The Swahili have a saying: Hamna yatima, watoto ni wetu sote. It loosely translates to: there are no orphans, children belong to all of us. It’s used to signify the ‘mulitparenthood’ phenomenon typical of African societies. Put differently, it’s used to reiterate that being a parent is a lifelong role. I have seen my mother embody this saying in her various parenting avatars. Mother, aunt, grandmother, mother-in-law, queen mother etc.

My nieces and nephews called on her over the school holidays. A favorite pastime for them. Time has mellowed her ferocious spirit. I see those youngins get away with things that would have sent me straight to the hangman!

My nieces are one and two years respectively. When they are around, I get diapers on my way home. This one weekend, I noticed my nieces didn’t have diapers. After their afternoon bath, my mother dressed them in matching shirts and shorts (I swear they looked so familiar) and let them loose. So on my way back from work, I got more diapers. I figured, the reason they weren’t in diapers is because they had exhausted the previous supply. Imagine the shock on my face when I went to place this new stock only to realize there were plenty more in reserve!

My old lady must have seen the confusion on my face. ‘A seasoned traveller knows why one must have many paths to the same place,’ she said and went on with her bonding session.

It got me thinking, when’s the last time I changed my routine? We stick to routine because it provides us a sense of certainty. The bus/train/plane follows a specific route. Governments financial years are set to a particular time. You’ve probably had the same gym routine for a while. Routines create stability and comfort in a fast-paced, ever-changing world.

BUT, ever wondered what would happen if you changed your routine? Even if just for a day or week. Take a different path home? Shakeup your gym regimen? Try a different flavor of ice cream? Read a different genre?

When’s the last time you did something different? When’s the last time you changed your routine? What was your experience?


  1. Thank you so much for this post! I loved the realisation of the idea that we play different ‘parental avatar’ roles throughout our lives! And the act of ‘changing things up’: truly beneficial. Thank you!

  2. This line “there are no orphans, children belong to all of us.” hits the heart. When I became a mom, my heart breaks whenever I see a kid without a parent.
    This reminded me to be a ‘parent’ to people who need one.

    About changing routine, it happens when there’s a change in my season in life. Like school starts, or vacation starts, etc. haha If I can choose, I don’t want to change routines, but I guess we need it also. 🙂

  3. It’a true what you say that routine gives security but I always try to add something new to it or change it a bit. It’s very good for the brain as it builds new synapses that help the brain‘s plasticity. Beautiful post Billy!

    1. Hey @crisbiecoach 😃

      Adding a new touch to our routine does wonders for our brain, heart and soul!

      Thank you for making time 🙏🏿

  4. Great point Billy! You’re right- we sometimes get too caught up in routines and I’m guilty of it too. I’m going to try to make a conscious effort to break a routine or do something different at least once a day. 😎

  5. The last time I made a truly momentous change to my routine was when I quit my regular job to pursue freelancing… and the change has made a bit lethargic, and more appreciative of the outings with friends and events that help me stay social…

  6. Hi, Billy. Great piece! I really enjoyed how you mixed storytelling with larger philosophical takeaways. I truly like the direction your writing is going in. You should continue to pursue this approach. By the way, your point is so spot on. I get in such terrible ruts. I always feel restless and unfulfilled when I get in such “traps.” Yes, “traps” is the right word. When life becomes too habitual, we are trapped in a way of being. Thanks for reminding me that I need to avoid falling prey to such snares.

    1. Hey Troy😃

      Happy to hear from you and glad you enjoyed this😊

      “When life becomes too habitual, we are trapped in a way of being.”

      Such powerful words! They should be on a billboard somewhere!

      Thanks for making time, my friend 🙏🏿

  7. I have to admit—I really love my comfort zone. Though I’ll also admit that when I break out of it, it can feel invigorating—or not—depending, of course, upon what I’m breaking out of it for..

  8. I normally enjoy a break in routine and will get a ‘wild hair’ and take a different (longer) route home just because. Lately, life has been throwing too many breaks in routine at me…ones I don’t choose and can’t avoid. The pockets of normal and mundane are the only things holding me together some days.

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