Parenting Hacks: 4 Things to Try When Your Children Are ‘Extra Wild’ Before Bed

Hannah Sylcox, an occupational therapist (and mother), took to TikTok on June 12 to share some of her most prominent parenting hacks when the kids ‘seem to be extra feral right before bedtime.’ She provided four occupational therapy sensory calming sleep tips to help parents regulate their child’s sensory system. 

Her parenting hacks have been viewed on TikTok more than one million times and have received nearly 100k likes and 30k bookmarks. The tips she provides are designed to put the child in a ‘more relaxed and calm state,’ but not in a way that robs either the child or parent of ‘having fun’ and ‘building connection.’ 

@sensoryplay.allday

✨ Kids wild at bedtime? Try this! ✨ 4 Occupational Therapy Sensory Calming Sleep Tips! Kids seem to be extra feral right before bedtime. So here are a few tried and true tips to regulate your child’s sensory system and put them in a more relaxed and calm state, while also having fun with them and building connection. 1) Burrito Roll: have your child lie on their back on top of one end of a blanket. Wrap the blanket around your child’s body (being sure to leave their head out of the blanket) and roll them up like a burrito. This provides deep proprioceptive input into the child’s body. This is calming and organizing to their sensory systems. 2) Pillow Squishes: either while they are rolled up like a burrito or lying in their stomach, grab a pillow and gently press down on their body with the pillow. You could also do gentle squeezes on their body as an added bonus. This activity provides deep pressure which brings your nervous systems into more of a balanced response/balanced state of arousal. This calms and organizes the sensory systems as well. 3) Exercise ball rocking: have your child lie on their stomach on top of an exercise or yoga ball. While holding them in place, gently rock them forward and back in a slow and rhythmic motion. This repetitive, rhythmic rocking and swaying provides calming vestibular input to the nervous system, helping children relax. 4) Warmth: place their blankies or stuffed animals they sleep with in the dryer for a few minutes before bed. The warmth from their sleeping blankets signals bedtime to them and puts their minds in a calm and relaxed state. I hope this works for your kids as well as it has worked for mine!! Follow along for more OT tips, educational activities, food ideas, sensory activities, and more! #ottips #occupationaltherapytips #sensoryregulation #sleeptipsfortoddlers #sleeptipsforkids #sensorycalming #wildchildren #wildkids #burritoroll #ottipsforparents #tiredmom #tireddad #tiredparents #calmingsensory

♬ original sound – Hannah Sylcox

The first hack is what she calls the ‘Burrito Roll.’ In the video, she instructs the parent to wrap a blanket or towel around the child’s body as they lay on their back. By rolling them up like a burrito – nice and snug – you’ll provide ‘deep proprioceptive input into the child’s body,’ which results in a more calm state of mind. 

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The second hack is what she calls ‘Pillow Squishes.’ With your child either lying on their stomach or rolled up in a burrito, use a pillow to gently press down and apply pressure onto their body, like a massage. This helps to bring the child’s ‘nervous systems into more of a balanced response/balanced state of arousal.’ 

@sensoryplay.allday

???????? Here are 15 Sensory Stimulating Activities that you can do with your babies 4-6 months old and beyond! This age is when things really start getting fun! You’ve sadly exited the newborn stage where all they seem to do is sleep, snuggle, eat, and poop. Now they are becoming more curious about the world around them! You can add in these fun and sensory stimulating activities over time and watch their imaginations explode! It’s really the most wonderful thing to watch your baby explore a new activity. I hope this is helpful, and follow along for more fun ideas! ???????? . . . #babysensoryplay #babysensoryideasfordevelopment #babysensoryideas #sensoryplay #sensoryplayforbaby #babyplayideas

♬ Until I Found You (Sped Up) – Heaven When I Held You Again How Could We Ever Just Be Friends – Hiko

The third hack is what she refers to as ‘Exercise Ball Rocking.’ For those that have a yoga ball or exercise ball, lay your child on their stomach on top of the ball and hold them in place while you gently rock them back and forth. The repetitive, rhythmic rocking helps children relax by providing calming vestibular input. 

The fourth hack is ‘Warmth.’ When it’s time for your children to start winding down and getting ready for bed, stick their blankies and/or stuffed animals in the dryer. The warmth puts their mind in a calm and relaxed state. “I hope this works for your kids as well as it has worked for mine!!” she wrote in the caption. 

@sensoryplay.allday

⭐ Our Most Used Sensory Bin ⭐ This is the go-to activity as soon as my kids step foot outside, and it’s been out for almost 2 months now. There are so many fun and educational aspects to this sensory bin. They can practice: scooping pouring sorting by color/species pinching/scissor practice language development visual perceptual skills social interaction and of course tactile/visual/auditory sensory development + sooo much more! Plus it’s a huge win for me too because it takes less than 5 minutes to put together. Who knew this type of play could be so beneficial?? #sensoryplayallday #sensorybinideas #bugsensorybin #bugsensoryplay #sensoryactivitiesathome #sensoryactivitiesfortoddlers #learningthroughplay #learningthroughnature #easysensorybin #easysensoryplay #sensorydevelopmentplay

♬ original sound – Hannah Sylcox

Getting your child in a solid bedtime routine will also help them identify when it’s time to wind down and when it’s time to act wild. Avoiding electronics, avoiding food or drinks with caffeine, and dimming the lights throughout the home can also help provide a more calm and relaxed environment for the children.

Users Comment With Their Own Parenting Hacks

As with any video on TikTok, the comments section was filled with mothers and fathers discussing their own parenting hacks when getting their children to bed on time and in a relaxed state of mind. In fact, one parent even admitted that she now puts her own blanket in the dryer before bed – it works for adults, too!

@sensoryplay.allday

???? Just Add Water! ???? Nothing calms and occupies my children the way water does. If my kids are bored or irritable, I’ll add water to any activity and it’ll occupy them for hours – I’m not exaggerating. Now that it’s warm out, it’s the perfect time for water play! #waterplay #waterplayactivity #easyactivitiesforkids #easyactivitiesfortoddlers #activitiesfortoddlers #easyplayideas #tiredmom #stayathomemomlife #activitiesforlittleones #learningthroughplay

♬ original sound – Hannah Sylcox

“I will never be as relaxed as I was when my nurse wrapped [me] in warm blankets to calm me after surgery,” someone else wrote, while another user joked, “Well I’m gonna have to start with my husband because he’s the one who gets them all hyper before bed and then leaves to watch a [movie].”

@sensoryplay.allday

???? DIY Nightmare Spray ???? My poor sweet girl has been having nightmares about monsters lately, so I came up with this “Keep Monsters Away Spray” that we spray in her room before she goes to sleep. Her imagination is booming right now, so she really believes this stuff works! And honestly, it kinda does. The lavender essential oil helps to relax the mind and promote a good night’s sleep. Some other things that have worked for us: ???? We pray with her before bed each night and ask for comfort and peace to be given to her while she sleeps ???? We give her extra snuggles and cuddles during the hard times, and always let her know she can come get us any time during the night ???? I line all her favorite stuffed animals up along her bed for “protection” for her. When I was little I remember this really helped me ???? If all else fails, we do give her Genexa Kid’s Sleepology, but this is not every night or often I hope this helps another parent out! It’s been a game changer for us! #kidsdream #kidsbaddreams #kidsdreaming #sleepytimespray #keepmonstersaway #childnightmares

♬ original sound – Hannah Sylcox

One user said their household started to ‘accept the crazy’ and now they have ‘family late night dance parties’ for a half-hour before bed – adding that her ‘little lady clocks out’ afterward. Another user, who revealed she has insomnia, said she’s going to try the parenting hacks on herself before going to bed.

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Of course, a lot of the comments were warning parents that not every child will respond positively to the parenting hacks described above. Since all children are unique, it’ll often take unique measures to keep them calm and relaxed at night. For those that are just getting started, the tips above are a good place to start.

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