Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture: Rhythm (Part One)

There are many reasons to have a rhythm to your days: small children under seven crave stability and knowing what is going to happen; rhythm helps regulate such physiological processes as sleepiness and appetite; rhythm teaches children that home life is reliable and that parents are dependable; rhythm provides a balance so the needs of all in the household is addressed; and rhythm addresses the place of us as humans within the larger context of time and seasons.

Also,to me, an most important part of having a family rhythm is that it is an outward way of expressing your family’s values.  A family that values gardening, for example is going to have a rhythm that looks different than a family whose life includes lots of music.  Rhythm is another way that forces us, as parents, to be mindful as to what we are creating as family life, what is essential, what our mission is as a family in raising our children.  The beginning of a new year is always a wonderful time to go back and review your family mission statement. If you do not have a family mission statement, it might be an interesting process for you to ponder and go through.

I talk to so many women who state that garnering a rhythm is just plain hard.  Their main complaints and challenges about rhythm center around several things:

1.  That rhythm is too forced and scheduled.  My argument to that is perhaps these ladies are trying to build too elaborate a rhythm. Rhythm is different than a minute by minute schedule. If your life right now is diapering, naps, mealtimes because you have toddlers and very small children, then your rhythm IS those things. Nothing more, unless you think there needs to be something very essential added to that.

2.  Rhythm is set in stone and therefore rigid.  I think of rhythm as a flexible and adjustable thing that changes with each day of the week, and with the seasons of the church and the seasons of the year.  Here is a back post about changing your rhythm with the seasons:https://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/17/changing-your-rhythm-with-the-seasons/  Rhythm also changes as children grow and family situations change.

3. That they, themselves, are too irregular  (and what they are not saying is that this irregularity leads them to not be able to set a rhythm for their family).

Ah, well that is something different right there.  The baby steps to rhythm can often be challenging for mothers.  It is hard to be the leader sometimes,and move children toward bedtimes and mealtimes…but the more days that this leading happens in a row, the more it will naturally happen, the more the resistance to rhythm will decrease.

Baby steps happen with getting up at the same time each day, and having meals at the same time each day.  This will naturally put naptimes and therefore bedtimes in the right place.  If you want your children to have an earlier bedtime, chances are you have to have an earlier naptime, and in order for that to happen, youall have to get up.  And in order to get up, you actually have to go to bed and not stay up all night.   If your small children are waking up frequently all night, then going to bed earlier will help you cope with this.

This back post may also be helpful to you:  https://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/01/05/rhythm-for-the-irregular/

4.  Rhythm doesn’t work for them because the rhythm is too harried and too “packed in”.  I say to these mothers that they must discern the essential.  You must add in the:  extra time it will take to get out the door with five children, the time you will need to clean up  from a meal or an activity, the extra time something will take in general because the children are very small.  A rhythm, to me, must be simple to work.

Awhile back, I loved Rebecca’s description here of the simple, unhurried rhythm around personal care for toddlers:  http://bendingbirches2010.blogspot.com/2011/06/personal-care-for-young-children.html

If we are to provide health to our children, one way to start is with a peaceful rhythm.

I think in planning rhythm, there are three levels we must consider:

1.  Rhythm for ourselves

2. Rhythm for the people and pets in our family

3.  Rhythm for taking care of the “things” in our family, and the errands that support those taking care of those things.

I recently sat down and made simple tables for each day detailing the general flow to our day, and in the empty box on the right of the descriptor I made notes specific for that day and activity.  It was very easy, and helped me really get back on track after the holidays.

More thoughts in my next post on rhythm!

Many blessings, and in joy,


15 thoughts on “Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture: Rhythm (Part One)

  1. Some might say I am obsessed with rhythm, lol! I love that you are tackling this. It is so very important and a major foundation to not just Waldorf living, but life in general. It is the key component in keeping happy as a homeschooling mom and fighting burnout. We spend a LOT of time refining individual rhythm for families in our program Thinking Feeling Willing. It is so important.

  2. Lovely post! I often struggle to find my rhythm, especially because it changes as the weather/daylight changes and as my toddler’s needs and abilities change. You’ve reminded me here that changing, flexible rhythms ARE part of our rhythm. Maybe I just need to embrace the overarching rhythm to our daily rhythms 🙂

  3. Carrie,
    So true about the irregular part – not having had ‘rhythm’ for many years and not knowing what it was when I had it in my life – we are having a hard time in our household establishing this.

    I am having a having a hard time establishing this. My husband has no thoughts, no needs on his end for this, so there is no help, no back up. Only expectation and silent blame.

    I randomly picked an activity my son likes at school and decided to plonk it on Friday afternoons. It gives us a goal of coming home after getting to the bank, and being here for lunch and then painting. Painting with stockmar colors from Nana (albeit tiny little jars, hope they last a while! : ) on real water color paper (on sale instead of the heavy heavy stuff we use at school.) I painted once also. I love it too. He wants to use all his colors and I have limited him to two. he’s even had an ‘assignment’ – paint the sun.

    Meals are still a garbled mess thanks to first pediatrician’s suggestion of just getting food into my little guy. So, getting an END to breakfast (especially since we wind up doing errands right after) is tough because we bring it on the road. Lunch is either forgotten or just driven through (no, not drive through – we can’t afford to eat that way!) Food remains on the table so that he can come back and eat anytime – and he does sometimes but I couldn’t give you stats or a ratio on that.

    Laundry is an interesting situation too – it magnifies on odd days with an influx from an different sources, without a rhythm. If I could get it to flow down on a schedule, I think I could get it to flow UP on a schedule. Then there’s the folding…I try to fold as it arrives warm from the dryer, and put away.

    I am trying, now that the boys are well, to get outside no matter the weather (I think my husband thought I was nuts in our windy tundra this AM) and just hang out. My son doesn’t like transition – like any kid – but he doesn’t know how to articulate his heart at all and so it comes out at night before bed or during dinner. “I was hoping to go back out again after we came in.” or the abrupt about face: I wanted to do that. No I didn’t want to do that. And answers to my questions are confusing.

    One mystery solved: Mom I want to go/come home. It means ‘Mama I want to sit in your lap.’

    To be replaced. Well, now he has a new one. ‘I’m tired’. ‘I wanna go back to bed’. sometimes as we are waking from sleep. He gets 11-12 hours a night (usually 11), and no nap. He gets tired, but instilling a nap time with him is hard – because he just wants to be with me when his brother goes to sleep. He wants to be there when I put his brother down, but gets bored and starts talking to him and there is no nap.

    Rhythm is hard, especially since I can’t see it. I can’t see someone else’s unless I live it. I think if I bought one of those ‘things’ they sell – ebook, newsletter, whatever – online for Waldorf stores, I still wouldn’t get it – because I don’t know how to make it work. Work meaning ‘do it right the first time’.

    And that’s the next part I need to work on is perfection – because that is what I learned in school – don’t put the answer down unless you know it is right. Don’t put your hand up unless you are right. Don’t unless you know what you are doing. And rhythm is supposed to be more flexible than that. Or at least I think it is.

    Long, but I am hoping I shed some light on my situ and hope I help someone else with my problem figure their’s out. And the baby calls…

    • Sure, Steph, I will try to write a post with a sample day in it…I don’t know if it would be helpful to all as it is centered around homeschooling two grades aged children…but it may help someone.

      Many blessings,

  4. This is very timely Carrie, as many of us are struggling to regain a rhythm after the holidays. I think you understand and articulate the challenges to rhythm very well. And I think many moms fall into the comparison trap – they feel compelled to do what others are doing, instead of finding their unique family rhythm.

    Thank you!

  5. I’m looking forward to seeing your tables too, Carrie. I think it will be useful to get the idea of it. Have you written similar tables on previous years or is this the first year you’ve planned like this?

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