PURPOSE. This paper explores the importance of family daily routines and rituals for the family’s functioning and sense of identity.

METHODS. The findings of this paper are derived from an analysis of the morning routines of 40 families with children with disabilities in the United States and Canada. The participants lived in urban and rural areas. Forty of the 49 participants were mothers and the majority of the families were of European descent. Between one and four interviews were conducted with each participant. Topics included the family’s story, daily routines, and particular occupations. Data on the morning routines of the families were analyzed for order and affective and symbolic meaning using a narrative approach.

FINDINGS. The findings are presented as narratives of morning activities in five families. These narratives are examples for rituals, routines, and the absence of a routine. Rituals are discussed in terms of their affective and symbolic qualities, routines are discussed in terms of the order they give to family life, whereas the lack of family routine is discussed in terms of lack of order in the family.

CONCLUSIONS. Family routines and rituals are organizational and meaning systems that may affect family’s ability to adapt them.

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