Rituals and routines



Bingeing on fabulous shows!


By Caitlin Kelly

In a time of basic chaos — pandemic life — it feels even more essential to have some rituals and routines to help us feel grounded and vaguely normal.

I liked this New York Times column on the power of tea and toast:

My go-to comfort food is toast with butter and flaky maldon salt (I could eat this all day long!), and I didn’t hold back from sharing this with the team. Inspired, producer Julia Longoria made some calls to food writers at The Times to ask about their favorite comfort snacks.

Lo and behold, Kim Severson’s comfort food was also toast — specifically, cinnamon toast. Kim is a food writer based in Atlanta. She was eager to share her method, which involves toasting a slice of bread, buttering it “to complete abandon,” and coating it with cinnamon and sugar. “One bite of this and I’m exactly back in my mom’s kitchen after school,” she says in the episode.

But as we got to work, I realized that an episode about toast felt incomplete. What goes with toast? Tea, of course.


My typical routines include (and how I miss it!) a spin class at 8:30 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. It was a perfect way to start my day energized, social and feel a bit less guilty about what I would later consume.

I still make a pot of tea almost every day around 4:30 or 5:00 pm, in a small pea-green teapot, often PG Tips, Constant Comment or Irish Breakfast. I love tea, and it’s a great break from one more boring bottle of healthy water. I like it strong enough — as an Irish neighbor once told my Dad — for a mouse to walk across.






My other routines and rituals:

— reading two newspapers a day, in print, The New York Times and Financial Times

— watching New York Gov. Cuomo’s daily press conference on CNN at 11:30 a.m.

— lighting tapers and votives when we sit down to dinner

— setting a pretty table, even just for us

— a nap

— listening to NPR talk shows like the Brian Lehrer show, The Takeaway (not food!) and All Things Considered

— whatever TV shows are my current favorite. I was loving my Sunday line-up on PBS: Call the Midwife, World on Fire, Baptiste, Endeavour….and all have ended their seasons.

— blogging! This keeps me engaged when not writing for income, and allows me to connect with you

— Twitter. I confess to spending much more time there than optimal, but it also brought me my two latest clients, so it works in that regard.

— In summer, long lunches outdoors with my softball team



And I wouldn’t call it a routine, I really miss having friends over for a meal, something we usually do at least once a month, often more. We will often do a Sunday lunch, lazing for hours over conversation, rather than a Friday or Saturday night.

Do you have rituals and routines you enjoy?


Has the pandemic altered them?


20 thoughts on “Rituals and routines

  1. I do have some rituals and routines. I tend to write in the evenings, with music playing in my ears and incense burning. Helps me to stay focused. I also usually say a little prayer as I get into bed and then play hypnosis tracks to help me get to sleep (though I haven’t been playing it lately, as there have been some odd sounds coming from my bedroom wall that I’m trying to figure out if the sources are pipes or neighbors banging on the walls).
    Other than that, I don’t know if I have anything I would call a ritual or a routine. I mean, unless you count checking my email in the morning after brushing my teeth and shaving.

      1. I think a lot about design — as we all know.

        I think a lot about how differently people’s homes throughout history appeared to them under gas, kerosene, candles…all very different qualities of light. Enormous floor to ceiling mirror was essential (in wealthy homes) to amplify and reflect all sources of light.

  2. Coffee. I get out of bed and sleepwalk to my Nespresso machine to turn it on. Then I turn on the radio. Then my Nespresso machine pours me a delicious cup of strong espresso and I go to my chaise longue (where I’m sitting right now.) I turn on my laptop and ritually read the headlines of The Guardian, The New York Times and Le Monde (while drinking my coffee.) I could sit for hours on my chaise longue. Fresh cut flowers in a pretty vase beside me are also a weekly ritual. It’s true what you say, rituals are important and comforting, I guess they ground us.

    That’s great that you read the paper version of The Financial Times, it’s a great paper (I’m assuming you mean the one from London.) I have wanted to subscribe to it online, but its damn expensive. Have a great weekend. It’s a 4-day weekend here, today being Ascension Day in this Catholic country.

    1. Lovely! I have longed for a chaise longue…I think they’re the most divine sort of furniture…

      The FT is stupidly expensive, I agree! It’s pocket change to the hedgies and bankers who are its core audience, but for us a tax deduction. Unlike the NYT, they will only sell a 7-days/week subscription (all I want is the weekend FT!)

  3. I’ve developed new rituals during lockdown. I’m enjoying starting my days with gentle stretches — usually pilates, but I’ve started doing Yoga with Adriene on YouTube.

    Then a strong espresso, made in an Italian moka pot that I bought at the beginning of lockdown.

    I’m with you on the afternoon tea. Post-lunch, I brew a pot of loose-leaf Earl Grey and drink it with a slice of lemon added. Refreshing and restorative!

    I’m watching more Netflix in the evenings — a friend recommended Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to me. I think it won an Emmy. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it at first — it isn’t my usual type of show — but it’s funny and good escapism.

    1. Nice! We have an espresso machine we have never used — maybe time?!

      We are bingeing almost nightly now on older TV series. Just finished two seasons of Trapped, a cop show set in Iceland, which is very good.

  4. yes, rituals and routines are important to maintain a sense of calm and security. my daily morning ritual is making a breakfast of poached eggs, black beans and salsa, and enjoying a freshly drip-brewed cup of strong coffee with almond milk. i love to walk everyday, by the water, in the parks, and in our city – the frequency has greatly increased during this time. I also have a cup of green tea, and turmeric tea later in the day, read, blog, do crossword puzzles, listen to music, nyt online, and Detroit Free Press that is delivered. I’ve always enjoyed Indy and foreign films are am seeking out more of them on television. I miss going to a theater, for films, music, dance, most anything. I miss meeting friends in person, just to listen, to catch up, or to learn from them. I miss travel, where I learn so much more than I ever will staying in my home. making it work, but I do miss many things.

    1. Love your breakfast! Sounds super healthy…

      I need to walk more frequently. I have become too lazy.

      We listen to music all the time usually WQXR (ny classical) or TSF Jazz from Paris.

      1. Great taste in music. I’ve always loved to walk but I moved very close to a park and river s on it’s even more appealing now, it’s very calming for me.

      2. So true…

        We have a lovely reservoir (tree shaded on the hottest days) and it’s a 2 mile round trip walk. We also have the Hudson — and there’s a long long trail right at the edge on the western side. I keep meaning to go. We can see the downtown towers (!) of Manhattan, as if Oz…

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