I am fascinated with this topic and spent the whole session grinning as I got to hear about people’s daily and weekly habits, routines and rituals. I find the way we live our day to day lives riveting, especially during a time where our “normal” routines have been altered so much by external factors. To me, discussing the patterns we follow can help us understand our own influences, values, way of thinking and lifestyle as well as give a glimpse of what it is really like to live in another’s shoes.
Through the session, lots of themes emerged as well as overlapping habits, people reporting “We have so much in common”. Maybe you too, the reader will find cheer and comradery in learning about how people spend their days and it will allow you to reflect on the meaning behind your own ‘ordinary’ choices.
This week we were encouraged to explore the routines of our daily lives, contrasting our current routines with some we remembered from past times.
My strongest memory of early morning as a child was of sitting on a kitchen chair in front of an electric fire eating breakfast (especially a “treat” of beans and toast – beans in a dish and toast served separately on a plate). I would also be listening to the portable radio on top of the fire surround.
I don’t have vivid memories of any bedtime routines but I do recall that there was a set time for “going upstairs”. However, I remember being permitted to “stay up” for an extra half an hour to watch Robin Hood and William Tell both of which shows are currently being aired by Talking Pictures T.V. serving to evoke this childhood memory.
Not ever being the most organised of persons, my morning routines have not tended towards a strictly regular pattern. Not having to get up and ready for work following my retirement only inclined towards a laxer attitude, generally. Recognising that this could prove to be a harmful trait, I decided to start doing voluntary work at a local Oxfam shop. This move had the desired effect of restoring a degree of necessary structure in my life. Of course, the recent months of “shutdown” have somewhat reversed this change. I do however, continue the morning task of watering my indoor plants on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; the three days when I would normally be working in the shop.
The all-pervasive need for a morning “caffeine fix” has remained a feature throughout my life, initially provided by the first mug of tea of the day but increasingly now by coffee. (Just an aside in relation to this it was lovely this morning to return to my favourite coffee shop).
Finally, another “casualty” of the lockdown has been the rituals linked to my attendance at football matches. I still wear my “lucky” socks when City are playing on the T.V. but not my club scarf and replica shirt. One of the things I miss most is travelling to the game with close friends and watching the matches from my usual seat in the stands sitting next to the people with whom I have shared some very emotional moments.
I spoke to Tony this week for the first time and it wasn’t long before we discovered that we both have coffee immediately upon waking up, even if there is no time for breakfast. My sleeping patterns are currently all over the place after being furloughed on 1 April, so I only just made the session in time! I quickly grabbed my favourite orange cup and made myself an instant coffee or I wouldn’t have been able to string a sentence together! I’d been using a cafetiere, which sadly cracked this week, so I am now using my Moka pot instead, which takes longer and is messier for this clumsy soul to deal with, but is so much tastier! A small change in routine for the better, you might say.
In general, my mornings have become infinitely more relaxed: I have a coffee, eat breakfast within an hour of waking as we are supposed to do, watch a bit of telly, maybe do a crossword, maybe do some reading. This is a stark contrast to when I was working. I think my personal best in getting from my bed to the office is 30 minutes! I usually had a quick shower, downed a coffee without savouring it, watched 5 minutes of news while I did my make up quickly, raced to the bus stop, switched on my computer frantically – can you sense the theme? In this sense, lockdown has been good for my stress levels, no longer starting the day worrying about having to be anywhere and I am exploring options how I can continue this for myself and still pay the rent.
While I was mildly devastated the other day about my poor, well-loved cafetiere, it caused me to ponder that when routines change, this can often be for the better and that sometimes the best things in life take a bit more effort. Whatever happens next will surely be good – I will endeavour to make it so.
As Jolene led us through our little meditation on the theme of Routines and Rituals, my foremost thought was I don’t have any routines. Even going back to being a child, I realised we didn’t actually have set routines then either and I initially thought this had carried on throughout my life.
However, on reflection I do have routines, I get up most days, and I go to bed most nights. Does this count as routine? I also have rituals around these, on my iPad, I play 3 different games before sleep and 4 different games before getting up. Always in a certain order. Very strange!
After washing and dressing, I put makeup on every day, an act of self love to keep my spirits up. This too is always in a certain order. I then gather all I need for the day before coming down because I don’t want to go back upstairs, it hurts too much, (mobility issues!) I also eat the same breakfast every single day. And never get bored of it!
No set patterns for the rest of my day though. I do like to meditate, say my prayers and send love and peace around the world, I guess this is a form of routine or perhaps more ritual.
When my children were young, I realise I had routines. We always ate together at the table, I liked them in bed for a certain time, and they always had a bedtime story. I washed our clothes everyday. I was busy, busy busy. What a contrast to now………
The passing of time and Covid 19 has changed so much.
When chatting in my breakout room, what came up for me very clearly is my resistance to going to bed at night and my absolute lack of desire to get up in the morning but that’s a story for another time.
Through life, daily routines change of course through necessity. The trauma of the morning dealing with the nappy bucket, for example, when the children were babies, is one routine that was good to be rid of!
I have always been an early riser. As a full time working mother, I would get up early before the rest of the family descended, so I could have an hour of peace to have breakfast, do some routine chores, and get in the bathroom before the others came banging on the door. I am still an early morning person rather than a late night reveller, so am still up between 6am and 6.30am, each day. My morning routine is to get up, put the kettle on and while it is boiling go round and open the curtains, and look at the calendar to check what I should be doing that day. Without this daily routine there would be little chance that I would actually do what I was supposed to!
Kettle boiled, tea made, breakfast ready. While I am having breakfast, I check emails, look on Facebook to see what the world is up to, and then do 2 online crosswords to wake up the mind as well as the body.
After that I feel ready for my morning shower. That is definitely a routine I would not be happy breaking. How different from the childhood ritual of the weekly Sunday night bath and hair wash!
After the morning routine, or maybe ritual, most of the days’ activities are flexible. I usually watch Bargain Hunt on BBC1 while I am having lunch, the only daytime TV programme I do watch. A more recent routine is the daily health walk. I am trying to fulfil my personal challenge of walking 1,000 miles in 2020. Not as daunting as it sounds as it actually breaks down to less than 3 miles a day, and will be very satisfying if I am able to keep it going. Couldn’t do it if it wasn’t a routine!
“Before breakfast?” I ask, after Gerard tells me he’s been running 5 to 10 K during lockdown. For me, breakfast is always the first thing I do after getting up, a habit from years of grabbing a Weetabix or two in the morning rush before work. Now I’m retired, instead of a quick glance at the newspaper headlines, I have a more leisurely read of The Guardian, and at the moment, am enjoying raspberries from the garden with my Weetabix. Apart from some working days when I only had time for coffee, if that, before dashing out, the meditation made me realise I’ve remained loyal to the cereal my sisters, brother and I ate as children.
I’ve always loved walking in the countryside. Halifax Road, Nelson, where we lived as children, went up the hill to views of the valley, then to the moors on the way to Hebden Bridge and beyond. In Chorlton, we’re lucky to have the Ees, the waterpark and meadows, but during lockdown I’ve recently discovered pleasure in walking regularly around the streets, noticing architectural features on the houses and changes in front gardens. It was good to see all the rainbows, teddies and other art work in the windows when only going out for the permitted hour of exercise once a day when the pandemic was at its worst. I found the cemetery peaceful for a short walk too, it’s like an arboretum and was lovely in the Spring.
My siblings and I have started clubbing together to buy each other a special present for “tombola” birthdays (i.e. ending in a 0 or a 5). For my sixtieth, I chose a new pair of walking boots which my artist sister painted for me. She said Van Gogh painted his boots when they were old, she painted mine when they were new!
For my recent 65th, I chose a fitness tracker, which I was given early, & it’s helping me stay in a routine of daily walks, aiming for the right number of steps a day. It’s clever technology: it beeps if I sit still too long, and on my actual birthday, it displayed a cake and a candle!
Alberto Velázquez Yébenes
I had a wonderful morning speaking with Margaret Williams. The topic of the day was routines, I couldn’t really concentrate on it as I was probably catching up with everything and all the faces of everyone after a few weeks not participating in the group. It took me a bit to get used to the one to one conversation again, but then I clearly remembered the previous chat with Margaret and how her routines had evolved since.
She has always done a lot of exercise. Hiking has been a great hobby and holiday destination and now maintaining a level of activity is probably one of the great challenges. I was about to jump into a similar description of my day to day when we got carried away by a little story that became big. She told me I had to share this instead of this week’s topic, so here I go.
Since I joined the story telling group I have been sharing lots of stories with beautiful people, which has triggered some memories and echoes from the past, as we like to call them collectively. And I happen to share these memories with my sister, as they quite often have brought me to our childhood. Through this process we have discovered that the nature of the stories we have been going back to was completely different and unique compared to the way we always used to talk.
Maybe it is the simplicity of the topics: doors, windows, rooms… maybe the presence and awareness of the sensations, smells, flavours…or simply the cultural freshness of conversations with a different generation of great people from another country. Somehow the default setting of our conversation got washed away into a purely nice reminiscence, a non-dramatic approach which is completely unusual for us. My sister and I are technically orphans and normally only go back in time to these family memories in order to work out some difficult moment in time.
But this is different now, and it has unlocked a world of beautiful stories from the past in which my sister and I have shared moments, places, food, feelings… and it’s turning into an online diary which is an absolute joy.
Apart from giving a massive thanks to the group for helping this happen, I think Margaret was right and it is totally worth sharing.
Routines have been an important part of my life since childhood.
My mother was a very organised, methodical person who involved my twin brothers and I in the running of our home, as she went out to work.
She organised us into a three-week chore rota, where each morning we either made the beds, washed and dried the pots, or fed our five hens. The latter was my favourite as I loved giving the hens corn, fresh water and collecting the eggs. I was not too keen on the weekend job of cleaning them out and putting new straw down though.
Saturday morning, after preparing things for lunch, was also a time of dusting, polishing and vacuuming the living room, which was strangely referred to as “the house”. Polishing the brasses was the last job on the list, which I hated and vowed I would never have them, yet they sit in my attic waiting for one of my parent’s grandchildren to claim them. When I used to complain, my mother told me when I had a home of my own I could do just as I pleased, but while I was living with her these jobs had to be done.
When I did get a home of my own, my two children would ask ”who’s coming ?” when I started to clean! During lockdown I have started to actually take pleasure in cleaning. I am enjoying my home more than I ever did before. I have made a rota of chores to do each day as I have to pace myself these days. I hear my mother’s words “if a jobs worth doing its worth doing well” when I think of taking short cuts.
The routine of getting my children and myself ready for school was always a difficult time of my day, until my husband took voluntary redundancy. He then took charge of organising the children for school. This enabled me to go swimming before school each morning with a college friend who lived round the corner. It became a very strong routine for over 20 years.
At the start of lockdown I was told about “Make Movement Your Mission” a Facebook Live programme run by Later Life Training.
It was initially for 30 days of ten minutes, three times a day activities at 8 am, noon, and 4 pm designed to help movement. It was extended and is still going. Following this programme has helped to give structure to my days while I have been shielding. I have felt a huge benefit to the way I am now able to complete day to day tasks more comfortably. I am so pleased I am able to follow routines.
As a postgraduate student, the word “routine” conjures some slightly scary associations with timetables, word counts, and deadlines – increasingly so as the end of the academic year looms. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised when Jolene’s guided meditation brought back memories of family mealtimes, Dad reading bedtime stories, and walking home from school with friends (usually gossiping about whatever “drama” had occurred at lunchtime that day).
Several years on, the person who cheerfully handed in all her homework on time and practiced the trumpet every day looks like an alien from outer space; these days, routine is primarily a means of trying to finish work early, in the hopes of commandeering more of the evening for catching up with friends or watching telly.
To keep to deadlines, I now try to make myself accountable to someone else, which has proven tricky since only having a couple of lectures to go to each week. When I started my Master’s degree last year, I made a point of getting to the library at the same time every day. As one of the first to arrive, I always swapped greetings with the security guards who work the night shift. On one uncharacteristically fabulous Monday, they even invited me to share their breakfast – a box of twelve Krispy Kreme doughnuts! Thinking about it now, I realise that I soon started to feel a little guilty arriving late, knowing the guards would be able to guess how many times I had hit “snooze” on my alarm clock. Well, either that, or the fear that there might not be any doughnuts left was enough to get me out of bed.
Since lockdown, routines have become even more, er, flexible – or do I mean “fragile”? More than ever, I am relying on others to keep me motivated, whether friends, family, or lecturers (the more intimidating the better, in this instance). It was so helpful to hear everyone else’s approaches to maintaining some semblance of order during the pandemic, and so reassuring to learn that we have all tried a few things that have worked, and several that haven’t!