Every one of us have rituals that we perform on a daily, weekly, or regular basis. Things as simple as always folding your laundry a certain way, or completing a task in a specific or repeated manner. These little rituals make us unique in our own way.
Rituals provide personal comfort. I know it sounds a bit odd, but these routines form the basis of our lives and make us feel safe…
Sometimes as a barrier to the chaos that is often happening around us in the broader world, or even close by and more personal to us.
During Zach and Sam’s adolescent years I focused on consistency which gave them comfort from a predictability point of view, which as you can imagine coming from a split household and single parent was important.
Even when we took trips together, our routines helped us adjust and enjoy the experience together. Sam was always the lead on finding great places to eat. As a foodie, this was her place of comfort, especially in a foreign country. She would canvas Zach and I then, research before booking.
We never had a bad meal!
Zach was equally keen on finding our way, so he would navigate the cities that we travelled to, find our accommodations and when out exploring keep us on the right path.
Another of my rituals that I employed during our travels was for each of them to organize the itinerary for a day. They could choose whatever they wanted to do, and the other two had to go along without question.
They essentially became the tour guide, having to research and plan out the day including get to and from the activities, meals etc…
Surf lessons in Maui (Sam), Muir Woods in San Francisco (Zach), USS Midway tour in San Diego (Zach), Inside the Glacier hike in Iceland (Sam), Blue Lagoon in Iceland (Zach), Ring of Kerry drive in Ireland (Sam)… well you get the picture.
Well, you get the picture. We had so many great experiences together over the years, and more we did the more in control and confident they became.
These little rituals enabled them take control even just a little while, which I believe is so important in building confidence in adolescents.
As they got older, and in particular the last few years before they went to University I could pretty much let them handle the trip once we flew out to our destination.
I was the bank only at that point… Lol!
The benefit for them now is that they are unfazed with travelling to a foreign country, even where language or culture may be a barrier.
Passing on the gift of my travel routine has been and will continue to be an enduring legacy for them and possibly beyond as they may share this approach with their kids in the future.
Another of my rituals with Zach and Sam were father-son or father-daughter weekends away.
I’d take each of them away for an extended weekend at least once per year. It was just the two of us!
They got to choose the city – it could be anywhere in the world that we could get to in less than 10 hours. We’d leave on Thursday night and return Monday afternoon.
My involvement was to agree on the city, book our tickets and hotel and the rest was up to them.
Over the years we had some really memorable trips together.
Often Sam chose New York as it’s her favourite city in the world. A staple of any trip to New York together always included an afternoon Broadway matinee, followed by dinner at Tribeca Grill which is owned by Robert De Niro.
No matter when we went it was always packed with the movers and shakers of New York society, including a lot of movie stars. She would always get dressed up and enjoy the attention from the wait staff.
Zach was more cerebral in that he would often choose a city that had a lot of history so he could immerse himself in it. We’ve had memorable weekends away in Boston (so much history), and Washington DC (free access museums).
I’m sure you’re wondering what the difference is between a habit and a ritual… cos, to the untrained eye aren’t they the same thing?
In my mind the difference between a habit and a ritual is that a habit centers around unconsciously doing the same activity again and again without having to think too much, versus a ritual where there is forethought and consistency required.
Take it for what it is, but rituals really helped me deepen my relationships with my kids and at the same time enabled me to transfer some great skills and competencies that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
As you can imagine, I’m a big fan of setting up family rituals as they can bring great comfort to everyone involved.
Until next week!