Creating A Rhythm

I had pondered whether or not I should write this for 2 reasons. 1, I shy away from sharing these kinds of things simply because I know my own struggle as a mom. Someone shares what is working for their family and how well their kids are doing, and I start to compare, thinking I need to rework things to be better. 2, I honestly thought this might be a bore to read! But, I kept getting messages whilst sharing snippets of our day on instastories: “what does your typical daily schedule look like?” With homeschooling and sensory needs, we need structure, but freedom within it.

Instead of sharing our daily schedule, because there are changes each day, I’d rather just talk to you about creating a rhythm vs. a schedule. This is something I’ve grown in the past year because when given a schedule, I like to stick to it. So creating more of a rhythm has provided freedom, structure, and boundaries that we need and work specifically for our family, and what works best for Kai. Rhythm is more about a pattern and less about having every little thing planned out. A rhythm provides stability, and the boundary of when to say no. Not because something is scheduled, but because it’s going to cause a rift in our rhythm, which throws everyone off. Case in point, last week when I ignored our Monday rhythm and it was awful until Wednesday.

Here’s what our rhythm has become, based on lots of trial and error, always changing for the season that we are currently in (so our rhythm now in summer looks different than our rhythm in the fall). This rhythm is going to grow and change. It might speed up at times or slow down, but I encourage you to create your own for your family. Your rhythm will be different from mine, and that’s good!

Morning Rhythm: Our morning rhythm starts the same way each day. I get up when Kai gets up because it’s always early. I’m currently trying to just have some time to myself before Kai gets up, but because we still co-sleep it’s difficult. Right now, the attempt is if he wakes up before 7 (which is every day), he can play quietly in his room, but not come out of his room until 7. Sometimes he does it, sometimes he doesn’t. If he’s up at 6, it’s not happening for him to play in his room by himself until 7. In that case, he can sit beside and me and play quietly while I’m doing my quiet time.

I make breakfast and brew the all important and 100% essential coffee while Kai plays nearby. After we finish breakfast, Kai washes his plate (with a little help), then we go brush teeth and do his morning affirmations (super excited to share this integral part of our day with you soon!). He then makes his bed and we connect and have free play for about an hour. To kick off our school time, we typically do 20-30 minutes of proprioceptive sensory time. You can see one way we do that here, another here, and there’s another one to come. Then for the next 30-40 minutes we do whatever we have planned for school, always involving brain breaks with movement and sensory play with sensory bins that gives an experience of what we are learning. A big part of our morning rhythm: No screen time until we are done with school.  It’s usually one 20 minute show while I’m getting ready. This was a big variable we changed in our rhythm, and I’m vulnerably going to share with you why soon.

Afternoon Rhythm: After lunch and rest time, depending on the day we either go outside, or Kai has gymnastics. We hit a nearby park, blow up the bounce house, or in the winter go to a nearby indoor play place to burn off energy, see friends and get social interaction outside of me. Kai is a total extrovert and we get lots of social time throughout the week.

Evening Rhythm: Typically around 4:30 I start prepping dinner so we can eat by 5:30. Kai either wants to help me because he loves to help me cook, or he wants TV time while I prep. Some nights daddy is home to play before bed, but regardless of who is home Kai ends each day picking up his toys, taking a shower, brushing teeth, affirmations, books, then bed.

Self-Care Rhythm: Kai and I are literally together 24/7. I love it and wouldn’t trade it, but I don’t get much of a break as we still co-sleep and he doesn’t do outside preschool. The 2 hours 3 times a week he has at gymnastics are all I get, and I use those 2 hours to get as much work done in that time as I can. But for this introverted mama, I had to learn (and my husband had to force a little bit), that I cannot wait till I’m at my breaking point to ask for help. He’s done a better job at recognizing and giving me time to just be alone, but it’s hard when we are in the season we are in and he is working so much. So, I’ve learned self-care is so important to my mental health, but that doesn’t always have to mean me leaving to get it. One of the ways I do self care is after Kai goes to bed when it’s all quiet and everything is picked up, I get on my yoga mat for 30 minutes. It is my absolute favorite way to end the day, as I can literally feel the tension release from my body, and I know I’m a better mom the next day because I got that physical and mental shift. I could write a whole post about this, but typically, Jonathan tries to give me at least one day a week where I leave the house and just have time by myself.

Within the Rhythm: 

Mondays: We are coming off of busy weekends filled with fun but also overstimulation. We need a day to catch our breath, and fall back into the rhythm of the week. So our Mondays look like staying close to home. After our morning rhythm, we go run our errands, which for us entails anywhere between 2-3 grocery stores to get what our allergy kid needs. Then we drop things off at home, go have lunch with my husband, then come back home for rest time. In the afternoon, we are free to do what we want. In the summer that’s swimming, or when it’s nicer outside the park, or sometimes Kai just chooses to stay home and play if the weekend was extra crazy. But big errands are done and I don’t have to worry about it the rest of the week.

Tuesday/Thursdays: After our morning routine, we do a little flip flop with our afternoon rhythm. Kai usually has gymnastics for 2 hours in the late afternoon/early evening, so we use our post school time to do what we usually do in the afternoons. These days usually mean a crockpot meal because we get ready to go right after rest time and get home after dinner time. I have a ravenous little boy on those nights, and post dinner it’s straight to bed. Tuesdays I typically have ministry meetings, so I leave as soon as dinner is over and it’s precious dad/son time.

Wednesdays: After 2 days close to home, I’m usually going pretty stir crazy, so this is typically our outing day. In the summer, we have a summer bucket list and we use this day (mostly) to check those things off. In the fall we are at the zoo on an almost weekly basis. We eat lunch wherever we are, Kai rests in the car, then we have language lessons in the afternoon from 3-5. After that Kai can either help me prep with dinner or get some TV time. Sometimes I use this as a self care night and peace out to a coffee shop alone when Jonathan gets home so I can do things like work on this blog, other times I save it depending on what else we have going on the rest of the week.

Fridays: This is our fun day! Our rhythm on Fridays looks a bit different. Morning stays the same except we don’t do school on Fridays. Instead after breakfast, we play for a bit, then I let Kai watch a few shows while I clean. I used to save cleaning for Sundays, but then was stressed out at the state of the place the whole weekend and stayed up too late Sundays, so I tried this, it worked, and it’s become our rhythm. After it’s clean, we head to our ice cream date at our favorite mall where we have another routine. Ice cream, Disney Store, lunch at Chick-Fil-A, Lego Store. Then it’s home for rest time. Since Jonathan gets off work early on Fridays, Kai doesn’t typically rest because Daddy is home and he just wants to play. We typically do a quick dinner of left overs from the week, then we pop popcorn and have family movie night. Fridays are my favorite and Kai’s too. We look forward to fun Fridays every week.

Saturdays: Either I get up early for some self care by myself, or if Jonathan had a late night I let him sleep. Either way, our rhythm is the same with no screen time. Kai has gym from 10-12, so we’re out of the house by 9:30. Regardless of whether or not I got some time by myself, we go out to eat as a family right after gym. We usually have things to get done afterwards, projects to finish, or yet another birthday party to attend. Usually there’s not much of a rest, and mama is so tired by Saturday night we usually have another movie night.

Sundays: We like a slow Sunday morning. We do breakfast, I sip my coffee, we play together and have some connection time as a family. Then we get ready and go to church. Depending on the Sunday, we may also have life group in the afternoon, and if not then Kai and I typically go out to MiMi & Papa’s house for the day while Jonathan works. Kai always falls asleep on the way home, and Sunday is my planning day. I sit down and plan everything we are doing for school, sensory time, adjust plans if there’s a meeting or event we need to serve at, meal plan, make a list of things I want to get done both around the house and my home business. And yep, I even plan out my social media posts for the week because I do not want to be on my phone all the time. It’s also hugely important to me to create valuable content that helps and encourages you, not just throw things to the wind. With multiple groups and social media accounts, that alone could be a full time job. It makes everything go so much smoother when I just take the night, plan it all it out, and don’t have to stress about it the rest of the week.

So that is our current rhythm, and some of that just changed 2 months ago. In motherhood I’ve grown so much in looking at my son’s needs and knowing what he can and cannot handle. Sometimes that means us saying no to doing something with friends or going somewhere that would be fun and he would enjoy, but there is always a cost. It’s been an ongoing process to balance structure and nurture and swing too far on the pendulum in either direction. It’s been stretching to go from schedule to rhythm, but so much better.

Whether you are a mom, married pre-kids, single, in a relationship, empty nesters, no matter what season, I think it’s important to find a good rhythm that works for you. It’s something I wish I would have done even before Kai. Id’ love to know, what’s your rhythm?

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