A routine is something you HAVE to do. It does not have any thought, or love, and you end up on auto-pilot just doing something because you have to.
A ritual is something more meaningful, beautiful, well thought out, delivered with care, kindness, and something that children enjoy and want to be actively involved in.
If you think back to your own childhood, it is the rituals that are imprinted into your memory because it was something you looked forward to and enjoyed. It was special and meaningful.
Do you often smell a particular smell, or hear a particular song and it instantly takes you back to a joyful time? What was it that made it special? Think about when you have a bath. Do you just jump in, with the lights on? Or do you add in bubble bath, light candles, a face mask, and sink in to soak with a good book? How does this make you feel?
A ritual is something that happens regularly and is what you look forward to. This is the same for children in our care. Children don’t choose to be in care, and even though they are having a great time, it is up to us to take the boring every day and inject a little bit of sparkle and magic. After all, children deserve the best.
As educators, teachers, parents, and caregivers, we need to ensure every day is special and that children have something special to look forward to.
“It is not enough to say we love the child, they must feel the results of the care”
What does a ritual look like?
Rituals require a little bit of thoughtful planning and time, but they are easy and fun to introduce.
Meal times are one of the easiest ways to inject a bit of magic into the mundane. Imagine sitting down to lunch with just your lunch box on the table. BORING! How about taking the extra few minutes to be prepared and lay out a table cloth, some warm lavender infused flannels for washing the face, a beautiful centre-piece, some calm lighting, some herbal tea, and real crockery (yes glass).
Involve the children in this process also and let them help set the table. This allows children to contribute to their environment and gives them a sense a belonging within the group. You’ll be amazed at how the authentic conversations and sense of calm will follow!
One-on-one rituals such as a nappy change or sleep time, can also be transformed from something clinical, to a time that a child looks forward to. Try singing the same special song, setting a relaxing environment, allowing the child to be involved, drawing the curtains, a special foot massage before bed, having a child’s special cuddly ready, essential oils in a diffuser or calming relaxing music. In the words of Kimberley Crisp… “It is about being prepared in head, heart, and hands”.