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THE IP INTERVIEW – Why the Last 20 Minutes of the Day Matter with Andrew Newman

Judy Julin meets Andrew Newman, author, lecturer, and founder of the Conscious Bedtime Story Club to talk about why the last 20 minutes of your child’s day matters.

Judy Julin: How did travelling the country begin with becoming a children’s book author?

Andrew Newman: I could say I fell into it as almost an accident but I think there was a bit of divine providence in the accident. It started with a love of poetry and journaling. One day while sitting down, I wrote a poem and felt it needed some pictures.  I thought, “hey, my friend Rosie is great at drawing, maybe she can help me.” Thus began my first book. It was a very sweet, very innocent little book about the journey of healing, how we lose our life and then need to rediscover it.

JJ: It’s interesting that your authorship started with journaling and poetry from a male perspective. It sounds as though you are traversing fertile ground, with a male perspective on children’s bedtime stories.

AN: I had the good fortune at the time of living in Scotland where the celebrated poet and lyricist, Rabbie Burns, was once the national Bard of Ayrshire. There’s a very strong poetic culture in that part of the world that isn’t genderized.  I was the sensitive male kid growing up in apartheid South Africa where everybody else played rugby and did rugged, masculine things.  That wasn’t me, so I had to find my own way to who I was. I grew to appreciate that I am sensitive, intuitive, and creative. And why not? Men, women, boys, girls¾all of us really¾should be allowed to express our creativity as individuals.

JJ: How did all of this eventually intertwine with the conscious parenting movement?

AN: I didn’t necessarily know that it was going to intertwine. All I knew was that I had spent a lot of time  in my 30’s deeply immersed in working out how I was going to be in the world. My path had taken me through healing schools and professional training programs, and through that my creativity had been nurtured.  At a certain point, I had four little stories that had started out very innocently. It was something I really enjoyed. The next thing I knew, Dr. Shefali Tsabary blew up on Oprah heralding in the conscious parenting movement via television. I realized something different was happening in the USA that wasn’t yet happening in South Africa. This was the emergence of the conscious parenting attitude or atmosphere with a language set around it.

What I understand it to be now is an attitude or atmosphere that allows us to view our little ones as a holy mirror for us, to help us on our path to personal development.

There is a little one in front of us that is just being themselves and it absolutely driving the parents nuts; that’s the moment to say, “aha!” There’s something going on here and it’s about me and really not about them.  If I can take that attitude as an adult then I can see that my child, the children around me or the kids in the school, are here to help me return to my center.  Time and again.

JJ: You are singing the same song as many parents of today. Those that are on a path of personal development realize that the children in our midst are far more than young minds, young hearts, and young souls.  They are in fact a mirror of their surroundings, including their parents and caregivers. They have a lot of wisdom to bestow. I am imagining that this perspective is also reflected in your public speaking. I understand you did a TED talk about this.

AN: I got quite fascinated by the last 20 minutes of the day and my fascination came from my own personal wrestling with it. When I was five years old and became really scared by death, the last 20 minutes of my day were the most terrifying. After my parents tucked me in, I‘d lie in bed scared. As an adult, I realized that I was still scared to go to sleep, so I started to unpack why. It took many years of personal work to track the psychological history and begin to understand how to heal the trauma response that was activated in my body-mind every night before bed. In my TED talk, I mention the ‘Little Brain People.’ This is my metaphor for the activity in our neural pathways. The little brain people are pre-disposed to run up and down the same tunnels in our brain, repeating patterns of negative beliefs, fears, and trauma. Luckily, neuroplasticity has shown that we can change the patterns and encourage the little brain people to create a calm environment in our inner atmosphere.

On a normal day, kids face moments that challenge their belief that they can be truly themselves and that they belong. These moments are always flavored with feelings of separation and disconnection. The remedy for this is love and connection.

On a normal day, kids face moments that challenge their belief that they can be truly themselves and that they belong. These moments are always flavored with feelings of separation and disconnection. The remedy for this is, therefore, love and connection.  Love and connection can cultivate feelings of safety and belonging.  The last 20 minutes of the day offer an opportunity to help children integrate their day. In particular to address any painful moments when they felt unsafe to be themselves or experienced a feeling of not belonging. During sleep, our brain stabilizes and enhances the memories of the day. Unresolved painful experiences are destined to evolve into negative adaptive behaviors if they are not acknowledged and lovingly repaired through a healthy connection.  The last 20 minutes of the day set up our brain for what it will focus on while we sleep. If we go to bed on an argument, we wake up still in that state. If we cultivate gratitude, kindness, love, and connection, then we wake up with self-esteem, confidence and natural ease.

Story-time is a great moment for parents to cultivate this connection and love. Paired breathing exercises like the snuggle breathing meditation at the start of my books help parents get present. It is this presence and attention that heals past upset and opens the space for kids to share what is going on for them. I encourage parents to expect a surprise at bedtime. Kids open up and share far more when we snuggle next to them than when we ask directly, ‘how was your day?’

JJ: What can parents do if they are out for the evening and it’s someone else who spends time with their child?

AN: Children grow through different styles of adult engagement. Things don’t always need to be the same, and yet consistency will really support some kids. You know if this is true for your child. Most times parents will have chosen to leave the kids with someone with similar values, but even in the same family, this can’t always be managed. Often the grand-parenting style is different from the parenting style. Again, I think that’s a good thing. It opens all sorts of connection points the next time the parent connects to ask: “Did you invite Grandma to do the snuggle breathing?” “What story did the au pair read?” It’s often very clear if the little ones enjoyed the experience, or not. Trust that, and work to create relationships with the best-suited sitter for your kid’s growth. My parents missed the fearful experience I went through when I was so young. I wouldn’t have been able to hide it if they had asked, but they didn’t. So, my suggestion is lean in. Be close. Create moments designed for natural connection to happen, and trust yourself. You are doing a great job!

JJ:  I understand you have won some awards.  Tell us about them.

AN: One that recently came in for me was very exciting. It involves the Elephant That Tried to Tiptoe. She’s not being herself and when she compares herself to all the other animals, she realizes, “I have some special features of my very own, I was born an elephant, I wander and I roam”.  She recognizes, “My body is my body it is my own to rule, it has some kinks and wobbles and I think its super cool”.  The book was picked up by Creative Child Magazine and it has been awarded the 2018 book of year award.

JJ: if you were able to leave our readers with one last thought, what would it be?

AN: I would leave them with the reminder that if your heart is open and you always return to connection, even if you are a little bit caught in a web of sticky thoughts and negative self beliefs, things will feel brighter for you. Don’t pay too much attention to the web of sticky thoughts.

JJ: I love the notion of sticky thoughts. Your books are not only beautiful to look at, listen to, and read; they are also interactive. Thank you so much.

ANDREW NEWMAN is the award-winning author and founder of Conscious Stories, LLC, a growing series of 12 bedtime stories purpose-built to support conscious parenting and parent-child bonding. His professional background includes deep training in therapeutic healing work and mindfulness.

He has been an opening speaker for Deepak Chopra, a Tedx presenter in Findhorn, Scotland, and author-in-residence at the Bixby School in Boulder, Colorado. Andrew is a graduate of the Barbara Brennan School of Healing and counsels parents to find their center so they can be more deeply present to their kids. Visit for more information.

JUDY JULIN is the publisher of IP magazine, a gifted entrepreneur, creative thinker and marketing dynamo who’s been active in child enrichment, educational innovations and children’s wellness programming since 1982.

A pioneer in developing schools, community learning centers and programs that cultivate the connection between intellectual development, social and emotional growth, physical health, and spiritual awareness, she founded the child edu-tainment center CosmiKids in 2003, and was featured alongside Olivia Newton-John in Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success DVD.

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