By the time my son turned a year old, we had eaten every meal with the vacuum on for seven months because this was the only way our boy, who my husband sheepishly called “Misery Guts,” would stop screaming. We’d put him safely in an electric rocking chair, flip on the vacuum cleaner, and he’d swing looking like he was in a trance.


We didn’t get to this breaking point easily.

First, the doctors told me he was colicky, so I rocked him day and night in my arms and even followed our midwife’s suggestion to put him in his bouncy seat on top of a loud dryer while we stood beside him.

When nothing worked, we then decided that perhaps he had stomach issues, so I took him to every pediatric gastroenterologist in town, and no one found a thing. Finally, when he was 5 months old, having given up pon ever getting a good night’s sleep or a break during the day, a neighbor at a holiday party told me my son was “spirited,” and that the only remedy when I needed a break from holding or hearing him was to put him in a safe place, turn on the vacuum cleaner, and get on with my life.

“You need to put yourself as your priority no matter what,” she told me.

She was right. The vacuum cleaner tip changed my life. I went from stressed out to at peace with the situation. I had a spirited child, and I was taking care of myself.

Early on in mothering, and sometimes throughout, we tend to forget that making ourselves a priority is key. But it’s not easy to truly take care of ourselves, and I found this out with my first child. The moment I flipped that vacuum cleaner on, I used my “me time” to get things done. Moms know this hamster wheels so well: we go and go and go until we collapse.

My collapse moment came in a supermarket aisle when I experienced a panic attack so fierce I thought I was dying. The hospital told me to take medication, and because I had to keep going as a mom, I did this for three years. Until one day I walked into a yoga studio and found a ‘Super Nap’ that changed everything.

To be honest, experiencing a nap was the farthest thing from my mind. I planned to take a challenging bendy-stretchy yoga class to get back into shape. But when I walked into the studio, I heard a voice guiding a packed room of women in meditation and I looked into the room, saw these women laying down with blankets and eye pillows, looking so stress-free in every fiber of their bodies that I thought, “I want what they got.”

Turns out what they got was what I now call a Super Nap, an ancient yogic sleep technique known as yoga nidra meditation.

The woman at the front desk of the yoga studio told me that, “45 minutes feels like 3 hours of sleep in your body,” and I was sold. What mother doesn’t want sleep to work for her like this?

I committed to take a Super Nap every Friday at noon for one year, and I couldn’t believe the results. Very quickly, I experienced better sleep and was a happier mommy. And then something unexpected occurred—I went off the anti-anxiety pills.

The chronically worn-out mommy who lived in a space of telling everyone she was “fine” when really “fine” was a code word for falling apart, suddenly shifted to well-rested and a place where I was thriving. Not perfect—no mothering journey is perfectly well-rested—but by prioritizing rest, I had finally put on my oxygen mask. (Plus, it was a great way to model rest to my children.)

Of course wanting a Super Nap is the easy part—all moms want more rest—but making time for it and learning how to make it a part of your routine can feel hard. And meditation, which is what yoga nidra is, can feel intimidating.

Whether you’re attending a guided yoga nidra class or listening to a meditation on your smartphone, here are some tips to make it less daunting:

Lie down.

Yoga nidra meditation is yogic sleep. While you can sit up and practice, it is ideal to lie down.

Let it happen.

One of the biggest barriers to meditation is thinking that you’re not doing it right. Meditation practice simply invites you to be more aware. In yoga nidra meditation, you are guided into deep sleep brain waves, but you don’t need to know this or think about whether you are in the dream or deep sleep state. Just follow the voice guiding you.

If your mind goes to your to-do list, don’t get upset—instead, keep gently going back to the voice guiding you. If you need to move to scratch yourself or get more comfortable, do it slow and mindfully.

As much as possible, concentrate on the feeling in your body. This is supreme “me time.” You’re getting sleep and reconnecting to your most authentic self. These two pieces equal a happier mommy.

What to do if you fall asleep while meditating.

The good news is that no matter what, during yoga nidra meditation, your subconscious mind hears the voice guiding you, so you will benefit greatly. If you do fall asleep, you won’t be the first mom to do this, but to stay more awake, you can try sitting in a chair a few times and then try lying down again.

Schedule rest.

Pick at least one day every week when you will take your Super Nap. If you can do more, great, but don’t over commit. You want to choose a Super Nap schedule that you can successfully do.

Ideal times are when you wake up or go to bed, because they bookend your day, so they’re hard to forget or skip, but for some moms that won’t work. For me, I developed a routine of meeting my husband at the front door with our two kids when he came home from work, handing them to him, and then going for my Super Nap. I made it non-negotiable.

At first, everyone has to adjust, but very quickly your family begins to see the results of the Super Nap and everybody’s happier. You, too. Trust me.

Raising a mentally strong kid doesn't mean he won't cry when he's sad or that he won't fail sometimes. Mental strength won't make your child immune to hardship—but it also won't cause him to suppress his emotions.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. Mental strength is what helps kids bounce back from setbacks. It gives them the strength to keep going, even when they're plagued with self-doubt. A strong mental muscle is the key to helping kids reach their greatest potential in life.

But raising a mentally strong kid requires parents to avoid the common yet unhealthy parenting practices that rob kids of mental strength. In my book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do, I identify 13 things to avoid if you want to raise a mentally strong kid equipped to tackle life's toughest challenges:

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play