I adore rhythms and rituals. I love how they organize my life and give meaning to the mundane. I’ve always been drawn to the calm cadence that they bring to the hours that make up my day, and like forgiving road maps, they give me direction with ample amount of grace to begin my journey as I rise with the sun, or sometimes even before. My daily rhythm is a starting point if anything, and a handy reference when time feels frenzied and rushed. It is not in place to make me a slave to the constructs of my day, but rather there to nudge me along like a wise friend who understands me well and knows what it is that I need. I am someone who prefers a simple and orderly life, while some may think it boring, and I have learned about myself that I indeed feel most like me in the slow moments that give me space to make and rest and learn and love. And so, I quite enjoy the predictability, creativity, and comfort daily rhythms provide.
Rhythms are everywhere and have been a part of us since well before we were born into this world. They live inside of us: in the steadiness of our heartbeat, in flow our breath, in the arrival of our monthly cycles, and in the restful patterns we fall into when we sleep. They are also very present outside of us, pulsing outside of our bodies, and guiding the natural world and all of the creatures and living things that inhabit it. Rhythms are in the rising and setting of the sun that keeps us warm and helps grow our food, in the cycles of the moon that light up the night, in the ebb and flow of the tides, and in the changing of the seasons throughout the year that each give us an abundance of gifts, both big and small.
As you well know, a certain amount of structure and order are necessary for something to thrive. Think about a newly potted plant. If you water it sporadically, and keep changing its home or its location, and never give it a good pruning, how would you expect it to fair? Probably not too well. We humans, children especially, crave the stability and nourishment that consistent rhythms can provide, much like the needs of the natural world. Creating rhythms for life at home is a wonderful way to help establish and practice good habits while feeling empowered as you go about your day, rather than feeling bound to it without room to grow. Below is my take on our family’s rhythms, and I am going to walk you through some steps to create your very own! But first, a few things:
- You do not have to have kids, or stay at home with them, to create a rhythm for your life. Rhythms are important for all of us, and taking the time to anchor and ground ourselves will leave us feeling more nourished at the end of the day, rather than feeling overworked and exhausted.
- You do not have to have all your ducks in a row to start. This goes for anything, by the way. And I am pretty sure the ducks in a row thing is one gigantic myth created by perfectionists to keep us creatives (basically all human beings) from starting anything at all. I know this because I am one. You can create a rhythm for your day even if, and perhaps especially if, you are feeling like chaos and crazy sum up your schedule right now.
- You will absolutely have days where your rhythm does not flow. That’s okay. That’s more than okay. That’s a good reminder that you are living life. Remember that creating a rhythm for yourself or your family does not mean you are stuck to it, nor should it limit you. Your rhythm should open up your days for more opportunities to be creative and explore, but should balance this, by giving you time to sink into solitude, to rest, and to take care of yourself. This goes for everyone, whether they work from home, take care of babies all day, or work outside of the house in whatever capacity.
- Know that just as you are completely different from your neighbor, your rhythm may look nothing like the one I am going to share with you. If fact, it should look different. You are different from me, so use mine as a template and go from there. That being said, if you like the feel of ours and want to try it on for awhile, you are welcome to it!
- Lastly, know that your rhythm will, and probably should, change. You may not need to scrap the whole thing each season and start fresh, but most likely you will have to make adjustments and small changes as you go. After all, babies don’t keep.
Steps for Creating Your Daily Rhythm:
Step 1: Segment your day into three sections: morning, noon, and night. Within each of those sections, make a list of your non-negotiables. These are things you need to do each day, like have coffee, eat breakfast, shower etc. Yes, coffee made my list. Naturally.
Step 2: Once you’ve laid out your non-negotiables for each part of the day, look at each section and determine whether or not they are balanced. Here’s what I mean by balanced: if you notice that during each part of the day you are go go go, or give give give, you may need to add in some down time or self-care. If you notice that you are spending a good chunk of down time watching TV, try switching that out for something a little more stimulating like crafting or reading. For our rhythm, I made sure each part of our day included each of the following:
- A time to eat and nourish our bodies.
- A time to move and create.
- A time to rest and rejuvenate.
Step 3: Make a chart on a blank sheet of paper to lay everything out so you can see how it looks from above. I started our day at 5 AM, and took it to 9 PM. Now I know that sounds like a crazy long day, but when you look at it up close, there is balance and starting that early is more restorative than you’d think. I decided to separate our rhythm into two hour blocks, giving us plenty of time to do what we need or want. It is important to give wiggle room and time to stretch within the framework of your rhythm so things do not feel rushed or forced. If you laid everything out and transitioned each half hour, you’d feel like a part of an assembly line. That feeling of being restricted is the last thing you should experience in your daily rhythm. Instead, you should feel time slow, giving you more time to be intentional with how you spend each moment of your day.
Step 4: Know yourself and your family’s needs. This step is the most important one, because if you overlook personality types and specific needs you know should be met, your rhythm will hinder rather than help. Because we have three little ones our rhythm overlaps a bit. For organization and my sanity’s sake, I only included what we do at home during the week. One could make a rhythm for each child, but I feel that would be too confusing. Instead, keep your rhythm focused on the times when you or they are at home, so they and you know the ebb and flow of those times of day.
Step 5: Share it. It’s important to sit down with those involved and go over everything together. I shared this with Andrew before we shared it with the kids, and he had several great ideas to add. He may not stay home with the kids, but this rhythm is very much a part of his life too because it starts and ends when he is at home. When sharing it with little ones, you don’t need to give every single detail or hour of the day. They will organically pick up on the rhythm within several days by way of imitation and will come to know what happens when, and what to expect.
Our Daily Rhythm, An Example:
- 5 AM | MOM UP | YOGA | COFFEE | READ OR WRITE
- I don’t set my alarm until 6 AM but as a rule for myself, if I wake up before then I get up. Waking by 6 gives me at least an hour or so of slow to start the day. As an introvert, this helps me more than words can say. It is essential for me to carve out time that restores my energy, and early morning is a perfect time for this.
- 7 AM | BREAKFAST | CLEAN UP | GET READY | MAKE BEDS & TIDY ROOMS | MAKE LUNCHES
- Fairly self explanatory…
- 9 AM | FREE PLAY | ART & MUSIC
- Free Play | While we do follow a daily rhythm at home, and while we do have a certain cadence to our day, so much of our kids’ world right now is devoted to free play. Their work right now is play, and setting time aside to do just that is extremely important for them both developmentally and creatively. Free play invites a sense of curiosity and wonder that grounds them to the present moment, and welcomes each young one into a fluid space where they can move with their bodies, try problem solving, tap into their imagination, and learn how to be at home within themselves. Experiencing the world through play is a beautiful and natural way to learn, and it does not mean more toys or more scheduled experiences. Free play doesn’t equal things, it equals freedom within a set time to explore, engage, and grow.
- MONDAY: paint
- TUESDAY: mold with clay
- WEDNESDAY: draw with crayons or chalk
- THURSDAY: glue and scissors
- FRIDAY: field trip
- 11 AM | LUNCH | CHORES
- I use my daily chore sheet to keep things simple and tidy here at home. Lunch is made in the mornings and all the kids have the same thing, usually a mix of fruit, veggies, crackers, and a sandwich or wrap.
- 1 PM | NAPS | QUIET TIME | REST
- This time is sacred for all of us, as it gives us a chance to pause and rest in the middle of our day. The boys will usually nap, Stella will have quiet time in her room if she is home, and I’ll have time to lay down and read or write posts like I am doing now, do handwork, or catch up on emails. The kids also have an option to lay on the couch or read in our book nook if they want, but most times they are really tired from playing and welcome this time to snooze.
- 3 PM | NATURE CRAFT | READ ALOUD
- The hours from 3-5 are arguably the hardest for stay at home parents. Everyone is usually pretty hungry and busting full of energy from the day, so we do our best to use this time to get outside and use our creativity. Stella and I are starting a nature journal as a part of our homeschooling and we will also be doing nature-inspired crafts that correspond to what we are learning about that week. Another option outside of crating is to use this chunk of the day for reading aloud. This is one of my favorite ways to connect with the kids and they love it dearly. If it’s nice outside we’ll take our books there, otherwise we’ll cozy up somewhere and dive into the pages and learn as a group.
- 5 PM | MEAL PREP | SUPPER | DISHES | PLAY
- I like getting the kids involved with meal prep, along with dishes after supper. I’ll fill one side of our sink with soapy lavender water and they’ll stand on a chair or stool and scrub away. Once they clean their bowl they can go off an play, which they almost always do. We aren’t super strict that they stay at the table right now, but they must try everything on their plate and then clean their plate when finished. It’s a system that works for us.
- 7 PM | BATH OR BOOKS | BEDTIME RITUAL
- We don’t do baths everyday, but when needed or if they are really hyper. Chamomile epsom salt baths are wonderful for this. If a particular evening does not lend itself to bath night, then we’ll stay in the living room downstairs and read or do puzzles. Once or twice a week we’ll have a family movie night which is always a nice change. By keeping our TV upstairs and out of the way, it makes this time special for them and they don’t take it for granted.
- 9 PM | MOM & DAD HANGS
I know this post was rather long, but I hope you enjoyed taking a look into how I create rhythms and what ours looks like in this season of life with three little ones who are mostly at home. How do rhythms or rituals play a part in your life? How do they help you organize your day? I am working on a Daily Rhythm PDF Template so you can create your rhythm on paper and have it as a handy reference to follow. It will be homemade like this cleaning rhythm, but will be structured much differently to give you room to write and add your essentials! Do you think this is something you’ll use? I’d love to hear your thoughts, dear one!