‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
“Simple Gifts” an old Shaker hymn from the 1800’s
It is in indeed a gift to be simple and a gift to be free. This old Shaker hymn brings me immense inspiration, joy, and contentment, for it speaks volumes about steadfast truths about mindful living that our family values and holds dear. Which brings me to the topic of rhythm – the flow with which we conduct the time and spend the energy within the scope of our days. It only recently occurred to me this summer while we were off in Yosemite camping with bears (more on that in the coming weeks!) that rhythm beautifully echos the sentiments held by both simplicity and freedom. In its very nature, rhythm is what gives something a steady beat, thereby marking cadence and flow. An indispensable component of music, song without rhythm is a song without melody, and a song without melody is a song without harmony, which is hardly a song at all, and more like a pile of dusty notes swept haphazardly into the corner of one’s room. Harmony connects us to music and it needs rhythm to do so. Likewise, rhythm holds space for us to make more meaningful connections with ourselves, others, and the natural world throughout the day, week, season, and year.
Rhythm is what offers patterns in time, and similarly to how it makes a song flow from one beat to the next, it’s what can also give our days energetic movement and creative balance. Unlike structure or routine, rhythm is less ridged and more organic in nature because it breathes. Like the rhythm of your breath and the cycles of the seasons, rhythm is both dependable and fundamental to the order of all living things. Without our breath we cannot live, and without the seasons we cannot thrive. In this way, rhythm is a part of what it means to be a human being living in this complex but beautiful world, and reclaiming the way we order the time and energy in our days through the means of rhythm is how we’ll begin to infuse more simplicity and freedom into it.
Which brings me to this season and the how’s, what’s and why’s our family chooses to make rhythm a priority in our home. The dawn of a new school year ushers a host of new to-do’s, gatherings, outings, and so and so forth. Daylight is beginning to dwindle, and the promise of crisp air is just around the bend. It’s almost autumn here, and rhythm is what helps us find our way. This summer was a fun-filled adventure, as summer should be! However, our family has been good and ready to inch back into a flow that better holds our needs and wants as we began to incorporate more learning and making into our days. Rhythm is that net, so to speak, and I am delighted to share ours with you.
Below is an example of our weekly rhythm at home, with several things I’ve chosen to focus on with regard to pre-school with Alfie, mealtimes, and outings we shall take during homeschool. I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but our children attend a Waldorf school and are also home several days. Because of this, we are able to do things like field trip Fridays and library Thursdays. It’s a bit untraditional, but that’s why we love it. I have yet to print out our daily rhythm flow, but you can find a lovely template I’ve made right here to print off and create your own.
Our Daily Rhythm
6 am | Mom and dad wake, make coffee and read, slowly unfolding with the rising of the sun in the week hours of the morning.
7 am | The kids are up by now and everyone is gathered in the kitchen, eating breakfast, making lunches, and talking about the day ahead.
8 am | Everyone gets dresses and ready for the day.
9 am | School begins for the older two, and mom does reading and craft hour with the littlest.
10 am | Mom does daily chores, writes and works while the littlest free plays either indoors or out. This segment of the day is quite variable, changing from day to day based on the needs of our family.
12 am | Lunchtime, followed by supper preparations and/or baking.
1 pm | Quiet time at home, which either means a rest in bed or quiet play in one’s room.
3 pm | After school free play, preferably outdoors until supper. Mom finishes daily chores and does what’s needed around the home, while finishing up the meal or doing a creative project.
6 pm | Suppertime around the table, followed by everyone pitching in to help clean up before heading upstairs for jammies and baths.
7 pm | Depending on the energy in the home that evening, we will either read, watch a show, play a game, or go for a late night family stroll around the neighborhood.
8 pm | Kids are in bed by now, if not earlier, and mom and dad spend time together until we decide the day is done and retire to bed.
The beauty of rhythm is in the grace and flow it encourages, so we are not very strict with the times as much as we are that our family does things in this order. Life has its way of offering us heaps of snafus throughout the week, so one must not take it too personally when following the rhythm isn’t a possibility. That being said, when one does lean into the movement of rhythm, things manage to coast along much more swimmingly if there hadn’t been a rhythm in place! Above is an example of our current autumn daily rhythm, but let’s chat about weekly rhythms, shall we?
Weekly rhythms are different than daily ones because they do not break down the hours, but rather note what you will do on this day or that one. Mondays, for example, are for laundry and painting. Monday is when I do the bulk of our laundry for the week, and whatever I don’t get to I either leave to a time that I have later on or let hang out in our laundry space until Monday arrives again. The painting we do is the craft of the day, and something I do with Alfie after reading some seasonal books together. Being a former teacher, I love coming up with creative ways to make a bridge between what we’ve just read and what we’ll make that day. It’s different from week to week as our reading selections change and flow with the cycles of the natural world, and so too does the kind of paint we use. The craft changes from day, as we move on from different mediums and materials while we work with our hands.
And lastly, one thing I do to help me when it comes to meal planning is simplify the kind of meal I will make on any given day. For example, Mondays are for slow-cooked meals which are much easier to prepare when spending a lot of time at home, but are also perfect because they require little preparation and are therefore a good starter to a busy week. Tuesdays are for tacos, a food our family really loves. Wednesdays for casserole or pasta, Thursdays for leftovers, and Friday for pizza or a fun seasonal dish. Planning our meals this way breaks things down and makes grocery shopping so much easier, freeing up my time to do other things that I enjoy, such as reading or writing this here post! I’ve also found that incorporating meal plans into our weekly rhythm not only saves time, but money and energy. When I know that Tuesday is taco night, I don’t have to thumb through cookbooks for ideas to narrow down because the narrowing has been already done. All I have to do is see what we have, and go from there.
On our weekly autumn rhythm guide I’ve also included two breakfasts that the kids can choose from, making mornings more simple and free as well. We have quite a few oatmeal lovers in this home, so I make a big batch and heat it up as needed through the week. Same goes for muffins. Once a week I’ll make several dozen and store them in the refrigerator, making a wholesome and healthy breakfast item for mornings on the go if we need it. I also added some ideas of seasonal crafts I’ve collected from various resources to give me inspiration when in a bit of a creative rut. Sometimes it’s just comforting to have list of possible ideas handy for whenever an artsy mood may strike. Our rhythm on weekends is left to little else besides rest, play, and worship. These are the three things our family prioritizes at the end of the week before we begin a new one, and we find that each of these things renews and grounds us in countless ways.
Now, I am sure you’ve got a question for me and I am sure there’s something I need to further explain, so do ask! I am going to add your questions to this post as they roll in in F.A.Q. fashion to make things easier to find, and I sincerely hope it helps you on your journey to infuse more rhythm in the flow of your days.
Sara Cline - Many, many thanks for sharing! Your post is exactly what our family needs and yearns for. I appreciate your interjections of poetry and art as well- well done! I am definitely looking forward to filling out our families daily rhythm in the coming weeks.
I do find it a bit more difficult to find an appropriate rhythm though- due to my husband and I both working full time jobs and our 3 girls schedules: the oldest in 4th grade, middle daughter in kindergarten and the baby at a sitter each day. We also have a lot of soccer practices/games and activities in the evening. Any recommendations on how to begin finding our rhythm? I think other working mom’s would appreciate your advice too!
Katie DeCecco - Yes! I would appreciate this guidance as well 🙂
Michelle - Yes, please. I am so in love with this idea, and I know I so desperately need it, especially as a single, working mom. But I’m just not sure how to make it work in my world.
Stacey Belk - I’d love to hear more about the crafts you do with your three year old! I am implementing Waldorf at home beginning this year, mainly in the way of books, crafts and setting us on a daily rhythm…
Can you give examples of the seasonal books you read and maybe a craft you would do with that? Do you have the kids help with the housework during the day or with meal prep? Thank you for posts such as this!
Caitlin - I really admire your style and how clean and organized your home looks. Do you have any tips on organization and cleaning. I’m struggling with finding time to clean/organize/cook, etc. and balancing that with 4 children’s needs (age 7mos to 12yr). Lately what happens is the house gets put on the back burner and then I’m left feeling anxious and disorganized and it’s been a perpetual cycle. I want to minimize the items that we own but I get overwhelmed when I walk into a messy room. I would love any tips/recommendations on any of this! Many thanks on all your wonderful posts, I find them and you very inspiring!
Taylor - Hi Caitlin, I resonate with this feeling so I wanted to jump in and share what I’ve found helps. Just make a schedule and do it. Momentum helps. Some things are good to manage seasonally: winter gear both at the start and end of the cold season. Some things I do weekly, like cleaning out the car. Break things down bit by bit and start with the areas that will have the biggest impact on your daily life. Say no to other things for a little while and you will pummel through. It’s solid work but it’s worth it.
Taylor - Oh, also, Simple Matters is a book by Erin Boyle and she breaks down things really well to tackle this stuff! Even if you don’t like her aesthetic, it’s worthwhile to read.
Lauren - Hi Amanda!
I love your rhythms and I really love how you read books with your children and then create something inspired by that, I have started doing this with my girls since you shared it with us! I was wondering if you would be willing to share some of your favorite autumn children’s books that you read together! Thank you!!
Cate - I love rhythms but I love quiet time more so my question is do you have any tips of how you get your youngest to either nap or play quietly in his room!? My 3yo will last all of about 2 mins of quiet reading before he’s back downstairs. And as for naps I’m hoping they will reoccur now that my 14m old is transitioning to one nap and I have more of a chance of getting them both to sleep at the same time 🤞🏼
Saya - I don’t think you can get a 3-year-old to stay for a longer time by himself. Try letting him read or play quietly in the room with you.
Nicole - Thank you so much! Your seasonal rhythms always inspire me!
Amanda - Thank you for sharing your rhythms! I love rhythms, too, and am still trying to fine tune ours. I’m home with an almost 4 year old, doing pre-school at home with him, and a 14 month old. I’ve found it so very hard to get housework done during the day. A decent amount of your rhythm has housework built in, and my question is—how?! My oldest is independent enough that I can do chores with him around, but my youngest is very needy and doesn’t really let me get much done. Aside from that, I feel like most of my time is spent preparing meals and snacks or cleaning up from meals and snacks. Is it simply the season of motherhood I’m in, or am I missing a few tips that would help me keep up with the house? Thank you for your lovely and inspiring posts! 💛
Lauren - I love your seasonal rhythm posts! My question is – can you talk about planning out your crafts in advance? I find that after I’m done with all of my obligations, home care, childcare, etc. I don’t have much time to sit down and get organized to pick out crafts and then go out to buy supplies – if you could talk about your approach to this (selecting crafts – how/when you do it – and buying supplies), that would be so appreciated!
Megan Langer - Thank you for sharing ! This might be a silly question, but when do you run errands? Do you grocery shop once a week, daily, etc? 🙂
Megan Langer - Thank you for sharing ! This might be a silly question, but when do you run errands? Do you grocery shop once a week, daily, etc?
Sarah - I have yet to find a good day to do grocery shopping. The stores are so crowded on the weekends and come Monday morning things are cleaned out and the isles are clogged with workers restocking. I feel like its the one major thing always throwing off my rhythm. Any tips?
Betsy - This rhythm is so freeing and life giving. I have a 6 month old so our rhythm looks a bit different, but I’m excited to implement some of these rhythms into my families life. I’m especially excited about the food rhythm as meal planning is so hard for me. Thank you for sharing!!!
admin - Betsy, I am delighted you’ve found inspiration here to make your days more simple and free! xx Amanda
Christie - Every season, I come looking for your new seasonal rhythm. They are so incredibly helpful! I love the change that seasonal living provides, and you make it fresh and new by posting these. I especially love how you did the meal plan for the week. Thanks for posting!
admin - Christie, thank you for letting me know! It’s always incredibly encouraging on my end to know that others are enjoying the content I share. xx Amanda
Ange - Great articles, and so inspiring. I have a question, could you do a post for lunch box ideas and how you plan/prepare for this? I have 2 boys and work parttime and it’s so stressful to think of something healthy and tasty for them…
thanks so much for reading.
admin - Ange, great question! And yes! You’ve read my mind 🙂 I have a post planned for October that will go into simple lunch ideas we do for our kids because they take they lunch to school. In the meantime, I can tell you they are very big fans of wraps, homemade granola bars, hummus + veggies to dip, and mini charcuterie plates. xx Amanda
Claire - I love reading about rhythms! One question I have is about slow cooker meals – any suggestions for recipes or cookbook/blog references? We like the idea of slow cooker meals but find so many bad recipes out there!
admin - Claire, I tend to gravitate towards Pinterest for slow-cooker meals, but this year I’ve been using my pressure cooker and the flavors have been so wonderful and the time to make our meals, a pinch. I recently made a sweet potato butter chicken I am going to share here that our family LOVED and that was made in the pressure cooker but could also be made in a slow-cooker. My secret is spices, always spices. Also, browning meat beforehand helps too! xx Amanda
Amber - Here’s our rhythm:
6am – Mom & Dad are woken up by child screaming from her room at the top of her lungs until one of us stumbles out of bed.
6:30am – Parents make coffee while 4-year-old screams for breakfast while simultaneously refusing all food offered.
6:35am – Dad closes the door so neighbors aren’t awoken by the screaming.
7am – Child refuses to get dressed. Wants mom to choose outfit but screams no at every single option.
8:30 – Mom drives child to preschool.
9am – Mom is back home for a glorious morning alone, cleaning and listening to whatever the fuck she wants (aka not Descendants 2).
2pm – House is clean and groceries are replenished. House looks like a magazine.
3pm – Mom picks child up from preschool. Instant screaming ensues about wanting something filled with garbage and sugar. This continues for the entire drive home.
3:30pm – Child screams for tv while mom says no and quietly pours some wine.
4pm – Child watches tv while mom makes dinner & destroys kitchen she spent all day cleaning.
5pm – We eat. Child says dinner is gross and demands a banana.
6pm – Child screams bloody murder about getting in the bath. Mom pours more wine.
6:30pm – It’s dad’s night to read books which means child screams for mom to do it until she threatens no tv tomorrow or ever.
7pm – Child spits bubblegum toothpaste down front of pajamas and demands new ones.
7:15pm – Mom lays next to child in tiny bed and passes out, dreaming of the shitshow that is the kitchen.
7:30pm – Mom wakes up, wipes own drool, sneaks out of child’s bedroom and begins cleaning the kitchen once again.
8pm – Mom remembers the bedsheets are wet in the washing machine. Transfers them to dryer.
9-10pm – Eventually Parents make it to bed without actually talking to each other because everyone is too tired and is pretending they’re alone.
Yours sound a lot more relaxing.
cheri - Hi there! Would love if you could share more about the activities/crafts you have on your weekly rhythm. I could make out a couple of them but not all. Thank you!
Michele - Your seasonal rhythms are always so inspirational, thank you for sharing! For the first time I feel inspired to incorporate a meal rhythm for our week. I’ve had such a hard time finding inspiration for meal choices or recipes that I think the whole family will enjoy. I thought it was just a phase but it’s been going on for a few months now! I think it’s mainly because my kids are just too picky so I don’t know what to choose and get tired of the complaints! I am very interested in how you find your recipes and what your kids are willing to eat, and if you have an special ways to help them be more content with the meals even if it’s not their most desired item on the plate. Thank you in advance for any tips you have!
Erika - Amanda, YOU inspire me. I have been following along your little family’s journey for quite sometime & you are just are so captivating!! I don’t know how but just something about you, you’re real & raw & make what you are writing about (especially posts like this) so easy to incorporate for us mamas. Your way of mothering, your homemaker charm makes me wanna just be your neighbor and hang with ya while you teach me your gems 😉 looking forward to following along your journey and hope to meet ya someday.
angela m lemons - Hi! Do you have a certain muffin recipe?? Also, do you change up what you put in your muffins according to which season it is?? Thank you
admin - Angela,
I have been using It’s All Good’s by Gwyneth Paltrow muffin recipes, and change up the ingredients depending on what’s in season. I recently made apple cinnamon muffins and pumpkin ones that are gluten-free. They were so good. I’ll have to dig up the recipe for it and share with you. xx
Tidy Home Tips & Tidbits | No. 2: Create a Craft Cupboard » Homesong - […] topics with you in hopes that I will post more consistently with care. As you’ve read, rhythm paves the way for both simplicity and freedom, so it’s about time I folded it into my writing and work in this space. So on Tuesdays you […]