We get up. Wake the kids. Help them get dressed. Make the beds. Sort out breakfast. Empty the dishwasher. Listen to the news. Check emails. Make school lunches. Shower. Get ourselves dressed, makeup, hair, coffee. Lock the door behind us. Wonder if we’ve forgotten anything.
Is this multitasking?
The answer is no.
As much as we have been led to believe that motherhood involves a considerably unique ability to multitask, we don’t actually have the ability to multitask (none of us do).
Multitasking has been scientifically proven to not exist.
There has long been a belief that we can happily have a conversation with a friend across the coffee table and scroll on Instagram at the same time. We can iron the school uniform while reading a report for work.
But this ability to multitask is “neurologically impossible” according to research.
Our brains are simply incapable of doing two things at once. What we are actually doing is task switching.
As minutely as the change may be (it can happen in tenths of a second!), our brains are actually jumping back-and-forth from job to job as the demands find us.
We are continually switching tasks in motherhood as we take on the mental and physical load of parenthood.
And, ultimately, we are becoming increasingly drained and exhausted by it all.
So, could our daily habits be considered a routine?
Yes, but who really enjoys routine?
When we naturally, instinctively, and consistently act in a specific mode we may feel as though, this is great, we are getting things done, moving forward and ticking off the boxes. Success. And then the afternoon hits and we’re worn out, unable to meet the onslaught of further demands coming our way.
While we may have a clear objective of how our mornings, afternoons, and evenings should pan out so that the kids are fed, watered, bathed, entertained, loved, and educated with a full quota of sleep, these routines are overburdening us.
And this, is one of the reasons I have dropped routines in favour of rituals.
While routines feel like something we ‘should’ or ‘have’ to do, rituals feel more loving and nurturing and like they are focused on our best interests.
Ritual Over Routine
At the moment, it is likely that the majority of what you do, you may consider a routine. It is afterall, an idea we are used to. The school run routine, the dinner routine, the bedtime routine, our makeup routine, even our weekly grocery shopping lists can become a routine.
Routines make us efficient, but they are boring, mundane even, and most certainly a chore. Routines can very easily get in the way of us enjoying our day, finding moments for ourselves, and ensuring we consider our self-care.
The emphasis is on completing task by task by task, rather than on how we can enjoy and feel good during the process of these tasks.
But what starts out as a routine can take a wonderful shift towards ritual. It’s all about the little switches!
We may make our porridge the same way every single day. The routine starts to feel monotonous and our porridge is suddenly too lumpy, too hot, and too cold, all at the same time. But if we switch a few little things we can change everything … using a special bowl for our porridge, choosing our favourite cup for our tea, and sitting at the table rather than standing at the counter to enjoy our breakfast. These little switches elevate the experience completely.
It no longer becomes something that simply has to be done, but an enjoyable moment when we can be mindful about our food, time, and presence.
Making these little switches allows us to reframe any part of the day and take the chore out of it while giving back to ourselves as well.
But there is, of course, a fine balance to be had between routine and ritual. While we will always need routine, because the vegetables will not peel themselves and the accounts can’t wait to be filed, we can find ways to include rituals into those tasks.
How to Include Rituals in Your Day
The difference between rituals and routines is how we experience them.
A routine can be a chore, while a ritual can positively impact our wellbeing.
Aim to switch your perspective in small and actionable ways when working through a task by including some kind of ritual that will uplift you. This could be lighting a candle, or putting on the diffuser with your most loved scent while you work through emails. It could be applying an essentials oils roller ball on your wrists before brushing the kids hair. Or playing music while the pile of ironing glares down at you.
The idea is to switch to a positive mindset and ask what can help you achive this task in a less tedious way. To help understand how to achieve a positive mindset try the following:
Look At The Bigger Picture – As we say routines can be boring, tedious, and exhausting. But ask yourself why are you doing this? What is the reason for the task at hand, why is it important, and why must it be done now? Looking at the bigger picture can help put things into perspective.
Mindfulness – Mindfulness connects us to our environment, the atmosphere, and to ourselves. Using mindfulness we can acknowledge know we are feeling, reduce our stress, and make us more productive. By applying simple mindfulness techniques we can pay more attention to everything around us.
Create Purpose – We can make our routines much more successful by altering our intention for the task. Think about the routines of your day. What can you add to create a sense of purpose around those tasks to turn it into a ritual? This new purpose will help you add rituals and be more focused, inspired, and intune with your needs.
Whether it’s meditation, getting up early, making a perfect cup of cacao, planning and creating a list, or actively enjoying your breakfast, there are so many things we can do to switch our mundane and exhausting routines into motivating and engaging moments of our day.