The importance of everyday rituals

heart in the sandI think we often find ourselves getting so caught up in life’s ‘big things’ that we forget the importance of honouring the everyday. The rituals that shape the ebb and flow of life are generally not the big ones, even though we put enormous effort into planning for graduations, birthdays, weddings, baby showers, Easter, Christmas… how much thought do we give to the little rituals we carry out each and every day?

Starting the day with breakfast.

Making the bed.

Sitting down to an evening meal.

Commuting to work.

Taking a shower.

Slowing down on weekends.

Folding the clothes.

Gathering for a snack each afternoon.

These are the rituals that form the cornerstones of our days. The things we repeat endlessly and rarely give much thought to.  We make our morning tea or coffee just the way we like it, probably the exact same way every single day. There is a comfort in this familiar task and instant reward when it is completed. Yet how mindful are we of the process we have chosen to mark this daily ritual? How many little joys have we woven into its rhythm?

A luxurious blend of beans or leaves we’ve treated ourselves to.

A special cup kept only for this brew, rounded and perfectly balanced in the hands.

A savoured moment of daydreaming as the kettle boils and the steam rises along with our dreams.

A freshly pressed cloth on the kitchen table and ten minutes of joyful chatter as we plan our day; or blissful silence as we savour our reward.
Daily life, lived mindfullyheart in the sand-2Daily life, lived mindfully. Creating moments throughout our day and lives to pause and to reflect. Ensuring that our tasks and routines offer us as much enjoyment as possible. That all of those moments bond together to form a good day, a great day. Quite frankly, sometimes these little rituals can be the difference between enjoying our day and merely surviving.

Looking back on our own childhood, it is often the regularity of small things that we remember most. Rituals make moments into lasting memories. Pancakes every Sunday morning or a roast for Sunday lunch. A treat of fish and chips for dinner on Friday nights. Family roller skating on Saturdays or a trip to the beach on the first day of every Summer.

Rituals build connections and help create a way of living that is all our own. The way we do things at home will be unique and special and provide our children with the warm comfort of the familiar and the satisfaction of routine. Things are the way they are and all is right with the world.

All the more reason to make the everyday special. To notice the rhythm of our daily life; to listen to it, to add to it, to play a sense of delight in each note as much as we possibly can. Creating a life that is memorable and wonderful, in the midst of the chaos and often unbearable.

What are your family’s important everyday rituals?

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh Bron you have totally hit the nail on the head with this post! I totally agree that’s it’s the little things that are important. It’s the little routines that make life special (and the things that we remember!).

    • Maxabella says

      I haven’t quite managed to turn the bed making into my morning’s meditation, but I’m working on it… x

  2. says

    I’ve never thought of it as a rhythm but you’re so right. I’m so busy comparing those little rituals to groundhog day that I end up starting on a negative. Great food for thought, thanks Bron x

    • Maxabella says

      Good ol’ groundhog day is our bass beat, Robyna. We can add any melody we like over the top of that. x

  3. says

    I love this. Probably my favourite everyday ritual is tucking the kids into bed at night. I spend 10 mins with each of them before they shut their eyes and it is the most lovely part of my day. Often, my body just wants to “rush” this process and get them off to bed so I can get in front of Masterchef with my red wine, but mostly I savour these exchanges. The girls really open up to me during this seemingly inconsequential ritual. We learn a little more about each other and in these moments I am delightfully happy and attentive. And then…it’s straight up to Masterchef! :-)

    • Maxabella says

      The bedtime chat is something I’ve had to give up in order to finish work before midnight most nights. I did miss it, but I’ve made sure I find that time at other times in the morning or afternoons and definitely on weekends. x

  4. says

    I agree Bron, noticing and enjoying these seemingly small moments, really being present for them, is the cornerstone of mindfulness. For myself, I’ve found it’s helped me to feel more grateful, and less stressed.
    I have a few daily rituals that I enjoy. I always sit down to enjoy my breakfast, and that’s when I’ll read or catch up on the news over my coffee. We always read stories with our two kids together every night before bed. And my new one to help me sleep more deeply (it’s working so far!) is to make a pot of special calming tea before my own bedtime.

    • Maxabella says

      I think I need your new night-time tea routine, Mrs W. At least, I need a fullstop at the end of the day to remind me to go to bed! Getting later and later… x

  5. says

    Yup. I need to get me some more rituals. We sold our house last year and are renting while we look for our next home. I feel like I’m treading water a bit. Maybe rituals would help…

    • Maxabella says

      I think a few little routines built into any day will make anywhere feel like home, Cat. Bit exciting for you guys, though!! x

  6. says

    Every day my mister kisses me goodby and hello, we say ‘I love you and the kids make me cups of tea. We walk the dog together, and my husband still reads to one of our sons…he’s 17 but it’s their ‘thing’.

    • Maxabella says

      DEFINITELY with a newborn, Erika! Flexibility is pretty much your weapon against self destruction when you’ve got a newborn in da house. x

  7. says

    Our kids are really big on what I call ‘traditions’, I only need to do it once and they adopt it as ‘we always do that’ so I have to be careful;) Some traditions are entwined more for the yearly events. It was our son’s 20th last week and I had to smile, since the children were small they’ve always liked to have a special cereal (nutri grain) for birthday breakfast, something special for lunch and a birthday tea. So I rang him on his birthday and he and his brother (18) living together had had nutri grain for breakfast and little bro had baked him lasagna for tea. Really hit me about how they were taking these rituals into their adult life.

    Okay to your Everyday question, well we do all the usual as you’ve shared; meals together, household chores together, on a good day we manage prayers together. On a weekly ritual we always have a Hungry Jacks ice-cream on the way home from Sunday morning Mass (ice-cream at 9am is not for the faint hearted), well weekly Mass is another ritual too I realise.

    Gee there’s alot when I think about it.

    • Maxabella says

      Your boys are truly special, E. I imagine that in a household as bustling as yours, everyday rituals would form the cornerstones to keep the chaos at bay. They centre us, I think. Much like your prayers and attendance at mass – bringing you back to a place of simplicity. x

  8. says

    I find I pay most attention at the beginning and at the end of the day…the waking up, breakfast, school drop off rituals and then the dinner, bath, and bed routine.
    The rest unfortunately kind of is a haze.

    • Maxabella says

      You’re definitely still in the ‘haze’ stage, Caitlin! The haze is kind of a ritual of its own… x

  9. says

    I have never stopped to think if we have any set rituals in our home but now that you bring it up, we do and I never thought of how special they are. I’ll definitely be making more of an effort to solidify these in my childrens memories.

    • Maxabella says

      Making the routines mindful means we make them as good as they can be. It helps the day feel more special, I think. x

  10. says

    I love this post, Bron. It reminds us that the everyday things that at the time may feel mundane, are the very things that carry us through the day, that ebb and flow like the tide and provide a cloak of security and warmth for our children. These daily routines and rhythms are also the little things that we’ll miss as our kids grow and fly the nest. The day will no doubt come that we’ll miss and crave the return of those days!

    • Maxabella says

      We absolutely will! And in the meantime, if we wish away all the ‘boring’ everyday things, we are wishing away a very big chunk of our life. x

  11. says

    I’m a big believer in the little things. You don’t realise how important they are. Every arvo when my partner and I get home from work (if I’m not on a late shift) we sit down on the couch and debrief our day. Then we have a bit of personal chill time to let go of the work feeling and wind down. It’s perfect.

    • Maxabella says

      It really is perfect, Em. Taking that time out together each day just sets the day into such balance. x

  12. says

    I worry I don’t have enough rituals with my kids and that often we just fly by the seat of our pants constantly. But I don have special time with my eldest once the other three are in bed and I also sing the same lullabies to my babies every night, which I just love and wish could go on for ever when they start nuzzling into my neck. The one who misses out is my beautiful 3 year old. I’m fixing this tomorrow. Thanks for this post.

    • Maxabella says

      I bet you have more rituals than you think, K. They are there, hidden in the seat-of-our-pants chaos, I can assure you. The trick is to notice them. x

  13. says

    This week I’ve been noticing our everyday moments and enjoying them. My favourite ritual would be at night when I sing to Esther before she goes to sleep. She asks me every night to do it. I softly tickle her arm which helps her to relax I think. I used to love my Grandma doing the same to me when I was little.

    • Maxabella says

      That’s beautiful, Bec. Esther is a lucky little girl. I love singing to my kids too and for the past couple of years they have been the ones to sing the lullaby on weekends and my heart just melts. Sometimes I think our kids only grow up if we let them. x

  14. says

    Ah, the finding of moments. Throughout the day and noticing them IS mindfulness itself. Wonderful post Bron! Each families’ rituals (as simple as you wrote) carry that generations messages to the next. I’ve seen it from our kids as they’ve passed them to their kids with modifications. Special times before bed, afternoon tea straight after school and so on. Love this! Denyse x PS you’re baaaaack!

    • Maxabella says

      You are so right bout the generational messages. When we were kids, my mum went to visit family in QLD for a week and my dad was in charge. This was a very big deal as mum was always home and dad rarely (worked very regularly all week in Sydney, we lived down the coast). Dad made us the most amazing afternoon tea every single day (in a way that mum ironically did not have time for!!). The table was set with a cloth. There was a small treat and a fruit salad and a jam sandwich with the crusts cut off. It was something that stayed with me. I now make sure that afternoon tea is a special time for my kids each and every day. x

  15. says

    This is beautiful Bron. I agree wholeheartedly and it is something I try to remember but sometimes need a reminder! Two of my favourite morning rituals are the pile of books my toddler and I read over breakfast, and doing my 6 year old’s very long hair… I’ll be sad when she wants to do it herself I think!

    • Maxabella says

      I will not be sad at all when my two very long haired, very messy girls can do their own hair. Your daughter is lucky that this is one of the rituals you have made special, Lisa! x

  16. says

    I really, really love this post. There is so much talk of mindfulness, of living in the present etc…but the reality of enjoyng every single part of your day is such a mind blowing concept. Making the bed, moving through daily activities. It’s just so important to feel connected to all of these things in a conscious and wonderous way, not just go through the motions. They make up the bulk of our lives, and we need to really LIVE them.

  17. says

    Love, love, love this. I was just listening to Joseph Campbell’s audiobook and he talks about how we have lost our rituals and rituals are an important part of the story of our lives. I’ve been trying to get better about the ritual of cleaning, because it’s not really my kind of activity, but I’ve noticed by trying to see it as a ritual helps me be less annoyed by it… most of the time x

  18. says

    So many rituals here. I’m a big one for routines at home and rituals make up a lot of these. You’ve reminded me to be more mindful of them though. Thank you. Probably my favourite ritual at the moment is going out to let my chooks out and having a little chat to them first thing in the morning. x

    • Maxabella says

      I miss the chooks. I used to love my little visits too. Getting the eggs in was a favourite ritual for the kids too. Must get more chickens!! x

  19. says

    I am very much about rituals at home. I grew up in this way and find it very comforting to feel like inside our four walls we live in our own secret world if you like.

  20. says

    You’re right. These everyday rituals are the things we remember from our childhood. I am a big fan of looking for beauty in the everyday and enjoying the simple things. Bath time is a special time in our house, as is story time before bed. I often wonder what memories from these years the girls will hold close to their hearts and tell their children about.

  21. says

    A lovely reminder Bron.
    I have just started a new job. It is crazy and perhaps not the right kind of job for a natural workaholic. But it is what is is for now. All my rituals have fallen by the wayside and I miss them. I need to find a way of working them back into my day.

    • Maxabella says

      You can definitely work some rituals into work. When I was a corporate gal, I used to have two very important everyday rituals: a mid-morning wander with a mate to stock him up on coffee and a mid-afternoon 15 minute lie-down in an empty meeting room (what? I was a mum of three averaging about 36 seconds of sleep each night…). x

  22. says

    Soooo timely! I just got back from a massive drive south (my dad is a lil unwell at the mo) and for the last three days I’ve been missing my beautiful family and our rituals back at home…. I’m now home and I was so quick to fall back into the nagging mummy routine instead of enjoying what I’ve so very much missed. Beautiful reminder – a good nights sleep will help too :)

  23. says

    Love this. Absolutely love it. Folding the washing. I actually don’t mind washing-related tasks. Folding the sheets is a special one because the kids run through the folds as I shake them. Always makes us all laugh (unless they have sticky jammy fingers and I have to wash them all again). Sitting down with the kids when they have a cup of milk in the morning. Having making the bed races. Bedtime stories. That first moment of sitting down – whether on the couch, at the computer or at the piano – after the kids are in bed. Hey, even the daily #everydaystyle photo session is a funny little ritual now. My daughter loves to take it, and reminds me if I forget, and my boy loves to stand beside me and grin at the phone.
    Looking back to my own childhood, it’s Friday night fish and chip night, dad kissing me on the forehead before bed, mum cheering louder than everyone else at every single one of my netball games, piano lessons and practice, baking (especially afghans, YUM)… stopping now. Could go on forever. Already have. Love this post. x

  24. says

    I am a creature of habit who loves rituals. My kids are a little bit the same. There is something so wonderful about predictability; and then breaking it because you can :)

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