On any given day you are most likely to find us communing with the gnomes and the fairies Under The Old Oak Tree

Friday, June 11, 2010

Our Rhythm

I really feel that our rhythm is a constant work in progress and it is something with which I really struggle.  I have  a daily/weekly rhythm down on paper for our family.  I made two charts, one with the basic outline for what happens after W wakes up in the AM for each day of the week.  The other is a list of tasks that I try to accomplish during my "house work time" for each day of the week. I have it posted on the outside door or our computer armoire so that we can refer to it during the day. We don't always stick to what we have posted, but at least having it down on paper helps us a little.  At the very least, if we skip some things one week, the next week we are not left trying to figure out what we are supposed to be doing that day and when.

There are not set times for most things in our rhythm.  We simply flow from one activity into the next as we complete our tasks.   I have set a few anchors in our day however, which are at set times.  These revolve around eating and sleeping.  For example breakfast is at 7:45 AM, lunch is 12:00 noon and dinner is 6:00 PM.  We start the bedtime routine at 8:00 PM and bedtime is 8:30 PM.  This keeps us on track, strengthens our rhythm and generally helps keep peace in our house since I tend to be more sanguine (and therefore loose track of time as I get involved in various activities) and my husband is more phlegmatic (and therefore needs more structure and to know what time certain things are happening).

In creating our rhythm I also tried to take the idea of alternating  "inhale" activities with "exhale" activities which gives our day a wonderful sense of flow.  Inhale activities are things like meals, our circle time, nap time, reading books and more structured activities that we do as a family .  On the other hand "exhale" activities involve more free time and less structure for W and are generally when I do tasks, such as cleaning up after meals, or my housework at this point. Our exhales might also involve going to a park, or playing in the sand box or in the pool together.  For example, most days, W wakes up, we eat breakfast with Daddy before he goes to work (inhale).  After breakfast, W plays independently (as much as he is able to at 18 months) while I clear the table and do the dishes (exhale).  After that, we  have a short circle time where we do some singing, rhymes and finger plays along with a short prayer (inhale).  I then busy  myself with some household tasks while W again plays independently (exhale).  At some point during that time we will come back together for a snack (inhale) and then resume our work/play (exhale) till lunch time (inhale). It took me a long time to fully grasp the idea of alternating inhale/exhale activities and even longer to really implement it.  Now that I have though, our rhythm is much smoother and ebbs and flows nicely.  It also seems to be the way W naturally functions best at this age.  Some independent time or time to release some energy followed by some quiet restorative activities.    Days where we keep to this sort of structured rhythm, are smooth and there are fewer tantrums on his part.  It follows his own energy level and basic needs and he has a general idea of what comes next as we move from one activity to the next.

Other parts of the rhythm, involve rituals that accompany our activities.  I find these rituals to be especially important moving from exhale activities to inhale activities.  For example we like to use, prayer verses, songs and other verses as well as lighting candles at various points during the day to help with transitions.  We have short prayer verses we say upon waking, and before nap and bed time.  When we sit at the table for breakfast or lunch we light a special meal candle and sing  Johnny Appleseed to give thanks before we eat.  At dinner, we again light our meal candle and say a special grace verse at that meal.  We always start and end our circle time with the same two songs as well to signify the transitions.  I change the remainder of the verses and songs monthly however to reflect the the season and any festivals that are occurring that month.

This week I have also paid close attention to my own rhythm and how it affects our family.  Personally, I have a couple of very specific needs that I need to meet each day.  The first is that I need some time on my own in the morning for personal devotions, meditation, prayer, reading and journaling/drawing.  This week I have gotten up between 5:00 and 5:30 AM each morning to have this time alone for these activities.  I found that I am much more centered, patient and an all around better parent when I have this time.  The one morning W decided to get up shortly after I did and my time devotion time was interrupted was a much more difficult day all the way around.

My other significant need is to have time for creative expression.  I love to knit and needle felt and have recently also begun to do some sewing.    I have built time into many of our afternoons and the evenings for this.  Without, some creative outlet every day, I feel stifled.  Like my morning meditations, my  creative time helps me to keep my energy up and  is a soul soothingly productive time.

One final thought on rhythm, is that I strive to see time as cyclical rather than linear as our society and culture would like us to believe.  We do not run out of time, instead, it cycles back around.  Our daily, weekly, monthly rhythm repeats. If I don't finish a project or get some bit of housework done today, it's generally not that big of deal, as the time to work on that task will come again, tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year.  To me this is wonderfully freeing and is key to keeping a rhythm that is both strong and flexible.


  1. This was really interesting to read. I like that notion of time as cyclical as I sometimes find my things to do list tightly wrapped around my ankles.

  2. I loved this post. I love the idea of thinking of activities like inhale/exhale. So often I wish for a more structured life and time to do things. Usually I just grab lunch when I can, craft when I can, sleep when I can....but your system sounds so much more healthy and so awesome for your little one! I might have to reassess the way I do things! xoxo!


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