We are creatures of rhythm. From the moment we are born we are ruled by the rhythm of the seasons, the tides, the days, the heart. Sometimes it feels right to just wing it and take life as it comes, but the practice of living life in rhythmic waves helps reduce stress, provides security, promotes productivity, and supports a tidy, cozy home.
I already had a sense that some sort of daily structure would make me more present-minded, but I lacked the training to create a functional daily routine. Then, this summer I took Kerry Ingram’s online Healthy Home Rhythms course, which offered the perfect amount of guidance to create a framework for my family’s days. Different from typical routines, home rhythms are effective because they are balanced energetically, diverse, and flexible.
After completing all the activities in Kerry’s course and seeing it positively affect my life, I began researching home rhythms more to better understand their effectiveness (nerd alert). Kerry has a background in early Waldorf education, so it wasn’t surprising that all of the sources I found online related to home rhythms were based on Rudolf Steiner’s philosophies about human development. Here’s the rundown:
Children and adults alike handle changes best if its expected and occurs amidst a familiar routine. Predictable routines allow children to feel safe and to develop a sense of mastery in handling their lives; as this sense of mastery is strengthened, they can tackle larger changes. Rhythms are not strict, they simply act as a compass. They are an intentional flow to your days and weeks, and if the rhythm is broken for a spontaneous event, the routine acts as a baseline to comfortably return to the direction and continuous productivity of the day.
Rhythm is different than a routine or schedule. Adhering to a rhythm involves being mindful of the breath: breathing in the day and out the day. When intervals of energy exertion are not broken up with at least brief periods of turning inward, it oftentimes results in physical and mental exhaustion. The inhales are times of calmness and reflection, and the exhales are times of interaction with the outside world. For example, you may share an intimate breakfast (inhale), then go outside for a hike (exhale), then come inside to wash hands and clean up (inhale), followed by emptying your email inbox while the kids entertain themselves (exhale).
Daily and Weekly Rhythms
Daily rhythms offer flexible guidelines for greater mindfulness during each activity, which is vital when it comes to offering your children quality time, or a clear head for sinking into creative projects. Children also feel a sense of ease when they know what activities they can expect throughout the day.
Weekly rhythms provide structure for making and balancing time to commit to various aspects of your life. Furthermore, the repetition of the same weekly activities promotes excitement and appreciation for what makes each day of the week special.
Family traditions that mark the seasons are a great way to celebrate the change that can be anticipated within the home rhythm. Young children thrive on anticipation of special days, and traditions offer a concrete way to interact with the cycles of the otherwise abstract calendar year. To help foster the excitement and appreciation of mother nature’s rhythm take lots of walks outside to the same places throughout the year and plan holidays and traditions together. Try to celebrate each season with at least one tradition.
For both adults and children, allowing sufficient transition time reduces stress for everyone involved. Bedtime, cleanup, coming to the dinner table, or getting out the door don’t have to be times of high-energy and potential trouble. Think through all the steps that need to happen between activities and do them in the same order every time. Your children will begin to memorize the rhythm, and you will begin to realize how long it actually takes to transition. Usually the cause of perpetual lateness is the lack of allocated time for transitioning between activities.
Our Summer Rhythm
- Mom-time (usually starts at 5:30am): yoga or meditation, tea, work
- Kids wake up, wash up & get dressed
- Make breakfast & prep for dinner (if necessary) while kids play by themselves or help cook
- Breakfast (alternates between pancakes or french toast, smoothie with hot cereal, and eggs with toast)
- Home care while children join in or not
- Baby nap & project: art, gardening, music, etcetera
- Lunch & clean up
- Errands, or free play while I catch up on emails
- Baby nap & project: art, gardening, music, etcetera
- Dinner & clean up
- Bedtime routine: bath, stories, gratitude, song
Each day I allocate a chunk of time in the morning to work alongside my children, a chunk of time to take care of the house, and I stick to a weekly cycle of dinner themes to make meal planning easier. My eldest daughter knows that tacos will likely be the dinner the evening after Stir Fry Night, so she eats her veggies and rice willingly as she anticipates the next evening. She also likes knowing that on Family Day she gets to help roll out crust for quiche.
Weekly Waldorf rhythms for children include watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, gardening, bread-making, and festival preparations. As a creative and a mother, my weekly rhythm involves art-making (painting, printmaking, drawing, collage, usually done alongside my daughter), baking, gardening, and playing music. I also rotate my “work” time during the mornings between graphic work, art, blogging, and social media, but I didn’t share that on our schedule below. Now that Amelie has started school, our rhythm will be changing, but here’s how it’s been for the past month:
- Monday: Art, Floors, Stir fry
- Tuesday: Garden,Groceries, Mexican
- Wednesday: Walk with Grandpa Bill, Laundry, Leftovers
- Thursday: Art, Bathrooms, Italian
- Friday: Music, Floors, Meat & veggies
- Saturday: Family time, Bedrooms & Studio, Quiche & salad
- Sunday: Baking, Laundry, Crock pot roast
I would highly suggest taking Kerry’s Healthy Home Rhythms course because it offers an easy-to-follow step-by-step approach to creating your own system. She provides beautiful seasonal rhythm and meal planning wheels designed by illustrator Kathryn Cole that are refreshing, unique approaches to weekly schedules. I’m a big advocate for print materials that incite joy in you so that you’re more likely to continue using your products. Poorly designed materials create subconscious feelings of unease and distress.
Does your family have a routine or home rhythm? If so, how has it affected your life? What are some tips that could make a family rhythm stronger and more effective?
** Note: This post was a self-directed review and summary of home rhythms, inspired by Kerry Ingram’s online course, and supported by additional research into the Waldorf method of using rhythmic routines in the classroom. All opinions are genuine and solely my own.