The importance of rituals for families during social isolation

Sue’s virtual personal assistant Heather juggles her life in normal times as the marketing manager for CHESS Connect and life with two small children.  She has written this post about how everyday rituals are helping her keep going in these very abnormal times.

The importance of rituals for families during social isolation

Establishing ritual during social isolation in a family with children is of the utmost importance. Why? Because without ritual we descend into chaos. Without ritual we have no order, no hierarchy and no direction.

I think of the rituals we have already established as a family while we spend weeks as a professional couple working from home with school aged children. In our world the clock has total dominion, it has become our own personal God Head to which we pay our due homage. Our clock hangs omnipotent on our dining room wall, sanctioning our every action and plan for the future. 

Because the rituals we have established are based entirely on the time, it’s this timetable that serves to control the framework of our day to day in isolation.


We have kept some age-old rituals: wake up, coffee, breakfast and readying for the day. But when we would have left the house in the morning to go to our respective jobs, we now have hours to fill, juggling work, school and entertainment for an increasingly restless family.

The patterns of ritual we have established are based around a timetable of non-negotiable repetitive activity. We have used ritual and repetition to show our two small humans who makes the rules in the house and who is in charge (Mum and Dad!). Being responsible for the delivery of ritual helps to validate who wields authority within the household.

There have been some new rituals which have flourished (hello morning Youtube Yoga) and some which have not. I’ve found that with children, the rituals that did not work were usually ones that had no formalised structure, such ‘free time.’ There were old rituals which also required some flexibility. The half hour in the morning you would usually have alone to drink your 2nd cup of coffee and read the news is now interrupted and needs to be re-established in a different pattern.

We have also used ritual to motivate us to action. We could be languishing on the couch watching Netflix – there is nothing stopping us. But instead we have Yoga at 8am. Zoom meetings at 9:30, English, then fruit break. This is followed by an afternoon that swings between school work, game time and meals. All overseen by the celestial orb hanging on our dining room wall..


Our tried and true nightly rituals which we have lovingly titled ‘Bath, Bed and Beyond’ help us to wind down the day and brings a welcome sense of security. Knowing we can rely on ritual to get the children through the day and give ourselves some breathing space for the evening is something that we as parents cling to in this uncertain time of self-isolation.

It's going to be interesting to see how these rituals change the longer we stay in isolation – and what happens when the schools go back. 


Written by Heather Hammond