#DailyWritingChallenge Day 28: Rituals

I don’t have any rituals at the moment, perhaps apart from this blog I have managed for a month now. Thank you Hannah and the #DailyWritingChallenge. My routine is a mess and different everyday in lockdown. I have habits for sure but not all of them are healthy or good, in my opinion. I sometimes go to bed far too late and sometimes drink too much wine or gin. Mother’s ruin, they say.

Before I had children I loved going to the gym and yoga: I went everyday and loved it. I swam everyday at about 7.30am in my first year at university after a year out and enjoyed sitting in a sauna afterwards, before beginning my day. I loved that.

When my daughter was born my days were dominated by breastfeeding and looking after that beautiful little human I call my daughter, she became my new ritual. I didn’t mind that my world was hers and in time I trained to be a teacher and went back to the gym and yoga.

When my son was born, five years later, it was harder to reestablish time for me and the gym became a distant memory in the midst of full-time teaching with a smattering of postnatal blues thrown into an academy conversion process. I did return to yoga once week about seven years ago, when my son was three, but since my children started swimming two years ago I had to stop going.

I need to do this at home.

Luckily now I run about three times a week and this keeps me sane. I want to find a better routine and go back to rituals that help ground me, so I will try.

The last few weeks I’ve done a lot in the garden with my daughter’s help. My partner has helped a bit too, when not working online. I like being outdoors.

I know this is a big part of my life that needs addressing.

Routine is different from rituals, of this I am certain. When working full time in school, I had a very manic routine. Up at 6.30am, get me and the kids ready and breakfasted (some days they would be up before me), drop off children, then teach all day and most evenings I would take one or both of my children to running, or swimming training (my daughter sometimes runs for county in cross country and my son needs this physical outlet and enjoys it) and my son enjoys cubs too. I would then usually work after 9pm about four evenings a week for at least a couple of hours.

My partner cannot drive so I do all of the driving and taxiing around; I was always accompanied by a pile of books or my laptop unless I ran at the same time as my daughter. I wonder if I allowed my children to take on too much because it affected the hours I could spend working in the evening and at the weekend, especially when there were races, meets or galas. But yet I hung on.

I think we were doing alright until last autumn when (see Day 17: Optimism) the routine collapsed and sleep deprivation won and the imposter syndrome took over. I was found out.

I now feel I have a choice at 41: pursue a career or help our children to pursue the things they enjoy.

The equilibrium I had was teetering on the brink because of a lack of ritual and self-care. I cannot allow that to happen again, but does that mean I cannot be a teacher? I sincerely hope not. If honest, this fills me with a sense of grief and loss, which in the face of the pandemic seem narcissistic and self-obsessed. I miss my lovely tutor group and being in my old classroom. I miss marking books and reading what the children had created. I loved sitting for hours creating resources and yet the unbroken time I had available to me had dwindled and this is a reality I have to face. How to fit it all in and still sleep?

On the other hand, I see nothing wrong in wanting to feel fulfilled and happy in the jobs we choose and have a job I must if I am to be able to pay the bills. I would prefer this to be in teaching.

Rituals I need to be able to find focus and self-belief once more.

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