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.
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!