One of the few certainties in life is the uncertainty of life itself. We may begin each morning the same way, implementing our routines day after day – attending to bleary-eyed children staggering from their room, or are yours the opposite, ready for the running of the bulls before their shining eyes have fully opened? More breakfast hopefully managed to reach their stomachs than their clothes – or floor – and the rest of the day’s duties unfold. The day for mothers may appear repetitive - occasionally so repetitive it could be done in your sleep … and I’m sure you could attest it has!
There's a strong case for adding variety to your days however, and it can be easier than you think. Changing routines slightly, or making small shifts in daily rituals, can prevent monotony, boredom, frustration, anxiety and negative associations, that is, feeling a certain way (cranky, depressed, agitated), without any reason to. If a certain part of your routine has allowed unresourceful emotions to become frequent, these feelings can become automatic responses, being triggered by the mere mention of the routine or the timing of the day. Changing routines, such as playing music, or lighting the house differently, can assist to break these undesirable patterns. For example, have you ever tried lighting candles, playing music and whispering through bath time or eating dinner on the veranda or with the 'good plates'?
Variety can be observed in small shifts in behaviours, growth in awareness, joys in wonder – for both you and your child. There are also sure to be experiences you don’t plan yet appear in your day as a challenge or surprise. Do the recent fires, floods or corona virus sound familiar? These are clear examples of the uncertainty of our lives. When laying our heads down of an evening, we often can’t predict what we’ll wake to. For some it’s complete shock, to many it’s fear but for all, they’re tests that prompt courage and resilience.
When I reflect on this period of time, it reminds me of the benefit in letting go. Letting go of how things are supposed to be. Letting go of the attachment to objects, routines and perceived stability. Not enough that chaos reigns, but enough that we as adults live each day to the fullest, grateful for our families, our modern-day luxuries, a roof over our head, our breath. Enough that we are aware of the moment we are in, understanding and appreciating its fragility through gentle appreciation.
Take a close look at your days, your expectations and routines. If you would describe yourself as a dependable, predictable and trusted mother who thrives on structure – wonderful qualities to possess, don’t get me wrong – it may be of benefit to add a few spontaneous moments throughout your child’s day. This can allow both your children and yourself opportunities to experience and adapt to change, while strengthening skills of flexibility. I'm certain you want what's best for your child, right? This includes offering them the opportunity to experience disappointment, change and uncertainty in a safe way, for the purpose of promoting the necessary skills to manage these same feelings as teens or adults.
If we’ve decided life is unpredictable and our children benefit from variety, how are we supposed to manage our days without order you may query? Try these suggestions if you are feeling a little anxious – and even when you’re not.
To incorporate these strategies into your life, you will be living as authentically and purposefully as you can while providing your child the connection and safety they desire. Not to mention modelling beneficial strategies they can learn to do themselves. Regardless of what challenges your day may bring, by embedding these four behaviours into your days you will be able to rest your head calmly and at peace with your actions, should the time come that life feels out of your control.
Breathe deeply, let go and enjoy.