8 Ways Having a Rhythm Helps a Mom’s Day

The following is a guest post written by Kara Anderson of Quill and Camera.

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?

About Kara Anderson

Kara is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom, driven by an unknown force to write everything down. She takes too many pictures, and never leaves home without a notebook. Read about her adventures with her two amazing kiddos at Quill and Camera.

Comments

  1. andie says:

    thanks for the post! it’s so peaceful to have a rhythm, but as soon as i let things go i get overwhelmed and it takes even more effort to get back into the swing of things. you’d think i’d just realize that i should stop letting things go :)
    andie’s latest post: rainy day ideas 3

  2. Kat says:

    Hi I love this post about rhythm as it is something I have been really struggling with, with my four year old. I would love a closer look at the two piccies you posted in this article. I need some idea of how to put all the ideas into a workable weekly rhythm and yours would be a great place to start. Thanks

    • Kara says:

      Hi Kat,

      Thanks so much! I wish I had more complete pictures to show you, but I will say what really helped me when putting our rhythm down on paper was to focus on the things we were already doing that were working, and then adding in things I wanted us to be doing one at a time.

      I also think it is important to stay flexible and adapt your rhythm as circumstances change. As the weather gets nicer, we’ll be outside a lot more, for instance!

  3. Rebecca Kiel says:

    This is wonderful! You have broken down something that on full days would be difficult to achieve. Even picking one of these tips is enough to restore some familial peace.

  4. I really liked your post. Perhaps the word “rhythm” isn’t one I have mentally applied to these thoughts much before now, using instead “routine”. But the ebb and flow of life does have a pulse, and your word sounds more like a living, breathing way of living rather than something else that could be boring!

  5. Yes! Thank you for this, Kara :-)

    I’m not a “by the clock” type of person, but I do rely on our daily and weekly (and even yearly) rhythms and find that my children find comfort in them, too.

    It is so true what you say about how one event – like a tantrum or a longer nap or those little emergencies that just seem to be a part of the natural fabric of family life – doesn’t have to throw off the whole day. Just start where you are and go on to the next thing. There is always tomorrow :-)
    Kara @Simple Kids’s latest post: Creative Pretend Play Props and Ideas

  6. Laura says:

    I too love the idea of rhythm and it is something I struggle with. Oftentimes, I put other “priorities” before my yearning for rhythm in our home life (although I know instinctively what works best for us).

  7. Don says:

    Even though my wife and I don’t have children of the two-legged variety, we do have two of the four-legged. You could also say we homeschool them as well. We are fairly involved with ours dogs, one is a therapy dog and the other is a therapy dog in training that also does carting and weight pulling. Thus, an obedient (or educated) dog is a must for us. We took dog training classes (school) with our first dog. However, this time around, we are doing all of the training ourself (homeschool). With this in mind, it is important for us to have a rhythm as well.

  8. Jodi says:

    Great post, Kara. I, like Jeri, have often used the word routine rather than rhythm and find myself wondering why I feel so out of whack when things change up. We don’t have our days or weeks planned intentionally, but have fallen into a nice rhythm. I like the idea of creating an intentional rhythm though and just living more intentionally in general.

  9. Tabitha says:

    Rythym…I read this and it’s like a lightbulb went on in my brain. I have been in a restless funk lately, so I blamed it on lack of sunlight and started taking Vit. D. Looking back on the past year, I think my rythym has fallen flat, and this column is inspiring me to reclaim it!

  10. Emily says:

    Great post! I, like a many who’ve posted here, like the use of the term rhythm over routine. Routine seems so boring and rhythm seems so warm and comforting! I really like the idea of having a routine for the funk days. For instance, this morning we had plans for a playdate but my 1.5 DS threw up all over the baby and I and we had to cancel. If I had a rhythm for the “bad” days then my big kids wouldn’t feel like they missed out but perhaps would look forward to it. I’m definitely going to work on incorporating this into our family!

  11. Traci says:

    I love your post, Kara! This is something I really need to work on since, in our house, a dropped grape that rolls under the sink can throw us out of whack for 3 days! OK, maybe not that bad, but sometimes it sure feels that way. I think it’s so important to have a rythym to keep everything centered. While I love to go off on crazy tangents it’s nice to know what to expect once we come back to the everyday norm. Thanks so much for your ideas! I also want to say I LOVE The Very Next Thing and read it every morning! :)

  12. A flexible structure is a wonderful way for us to have a healthy rhythm to our days. And once the rhythm is well established, things run very smoothly and efficiently with little effort. It is glorious.
    I Live in an Antbed’s latest post: Unnecessary Noises

  13. Jana says:

    I love this post! I recently embraced the idea of rhythm instead of balance, which was the elusive quality that I had striven for my whole adult life and especially as a homeschool mom! Rhythm is more fluid and forgiving. Balance is essentially impossible in my opinion. The word routine is also so concrete, which is not my thing. So, thank you for your post and reaffirming this love of rhythm!

  14. GiGi says:

    Wow! Rhythm, what a beautiful word. You have convinced me I can add rhythm to our lives. I am inspired. Thank you so much.

  15. kelly says:

    Great article! Your approach makes me think that I could be a easy going mom one day! Love the photos too!!

  16. Byron Brown says:

    Wonderful tip you just shared with us. I think I will be sharing this post with my wife since she always seems to be out of rhythm for few days already. She’s always out of temper.

    Thanks for sharing,

    B.H. Brown
    Byron Brown’s latest post: Agriculture Horticulture and Animal Care

  17. Beth says:

    Thanks, Kara for this post. I really like the idea of having an emergency plan for the days when things go way off track. We’ve had a lot of those lately. Also, I was wondering if you had any suggestions for transitioning from a nap to just rest time? My son who’s turning 3 still likes to nap but it interferes with his sleep at night so we’re giving up the nap and going to bed earlier. He still could use some afternoon rest but he seems to only live in 2 modes – on or off! Any suggestions for incorporating rest time? I was thinking of putting him in his room (not the bed or he’ll sleep) with books for an hour after lunch.

    • Kara says:

      Hi Beth — I think book time after lunch can be a terrific option.

      We are also in that occassional-nap-means-10 p.m.-bedtime- phase right now!

      I will say that something that Shea Darina talks about in Seven Times the Sun (a great rhythm book) is the need for in-breaths and out-breaths alternating throughout the day. So here we try to make sure that after lunch is an “in-breath” where we do something quiet and inward-focused like reading books, telling a story or even a little gentle yoga streatching. That still gives us a time to rest and recharge, but doesn’t interfere with sleep.

      I hope that helps a little!

  18. Michelle says:

    I love the word rhythm, too. My favorite days are the ones where I can’t necessarily explain what we “did” but at the end of the day things just felt right.

    As to Beth’s question about transitioning to rest time, my son stopped napping around 2 yrs old and we decided to have him stay in his room for an hour since his sister was still napping. It took about 2 weeks before he stopped coming out every 5 minutes asking how long it would be but now both kids do an hour in their rooms everyday without interruption. They are allowed to play whatever they want (my son usually chooses Legos and my daughter usually draws or plays kitchen) as long as they are quiet and settled down. (When we first started I only gave them a few choices so they understood what I meant by quiet and settled down.)

  19. so true…all of it…thanks for the inspiration

  20. Cassie says:

    What a great post. With 6 under 9 whom I homeschool and being a military family things can get pretty crazy. One thing that helps me is afternoon quiet time/nap time depending on age. It allows me some time to regroup grab a cup of coffee and take a few minutes of me time.
    Cassie’s latest post: Wordless Wednesday

  21. This is so true! I love Mondays because it means the return to the rhythm of the week. Great thoughts on why rhythm works and the importance of it! I need to be more firm and intentional with ours. With the weather getting nicer and warmer – it’s harder to stick to it!
    Michelle Richards’s latest post: JANUARY 30th!! Columbia Church launch!

  22. Grace says:

    Oh I loved this post. I’ve been struggling for months to find our rhythm. Your tips were great and I’d really like to see more than just those little glimpses of your schedule.

  23. Michele says:

    My husband and I are probably the least rhythm-related people I know – and his schedule not only gravitates to that, but promotes it. I have chosen to have no more Mondays in my life ; ) because he works a 4/2 split. So he doesn’t even have the same days off each week.

    I can appreciate you don’t want to publish on the site what your actual rhythm is…

    …we are however stuck at a loss for what TO DO as a rhythm.

    A sample would be helpful, even just to get us started.

    I have been out of necessity (lack of $gas money$ and kids being sick) HOME for quite a while. It isn’t working for my son though. He wants to go out. Hubby is upset when we don’t have x, y or z done/clean/taken care of while he is gone, and I won’t spend that kind of time just ignoring my kids.

    Today we are going to (hopefully) get some dough working and play with the dough toys. I cannot STAND play doh, and am going to do this to satisfy him and his wish to play with it (his Dad loves to play it with him. gah!)

    So, Sundays we usually go to church, and we wake in the morning and go to bed eventually at night. Somewhere in there we eat, and I can’t even call it separate meals, because while we sit down together, my son doesn’t eat much at all.

    Any help, thoughts, direction, places to look, anything will be of great help at this point. Even if we are just COPYING someone else’s schedule/routine/pattern/rhythm it will be a help. Because we can eventually fill in the blanks with what works for us.

    • Kara says:

      Hi Michele,

      A Waldorf teacher I know once told me that when you are looking for rhythm, the best thing is to focus on one thing at a time, even if it is as simple as lighting a candle before dinner or reading a book before bed. Any step you take to bring rhythm to your life makes a difference, she said.

      I wanted to tell you about some books that I have found really helpful in learning more about rhythm. The first is Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. This is one of my absolute favorite parenting books and always helps me remember why rhythm is important.

      A few others that have helped a lot are Heaven on Earth by Sharifa Oppenheimer, Your Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy, and Seven Times the Sun by Shea Darian.

      I also found Jamie’s book incredibly helpful — Steady Days.

      In our home, our rhythm does change — I feel like it is a living thing, in a way, and adapts to our season of life.

      But what I try to come back to time and again are the things that work for us easily, like reading a book after lunch, baths BEFORE dinner, Fridays at the library, etc.; and the things that we need to do to function here — that includes things like meals and toothbrushing, but also outside time and rest — we’ve made those things requirements because we know what happens without them.

      So when I look at those things — meals, rest, outside play, reading after lunch, baths before dinner, Fridays as library days, I then include other things I want us to do (like baking bread, watercoloring painting, field trips, etc.) in the spaces between.

      I know that doesn’t even begin to show you what our daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms look like here, but I hope it gives a few ideas of how to get started.

  24. Lauri says:

    Kara,
    Great article. It’s encouraging to see young families like yours trying to get back in touch with simple pleasures like baking and just spending time together. I think your approach will help your children stay grounded in an increasingly rootless world.
    Best,
    Lauri

  25. I totally lost my rhythm when my bub arrived last year, then Christmas, an unexpected trip to visit my family and a holiday further compounded the problems. I thrive with routine and have actually started to feel anxious and out-of-control as a result. I try to keep things consistent for my kids, but haven’t for myself. I’m trying to work out the rhythm for my current season and am slowly feeling more relaxed and content. Your post really resonated with me.
    Narelle @ Cook Clean Craft’s latest post: Felt Car Play Mat House

  26. Nate's Momma says:

    Love this…
    Please enter in drawing for magic school bus science kit.. Thx!

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