I spend weeks and months trying to establish a rhythm, a natural rhythm no less, trying to encourage times of togetherness and independent times, periods of activity and of calmness, inside and outside, etc. And after a 3-4 month period of pregnancy-induced exhaustion and chaos where I let go of the idea of a regular rhythm for our our family at this stage of life, it found us.
I’ve been watching and making mental notes over the past week or two and discovered that things are indeed rhythmic around here. I wake up around the same time everyday and do the same things: dishes, laundry, OJ, coffee, breakfast, computer time. The kids all rise between 8-9 most mornings, except for the absolute strange oddity of Jackson sleeping in until almost noon one day last week. I feed them and encourage them to get dressed, brush teeth, make beds, and pick-up the bedroom, which often takes a chunk of time. By 10-11, we’re ready to come together for circle-time and a wee bit of activity before lunch at 11:30-noon.
The afternoons vary day to day and are different for each child. Alex does reading and some schoolwork between periods of play and outside time. Jackson spends as much time as possible outside in activity. Izzy takes a nap, plays in and out, cuddles for some reading time and follows mama around the house to help.
We’re out of the house every Tuesday and Thursday with co-ops, meetings, and errands.
Even evenings have some predictability with dinner between 5:30-7, depending on when when daddy gets home and when mama thought to start dinner followed by a bit of play and family togetherness (some read, some knit, some watch TV, but we’re together and intermittently interacting.) Then it’s the bedtime routine and sleep.
Okay, now that I think about it, there have been small things that we changed in the past month that seemed to help us:
-I established a housework routine. A friend recommended a room-a-day system that seemed to just click right away. It works because I don’t have a preset list of all the things that must get done in the focus room for it to be successful. If I only do one task in said room, I feel successful.
-Better meal-planning with a couple of fall-back quick meals each week. If I know that I will be too tired to make the planned dinner at least once or twice a week, then it makes sense to plan for those days with a frozen meal or something easy that doesn’t require defrosting.
-Enjoying the tasks that need to be done. With the warmer weather, I’m able to hang laundry on the clothesline, such a simple act that brings so much peace and joy to the task of laundry. I’m trying to remember this while I clean toilets and mop the floor, to find an aspect to the job that brings joy – like not freaking out when the toilet gets touched by little fingers.
-Keeping “school” simple. My basic goals for each day is to read, write, have some one-on-one time with mom and/or dad, and have outside time. I hope for some sort of math application whether it’s planned or just in a daily application of telling time, baking, or shopping.
-Sleep. Now that I’m past the first trimester, I’m not having to eat in the middle of the night and disrupt my sleep and everyone else’s sleep. Also Izzy started sleeping better (I’m not going to say it for fear that she’ll stop – but it’s soooo good!)
-Being in the moment. I’m trying to sit at the table with the kids during breakfast and lunch instead of doing work or sneaking off to the computer real quick.
-Letting go of expectations. I can only do so much and to expect more is going to make myself and my family miserable. The same goes with expecting a 4yo to act like a 10yo – it’s not going to happen and it’s good to have reminders of what is developmentally appropriate so expectations are not set too high.
Some days are better than others and I still have areas where I’d like to improve, but that comes with time. And just because I post about life when things are going well, please don’t think this is the way things are all the time. Chaos is a completely normal occurrence around here too.