3.21.2011

Setting Your Rhythm

Why would anyone want to set a rhythm for their family? Sounds kind of hokey doesn't it? I mean who needs a rhythm in today's fast paced world, we never know what might come up, who might call us on the phone and invite us where? It also sounds kind of hippie too, "dude, I found my rhythm, like far out" But what about if you replace the word rhythm, with schedule. Does it sound better that way? Why do you have a schedule? To know when you work next or volunteer next or take the dog for a walk. All of those thing are scheduled so the person performing them has time to get the job done without overlapping into another part of the day. To make everything run smoothly.

What if you apply a rhythm or schedule to your family life? When you set your family rhythm you are conscientiously saying these things are important to us, we want them in our life, here is where they fit. If you do roughly the same things day in and day out the routine becomes your rhythm, imagine how smoothly life would be if your kids knew what came next all the time.

If you look at the world around you, you'll find naturally occurring rhythms everywhere. Seasons come to mind for me, summer is bright full of life and on the go, things bloom. Fall is the natural end of summer, it winds slowly down, you harvest, gardens die, animals get slaughtered, you tuck in for winter. Winter brings a time to quietly live, reflect, recover from summer, slow down and rejuvenate. Spring brings a swell of life, things melt, animals are born, birds return and life blossoms. And then obviously the answer to the momentous swelling of spring is a high fallutin' summer, once again. One big natural rhythm, repeating, breathing in and out. Expanding and contracting naturally.


quietly painting
EXPAND
examining a frog
EXPAND  War Whoop in a Darth Vader costume
 Imagine each day as a small year, you know what's coming all the time. How soothing for small children to know that play follows snack, after play comes lunch, stories and rest, every day. It's what a body needs, moments of quiet/contracting and loud/expanding mixed throughout the day. 


In this day and age when everything is screaming at you to go go go! ALL. THE. TIME. Gah imagine living in a house with the TV blaring all day, bad news pouring out of it, none of it good for kids to hear, where is their rhythm? TV has to be a little louder and quicker to keep us hooked to it so we won't leave. TV has no natural peaceful rhythm and it steals it from our children, keeping them constantly ON and ENGAGED which is troublesome in places and times when they need to be quiet.

As you go about trying to set your rhythm think of the natural cycle of expanding and contracting. Ours works a lot like this:
sleep-quiet/contracting
wake and breakfast-loud/expanding
get dressed-quiet and contracting
drive to school--sharing, talking expanding
drive home with one boy-quiet reflective contracting
chores and housework-expanding loud joyous work
snack time-often quiet sharing of thoughts and creating food
post snack energy burn off-expand
lunch prep-quiet
lunch is loud raucous visiting-expand
rest-quiet contraction, shared stories followed by down time for mom and child
post rest play-expand
drive to school--contract
drive from school expand
after school play is a long expand time with a nourishing snack
dinner prep-quiet working
dinner--usually loud and visiting
clean up-loud
after dinner is some activity usually with the family as a whole working or playing in some capacity
wind down-quiet
snack-quiet
brush and bathroom-loud and a last chance expand
pajamas and stories--quiet, contraction and off to sleep


Our night time routine has been set since our middle son was a baby, sure we missed some parties but he and his little brother are asleep by 8 pm and up at 7 am-day in and day out. Weekends it's kind of a bugger, so we make them play quietly until 8am, our big sleep in. We get up early but our kids sleep solidly 11 hours a night, and when they get to stay up later it is exciting.


I've been reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and I have to say I finally feel like someone gets what I have been working at with my kids for 18 years. It's time to slow down and enjoy the simpler things in life. Turn off the TV, eat simple foods, enjoy simple things and just be. And it's not easy because the bright and shiny newest best thing is always around the corner. At times I've veered off the path and gone after the bigger better shiny things, but I always find my way back. I think because it's so natural and it feels right.

Peace and Love--

3 comments:

  1. OMG, you so wrote this at the right time. We spent this past weekend at my sister's, a place where the pantry is filled with boxed and canned food, to get anywhere you must drive at least 10 miles (to a strip mall) and they are up by 8 every morning with the TV so loud you don't even want to go into the room.

    Keep sharing your message, it is so so needed!

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  2. I love this post! It makes ME feel natural and right! Reading through the day I could totally grasp the feeling of the contract-expand rythm of your days - almost like the contract-expand of lungs breathing in and out, peaceful and natural.

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  3. @Luna maybe your sis needs to read this? might make her feel bad-folks who aren't ready for it can be hurt by it...

    @Christina I'm so glad it made you feel that way that's totally what I wanted to convey-it is like breathing! which is such a natural rhythm in and of itself, gentle and timeless

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