“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.
Peachy Robinson - I love your blog and it’s a part of my “rhythm” during morning naps; I read a post while sipping my coffee and then off with the laundry.
Do your children attend preschools of any sort? Will they eventually attend school? If so, does your daily rhythm work around that? Thanks!
admin - Peachy, it warms my heart that you build this space into your rhythms. Thank you 🙂 So about schooling, our kids attend both preschool and kinder both outside and inside the home. We’ve found a school that allows them to do this and it works beautifully for our family so I get to do homeschooling several days a week depending on the child. Theodore will enter Kinder next year and Alf will still be in a toddler program, which is kind of like preschool. Our rhythm works around this and when I am at home with the boys we do what I’ve listed from 9-12 usually. Being a former teacher has helped me tremendously as teaching comes natural and we love that they have the option of both education in a school setting and also at home where they can specialize on certain things with me. Hope that makes sense! x Amanda
Peachy Robinson - Thank you ! I have feet in both worlds and prefer the home rhythm and trying to be more intentional about rooting everything in that. Thanks for your input!
Sarah - Loved reading this as I’ve been thinking about creating rhythms with our growing family. Thank you! I’m wondering when you find time for running errands? This takes up so much time for us!
admin - Sarah, oh errands. I have eliminated the number of errands I run over the years so that I really only run errands one day a week to get things we need. I get our dairy delivered, we get produce for the week on Saturdays or Sundays as a family, and then I order everything else I am able to to prevent me from having to go to the store. We also live in an area where they promote walking to things like the post office, etc. so I usually build that into our walks for outdoor time. Errands with three kids is SO HARD so if I have to go somewhere I try to do it on the weekend by myself. x Amanda
Amber - Thanks for this post! I have an almost-one-year-old and am at home with her; seeing your day helps give me ideas for the next year. And I love Simplicity Parenting – that book is packed full of good stuff.
admin - Amber, it’s a book I return to almost monthly for wisdom and advice. Bless Dr. Payne! x Amanda
Basant - It was nice reading this amanda. i have few questions for you..does stella go to preschool? and what do you think about sending the boys to few days of preschool ? why do you prefer homeschooling?
Angi Campbell - Oh, I love seeing your family’s daily rhythm. We are also big fans of having a daily rhythm, and while ours looks a little different, the same basic ideas are there. Thank you for sharing yours, it is inspiring to get a glimpse of other people’s rhythms and ideas. 🙂
Eda - thank you for sharing this! we are just a few days away from welcoming our second bebe and I get anxious when I think that the some-kind-of-a-routine we have with our son levi (2.5) will crash once baby girl arrives. but I know that I have to be patient until we find a new flow as a family of four.
in the last couple of months I made getting up before everyone else a routine for myself and it helped me a lot with having some alone time. hopefully, I will be able to do that after the baby is a few months or so old (crossing fingers)! I love that you are doing crafts every day and will try to incorporate that more into our days, too. also I like the circle-time! since we don’t have a garden I find it quite difficult to just go outside for a short period of time, like just to breathe in the fresh air, because I feel like the bag packing and putting shoes, coats and so on always takes so so long. or if we go outside in the morning I have less time to prepare lunch and if we go out in the afternoon I feel the same with preparing dinner. maybe I should try food prepping!
anyways, thanks for sharing and I’ll be sure to take some notes. eda
Bre - Do you have a system for your children’s finished crafts and art work? What do you decide to keep and what to toss and do you have any storing ideas. Thanks!!
Courtney - We have an art wall where we hang the kids favourite pieces. The rest generally gets put in a folder and we pull them out to use as wrapping paper for birthdays or Christmas and the smaller pieces for handmade cards. We find our family and friends love this and also allows the art to be used rather than just thrown away. We also tuck a few special pieces away for ourselves and to show our boys when they’re grown up xx
Devon - Thanks for sharing this! It helps to see what other families’ days look like. Would you be willing to share where you find your Waldorf books? Thanks!
Kristin Raugust - Love this! It sounds so lovely and calm (I know it isn’t always – but it seems pretty great!). We follow the same pattern pretty much every day but I struggle most with trying to DO anything with the kids when we are at home because it feels like there is so much cleaning up to do ALL THE TIME! Recently after school all the kids in our block have been playing at the park across the street. It’s awesome, everyone is outside for this extra 2 hours – BUT it totally wrecks trying to get inside to work on piano or make dinner without a rush. Ugh – work in progress! We also live somewhere where we can walk to the grocery store (it’s on the way to school!) so we usually incorporate walking and shopping. Love the 4 values above – going to ponder how to view the day using those filters 🙂
Thanks for sharing!
Caitlin | Our Natural Heritage - This is a beautiful family rhythm, thank you for sharing the details! I love that you manage to fit in time for both yourself and your marriage each day – it gives me hope that I will be able to do this someday too!
Erica - I love this! Do you have any suggestions for “uncreating” a rhythm? My children are 5, 3, and just turned 1 a couple days ago. None of them have been good sleepers, and my youngest still wakes up several times a night and also naps very poorly twice a day (sometimes). I have to rock him to sleep, and I have turned to letting the other child/children watch TV while I do so (out of desperation). It usually only ends up being an hour to an hour and a half a day, but I would REALLY love them to not rely on that so much. I have a lot of guilt about letting it get to this point, honestly, but I know that trying to take it away is going to be a huge battle that I’m not sure I have the energy to fight right now.
Laura Plachta - My kids took Suzuki violin lessons from age 5 up, we had practice inserted into our daily routine which grounded us in effort together once or twice a day. It is another dimension of routine which I agree families need to stay together happy. Short instrument practice with praise and goal earning rewards is a nice balance to free time activity.
Kali Ramey Martin - Thanks for sharing this! I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to thank you enough for introducing me to Simplicity Parenting. I read it when I was newly pregnant with Emmett and it filled my nervous heart with so much hope and determination. I knew there was a different way to do things I just didn’t know how to put it into words or methods. His simple ideas are the backbone of our parenting and our family rhythm and I will be forever grateful for the perfect timing that book came along.
I’ve had “Family Rhythm Post” on my planner for like two weeks, so I chuckled when I saw this post. Perhaps it’ll give me the kick in the pants I need to get mine done. As always, thanks for sharing your life. You’ve been such an inspiration and encouragement to me. 🙂
Brandy - Your days sound so similar to mine. We start our school time around 9:00, too. It is so good to make space for quiet time. My oldest has really come to count on it in the three years since we began. I wish you the best in your Waldorf adventures!
Ashley - That picture of Alfie over the sink is a perfect capture of childhood. You should enter it into some contest! I loved reading this post and gaining inspiration for how to create/improve the rhythm in our own daily home life. xx
Page - Amanda, this seriously made my morning to read! I am pregnant with our first child and have recently been feeling so overwhelmed with what life will look like once this blessing enters our lives. As always, but especially today, your words brought me such calm, joy and excitement at what our days and lives will look like. I appreciate you sharing your heart and passion for simplicity, it truly inspires me so very much. I look forward to putting a similar rhythm in place once our sweet babe arrives. Thank you for such a lovely read!
Norelle - This is just lovely! I look forward to the time when me and my family develop a rhythm. I am a mama to a nearly one year old. I feel like my life has been turned upside down. My husband and I both work full time so we don’t get to spend a lot of time with our daughter during the week. It’s very challenging and I don’t even know where to start with creating a rhythm. But reading your post helps give me hope.
Jessica - reading through previous commenters and your replies… First I love this post. I struggle with routine greatly and my husband always tells me that the root of the chaos in our house is because of lack of routine.
How do you get your groceries delivered? Or do you do that on the weekend alone? Grocery shopping is like torture with three kids!
Kimberly - What are your favorite Waldorf books for songs/etc? My babes are 3.5 and 1.5, and they would both love stuff like that! Golly I don’t know where to start! 🙃🙃🙃
Laura - Thank you so much for your blog! Even though I am a working mom of older kids (13 & 8), you still inspire me. In that vein, I am wondering how your new puppy fits into your rhythm. Our new puppy has been with us not even two weeks and it is so much harder than I had anticipated. Like, really really hard. Does life with your fur baby feel chaotic? If so how are you dealing?
K - Thanks for this post. I love the idea of having a rythm and am convinced it’s making life easier when there is a flow. It sounds so easy when you write about it, yet I struggle to see how I’d get something like this in place myself in my family (kids 4 and 1.5 years old) – especially the 4 year old has a very strong will and would not agree on doing a lot of things. Could you write more about HOW you actually introduce and keep the rhythm practically? Do you children follow easily, or how do you handle situations when they don’t want to do what you suggest as part of the rhythm? I know you say you don’t follow the rhythm strictly, but still, if you are able to do all this even once that’s very impressive in my eyes.
J - I love this! Your blog and insta are basically my happy place. But when do you find time to work? I’m a work-from-home mom of a 19 month old. I mostly work at night, on weekends, and during nap time (which isn’t that long). Just curious what other working mamas do. Thanks!
Sana Ali - Thanks for sharing this Amanda! I would love to hear what a day looks like when they are at school? Is this when you carve out time to work? Curious how you manage to get so much done for your blog as well as all you do at home. It’s pretty amazing 🙂
Molly - Same question here 🙂
Rochelle - Amanda,
I also homeschool our children in the morning…our days actually look very similar. Could you speak to when you do chores/housekeeping? You probably wrote about it and I’ve overlooked it, but I didn’t see it in the schedule. 🙂
Fernanda - Lovely routine Amanda, what time do you go to bed?
Emily - My husband and I had our daughter a year ago and we’ve really been re-defining the structure of our lives as we seek to set up our own “rhythm”. Your post inspires me and gives me continued motivation to seek out the simple life that my husband and I crave and the kind of life we think our growing family will thrive in. Thank you for sharing 🙂
admin - Emily, you are so welcome! Never too late to start a rhythm. x Amanda