A new book to help children relax at bedtime

Lockdown following Coronavirus (Covid-19) has come with its own challenges and things are not quite as normal as they once were. Your routine of going to and from work is no longer the same. Children’s lives have been disrupted as well.  

The stress, worry and even the all the changes may be creating difficulties for some children to adjust and sleep at night. This is why we thought we’d get in children’s author Christy Kirkpatrick to talk a bit about her book called ‘The Sleepy Pebble and other stories’. 

Here she talks to us about her book and how it’s a little bit different to all the other bedtime stories:

“Allow me to introduce myself!  I’m a freelance writer, and the mum to three children, aged between three and eleven.  I’m delighted to be writing a guest blog for ‘Mombabbles’

Christy Grigg (right) and Alice Gregory (left) co-wrote ‘The Sleepy Pebble and Other Stories: Calming Tales to Read at Bedtime’

In our house, bedtime can be one of the trickiest parts of the day.  My three-year-old often seems to get a new burst of energy, just when I’m ready to start reading her a bedtime story.  My eight-year-old finds it hard to wind down, and my eleven-year-old is usually tired and ready to read – but can find it hard to relax with the other two racing around. 

I know that we aren’t the only family to find bedtime difficult.  Other parents tell me about their children being too anxious to sleep, worrying about homework or problems with friends, or finding it hard to wind down after play dates, after-school clubs, activities or homework.  For many families (my own included), it can be a struggle to get everyone in bed, relaxed and ready to sleep.  

This is something Professor Alice Gregory, a sleep expert and author of ‘Nodding Off: The Science of Sleep from Cradle to Grave’ (Bloomsbury, 2018), realized.  She thought about what could help children to relax at bedtime and came up with the idea of embedding scientifically grounded sleep techniques in a bedtime story.  Many children are familiar with reading or listening to a story when they go to sleep, so if relaxation techniques were included in stories, children could listen to a story and relax at the same time.  

I was lucky enough to be the person Alice approached to co-write the story.  Together, we wrote a story about a pebble, and in this we included three techniques: imagery, muscle relaxation and mindfulness.  We then ran a small pilot study to trial the story, inviting one hundred families who had at least one child aged between three and eleven to take part, and the feedback we received was largely positive, and helped us to improve the story.  We then wrote four more stories, about a tree, a giraffe, a snail, and a pig.  Each story included the same three sleep techniques, and the book was published in October 2019 as ‘The Sleepy Pebble and Other Stories: Calming Tales to Read at Bedtime’, by Flying Eye Books.  The book is illustrated with beautiful, calming pictures by Bristol-based illustrator Eleanor Hardiman.

I have found the stories can help my children relax at bedtime, and I often go back to using them after a holiday, when the children have been going to bed later than usual.  The techniques have helped me to relax, too; it’s really helpful to have a toolkit of relaxation techniques to draw on if I’ve had a difficult or stressful day.  

For any of you struggling to get your children to relax at bedtime, the book might be worth a try.  

‘The Sleepy Pebble and Other Stories: Calming Tales to Read at Bedtime’ is a book that’s a little different from the usual bedtime story!

‘The Sleepy Pebble and Other Stories: Calming Tales to Read at Bedtime’, by Alice Gregory and Christy Kirkpatrick (Flying Eye Books, 2019, £12.99) is available to buy now from Amazon and other retailers.

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