Our Nighttime Parenting Ritual
I need the end of the day to be very peaceful. My 1st grader is what Kurcinka calls spirited: a high energy, super sensitive, intense, persistent sweet little girl. The old "die" prayer I grew up with would be the last thing I need to get her to settle down!
So what does an atheist family do? Well, our ritual is pretty mellow. After stories, I turn out the light. I ask if there was anything that bothered her that day (and it is amazing the things she comes up with), so she can put that to rest.* Then I ask about her favorite part of the day, to get her smiling again. I then tell her how special she is to me, and how much I love her.
Usually one of us will do "see you later alligator / in a while crocodile". If she lies quietly with her eyes closed and head on the pillow, I'll sit with her for about ten minutes, stroking her hair, or if she is lucky, rubbing her back or giving her a hand massage.
That's all, a ritual stripped to the essentials of caring, belonging, tenderness and love. It works for us.
Anyone have other bedtime rituals? I'd love to hear about them.
*Recently, I try to start this at dinnertime if I know she's got a lot on her mind.