Weekly Mothering Challenge: Find Your Rhythm

Every family has its own rhythm, its own pattern of getting through each day, week, and season. And rhythms change, sometimes frequently, based on the ever-changing needs of little ones and the natural cycles of the seasons and of family life.

Sometimes it takes experimenting with different rhythms and routines to determine one that best suits your family; and sometimes it takes more closely analyzing current schedules to unravel the best rhythm. Are there some days that seem calmer, happier, simpler? Are there other days that seem more chaotic and stressful? Take a look at the calmer days and figure out what is happening--or not happening--on those days and try to create a family rhythm around it.

Perhaps some days are more stressful because of too many outside activities and commitments and you might want to incorporate more home time. Or maybe the opposite is true: maybe you are spending too much time at home and need scenery changes each day. Maybe your stress comes from too many homemaking tasks, like laundry and cleaning, food shopping and cooking. If that is the case, perhaps you can tap into a support network of family and friends for help; devote certain days to laundry or batch cooking/freezing while Daddy or Grandma take the kids; outsource some of these tasks if possible; or just let go of some things. For example, neatly ironed (or folded for that matter) clothes are not a priority for me, so my kids and I wear wrinkles and Daddy's work clothes are dry-cleaned.

Our rhythm is characterized by mornings spent reading and playing, often baking then eating followed by an outside activity (park meet-up, homeschool playgroup, museum visit, nature walk, library visit, class, etc.). We then return home for a mid-day nap/quiet period where I can *sometimes* get a leg-up on laundry or dinner. Afternoons are usually spent outside with friends or at a class, followed by dinnertime, then bath, books, bed. Our rhythms have hiccups as well. Toddlers who choose not to nap, chores that pile up, cantankerous little ones who are difficult to motivate--all of these things can disrupt daily rhythms.

The key is to find a simple, sustainable rhythm to your day, try to let it guide your actions and the choices you make on how to spend your time, expect interruptions and "off" days, and be open to change your family rhythms as needed.

Below is a sample grid that may help you to get started with plotting your daily and weekly rhythms. I encourage you to avoid timestamps and instead use this worksheet as a helpful daily guide rather than a set planner. (Click on the image to enlarge and print and adapt.)