January 9, 2012

Creating Family Rhythm


With the holidays over, I was longing for our regular routine.  We tried, last week, to jump right into life as usual but a nasty flu intervened. My kids spent a week watching bearenstein bears and drinking mugs of warm broth.

This morning we returned to our regular rhythm in this house, and the whole family settled into it nicely.  Life just seems to flow better and, strange as it may sound, make more sense when we are back into the rhythm of things.

What is a rhythm.
I call our routine a rhythm because it's not particularly scheduled.  We don't have a time that we do school, or chores, or even dinner.  We have an order to things that helps us to flow from one activity to the next.  Specific times don't work for us, there are babies to be nursed and tantrums to be tended to and a schedule would have me feeling behind and defeated by 10 am.  But a rhythm is a steadiness to our days that allows us to see what is up ahead.

Why a rhythm
If you work outside the home or your kids go to school, you probably have no trouble seeing the value of a routine.  But us moms at home with young children tend to loose sight of how valuable it can be to know what your day is going to look like before it unfolds.  Here are some good reasons to have a rhythm to your days:

  • It aligns your time to your priorities.  Without a routine it is so easy to fall into that place where you are always dealing with the seemingly most urgent issues and at the end of the day your time spent doesn't line up very well with your priorities. Just like budgeting gives every dollar a purpose, a rhythm gives every minute a purpose within your chosen priorities.
  • Kids thrive with a routine.  My kids, at least, do so much better when they know whats happening next. Routine is a series of sign posts through out the day to show a child where they are in their day.  My three year old can't look at the clock and see how long until daddy comes home from work like I can, but she can refer to her routine instead.
  • Routine = less tantrums. My kids go out to play every day for 20 minutes or so in the morning.  When I send them out, they bound outside with excitement.  And when I call them in, they bound INSIDE with excitement.  You know why?  Because they know they're going back out tomorrow at the same time! Another example is movie day at our house.  We call Friday "movie day" and unless someone is running a fever, there are no movies or television show watched Monday-Thursday.  My kids now know not to even bother asking to watch a movie on those days.  Instead, they count down to Friday!
  • Routine =more independence.  When children know what's expected, they can do it without being asked.

What our daily rhythm looks like:
  • We get up, eat breakfast.  Babies nurse while my oldest kids dress, groom and make their beds.
  • We do school: Calendar time, Critical thinking and Math.
  • We play outside
  • More school for my oldest: language arts.
  • We have lunch, normally soup.  It may seem weird to have the same thing for lunch everyday, but it simplifies our day.  Something about soup makes you slow down and savour, just what a large, loud, energetic family needs in the middle of the day!
  • My two year old naps, the 3 and 5 year old play quietly.
  • The 2 year old wakes up, chaos erupts.  This is when we do messy, loud, silly activities.
  • I make dinner while the children tidy up and set the table
  • Daddy arrives home and we eat.
  • Every night at dinner we go around the table and each person shares their favorite part of the day. This tradition is cherished by my children and I love it because it gives me a peek into what things really matter to them.
  • My 5 year old helps me do the dishes.
  • I bathe some of the kids while the others spend time with their daddy.
  • Prayers and bed time.


Throughout the day, we stop whenever needed to feed the twins. Often, I read to the older kids while I feed the babies.  I steal little moments to do dishes and laundry throughout the day as well.

For now, this rhythm works well for us.  It will look vastly different as my children get older and require more time devoted to schoolwork, but for now it is everything we need it to be.

How to create a family Rhythm
  • Mark a piece of paper into thirds and label the sections Morning, Afternoon, and Evening. Think of things that you need/want to include in your daily rhythm and write them in the appropriate area.  Order them in a way that makes sense to you and post it where you will see it every day.  Don't worry about the times that things take place unless they are time sensitive. 
  • Include some daily traditions that will be meaningful to your family, like prayers, or a specific dinner time question like we have.  Or maybe a specific bed time story or snack.
Resources For Creating Family Rhythmn
Both of these great books helped shape my view on routine and structure in my children's lives. They are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy something from Amazon I will receive a small referral fee, but more importantly, I just plain like these books!

    Does your family have a routine that works for you?  Are you back into the swing of things now or still recovering from the holidays?

    22 comments:

    1. Kelly,
      I found your blog a couple weeks ago and I enjoy it very much. I'm just starting my family with kids (I leave work on maternity leave next moth) and is good to have an idea of what life with kids is about. I take something good out of every post. I even checked out some older posts as well.
      Thanks for sharing your life and such good ideas and values.
      Cheers, Cynthia

      ReplyDelete
    2. You are incredible, lady! I love love love reading about your joys of motherhood, with all those young lives! How incredible, no TV and I agree, every living being craves routine. It's nice to stray, but we always come back. :) Inspiring as always.

      ReplyDelete
    3. Great practical ideas! As we think about starting a family I am eager to learn from moms like you, thank you so much for sharing!

      ReplyDelete
    4. A consistent routine and structure is exactly what kids need, I used to teach preschool and they knew the minute we got off schedule....a routine is so good for them!! Thanks for sharing!
      Amy
      crazyclutterlady.blogspot.com

      ReplyDelete
    5. I absolutely adore this idea of a rythym rather than a schedule. Never at all in my entire life have I been able to stick to a time schedule. This rythym concept, however, could work miracles in my house, I do believe!!! What a fabulous idea!

      ReplyDelete
    6. I like how you differentiate between "schedule" and "routine" or "rhythm"...it is so true that kids seem to thrive on routine. It is so nice to have a general idea of what to expect (as both parent AND child). I have an almost-three-year-old and a just-turned-four-year-old, and most days have a steady and enjoyable rhythm. Today we were all "off our game", but it feels good to know we have another try at it tomorrow!

      ReplyDelete
    7. Just wanted to say that despite being far from being a mom and still being in high school , I absolutey love your blog. I also just want to tell you how much i appreciate the fact that you are open with your faith and share it with the world in your blog. It's encouraging to see these kinds of things;they are so rare. God Bless :)

      ReplyDelete
    8. It's so true... children like routine. You're doing a fantastic job it seems. love your blog.
      Jennie. x

      ReplyDelete
    9. We don't have little ones. Instead we have one middle schooler and a special needs child.

      Routine is important to us because there's just so much we want to accomplish - and we can't do it all. We intentionally swap out and swap in things that we choose are important that day.

      So, we ask the middle schooler to make intentional choices.

      It's good for him to express himself - rather than shrugging and saying, "I dunno." We're trying to encourage him to say, "It's really not important to me" rather than "I don't care." That way, we're hoping that he'll also say, "This is important to me" - when it is.

      Guessing as to what's important to him can only take us so far...

      It's ongoing.
      But, it's working. :)

      ReplyDelete
    10. I've spent this whole year so far in a flurry of preparing. My sister just got married, so immediately after the holidays of last year, I was dealing with lots of visiting family and last minute work. My life is finally about to start making sense again, which I am excited for. A rhythm definitely makes more sense for my life, as my work days are vastly different from one another, as are my weekly activities; thus, even my dinner time varies by several hours day to day.

      ReplyDelete
    11. I LOVE this post. I can just about feel the happy and contented atmosphere when I read about your routine. I realize your home and kids aren't perfect any more than the rest of us, but you have a lot that I can learn from! I just came to your blog from Pinterest, and I've enjoyed what I've read. Thanks so much for posting! (P.S. I really like your nightly question at the dinner table. Besides giving you a peek into what's important to them, it's teaching them to look for the positive in their day.)

      ReplyDelete
    12. Great post! I am going to start searching for the rhythm in my days.

      ReplyDelete
    13. I just discovered your blog and can't stop reading. Everything from life in general to cleaning & organising. Thank you so much for sharing your life, it is an inspiration and certainly going to change my life and that of my husband and 2 little children. I have been searching for a routine/rhythm (love that word!!) for about 2 years now, never thought of it as a rhythm and I think you might just be our saving grace.

      ReplyDelete
    14. What an absolutely fresh perspective. I thank God for finding your post. Thank you for sharing.

      ReplyDelete
    15. You recently inspired me to simplify our day by having only two options for lunch...soup or sandwiches. Do you think you could share some recipes for the soups you serve your little ones?

      ReplyDelete
    16. Found you on pinterest (simplify life with kids article. Love! BTW have you read simplify your life and simplify your life with kids? love those books) and what a delight!!! you my first blog subscription. Wife and mother of one 5 yr old.) (praying for another). I love creating a life of simplicity or least trying to. Your blog is inspiring and practical. love your heart and humor. I look forward to hearing more from you. Thanks for sharing! God Bless! Jennifer C.

      ReplyDelete
    17. We have to do rhythum in our home as well. There are many days when we get knocked off of our rhythum since my husband also works from home and at times wants us to go with him. However, we still manage to keep things going.

      ReplyDelete
    18. I really appreciate this post! Thanks! I am wondering, though, how to incorporate bi-weekly or monthly events into our routine. I attend a MOMS group two Tuesdays a month and a brunch group one Friday a month . . . I have no idea how to keep myself and my son sane when our weeks feel so different! Ideas anyone?

      ReplyDelete
    19. I love this. When my kids were little I sometimes thought it would never end. Now I look back at lost time that was the most beautiful in my life so far! You are right to savor it.

      ReplyDelete
    20. I have just stumbled onto your site and enjoyed this article, especially, since I am more chaotic than organized by nature and a rhythm vs. schedule suites me better. I have a 2 1/2 yr old and I have struggled with a routine/rhythm ever since he was born. I read through your daily activities and was wondering where do you include showers, cleaning, shopping, blogging, gardening, projects, REST into your day? We are hoping for more children and I'm afraid the chaos will start over again when that time comes if I can't get myself in order!

      ReplyDelete
    21. I just referenced back to this post, as I am an avid follower of your blog and remembered this from when you initially posted it. I am now a stay at home mom with a 3 year old and a 7 month old. I am struggling with my 3 year old to find a way to make our days more pleasant and worthwhile and less argumentative and frustrating. I believe we need more of a routine to our days and I need to take back the control of the day rather than him. So, I re-read this article and am working with your ideas, but I have the same questions as the prior commenter - where do you fit in the time for cleaning and shopping and "me time" and running errands and all of that? I need an example of that kind of day, because that is my reality - it all has to get done and I just don't know how to do it. The purpose of me staying home with my children is so that I can raise them and nurture them and experience life with them and that should be my priority. But there's so much else that has to be squeezed into a day. How do you make all that happen?? What time do you get up in the morning? Do you wake your kids up or do you let them sleep as long as they need to? Do you take them ALL grocery shopping? Do you only have this routine during the week and the weekend is more relaxed and that's when you do all your other home maintenance and errands? Please - a little insight into YOUR daily routine...

      ReplyDelete

    Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...