As a child I went to sleep every night “saying my prayers”. The repetition of familiar words every evening was a calming ritual for me; helping me settle into the business of sleeping.
Now, as a (non-religious) adult, I no longer say these prayers at night, though I recognize the benefit of having a routine in the evenings. Sometimes I miss having a “prayer” of sorts to say at night, but somehow, “Now I lay me down to sleep… if I should die before I wake…” doesn’t seem quite appropriate anymore (actually, wondering if the mention of death before sleep was ever really an appropriate prayer for a child), so I resort to tea and television or books or the internet as my sleep aid.
I’ve come to recognize, over my years as a parent, the need for routine for children at bedtime. Adam or I still lie down with our kids each night, oftimes we talk about our favorite & least favorite parts of the day. Sometimes we say what we’re thankful for. Occasionally we’ll sing a song, tell a story, or math quizzes (all at our children’s request - they naturally love math, thank you Maria Montessori!). And while the spontaneity of our before-sleep ministrations has a certain appeal, I also sometimes wish we had a more regular routine. I’m not saying that we need a prayer before bed; yet, I think repetition can be a calming lead-in to relaxation and sleep. And, as my children get older, a prayer of sorts could be a comforting reminder of home, and of childhood.
So to that end, I went out into the vastness of the internet (even calling on my Twitter friends for help), and located a few non-denominational poems/songs/prayers that could fit the bill for a calming night time routine. Here are a few of my favorites…(I've adapted/edited a bit; sources are below each)
The earth is big and fat and round.
I love the sky, the sea, and the ground.
I love the birds and dogs and sheep,
and all the animals that fall asleep.
I love the flowers and rocks and trees.
I love the earth, and it loves me.
We Love the Earth
For the golden corn and the apple on the tree,
For the golden butter and the honey from the bees,
For the fruits and nuts and berries we gather on our way,
We love the earth and thank it everyday.
(Source: http://www.beliefnet.com/Prayers/New-Age/Meals/In-Gratitude-To-Mother-Earth.aspx + a special thank you to @resident_hippie for pointing me in the right direction for this one*)
Count Your Joys
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Love your neighbor as much as yourself.
The Earth Mother
We are thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us
all that we need for life.
She supports our feet as we walk about upon her.
It gives us joy that she continues to care for us
as she has from the beginning of time.
To our Mother Earth, we send greetings and thanks.
*A thank you to @DianaIBCLC & @BeingMama for their fabulous before-bed ideas too
So what does your bedtime routine look like? Do you have a specific prayer or poem or song you recite every night; or is each bedtime different?