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

So, if you have been following this series you all know I think the foundation of parenting and homeschooling consists of three things:   inner work and personal development, a religious and spiritual life, and a healthy family culture. ( In Waldorf Education in the grades we lay eight artistic pillars through which we teach academics along with practical work on top of these three foundational things).

We have looked at the beginnings of establishing a rhythm by starting with ourselves.  The other pieces of rhythm include a rhythm for the people and pets/livestock in your family, and then a rhythm of the care of the things in your home and environment.

I think the major piece of looking at rhythm for your family means pondering two important things:

1.  Discerning the essential – does your rhythm reflect the values you hold for your family?  And, if your rhythm does not reflect this for whatever reason right now but those values are still what you hold dear, how will you get there?

and –

2. Balance.  If  you craft a rhythm based on your day and week and find, for example, that everything is geared toward your oldest child, then having your rhythm written down becomes a system of checks and balances; a starting point for change.  Remember, there are all the children’s needs, the needs of the single adult or the need of the adult couple as well or the need of the extended family members in the home as well, along with pets, etc.  All have needs.

Throughout the years, I have chosen different ways to keep track of rhythm.  Sometimes I just wrote a list on the computer or in a day planner; one year I used mainly a paper teacher’s planner; lately I have taken to making a table for each day of the week in Microsoft Word where I could write a note beside each activity.  For example, for today, my little notes looked a bit like this:

Breakfast I may jot down here what I will make and also what I need to do to get ready for lunch or dinner and what child is doing what to help with breakfast
Chores, Check Chores of older children notes here may include what work little toddler and I will do, or what other children need
Prayers/Read Bible notes might include what we are currently reading or special Epiphany prayers
Modeling may include what exercises we are doing
First Grade Main Lesson
(usually I write here what other children are doing)
I write down what we need to cover or do
Fourth Grade Main Lesson
(what will the other children be doing)
what we need to cover or do
Outside Play throw ball for dog, fill birdfeeders, sweep back patio
Lunch see breakfast entry; how toddler can help
Singing for toddler, nap for toddler, quiet time
Read in Spanish book title here
Drawing drawing exercises or free drawing or practicing drawing
Free Play have toddler help wash slide or brush dog outside
Dinner; mealtime chores
Clean up house, get ready for bed

This is so individual to me and to us that I am not sure it will be very helpful to everyone else out there but some mothers really wanted to see an example.  This table certainly doesn’t include many of the things I do for inner work or what happens at night,exercise time, etc…but those things are fairly well integrated into my life at this point… I wanted to show something simple. For us, each day of the week looks a bit different as well depending upon if we have activities outside the home.

Many mothers, especially those of you with really tiny children, have shared your rhythm on your blogs.  If you have a blog entry regarding your family’s rhythm, please leave the link in the comment box below as I know mothers trying to get something down on paper would love more examples…

My only caution is:  rhythm is specific to your family and your family’s values and life. Therefore, please don’t spend TOO much time looking.  Get out your piece of paper and write down a flow to your day. Live with it, tweak it, change it, but start.

Next up :  crafting a rhythm for caring for your things…and talk about chores…

Many blessings,


14 thoughts on “Rhythm – Part Three: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

  1. Carrie, this is such a helpful series, thank you so much! I’ve worked on rhythm a lot for our family in the past three years (my oldest is now almost 5) and it has been amazing! It is so powerful to sit down and meditate on what each family member is needing most right now, where they are needing more time to dwell, more time to stretch, and then crafting our days to help us all with our fullest development. I do this about once a season, or when something is feeling stuck. Also, DH used to be very skeptical (as a more spontaneous, go-with-the-flow type) and now after some experience of having our family live in rhythm, and what it feels like when it falls apart, he is a big fan too.

    I feel like I’ve come a long way with the rhythm of when the kids are awake…..but my own rhythm for ME, for how to get exercise, when to shower, when to meditate or work on inner work, on art, I haven’t figured that out yet and sometimes it doesn’t ever feel possible that I will find time to exercise….if you feel comfortable sharing how you fit these things in, how you find time to blog, that would be so helpful for me!

    Warmly, Kelly

    • I am in the same boat as you Kelly!
      It just somehow seems impossible to get any time to take care of myself, if I set my mind to it I manage to do it for about 3 days and than its back out the window again….

  2. This is a great series, Carrie. I would add to everyone getting up before their children to EAT before your children get up too. I find that I am so productive during this hour or so that when my boys finally do get up my blood sugar is low and I am running on empty (or just a cup of coffee.) This does not make for the easiest transitions into starting the day with my family. An egg or some oatmeal in my belly makes a huge difference.

  3. Thanks Carrie! I have been struggling for many years to find a rhythm. Our family dynamics have changed so often that every time we settle in, it gets disrupted! You have encouraged me to become an early riser though. The thought of it makes me want to curl up in bed and go to sleep honestly. But I am willing to try anyting twice! Looking forward to the next post! ❤

  4. Actually that is really helpful! I love how you incorporate your youngest into what you are doing. I often feel like I am trying to ring fence things against the onslaught of my youngest guy, I find it hard to integrate him sometimes into the way I like to work. I love your suggestions for outside time and how simple activities could make it more meaningful for them. We have a large property but I have to admit I often don’t have the energy for a long nature walk, these little chores would go down so well with my two boys. Great suggestions and thanks for sharing your ideas.

  5. This is a GREAT series!!! I just wanted to add something regarding rhythm for the “irregular” – I wasn’t sure which blog post I should reply to, so forgive me if I should have left this comment in another section. Anyways. We’re a family of 5 living in a pretty challenging climate, and a family member also has a chronic illness that deeply affects our everyday rhythm because it is a completely unpredictable disease, so we never really know if we’re stuck inside a day or not. I’ve been through phases of feeling frustrated because I just wasn’t able to work out a smooth rhythm (you can feel the natural flow of the days when you find the rhythm, whereas a schedule will always feel… mechanic, forced… in my opinion).

    Then it dawned on me that I can never change these realities. So I plan ahead, which means I also make a “Plan B”. And I write it down. That way, in case there’s a storm in the morning and we can’t go for a walk outside, I still use that time for something that resembles that time – let the toddler climb stairs while the middle child pretends a bed is a trampoline, so both of them burn energy and use their bodies. Or, if a whole day is ruined because of illness, I also try to have alternative “day plans” ahead.

    This also means that I have some “emergency meals” in the freezer and a box of a few toys that are tucked away for times when novelty does the trick. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you plan ahead for the possibility that you *might* fall off the rhythm wagon (which happens sometimes even for no good reason too!!!!) it might help “minimizing” the damage and it truly makes it so much easier getting back into things as well. I could write a lot about this but I’ll stop now 🙂

  6. Loving this series!! So needed in our lives right now — and your posts are so helpful both for getting a sense of the whole and for working out the details. Thank you so much.

  7. Love this series too! Thanks so much and thanks for posting the sample chart. I know it is personal and family specific. It may also seem simple, but for some reason, it just really helps to see it.

  8. I am also enjoying this series immensely. I love the idea of rhythm and routine! Yet I am struggling with the realities of a seven month-old baby that still gets up a lot during the night. Yet I know when I am up early (by choice); when I plan out our days; and think ahead and not constantly be in reactive mode, life is better and more meaningful. You truly inspire me! I look forward to your posts so very much!

  9. I don’t have a blog, but can share what we do. I have 3 and 5 year old boys… And we’ve finally figured out what works for us after much trial and error. Flexibility within rhythm is the name of the game for us.

    Our day is…
    Eat breakfast
    Get dressed, teeth, beds
    House love and/or free play for boys
    Snack, clean up kitchen from morning mess
    Outside time, let chickens out
    Lunch and clean up kitchen
    Quiet time
    Day’s activity – drawing, painting, baking, handwork, etc.
    Outside for walk or bike ride
    Bath (sometimes!) and books and bed

    We have a big circle made up of small pieces of watercolor paper right on the wall near our kitchen island (where we eat, so we see it all day!). Each piece of watercolor paper corresponds to that particular part of our rhythm (snack, meals, outside play, bath, etc.) and we decorated them with pictures so both boys know what they say.

    In the chores (we call it “house love”) part of the circle, we put up the chore card for the day… We do one piece of housework every day, there’s no way any of us have the stamina or patience to tackle the whole house at once! Also have separate pieces of paper for the day’s activity which we do in the afternoon (painting, baking, drawing, etc.). All of the pieces of paper have fun tack on the back so I can swap them out as needed… Without damaging the wall. And that way, when I realized that dusting and vacuuming would work better on Thursday’s, I didn’t have to re-do the whole chart, I just put that card out on a different day.

    So, some days if I know we need lots of outdoors time, I may not put the painting card out for the afternoon… Or during advent when we were doing lots of crafts and making presents I kept the Festival Prep paper out every day for our daily activity.

    I like this method because it lets me have flexibility to read our family’s energy and make changes as needed to the chart, but my boys can still look and see why to expect for the day. We have stability and comfort, even though our rhythm changes and flows, and we don’t follow a rigid schedule.

    Today my 5 year old looked at the chart and said, “we need a piece of paper here that says “Play” on it, because we always play for a little while after lunch, before quiet time.”. I thought that was so cool, that he was in tune enough to the rhythm to notice that, and also gave myself kudos for being flexible enough to allow that free play time to develop organically, because in the past, I was WAY too rigid with our rhythm, and that caused all sorts of angst for all of us!

    That’s what has been working well for us. I have a separate document where i keep track of ideas for our stories, crafts, etc.


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

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