We like to ritualise as many things in our daily life as possible. It brings a sense of peace, joy and spirituality within us. Gentle waking up ritual is not only beneficial for children but also for the adults.
We all know how important it is to get a good nights sleep, but we also know the importance of waking up on the right side of bed and how it is crucial to setting the tone for our day. A lot of the times, toddlers wake up earlier than the adults. Toddlers might be jolly but the grown ups feel tired and are very unwelcoming of the joyous spirit the child wakes up with. It is a common and a natural response. But with a morning ritual, you can change your mood around.
If RoRo wakes up grumpy or scared because of a nightmare, this ritual transitions him back to the reality very gently and if RoRo wakes me up without my will, this ritual helps bring positivity within me and also helps me connect with RoRo and sets a nice gentle tone for the morning.
So here is what we do:
1. Morning Verse
I quite often sing a morning verse on repeat. It goes like this
“Good morning dear earth
Good morning dear sun
Good morning dear flowers
and fairies, everyone
Good morning dear beats
and birds in the trees
Good morning to you
Good morning to me”
A song provides a rhythm to a child’s breathing. It helps them to stay calm and transition from one thing to another without any stress. Verses and songs really really work for us in any given situation. We have a song for everything.
While I sing this verse to RoRo, we make a trip to the toilet and we clean our teeth. We come downstairs and open the curtains. We see where the sun is rising from and appreciate the colours of the sky. We point out at the birds and the planes. We also wave at the neighbours off to work.
2. Light a candle and an incense
Next thing we do is we light an incense stick and a candle. Lighting a candle symbolises a beginning of something. We light a candle after dinner which is when we start our night time routine. And without any word, the candle speaks and informs the child that we are about to begin enjoying our morning.
I just love the smell of incense stick, it brings a lot of childhood memories back and it also comforts me and soothes me. I am hoping my children will grow up associating incense with it being a positive and happy, and a cosy feeling.
3. Reading a book
After we light the candle, I make myself a cup of tea and RoRo brings a couple of books to read. He sits on my lap with a fruit or a breakfast snack while I read to him and sip on my tea.
4. Independent Play
After reading, RoRo either carries on looking at his books on his own or brings a couple of toys to play with whilst I wake up Reuben for school and pack his lunch.
After Reuben is all dressed and ready, we sit down to eat our breakfast. Irene sometimes joins us or else we wake her up for breakfast after Reuben leaves for school.
6. Play with Irene
Once, breakfast is taken care of, Irene and RoRo go upstairs into the toy room and spend a good hour or so playing. In that time, I wash up and tidy up. I get some emails taken care of and then I get dressed.
7. Dog walks
The last activity of the morning is usually a dog walk. We go on 2 hour long walks into the woods or the beach everyday. RoRo quite often has a nap on the way back.
8. Special Activity of the day
We also have a weekly rhythm. We have a special activity for each day of the week. For instance, mondays are for baking. So on Mondays, we would bake something before dog walks and savour it after we come back. Cakes and Breads are often still quite warm on our return and make for a perfect pre-lunch or post-lunch snack.
This morning ritual has been the same since RoRo was only a baby. The predictability of how the morning is going to look like makes a toddler feel in control of his environment and he doesn’t depend on an adult for any instructions. So if you find yourself in our household in the morning, you will see our mornings are not very noisy. We don’t have to constantly say what is happening next or shout out instructions. Actions and the slow transitional movements that this morning ritual creates guides RoRo enough to do what is needed at that particular moment. Ofcourse, after the candle is lit, sometimes the routine of things flow differently. RoRo may not want to read or want a snack but simply start playing. If we are running a bit late for school run then the order of things may change but the idea that all of these things will happen is empowering. For RoRo, it really helps if he has one to one time with me (reading), one to one time with big brother (eating breakfast) and some one to one time with Irene (play time). As long as all of these things take place, order of things don’t matter so much. We try to stick to the plan though. There is always room for flexibility but it more or less looks the same.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and if your mornings feel chaotic, perhaps creating a ritual will make it less stressful. Children will not ask for constant attention because they know exactly what is going to happen. Ofcourse weekends and holidays are different. But if one practices gentle waking up for a long time, waking up gently becomes second nature.