Perhaps this post is a tad premature – we’re still in the early stages of creating this ritual. But my excitement for how our evenings have shifted is so great, I can hardly contain the words. Also, a strong sense that no one in this world does things exactly as I tell her gives me freedom to offer a jumping off point as opposed to the solution to change your entire life, forevermore. 

The Background

  1. I hate bedtimes. It’s my least favorite part of the day because I have the least amount of patience and they have the most energy to ignore what I say. Long before I read Glennon I referred to bedtime as a lifesize version of whack-a-mole , making the ordeal excruciatingly long. I know this is normal for all small children but it doesn’t decrease my frustration. I’ve added our foot and breath practice after all stories are read, teeth are brushed, potties are visited, blankies are found, drinks are drunk and prayers are prayed. I turn down the lights so afterwards I give a kiss, a hug and walk out the door.
  2. I’ve tried to become a tad better about using my DoTerra oils to enhance our health. This became an easy place to began to integrate oils, specifically OnGuard (feet) and lavender (forehead), in our routine.
  3. I recently shared how a shift in my own sleep has made a world of difference to me personally so I began to examine what would translate well for the children. One of these things is rubbing the head and feet – the body’s positive and negative poles – before bed to help release the day’s work.
  4. I appreciate the sentiment of taking “a few cleansing breaths” yet I’ve always lacked the practice. Because children’s imaginations tend to be stronger than our own, I decided to use the breath practice as an end to our day to help on multiple levels. For me, this becomes a spiritual practice as much as a physical one, a practice anticipate shifting and evolving as they and their understanding of the world and God grows through the years. We still say our prayers so our breaths are an active anticipation of God’s work in our lives.

The Foot Practice 

Most of the time, these are one-on-one moments, but at times of flying solo in the bedtime hour, we do the foot rubbing as a group and the breathing in individual rooms.

First, I lather my hands with a few drops of neutral oil (coconut will work) and just a drop of OnGuard. I rub each foot individually – I pull on their toes gently, rub my thumb on the top of the foot between each of the toes, rub all over the bottom with close attention to have a few long strokes down the inside of the sole, and I use my knuckles to rub from to to heel to give the entire foot stimulation. I end each foot with three light fingertip strokes, toes to heel. This takes only a few minutes, but my kids are very receptive.

Instead of telling you anything about reflexology and the benefits of rubbing your tootsies, I’ll let my brother-in-law Chad explain it. He’s got more education and training. I’m just telling you my kids love it.

I also use a drop of lavender on my thumbs and rub their foreheads, down the sides of their face and under their eyes – all around the sinus cavities. Because we’re all fighting off a massive amount of mucus, they found this very helpful, especially before bed, to help clear their breathing.

The Breath Practice

I chose 3 breaths because I love random rules and the numerology involved with Christian and Jewish prospective favors 3 and 7, but 7 seemed like a lot (for me, I will be doing this x4). So choose your number.

The first breath, I ask the kids to gather in the day. Reach down to the toes, out to the fingertips and up to the head and grab all the pieces of the day. All our words, all our thoughts, all our frustrations and fears. I tell them that as we take a deep breath in, we gather those together to make a ball in our center, and as we breathe out we imagine them leaving us. We envision the day leaving us like smoke coming out ears (H boy loves that imagery). Sometimes I ask if we need to do it again, just in case we missed any spots.

For the second breath, we breathe in God. We replace the day with God’s presence. I tell them that we breathe in God and as we breathe out, imagine God sitting down in our heart, living inside of us.

For the third breath, we breathe in Jesus. I know, a tad redundant theologically, but I wanted 3 and this started on the fly. So we breathe in Jesus and as we exhale we imagine him moving down to our feet, so he is present wherever we go the next day. We imagine him moving into our hands, to be a part of whatever work we do. We have him go up into our heads with our thoughts and what we see, hear and say tomorrow. We’re bringing Jesus into our days by visualizing his presence throughout our being.

One morning, after having added our breaths to bedtime, the beginnings of an argumentative ride to school was in the works. I nipped it by offering to do our breaths, which the children gleefully agreed. On this trip, we did God & Jesus in the same breath and for our third breath we breathed in kindness, asking it to infuse us. Then we talked about how if we’re filled with kindness we would be able to show it to other people. We talked about the ways in which we could be kind to others and I asked them to look for ways that morning to be kind. A really good mom would ask them on the way home how they did, but I have lackluster follow through skills.

I like the idea of expanding the practice to include a quality (in my mind, that would be the fruit of the Spirit) for the kids to look toward. Sometimes broad, sweeping generalities are tough for our little minds to grasp, but smaller chunks of familiar ideas are more digestible. So if you decide upon your own practice, you might use one of these qualities or intentions (as my yogis would say) to include.

My bedtime practices have not completely absolved me of bedtime frustrations. Someone inevitably bounce out of bed to ask something. Yet we all end the day in more peace – including me. They relax, knowing the sun has set on our day. It’s become a punctuation mark to symbolize that this is done and tomorrow we begin anew.

I hope it blesses your family in its own unique way.

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