Rhythm–Part Two: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

The three parts to rhythm include rhythm for yourself (so hard to set it for your family if you don’t have any rhythm to what you do in your day, your week, your month, your year!), rhythm for the family members and pets and/or livestock, and rhythm for the things in your home (a plan of care for things because all things take maintenance!)

Today we are looking at YOU.  Many mothers tell me they have a really hard time with rhythm, starting with sleep and what time they get up.

In order to get up and set the tone for your family, you must go to bed.  That, of course, is not nearly as simple as it seems sometimes.  Sometimes at night we are just thrilled to garner some time alone, or some time with a spouse if we are married and then we are up rather late on top of being up all night with:  the child who had a nightmare and can’t go back to sleep/the toddler who is restless/the baby who still wakes up.  Then, we find it hard to get up, we get up and jump into everything since the children are awake and running around, but then we do not get to take a shower or put ourselves “ together”  first.

Yup, been there and done that.  There is an interesting post on the value of getting up here:  http://waldorfjourney.typepad.com/a_journey_through_waldorf/2011/01/when-i-.html

Going to bed is the best insurance we have in case someone will be up all night.  Getting up and then getting into the shower first thing, unless we make it part of our rhythm to take a bath or shower at night,  is also important. Our self-care has to come in somewhere, (and for right now I am talking about plain and simple physical self-care), and I think especially if you have multiple children or older children, it is easiest to take some care of yourself first.  If you have a different experience, please leave it in the comment box below!  I would love to hear everyone’s perspective!

So, here is just a list of free-flowing questions to help you think:

When do you go bed?  What time do you need to go to bed?

What time do you get up in the morning?  What is happening at that time and has your family already left the gate without you?

When is the time for your self-care?  What do you do for your self-care?  How do you take care of your skin, your hair, your teeth?

When do you exercise?

When do you go to buy clothes?  There is a saying that bras really shouldn’t see a birthday, that they need frequent replacing, and this made me think of how many mothers out there are still wearing old bras, underwear that is old, and they never buy clothes for themselves either due to finances or it is just so hard to take multiple children with them to  buy clothes.

When, in the course, of a month or a quarter of a month, do you schedule in your own dentist, doctor, hair appointments?   I see mothers who rarely, if ever, have these kinds of appointments.

And here are some thoughts of “the variables”:

How does the co-sleeping baby/toddler/child impact getting up?  What is your attitude about the early riser in the home and how do you handle this?  This season is not forever!  Melisa Nielsen compiled some of her thoughts on this subject in relation to a discussion regarding this on her yahoo group here:  http://waldorfjourney.typepad.com/a_journey_through_waldorf/2011/01/i-want-to-get-up-but-my-kids-are-early-risers.html

How could other family members help you if there are other adults present in the home?

If you are a homeschooling family, who can help you with your children during the day so you could attend a doctor’s appointment or a dentist appointment?

I would LOVE to hear what you are doing for your skin care, exercising, how you juggle any appointments you need in the comment box below..

Please, please make it a priority to take care of yourself…again, this is just the outer part of you, I am not talking so much about personal development, inner work, rhythms of prayer here…but I feel sometimes if we get the outer part ordered, then the inner part can come…

Lastly, here is a back post for you about self-care which also addressed this theme: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/10/18/the-sacred-art-of-self-care/

Many blessings,


23 thoughts on “Rhythm–Part Two: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

  1. I’m reading this at 1.45am where I live. Enough said! Night all, and thanks for the very timely reminder to prioritise caring for ME!

  2. I go to bed at 9:30pm, but it’s “Me” time until 10pm…Hubby joins me then and we sometimes stay up until 11pm….which is about a half hour more than I need. We’ve been trying to work this out but you know rhythm…

    We rise at 6:30am…..I am slow to get started but while my hubby occupies the bathroom getting ready for work I tidy the bedroom, open the shades and rouse my 8yos. Once hubby is out of the bathroom it’s my turn to use the toilet, wash my face and put on moisturizer, brush my teeth, my hair, and use deodorant. By this time he is on his way to the kitchen (he pops his head into my 8yos room to be sure he’s up and getting dressed) and I get dressed. We all gather in the kitchen by 7-7:30am.

    I go for morning walks/hikes or I use our elliptical in bad weather. my goal is a good workout at least 3-4 times a week. My life is constant motion during the day so I spend as little as 2 hours a day sitting.

    When do you go to buy clothes? This I am very bad with…don’t get me wrong, I love fashion…just don’t like the cost of it. I shop at consignment shops sporadically, when I look at my clothes and find myself sighing. Once a season, about, I buy new. I am very very guilty of the old undergarments. However, my MIL has convinced me to go and see a “bra sizer”…yes, there is such a person at most undergarment stores. I feel this will help me buy, at least, new bras every year.

    September is dentist, and doctor month for us. New school year, new records for our health. I have my dentist apt with my son, and my drs apt while he is in class. I enjoy a hair apt every 5-6 weeks. I found that if I schedule my next hair apt when I am paying, I will not forget to schedule it. I put the date right into my iCal and my hair stylist calls me and reminds me of my apt the day before. A good haircut has the ability to boost spirits more than I can even express. In the interest of cost I have a couple friends who took a few classes in haircutting and they cut and color each others hair once a month for the cost of boxed hair color. In the interest of intimacy, I cut my husband’s hair…have for 25 years. There is something very sexy about cutting your mans hair 🙂

  3. Carrie, these are great reminders. To help with getting my daily exercise, shower, and minimal hair styling, I joined a gym through a local hospital that offered high quality child care. The care providers were CPR and first aid trained, moms with kids in school (typically) and ratio of teachers to kids was high (appt necessary to drop off kids). This facility had showers and lockers. I could get in a solid workout and then shower and dress in peace. However, if my daughter needed me (I did not want her to be crying in the care area), they could find me fast so everyone was happy again. This type of facility costs more but the child care add on only came to about $1.00 per day ($31.00 per month). It was well worth it!!!!

  4. Wow. Thinking about when I last bought clothes without multiple children or had a doctor’s appointment (midwife doesn’t count!) actually made me cry. I can’t believe how much the outer care has drifted away. And while I keep trying to make room for some inner work, I realize I’ve practically given up doing anything more for myself physically than showering. It’s eye-opening. Thank you, thank you.

  5. We had three kids in 4 years and the area of self-care was so hard for me! Those were very tough years in this area. I do not think I saw a dentist at one point for 3 years (I am paying for that now:) Back then, I found that one thing that helped me was getting up early early in the morning to have time alone-maybe read, have coffee, and do a quick run outside. Even if I was exhausted, I felt better overall thru the day. Also making sure the kids got their naps on time was helpful as I sometimes was able to sneak in some time for myself. Of course, when they were very small this sometimes meant napping on or with me while the others slept-but at least it was quiet. Also I remember in those real young years, we went to bed so early people would laugh at us! But there was just no other way we could get through the next day. It does get easier and now I actually miss some of those tired days…

  6. Such great topics! Self-care and sleep! We have a co-sleeping breast-feeding toddler which results in my husband having to sleep on the couch to get any night sleep. Clothes shopping and bra shopping! I cannot express how grateful I was for my husband to drop me off at Victoria’s Secret with the request that I buy myself a new bra. I have been breast-feeding for two years, and I had no idea what size bra I even wore anymore. The ladies at Victoria’s Secret fitted me with the perfect bra which made me feel both comfortable and sexy at the same time. They were so attentive and helpful and it was such a luxury and pleasure to do something so simple as get fitted for a bra. I highly recommend it.

    As for exercise, it is on the top of my list for things to do on my husband’s days off. I usually run to a local studio that has no membership fees, but lets you drop in for a class for $5. I really love the spin classes–they are not hard on my body, but I really feel like I am getting a lot of exercise in short amount of time. When I had just one child, I used to walk everywhere and do pilates at home, but with two children now it is harder to find the time to walk as much, so the class at least once a week really helps. I am also doing the kettlebell challenge on the Cheeslave blog page which starts next week and runs for seven weeks. It is free, and she is giving away prizes as incentive the whole time. It is an intense 20 minute workout that can be done at home. She has links to online workouts.

  7. Definitely something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately! My toddlers are up very early, so there isn’t a way for me to do anything for myself in the morning. My solution to this is to lump a few things together…I take the children to the gym with me in the late afternoons most days. After we have eaten dinner, the three of us shower together and thus begins the bedtime routine. If the weather is nice I will take a long walk or jog with them in the stroller during their nap time, in lieu of the gym. Then, again, dinner and shower to follow. That way I guarantee that I exercise and bathe most days before my husband comes home, thus allowing me more time to spend with him.

  8. I have just been thinking about this lately. I am now working almost full time as well as parenting and being pregnant while my husband attends grad school. I was feeling so exhausted and burnt out before Christmas, and I realized it is just because I am not taking care of myself. How can I have the energy to support everyone else when I am exhausted and frumpy? I have found going back to work has thrown a huge curve into my rhythm, as I was used to staying at home and having things much slower and less pressured. No solutions here – I’m just trying to re-find my way (and of course as soon as I do I’ll be having our new baby so then I’ll be starting over again . . .)

  9. Though my kids are nine and seven, this past year has really been the first since I’ve been a mom that I have been able to to devote much time to myself at all. There are many reasons for this–my kids were both fitful sleepers and early risers–I was always sooo tired, and coupled with the fact that my husband worked long hours and travelled frequently, any time I had to myself was usually spent running to the grocery store and doing other errands which were difficult to do with kids in tow. In addition, our income was significantly lower–there was no money for nice haircuts, new clothes or shoes, etc, much less to pay a babysitter. It was a very frustrating time for me, as I knew what things what help me to feel better about myself, but felt a real inability to make them happen. Looking back, I really don’t think there was much I could have done differently. As far as exercise, I have never been a gym person, and I have always done best with exercise that had a purpose–so getting a dog that really needs a good long walk every day has made it essential for me to get out every morning. Sometimes I look at it as one more thing I “have to do,” but really it is for me as much as the dog, and if it weren’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have the discipline to be doing it.

  10. I would really like to get up – before the kids would be wonderful but my goal is with them and get right in the shower. Now I am usually 20 minutes behind them and I feel like the morning “prep” time takes too long. They play really well while I take a shower, dry hair, etc. This is something I have always done since they were little (only 2.5 and 4.5 now). If they want to join me in the shower they are welcome and both loved it between ages 1.5 and 2. Eventually it would be nice if this could be the time we all get ready. My 4.5 yo can get dressed now by herself while I am getting ready – but the other one is still dependent on me – more for motivation.
    I shop in the evenings (anything for my family or for me). After dinner and cleanup I leave one to two times a week. My husband is with the kids and then puts them to bed. I usually do major grocery during the weekday when my one child is at a speech class. It’s easy only having one child with me and we get things done. I rarely, if ever take them both to the store.
    Exercising is the hard part for me. I have not figured that one out yet. The evenings are not the time I want to do this. If only I could get up at 6:00 am and get in a nice walk outside, come home, shower and be ready for the kids. But I am so tiered.
    Bras! thanks for reminding me. I think this would be a great thing to do – my birthday is coming up :-). There is a great store here that specializes in fittings. What a luxury!

  11. For me, it has been important to keep in mind that the rhythms we establish will evolve over time, incorporating the people involved and their various needs. I wanted to share an element of my “mama” time (with one child). My son gave up naps around age 5. After that, we had a transitioned into “quiet” time- roughly an hour of us each in our own space doing quiet things (me: resting, reading; him: reading, playing with toys in his room, etc). This was slowly established- increasing increments over time! Our “quiet time” now has further evolved into it’s next phase: now taking place around 4pm-1 hour after he gets home from school, so we’ve had some time to spend together/ wind down (park, outside time, reading a story together or snack, etc). He and I prepare a project or activity for him (playdough, beeswax, sewing, knitting…) and then I do my yoga asana practice for roughly an hour.

    My son will work on his project and occasionally watches or joins me. It was so helpful to remember that it is also nourishing for children to see the adults around them caring for themselves. Of course, this has gotten easier as he’s gotten older and more independent! After this “quiet” time, we prepare dinner (another sweet opportunity for us to spend time together before bed!). I am really enjoying “hunting” for creative ways to build in opportunities to get everyone’s needs met- and even more so if we end up finding a way to do it together. Of course, every day is not smooth or includes all these things 🙂 I have to remind myself to also accept the present moment and let go, and that it is the overall striving that guides us all along- not always easy to do! Blessings to all of you families out there on your journey!

  12. I am up at 3 am this morning, having gone to bed with him at 6pm. May I please be your most extreme case? Ha. Today is day one of the experiment. So far I did so much work that it is crazy, I don’t know what else to do. I will also greet my son with brushed teeth this morning, which matters to me a lot. I don’t have time for exercise, other than farm work, though I know that I could be doing yoga every day at home, but I forget. I scheduled a haircut via our local Time Bank (it is trade-based, i.e. I will do something useful for someone else). I am blown away with your statement about bras. I thought it was my own little secret, and no other woman out there ever practiced wearing bras for years…. hmmm. Victoria Secret online shopping for me, an all committed Voluntary Simplicity practitioner – yes, I insist, I save up for a good one or two – in all these years of not upgrading a bra!

  13. ok…after reading other people’s comments I MUST add that I ALSO have two grown children (25 and 20)….so I have been in “this life” a loooooong time 🙂

  14. a great series carrie! i needed to read this now, starting homeschool next fall with our kindergartner and toddler and baby little sisters…should be interesting…i KNOW i need a rhythm to our day in place BEFORE the fall…now is the perfect time to really work at it more…we do have somewhat of a rhythm, of course, but taking care of mama is hard. i do find going to bed earlier a few nights a week to be key. (when daddy is working late) then i have more energy to stay up when my husband is home so we can have some time together. the other thing that is crazy important to my day is having time in the morning, while the children eat breakfast and play, to sit in my chair in the sunshine, read a devotional type book, drink coffee, and just BE. with a young baby a 3 yr old and 5 yr old this time is essential in having a good attitude for the day, being at peace…my problem now is getting baby into a napping rhythm so i can be present for the other children to create more of a pattern for their day… (instead of relying on pbs kids or videos as i am currently! ugh! so bad!) ….again thanks so much for this…

  15. I have a co-sleeping breastfeeding 18 month old that still wakes 2-4+ times a night. My son and I sleep in his room together while my husband sleeps on his own in our room. It’s not ideal but everyone gets sleep this way. My son is a fretful sleeper and does not sleep deeply the first part of the night which means I cannot lay him down and leave once he’s down for the night. I frequently read for an hour or so while holding him after he falls asleep – so I guess that could count as “me” time. I function better on 8-9 hours of sleep so getting up before him just doesn’t work for me – 10pm to 7am is my prime sleep time. Naptime (just one (1 hr to a rare 2 hrs) since turning 1) is my main “me” time when I usually choose to eat lunch/knit. My husband works a rotating schedule so it’s up to me to maintain any sort of rhythm. If I need/want to go clothes shopping, we all go together on one of my husband’s off days. I grocery shop with my 18 month old after story time at the library on Wednesday mornings since the grocery store is right across the street. I try to get us outside for at least a little bit everyday and this often involves a walk of some sort, which equals exercise for me. Occasionally I get in a yoga DVD. I also go up and down the basement stairs to the laundry room multiple times a day. On days when my husband is home in the evenings I take a separate shower after my son’s bath. On days when my husband is gone in the evenings, my son and I shower together. My son comes with to any doctor’s appointments I need unless my husband just happens to have off. I really need to make a dentist appointment for myself, but it just hasn’t happened yet. It doesn’t help that we move frequently so I often am having to find/research new offices for self care.

    With only one child, I find it easier to just take him with me rather than try to coordinate around my husband’s work schedule. This means that everything we do revolves around my son’s sleep/nap/eating needs. We don’t live near grandparents and are new enough in our current location to not know anyone well enough to leave my son with anyone. Also, my son is very very shy around people he doesn’t know and leaving him with someone not a parent right now would result in hysterical crying which I refuse to cause.

    So, yes I may personally be a little neglected right now, but it’s gotten better as he’s gotten older. At least it doesn’t take me 12 hours to get 6 hours of sleep anymore like when he was a newborn. And it will continue to get better since my husband and I have pretty much decided that he’ll be our only.

  16. Hi Carrie,
    Great series. I especially like reading about how other mamas care for themselves.
    For exercise, we bought a mini-trampoline for inside. I bounce lightly while I read. Also, have you heard of the book, “90 Second Fitness Solution”? The book shows positions that you hold for 90 seconds, such as the plank and wall squat.
    I bathe before bedtime. It makes me feel as if I’m getting a head start on the day. Haven’t figured out the clothes shopping since having our second kid.
    Thanks for this series,

  17. Pingback: Weekend Reading: January 28, 2012

  18. Self-care… I can barely even comprehend where to start. I never liked clothes shopping before kids, and since I have had kids I don’t think I’ve bought more than 10 things in 6 years. My evenings have me tied to my 10 month old, my mornings start at 5:00am and I’m already chasing the older kids because they get up running the moment anyone in the room stirs. My coffee is always cold by the time I get to chug it down before our morning walk. We have one car in the family, and my husband can’t take time off work for appointments, so we have to schedule everything on Saturdays, and then things other than me always take priority (except when it is an emergency)

    Exercise? I get jealous my husband works out at his gym 5-6 times a week. I get to go on leisurely (toddler speed) walks around the suburbs once a day. When I try to do yoga or my back exercises for my chiro I become a climbing toy for the baby.

    It is absolutely and utterly frustrating. and my temper has shown it these last few months much to my horror and dismay.

    • Oh, Tracy! I just want to reach out and hug you and have you over for tea!!
      Can you work anything out with your husband or with friends or extended family in order to make yourself more of a priority? After all, if you get sick or are just otherwise not feeling up to speed, the whole family does suffer. You do so much for your family, and you deserve to be taken care of as well!

      I hope things this year take a decided turn for including some time for you!
      Many blessings, in joy,

  19. I too neglect my self-care terribly. I wash my hair at the sink, myself as well because my 4-year-old daughter won’t give me peace in the shower or tub. If the curtain is closed for a shower, somehow it means I am gone. If I try to have her sit quietly and talk with me during a bath, the draw of the water is too much and she is trying to play in it while I bathe and my temper flares. I need to try having us showering together again, as it has worked before.
    We co-sleep with dad in a twin bed across the room and when we rise together it can be alright when I have had enough sleep and she doesn’t wake early or follow me out of bed for a pre-dawn call of nature. Those early risings can be rough when I just want to crawl back under the warm blankets, but she insists she’s hungry and wants breakfast, “NOW!” I’m torn as we wean. Do I lure her back to sleep with the breast, or encourage the food and less sleep for me? I like the cuddly wake up, but know it is ending soon.

    Doctors’ visits get scheduled with daughter tagging along. She learns so much, perhaps too much about her parents’ health.

    Exercise is playing with her: bubble chase, walking with her (she’s fast and has been for a while now). She’s an encourager in this. “Run with me, Mommy.”

  20. Pingback: Rhythm in Our Home « Ducks in the Pond

  21. Pingback: Weekend Reading: January 28, 2012

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