Routine versus Ritual.
As parents, we worry a lot about routines. And rightly so, they are important in young children’s lives. Knowing in the morning, they will be fed breakfast and cared for by an adult they have an attachment to. Knowing they put their shoes on to go outside, knowing that they brush their teeth before settling down for the night. These are important and valuable aspects of everyday life. As humans, we feel secure through consistency and predictability, young children especially. Consistent behaviour is one of the cornerstones for forming attachments.
Routines add value to our lives, but we should ask ourselves, what extra value could we offer our little ones by infusing a sense of purpose, intention and celebration into these everyday activities?
Rituals are intentional ways of approaching every day activities, in a way that encourages us to be mindful and present. Often we run on auto-pilot through our routines, our daily tasks that we run through, with our hearts and souls closed, focusing on simply completing the task. Rather than living waiting for the next moment, can we challenge ourselves to focus on the journey of the task?
Washing hands is a good example, a way that I can be mindful and present with my children in a basic situation. Such a mundane and sometimes tedious task for me, but water is such a magical material for children, they really love it. They love to feel the cold water spluttering on their fingers, or to hear the dribble of the tap. They undertake the simple routine of washing their hands with such diligence. Rubbing the soap into their hands, pumping the dispenser several times to get just the right amount. Watching my children so engrossed in such a simple activity, showed me that I could really spark joy and delight in so many basic, everyday grind activities.
And so we started. We have picnics for morning tea. We set out tea trays, filling water jugs, chopping fruit together and creating our own little rituals. Some days we sit together in the garden, other days we sit inside on a blanket. The meal itself isn't important, it's the ritual behind it. It's the sense of pride I see my children have, when they clink their cups together, feeling proud and grown up that they have been given real tea cups. It’s the eating together quietly, in each others company, a refill before continuing on our day. It’s the presence that I give them in that moment, forcing myself to leave the piles of washing, leave the unloaded dishwasher, the unpacked bags.
As we finish the tea party, I know these chores still await me, but I feel like I have breathed. I feel like I’ve been intentional and present. I feel like I have laughed at my four year olds fart jokes, and wiped sticky jam sandwich out of my little ones hair. I’ve been asked if cars have mummies, and had my lap used as a chair. I feel like I’ve been present in my life, and in the life of my children, and as they get older I hope they'll remember to throw their own little tea parties. Maybe they’ll invite me too x