From mindfulness to bubble baths, Christmas to birthdays, bedtime to bathtime, many of us use rituals in our lives. Even as adults, we’re often using rituals without even realising. Rituals create special moments and lasting memories, and are a wonderful way to really tune in and connect with your child.
Rituals - food for the soul and spirit
Most of us are familiar with the importance and benefits of routine in ours and our children's lives. Routines bring predictability, comfort, and security. Getting up and making a coffee before the breakfast rush is a routine; putting your favourite podcast on for the drive to work is a routine. It’s comfort and familiarity.
Rituals, on the other hand, are a little different. Rituals make ordinary moments extraordinary.
You may have fond memories from your childhood of a parent massaging your back before bed. Your heart may feel full as you think back to those special things your whānau did for you on your birthday - breakfast in bed, or a lounge full of balloons.
How incredibly lucky we are now to be able to draw on those memories and recreate these rituals, or bring new ones into the lives of our own children.
“Rituals make ordinary moments extraordinary.”
The beauty in rituals
A lovingly executed ritual takes a routine, adds a touch of magic, a dash of connection and a whole lot of joy and delight.
When we take time and care to prepare and engage in rituals with our children, we’re showing love in a way that words and plastic gifts cannot.
“Poipoia te kakano
Nurture the seed, and it will blossom.
With rituals, our children feel seen, heard and respected; it gives us the opportunity to really tune in to their needs and be present in the moment.
You can also invite children to participate in the preparation of your own special rituals; it’s an excellent way to nurture your collaborative relationship with them - helping to encourage feelings of importance, inclusion and achievement.
Magical care moments
The opportunities for incorporating rituals and adding a touch of magic are endless. Start by engaging your heart completely in daily care moments (like nappy changes, and breakfast time), then begin thinking of special rituals for birthdays, holidays and celebrations.
Perhaps rituals are already commonplace in your household, and you’re now only just realising how much they mean to everyone involved!
Here are some ideas we love that you might like to try:
- A special recipe or meal that’s prepared only on birthdays
- Before bedtime, use a lavender oil or body butter to massage into your child's chest or back, adding a little lullaby. You could even play a little game where you write a little note with your finger over your child's heart, letting them know it's a special message only for them.
- If your child is feeling sad or anxious, have a go-to ritual that will help them feel at ease. This could be a song, a game, a teddy or even making silly faces in a big mirror.
- Try a Saturday morning yoga session with your tamariki. You can give kid friendly names to basic poses, or try some storybook themed yoga on YouTube, like this one by Cosmic Kids Yoga.
- Older children may enjoy moments of mindfulness and affirmations at the end of a long day; take turns to ask each other about the day and explore the feelings that may arise from this. Taking a few minutes to really listen to your child will increase their sense of self-worth and belonging, and they can drift off to sleep feeling loved and secure.
- Take a look at using a celebration ring for special occasions (it’s like a playdough cake upgrade!).
- A special song that is only sung for the same occasion. Something like "we're all going on a summer holiday" will continue to give you memories long into adulthood.
“Pour love and thoughtfulness into your interactions, and embrace the awe and excitement that evolves around these special times.”
Rituals in Early Childhood Education
The magic of rituals take place regularly in early learning centres such as ours! We value our connections with tamariki, and cherish all of the beautiful care moments we get to see throughout the day. At sleep time, nappy changes, and kai time, we take time to stop. To pause. To listen to what children need. To create a special moment - each and every time. No one is the same in those moments, so their routines and rituals are all unique to them.
Through rituals comes empowerment, belonging, excitement and connection. Participation and collaboration in these moments are an important part of children's learning experiences - enhancing their sense of identity and belonging. Te Whāriki, the national early childhood curriculum of Aotearoa, recognises the importance of these things and guides us in our planning. First, however, the children guide us. As do our parents and families - we often ask “What happens at home? How can we support that here?”.
At Oma Rāpeti, we’re passionate about ‘nourishment of the spirit’; you’ll find tamariki and kaiako working together regularly to prepare centre-wide rituals for celebration, meal times, and for moments of relaxation through yoga, foot spas and massage. We get it, we work in a pretty amazing place. How lucky are we??
Sending your babies off to childcare as you return to work can be daunting, and you will find most centres embrace and encourage your childs home rituals to ensure they feel settled in their new ‘home away from home’ environment.
“Through rituals comes empowerment, belonging, excitement and connection.”
Let’s keep turning moments into magic. Whether they’re small, or big, the meaningful experiences and traditions you create now are filling a lifetime with cherished memories.
Oma Rāpeti is a loving early learning environment with a team that will support your child’s rituals and requests. We involve them as an integral part of the decision making process in the rituals of their learning environment. Check out what we have been up to lately over at our Facebook page.