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The Importance of Repetition


I heard a fascinating fact recently from a study on the happiness of a child’s upbringing. It concluded that one key element to a fulfilled and happy childhood was repetition.

Maybe it was pizza every Friday night, the holiday location you visited each Summer, or the same friends you met at school year on year. When you reflect on your childhood, were there times where you had repetition and if so, how does looking back on them make you feel?

Reflecting on that, I realised how privileged my upbringing was, in that it was filled with repetition.

I lived in the same house my whole life and next door to my grandparents, who I fondly remember gave us the same M&S pavlova for pudding when ever they cooked us a roast meal, (it’s funny how we remember the food). I went to the same school from 8 to 18 with the same friends, and we had the same caravan holiday every summer. Thinking about it, all of these elements must have created a deep feeling of stability and comfort for me as a child. I had nothing to fear and there was sense that all was well in the world.

Raising my children for the last three years in a split parent upbringing I have been very conscious of the effects this may have on their emotional stability. When I began my single parent life I was aware of creating routine and structure in each day. Those little anchors or repetitions of stability that help you through the troubled waters, getting you not only from day to day, but month to month and now year to year. Sunday morning pancakes, the same birthday traditions, visiting the grand-parents farm every weekend, the same park we play in after school. I can see now how these repetitions assist not only in the children’s stability but mine too.

At this time of year, as the seasons shift and children go back to school feelings of being uprooted and unstable can rise, leaving us with this urge to feel grounded, like we need to fasten our seat belts and land. One chaotic day last week, this sense of quiet and comfort rose with in, it came out of nowhere on a day that was feeling otherwise overwhelming. I was simply picking blackberries. Enjoying a quiet moment out in nature and it was this feeling of “Yes, here we go again, September has arrived, the lovely long summer is drawing to a close, the children will soon be back to school and the the shift into Autumn has begun”. I have found that when I observe the rhythms of nature they create natural repetitions (similar to the repetitions we mentioned about childhood), which in turn leads to a sense of comfort and security. Nature is forever giving; swallows arriving in the warmth of Spring, the blackberries following the heat of the Summer, the snowdrops peeping through the frosty ground in Winter.

Repetition is not just for childhood, its for adult life too. So as we move into September; this pivotal turning point in the year, where there are probably unsettling, physical shifts in routine, such as children heading back to schools, and of course the natural transition of the seasons, we can sometimes be thrown off guard. In response to this, I ask you to literally step into nature and notice and observe the repetition that is glorious Autumn. The closer you are to it the greater you feel its effects. Take comfort from the cool and fresh mornings, the leaves hanging silently on the trees waiting to drop, the hedgerows ripe with fruit, be in awe of natures repetitions that are there for us to feel connected and grounded, and this sense that I had in my childhood that there is nothing to fear and that all was well.

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