We would like to welcome guest blogger, Emily Maresca to the Cool Koala blog. As a busy mom of five, Emily shared her experience using Cool Koala with her children on her blog, Momsense, where she hailed Cool Koala as the BEST tool while parenting anxious children!
Bedtime at our house was complete and utter chaos last spring. We have five kids, so anything less than "chaos" isn't really to be expected, but I mean it when I say it was completely out of control.
After dinner, something happens to our children. They want to play. But I don't mean they want to sit quietly and build blocks. I mean they want to do parkour off our furniture. They want to wrestle. They literally start bouncing off the walls.
When it's time to go up to bed, there is a fight. They don't want to go to sleep, they want to beat the next level of The Floor is Lava in the family room.
The mastermind in the parkour course design happens to have had an ulterior motive. Last spring, he did not want to go to bed because he could not sleep. His anxiety had become so bad he couldn't go anywhere in our house alone. Even though he shared a room with his brother, he was terrified to sleep and could not stay asleep when he finally did doze off. That's when I found the most valuable parenting tool I've yet to come across, Cool Koala Bedtime Meditations for Kids.
We had tried other meditations marketed to kids before, just by searching on YouTube. I had my then 6- and 8-year-old listen to them together. I kept thinking if only I could get my anxious one to find his calm he would be able to fall into a deeper sleep.
I was desperate. These two were the hardest to get to sleep out of all of my kids and at their age I expected I would be able to just tuck them in with a story or song, say good night, and take care of my two younger kids who understandably need more attention at bedtime. But that was definitely not the case. Bedtime for these two took over an hour of redirecting, whining, crying, and negotiating.
The first time we tried Cool Koala, the three of us laid in bed together and listened. I watched in amazement while these two children visibly switched gears from wound-up to relaxed. I could see their bodies letting go of the energy they were harboring. Over the course of the following week, we incorporated Cool Koala into our bedtime routine. Things were changing for us already. They stopped fighting me at bedtime and were actually looking forward to it. The negotiations completely stopped. And my little anxious one was learning to put tools his therapist talked about into action. He was actually learning to self-regulate at night before bed while listening to these meditations. Our bedtime routine went from over an hour to roughly 15 minutes!
I began recommending Cool Koala to friends and family and everyone told me the same thing. It is bedtime magic. It's been nearly a year since we started using Cool Koala and I can say with absolute honestly it changed our life. Not only did it make bedtime easier, but my child who was so terrified to be alone has been sleeping in his own room for nearly six months because he now ENJOYS relaxing in his own bed! And he no longer has a hard time sleeping. Sometimes when he is getting worked up due to his anxiety, he will excuse himself to his room and listen to Cool Koala on his own. As always with anxiety, it's a work in progress and a battle he will have to overcome forever, but I feel confident that we are providing him with the tools he needs to manage his big feelings for the rest of his life.
Here is a shortlist of what I love most about Cool Koala:
Yes, the meditations are accessed through a screen, but the overall experience is screen free. The app is only an access point to the meditations, not an interactive experience children will want to play with, causing bedtime to be more of a struggle. If you want a completely screen-free option, Cool Koala is also available as a skill on Amazon Alexa. You can prompt it by saying "Alexa, start Cool Koala."
Unlike other bedtime apps, Cool Koala follows a programming schedule. Rather than giving you a menu of meditations to choose from, you open the app and the scheduled meditation is ready to play. Each night of the week follows a separate theme, creating a well-rounded approach to self-regulation.
Developed and Voiced by a Music Therapist
The voice you hear on the app is Ryan Judd, an award-winning musician and music therapist. You can see him in action on YouTube, where he teaches parents calming techniques to use with their children.
Regulation Techniques are Based on Brain Science
There is so much thought and research put into developing Cool Koala, which is why it is so effective. Every part of each meditation is a research-based approach to calming the body and mind, right down to the beat of the music playing in the background.
Short meditations for short attention spans
These meditations are short and impactful. At first I thought they were too short, at only five minutes of guided meditation. The first week we listened to them I found myself wishing they were a little longer. However, I noticed that by the time the music was playing at the end of the meditation, my kids were calm and ready for sleep. Most nights they are completely asleep before the music is done playing. From start to finish, each meditation played is only ten minutes long, which makes it easy for me to dedicate one-on-one time to each child as I put them to bed.
Emily Maresca is the author of parenting blog, Momsense, where she writes about managing a large household. She and her husband live in New England with their five sons.