15 Nov How to create a magical life for children – Sleepy Magic
A few years ago, Sydney mum Danielle Wright was living a fast paced life running a busy advertising agency until unexpectedly she had to close her business. Forced to reevaluate her life, she embarked on a journey of self-awareness through meditation, leading her to create a new stress-free life full of exciting possibilities. It was through this process that she came up with the idea for Sleepy Magic – a special bedtime ritual for her two young energetic boys that helped keep them calm, focused and positive; and was a lovely bonding process to boot.
In her book, Sleepy Magic, Danielle features a very helpful step-by-step guide for parents who might be struggling to get their children to sleep – but it’s also so much more than this. Recounting her own experiences and learnings, Danielle provides wonderful insights and tips for how adults can make their lives more positive, calm and fulfilling; and in turn create the same start for their children.
Whether you or your family is lacking in sleep or not, this is a must-read for all those looking to create a magical life for you and your loved ones.
Keen to know more? Read on for our in-depth interview with the author herself, Danielle Wright.
We love your concept of the Cycle of Self, it makes so much sense, yet a lot of people struggle to be calm these days (your starting point to achieving the life you want). Why do you think this is?
Some people are 5 to 10 steps ahead or behind themselves in their mind. This is how I lived most of my life until some radical shifts took place a few years ago. I was consistently thinking or worrying about future events. Forever lists in my head. I would run conversations and situations that happened even as far back as childhood in my mind, getting caught up in the what if’s, why’s and WTF’s in life. This is stress, and it’s a silent killer. I was in that never-ending mind cycle (most of it negative mind you) which took away from living in the here and now. The only important moment is this fleeting moment. Yes, the buzz words of “being present”.
I also believe there is sometimes fear about what will happen if one slows down or even stops for a while. It means you might have to take stock of your life, become responsible where you are, and how you got there and most importantly how you feel. There is always something to do, to finish, to accomplish. It’s a habit; this go go go frantic pace mentality and frankly I missed out on the beauty in my life by being and thinking this way. When I made a conscious decision that I wanted to live a different life, a more peaceful internal life, I turned my focus from outward to inward. It can be terrifying for most people to look within, to really examine and be honest about their strengths and weaknesses. I had to become self-aware to make changes. I had to self-examine to make changes, this is scary. To grow and to change I knew I had to dig deep, seek help and let stuff go…really let go. You also have to hit a dark place before you can see the light. This is growth. It’s liberating, and it is a choice. Life becomes much more interesting and fun when you are in a calmer mindset.
What tips would you give those who are time poor or find it hard to incorporate being calm and self aware into everyday life?
Start small. Baby steps. This sort of change doesn’t happen overnight it takes patience and perseverance. You have to want to change to make change happen. I truly believe meditation has played a major part in my transformation of “being present” and calming my internal state of mind. In the beginning, I was so incredibly stressed I couldn’t stop my thoughts, this crazy mind chatter, so using guided meditations on my iphone was a great start. It’s taken me three years to develop my meditations, and now I have moments of absolutely no noise, no thought (even if only for a fleeting minute). Now I meditate 1-3 times a day, and some of these are for only 5 minutes, other times for an hour. I finally understood that to find my joy I needed to make time and space for me. I gave myself permission to make the time and lost the guilt around it. This is a hard one to come to grips with as a mum, but so worth it.
I also incorporate a simple breathing technique I learnt from my kinesiologist and I am now teaching in my book. It takes less than 90 seconds, and it’s such a stress saver. I always use it to settle my mind before I meditate or if I’m having a tough time sleeping. But more importantly it’s extremely handy to do before or when a stressful situation arises like public speaking, dealing with a not so nice person or when my boys lose the plot with each other. It allows me to focus and centre myself and stops me from having a knee-jerk emotional reaction. This technique is one of the steps in the book and is essential to settle and prepare kids for sleep.
There seems to be a lot of focus these days on diet for young children (and adults) – which is of course very important – but it seems to now have eclipsed good old sleep. How important do you think sleep is, particularly for little ones?
It’s extremely important. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended range of sleep for preschool kids aged 3-5 need 10 to 13 hours, and school kids aged 6-13 need 9-11 hours. Sleep is essential for everyone especially now with the digital age and that we are rewiring our minds. We need to learn how to switch off and I believe teaching your children at a young age to meditate at bedtime is a lifetime gift. They can slowly incorporate the techniques into their everyday lives to cope with stressful situations. I can tell the dramatic difference in both my boys’ energy levels, physically, emotionally, mentally since we have been doing Sleepy Magic. When they have slept well their moods are better and lighter, their concentration is dramatically improved. And I am talking about very active boys here! It’s like eating well. If you eat junk you feel like junk, and if you sleep poorly you will feel poorly. As adults we feel the effects of restless sleep or no sleep and kids are no different. It’s not just the amount it’s also the quality of sleep.
Aside from wonderful, rested sleep – what other benefits does Sleepy Magic have for children (and their parents)?
Besides the calming and preparing kids for sleep, Sleepy Magic creates space for regular and deeper connection and nurtures stillness and self-worth. It combines guided meditation, affirmations, imagination and an essential breathing technique.
The kids just want attention and love. And this is a way for a parent to be fully present and give them that undivided attention. It’s what we all crave even as adults. To be safe and secure. In the five simple steps of Sleepy Magic, I am also resetting their mindset every night from anything that may have happened that was negative during the day and replacing it with positivity. At its heart, this book is all about empowering kids (and grown ups) to connect with their self-worth. If you’ve got self-worth, you’ve got everything you need to change the world.
What would you say to those who might feel Sleepy Magic is a wonderful concept but the ritual is too hard/time-consuming for them to incorporate into their children’s bedtime routine?
Parents have a choice. They can spend the time with the bribes, the negotiations, the hyper-ness, and other antics that go along with trying to settle kids to sleep. Getting more frustrated, upset and tired themselves. Or they can create a special ritual that can change bedtime habits, form stronger bonds and teach their children that life radiates from the inside out not the other way around. Even for the parents who have dreamtime sleepers (yay a huge battle won) I think they can see the beautiful lifetime gifts that Sleepy Magic can give their children.
Can any of the processes in Sleepy Magic be applied outside bedtime?
Absolutely. I do the breathing technique anytime I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed. I do it before I meditate and if I have trouble falling asleep. I am teaching these techniques to my sons so they can manage any stressful situations. For example, my eldest son gets very nervous before any competitive sport like the swimming or cross country. We would do the breathing technique in the car, and it would immediately settle and he would be focused on the task at hand. Also each morning in the car on the way to school they tell me their daily affirmation. What a way to start the day….positive!
Do you believe in magic?
Yes absolutely. To me, magic is the synchronism in life. They happen all the time you just have to be open, mindful and look for the signs. Someone once wrote, “Magic lives within the belief itself. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be amazed.” I believe this, and it’s been happening in my life over and over.
How different is your life now to when you were running your ad agency?
Very different because I am a different person and each day I am aligning more with my purpose. For a long time, my agency life (which was one of my manifested dreams) was wonderful, full of buzz and passion. However, in advertising the highs are high and the lows, well they can be a bottomless pit. The stress of holding it all together as a mum, business owner and wife took its toll. I was an extremely busy parent, a tired parent and as a result, a sometimes disconnected parent and person. After the business doors unexpectedly shut in September 2012 is when my transformation began. This was when I discovered magic. Over the past three years, I have been living and breathing what I teach in my book, and I continue to create and grow each day. I am more calm, connected and conscious, and the benefits are now having a ripple effect in all sorts of areas. I see the world so differently now, and it fills me up with such joy to be aligned with my purpose.
Tell us about the Gold Light Project and Room to Read
While writing the book I knew there was a dual purpose and part of it was charity. So I asked the universe and patiently waited for the signs. That is when a friend introduced me to Room to Read, and when my heart exploded I knew they were the ones I wanted to help. Little did I know that the project would go from giving some proceeds of the book to now building an entire school in Nepal. For those who do not know Room to Read is an incredible charity that works with under privileged children in developing countries to give them access to quality education.
So I have started The Gold Light Project to help children build their self-worth from the inside out by teaching them the richness of a charitable heart. And in return they will help other children in a developing country grow their self-worth through education. It’s a win win for all of our kids. I am raising money by donating 10% of all proceeds from Sleepy Magic straight towards the school. I am running events, workshops, fundraising drives, and a whole host of other activities to raise funds. And I hope my Sleepy Magic community and kids will jump on board and start fundraising at school, with lemonade stands, car washes, etc. This has become my love project and one day we will break ground, build that school and change the lives for those beautiful kids and their generations to come.
What’s next up for you? Any more books or ventures?
Yes, I am working on a kids’ book at the minute. It’s in the wonderful hands of my illustrator who did the beautiful artwork for Sleepy Magic. I love the creative energy between us and seeing my concepts come to life fills me with such joy. But I also stopped planning my life too far ahead. I am so happy to cruise and see what unfolds. More exciting that way.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about Sleepy Magic or your beliefs or personal self?
I believe we live in a world of infinite possibilities. Those possibilities are open to you when your heart is open to them. I am so grateful that I get to share this experience with my two boys. This little book is here because of them and that we together are changing families’ lives all over the world. It’s special. It’s love.read more