recipe
I’ve found that consuming some form of healthy fat before bed is helpful for balancing blood sugar throughout the night, which seems to decrease night waking for me. I sometimes add butter to my chamomile blend, but I’m not a fan of it (or coconut oil) in the passion flower blend. On the nights we sip on Micah’s favorite (passion flower), I make sure to add a small snack such as raw cheese to the menu.
Sweet Dreams Tea Recipe
- 1 teaspoon Chamomile & Catnip Blend or Passion Flower & Lavender Blend
- Gelatin I use about 1 tablespoon per cup, both the regular gelatin which dissolves in hot liquids and hydrolysate which dissolves in cold liquids will work
- Honey to taste where to buy honey
- pinch of salt - I use a scant 1/8 teaspoon where to buy unrefined sea salt
- 1 cup water
- Boil water and pour it into your mug. Add 1 teaspoon of your tea blend to a tea ball and place it in the mug. Allow to steep for 5-7 minutes, then add the other ingredients and enjoy.
What helps your children relax before bedtime?