“Rhythm is one of the most powerful of pleasures, and when we feel a pleasurable rhythm we hope it will continue. When it does, it grows sweeter.” – Mary Oliver
There’s a parenting question I receive quite a bit via email and Instagram these days from other mothers and it’s centered on what our day looks like at home? What is it that we do from hour to hour depending on both the season outside of our windows and the season of our lives as we raise three young ones? I want to share a bit of that here to not only give you an idea of what a family rhythm can look like, but also share that the more specific things that we do together that are ever-changing as growth takes place and we adapt to each one of our kids’ (and our own parental) needs over time.
Our family has been following the a simple rhythm for awhile now and to be completely honest, it’s so refreshing to have it in place. Creating and establishing a rooted rhythm has been essential for each one of us, it’s an anchor that keeps things consistent and balanced amidst the chaos life tosses our way. By creating a flow for our day we have been able to keep things grounded in a world that’s always trying to rush and do more and cram in. This kind of consistency translates into a calmer and more content environment, something we value and are learning to nurture as we grow together as a family.
I want to take a moment to say that creating a rhythm does not mean leaving room for creativity, spontaneity, or whimsy. In fact, because we have a rhythm, we are better able to lean on those magical things when they present themselves in a way that does not disturb the foundation of our needs which are: rest, food, play, and fresh air. These four corners are what I use to map out our day together. It’s important for me to establish these foundations at home while our kids are little.
“With simplification [through rhythm] we can bring an infusion of inspiration to our daily lives; set a tone that honors our families’ needs before the world’s demands. Allow our hopes for our children to outweigh our fears. Realign our lives with our dreams for our family, and our hopes for what childhood could and should be.” – Kim John Payne from Simplicity Parenting
The security that comes from having a rhythm in place can be really empowering for little ones! Theodore now nows that clean up comes after play time, which comes before circle time and I love that. Stella knows that before we have supper we set the table and fill water glasses and help mama with extra chopping. Alfie knows that before nap time there are rituals that we do to calm him so he can wind down to rest. Because our kids know what to expect they are more willing and ready to help move onto the next step and transition when the day bounces on. The kids also know what comes before bedtime, giving them the go-ahead to start trying to do more things on their own as they cultivate independence. For all of these reasons and more, we really love having a rhythm to follow.
Within the framework of our daily rhythm we do lots of different things, but the foundation stays roughly the same. This helps me so much during the day and gives the kids something they can lean into, trust, and eventually grow with. Payne states in his wonderful book Simplicity Parenting,
“The magic of rhythms is in the process, not the particulars”.
I really appreciate these words because they highlight the important fact that rhythm does not have to mean monotony. It does not mean you cannot have fun or explore or tap into creative processes. Rhythm does not equate to a boring life! Instead, rhythm invites all of those wonderful things plus heaps more within a thoughtfully constructed order, thereby allowing for more flow and fulfillment to seep into our days at home.
So why does rhythm matter? Because it creates a strong foundation for growth for all members of the family. I like these works by Sharifa Oppenheimer who authored the book Heaven on Earth, a favorite parenting resource in our library. She says,
“Rhythm is the magic word for parents and educators of young children. Young children thrive on a simple, flexible rhythm that carries them through their day, through each week and through the slowly unfolding years of their lives. Rhythm lays a strong foundation, not only in our children’s lives but in our own.”
Before sharing our family’s rhythm, think it’s important that you know the ages of our kids right now because with growth, rhythms and routines do change. Alfie is 1.5, Theodore is 3, and Stella will be 6 in a few weeks. We are out of the baby phase over here (!!!) and everyone is thankfully sleeping through the night and no longer in cribs. That being said, life is busy and loud and messy, just as it should be while raising a big family.
Our Daily Rhythm at Home
*Note: not everyday looks like this, but it’s a pretty solid picture of what most days do.
5:30-6 AM | I get up around this time and make coffee, read, and loosely plan the day ahead. I usually toss in one load of laundry from the basket in the hall before the kids get up too. Doing one load a day help me so much. I am not much of a morning person but coffee and quiet is seriously magical.
7 AM | The chickens wake up one by one and make their way downstairs for breakfast. We usually have something simple involving porridge, eggs, or toast. Stella makes her lunch (with supervision) and I will make lunch ahead for the boys. I love doing this early because then it’s done and when we are ready to eat I can grab it out of the fridge lickety-split. Right now we are into wraps and cut veggies to dip in ranch. This time is spent in the kitchen around the table listening to music and starting our day together. If we have time and the weather is nice, we’ll all head outside to breathe in the fresh air together. Getting rocking chairs for our front porch was one of the best purchases we’ve ever made! Andrew and I love starting our day there with coffee as the kids play in their pajamas.
8 AM | We all start get ready for school and work. Everyone heads upstairs and I make the beds and Andrew get’s the boys ready.
9 AM | School Rhythm: ~3/5 days a week. One-two days are set aside playdates or adventuring.
- Free Play Indoors
- Clean Up, Clean Up
- Songs & Circle Time – We follow Waldorf books teaching the kids songs, stories, and
- Snack – something light and simple, usually outdoors
- Outdoor Play
- Craft Of the Day – I rotate this depending on the day of the week
- Story Time – the boys each choose several books and we read them together before having lunch
12 PM | Lunch time!
1 PM | Nap times for the boys, quiet time for Stella, and rest time for mama. I tend to do use this time to do something for myself to restore my energy. Sometimes this means doing chore or two while I listen to a podcast – a tidy home makes me happy and calm – and other times it’s spending time in the garden or checking in on things around the house. If I am really tired I’ll sleep too! Ideally, this time is where our house is pretty quiet and I am able to get things back in order, either mentally or physically within our home.
3 PM | Outdoor play if it’s nice out or more indoor crafts if it’s not. It’s important for us to get outside a couple times a day if we can, but for the hours before Andrew gets home it’s most essential. Depending on the day and the weather, Stella and I will sneak in about an hour of fun reading + writing practice while the boys play in the yard. I try and do this while they are still asleep but it doesn’t always work out that way.
4:30 PM | Supper prep in the kitchen with the kids either helping me near the island or at the table coloring. They are all pretty eager to chip in these days so I take advantage of that and it helps their transition to the table. We removed the TV from our living room so if they are not wanting to help me in the kitchen they often times go play there. I am not adamant that they help, but always offer it. I find that when they do chip in supper times goes much more smoothly.
6 PM | Supper time! We all gather and sit around the table and eat together. I want to share this quote here: “Hopefully, by now you accept the idea that rhythm secures life for children; it forms a foundation for their growth. In the wash of life, the comings and goings, sleep and wakefulness, work and play, car pools and more car pools, the evening meal is a red dot with a large arrow pointing to it: You Are Here. It is a pivotal opportunity to establish rhythms that will ripple out and be felt – in other parts of the day, in our kids’ behavior, and in our connection as a family.” -KJP from Simplicity Parenting
7 PM | Bubble baths (some nights), brush teeth, jammies, lay out clothes for the next day (I let them pick them), books, prayers, and bedtime. This routine takes awhile with three young ones since we have to do most of this for them, but it’s one of the most important times of the day because all five of us are together. Andrew and I switch off who reads to who, and one of us cleans the kitchen after supper. Some evenings we will head upstairs before this to watch part of a movie or something, but we don’t like to do that every night. Our loft is where the only TV is and keeping it tucked away from the main traffic areas of our home has been great in reducing time spent in front of screens.
8 PM | Andrew and I love these hours before bedtime because they are (usually) just ours. We either read in bed, watch a series in the loft, play scrabble in the living room, or listen to music on the porch if it’s nice outside. Reconnecting at the end of the day is wonderful for our marriage and something we look forward to each day.
Does your family have a rhythm or particular flow in place? How do you feel it helps things flow more smoothly for you at home? If you don’t have one, I invite you to try something out this week and journal how it feels for both you and your family. You won’t not settle on a rhythm overnight, we didn’t, but trying one on for size is the first step in this process. I also want to mention that we are not crazy strict with this, but we do use it fairly consistently and it has been a wonderful way to build connections as a family.