Happy summer, friends! Let’s talk about rhythm. While I’d love to start off by chatting about double rainbows and unicorns frolicking in the woods, life doesn’t paint that picture right now. Given the current social, political, cultural, and economic climate of today, coupled with the hard truth that we as parents, and society as a whole, are surrounded by an endless stream of information, news, and media, (much of which is downright horrible and depressing) chaos feels more rampant than ever. I don’t know about you, but life feels undeniably heavy lately. Anthony Bourdain’s suicide rocked me. The immigration crisis has me feeling heartbroken. Our current administration continues to baffle. And then there are many other things going on in my closer circle of family and friends that are downright hard and sad. Do you feel this? Yes, there is indeed hope to be found and optimism to be clung to, but it’s also true that life right now is completely cluttered with regard to stuff, thoughts, feelings, words, notifications, to-do’s, with the overall urge to follow the current of the cultural narrative which is to consume, consume, consume.
When our physical and mental life becomes cluttered, so too can the terrain of emotional and spiritual landscape. Wellbeing hits on all aspects of the whole self – body, mind, heart, and soul – and once you start to neglect one, you begin neglecting another. The four are connected and in taking care of one realm, you begin to heal the whole. That being said, balancing one’s wellbeing is hard work, and before you know it, life can feel like you’re doggy-paddling in the middle of a turbulent sea. Simple things become hard things. Little things become big things. And day to day doings begin to overwhelm. The Rhythm Fairy is here to throw you a buoy to help you keep afloat when life gets too messy, too mixed up, and too complicated.
Does your family have a summer rhythm in place that guides the ebb and flow of your days? Or are your summers more free-form and spontaneous? There’s no right answer, for every family carries a certain energy depending on both the needs of the individuals and the season of life you are in. The energy of your family may respond best to time that is cast like a net wide open, holding possibility for whatever the day may bring, or your energy may sing in harmony when rooted in a rhythm that honors a slow-drip pace with more focused priorities. Knowing the unique and layered energy of your family is important in figuring out how to go about organizing your day if you spend a lot of time at home, and it’s essential when caring for little ones. Children thrive in rhythm — actually, everyone does to a certain extent. Human beings are rhythmic in nature, as is every living thing, and we need a balance of rest and work and down time and play to avoid burnout, stress, and exhaustion, so we may instead hold sacred space to celebrate the beauty of life, along with the promise that each day offers as we weave intentional threads into the daily habits and practices of life at home.
Only you and you alone can truly know and feel the energy of your family, and that determines more or less what you’ll be able to handle in any given day. I am an introvert, and while I very much enjoy socializing and am not a home-bound hermit (most days), I know that a lot of activity, noise, rushing, and sensory engagement throughout the day stresses me out. Nothing empties my cup more than having a day without pause where we go, go, go. It’s a combination of these extroverted energies that tends drain mine, so I have leaned to guard my reserves by being mindful to where I am giving my time and attention. I have also paid attention to how our little ones respond to energy, and for the most part it seems that they flow along the same lines as their mama in needing and wanting rhythm that honors a slower, more mindful pace. And because we are in a season of nap-times, tantrums, potty-training, finger-painting, and sing alongs, rhythm helps the dynamic of our family in numerous ways by providing security, consistency, and simplicity to our lives. One of my favorite things about following a rhythm is that it takes the guess work out of what our day will look like. It doesn’t include specifics or the nitty gritty details of where we’ll go or who we’ll see, as that would be far too boring, but it draws a framework around our time so we know what to expect; therefore, I don’t have to expend more energy on figuring that out! What we choose to do within the framework varies from day to day, but the rhythm remains steady, providing a sense of calm as the sun makes its ways from the folds it’s way across the sky.
Below is our family’s Summer Rhythm, and it’s what works for us five. I stay home with our three little ones (ages 3-7) and I crafted our rhythm based on what I feel we all need in order to have a great day together. While this may offer you some ideas and inspiration, know that your needs may be entirely different, and thus, your rhythm may take on a different shape entirely. Let your intuition and that wise inner voice inside you direct your sail as you craft a rhythm that fits the needs of your family and supports all that you value and stand for.
This is the general flow of our everyday. Although I have included times below, they are only there to guide when needed. If naps runs long, or we are having a great time outside in the evening catching fireflies, we don’t stop to adhere to the clock. Rhythm is in place to offer more freedom, not less.
5 – 6 AM | Mom gets up and has quiet time with coffee, a book, podcast, or yoga to start the day. Dad works out.
7 AM | Breakfast in the kitchen which is either scrambled eggs and toast, or honey yogurt with granola and berries.
8 AM | Mom and dad make beds, start a load of laundry, and the kids free-play before everyone gets ready for the day.
9 AM – 12 PM | Explore and play. Differs depending on the day (see below).
12 PM | Lunch time. We either have leftovers, sandwiches, or something as simple as a fruit and cheese plate.
1 – 3 PM | Quiet time. The boys and I read in my bed and I lay down with them until they fall asleep. Stella and I will practice her daily lesson together, or she will look at books and I’ll read mine. Sometimes I use this time to catch up on chores if needed, or prep for supper depending on what I have planned, but I try to make this time restorative and full of rest to give me the energy I need. If the boys happen to not nap, we still do quiet time and I we will look at books together or I will put on a calming show, something on PBS kids or Little Bear.
3 – 5 PM | Outside time, weather permitting. We almost always head outside after naps and quiet time to get out some energy and play. We’ll either go for a walk, head to the neighborhood pool, or play in the backyard until dad gets home. Being outdoors is an instant cure for the witching hours.
5 – 7 PM | Supper time. This differs depending on the day (see below). I rarely use the oven in the summer, so meals tend to be fairly quick to prepare.
7 – 9 PM | We usually do baths on M, W, F and let the kids stay up later than usually because it’s light out until 9, but if they are in need of an early bedtime we begin that whole process around 7 PM. A typical summer evening consists of more play after supper, usually in the backyard, followed by baths, books, and bed around 8 PM, if we’re lucky.
9 – 11 PM | Mom and dad hangs!
Days of the Week
On Monday | we get back into the swing of things.
- Chores | Deep washing day + catch up on emails, correspondents, etc.
- Lesson | Reading practice with Stella
- Play | At home
- Supper | Pasta night
On Tuesday | we play with friends.
- Chores | Outdoor organize
- Lesson | Writing practice
- Play | Play-date with friends
- Supper | Taco night
On Wednesday | we picnic and ride bikes to the evening market.
- Chores | Indoor organize
- Lesson | Number practice
- Play | At home with picnic lunch at a park
- Supper | Slow cooker night
On Thursday | we explore around the city, and mom and dad go on a date!
- Chores | Windows and floors
- Lesson | Reading practice with Stella
- Play | Library, museum, or other cultural outing
- Supper | Date night / leftovers
On Friday | we clean and craft at home.
- Chores | Deep clean day
- Lesson | Writing practice
- Play | At home and do a seasonal craft
- Supper | Grill out
On the Weekends | we adventure, rest, and restore with lots of family time.
- Neighborhood farmer’s market
- Meal plan
I’d love to hear how you and your family do things in the summer when the days are longer and time more free!