It was a few days after Christmas, and our house was a mess. The pantry was empty and there was a house-wide sock shortage.
It was at that point, I realized, that we had definitely lost our rhythm.
I first came across the idea of rhythm when reading about Waldorf education methods a few years ago. It appealed to me as a way to help my children know what to expect in the course of a day, week or even season.
Only later did I realize how rhythm brings me a personal inner-peace, and how that positively impacts our days.
It often takes a busy time (like the holidays or vacation) to realize the many ways that having a rhythm helps me as a mother.
1. Setting us up for success
I used to give the receptionist at the dentist office a blank stare when she would ask me about booking three cleanings six months in advance.
But incorporating a rhythm to our days has helped me to know the times when we are at our best for errands or appointments.
2. Living intentionally
Because my children are still relatively young and because we have only been homeschooling for a few years, I sometimes struggle to define what counts as “school” for us.
But our rhythm brings an intention to our days, and makes the weekly events of baking bread or watercolor painting or even just our daily time snuggled together reading feel “real” and important.
3. Creating family traditions
One of my favorite parts about having a family rhythm is how it gives us a chance to create traditions. A seasonal/yearly rhythm reminds us of the cyclical nature of things, and helps us to celebrate smaller but significant events like half-birthdays and special anniversaries.
Because our family longs to create new rituals that are special to us, we also mark special days like July 4th with a tradition of s’mores and a living room slumber party.
4. Throwing out the bath water
I think many of us have experienced a toddler’s tantrum or a school-age child’s refusal to embrace a particular lesson plan throwing the whole day out of whack. I love how a rhythm helps me to deal with the particular upset, but then be able to move on to what comes next and restore our day.
We even have a rhythm for days when things really go off the rails – we pop popcorn, make hot cocoa and grab our bag of library books. Our “emergency rhythm” doesn’t fix everything, but it gives us all a chance to take a deep breath and begin again.
5. Ages and stages
The familiarity of rhythm also helps us as parents navigate the rocky days, weeks and sometimes months of challenging phases or stages.
While we recognize that something has shifted and there is a new behavior or issue that needs extra attention, we still have a track to stay on. We don’t stop having rest time, for instance, even if my pre-schooler is giving up her nap.
6. Setting boundaries
I am a person who struggles with saying a forceful no, whether it is to my children or to work opportunities.
But having a familiar rhythm helps me to recognize our limits and when a no is necessary.
7. A sanity saver
I work from home, and so most days there is a balancing act of e-mails and Legos, uploading photos and changing doll diapers. I don’t think I would be able to fulfill any of my roles very well if I didn’t know there was time carved out of each day for work and more importantly, time carved out to be a mama.
I also really look forward to Wednesday nights, when I go to my knitting group or catch a movie with a friend. I feel strongly that mom rhythm helps me be a better parent the rest of the week.
8. Creating memories
Childhood goes so fast – I hope someday that when we talk about these early years of homeschooling, my children will say, “Remember how we always did this?” or “In our family, our birthday tradition was to …” I think rhythm helps me make our days as meaningful and special as I can.
As I write this now, the clutter is put away, the pantry is stocked, the sock drawers are full. I love holidays, vacations, and long visits with extended family, but my very favorite thing about having a rhythm is how I feel when the busyness has passed, and our simple days begin again.
Have you found that having a daily/weekly rhythm helps your days flow more smoothly?