I've Got Rhythm...Or At Least I'm Trying to Get Some

One of the great perks and one of the great problems of being a stay-at-home mom is that every day is clear and empty of everything except the little people you share it with. I love the flexibility and the fun of being my own (and the little peoples') boss, but in my heart of hearts, I crave structure, routine, a plan. And sometimes I wish it wasn't my job to make that plan.

You know as well as I do that often the best plans are derailed before noon on most days with the littles - stuff simply comes up. But I also know that my kids (and me) are happier when there are at least some touchstones of each day that are the same - the same time, the same way of doing it - a rhythm: breakfast when we wake up, lunch and a nap around midday, a walk in the late afternoon, stories before bed. In between, things can amuck sometimes, but we can always jump back on at one of the touchstones.

My rhythm (and motivation) has been off since Jane (or even some before). You know how a pregnancy and a new baby can shake things up a bit. And I'm trying to get it back. I like to get to a point that when I say, "OK, Charlie, naptime!" He hops up from what he's doing, grabs his "softy" and we go for a snuggle and he's asleep in less than five minutes, because it's just what we do. It's a beautiful thing.

I like the thought of having days that come in and go out like the tide - lots of different things to do, but a sense that things are in motion and rolling smoothly.

There are lots of blessings and benefits of having a routine - not a rigid, unbendable schedule, but a routine. I've read several things that have inspired me lately in that direction and given me some great ideas. I just wanted to share them with you, in case you are looking for a little rhythm, too.

First, I read Steady Days, by Jamie Martin, a blogging mom of three. This is a lovely, simple book that gives lots of helpful ideas and a feeling of empowerment to do what works in your own home. Most of all, I appreciated the gentle way in which she outlines her reasons for getting organized and having structure for her and her children, with one of her primary goals being to create memories and be grateful for the magic of every day. She articulated for me something that I've always believed but couldn't put my finger on: Structure doesn't inhibit, it empowers. If you have a rhythm and routine, then when out of the ordinary things come up (fun and not-so-fun), you're not totally sunk, but you are free to enjoy the fun or deal with the crises without losing your mind.

I also believe that there are two main kinds of childhood memories: the once-in-a-lifetime-type trips or experiences, and the quiet daily feelings and simple rituals of home. Having a routine and sense of order makes both kinds of memories more likely to happen and to be truly happy.

Second, I ordered Managers of Their Homes, a planning tool for homeschooling families. This is definitely more "how-exactly-to," and might not appeal to a lot of people, but I found it immensely helpful in reevaluating how I use my time and realizing the gift of time and my stewardship over it. I know that I can't do a schedule the way that's outlined here, but I do know that I can use my time better, and I really liked the practical advice and Biblical basis for valuing time and ordering our homes in this book.

Third, I really like the ideas at Inspired to Action. You can subscribe to this blog and get emails about making motherhood a mission and a joy. It's mom-fuel of practical tips and inspiring anecdotes, plus some great giveaways.

The common thread in all three of these resources was the idea that Mom needs to get up and get going, but first and foremost, she has to give herself some quality time - for spiritual uplift (uninterrupted calm and quiet, prayer, scripture), for physical revitilization (exercise), and planning the day. All this is stuff I already know, but as I kept running into, expressed forcefully and eloquently, I started to really understand that "me" time is the best thing I can do for my family, and that's it's not selfish and it's not something to squeeze in between all my other to-dos if I can - it's something that will facilitate all those other to-dos and help me actually get them done!

So, I'm going to start this week on making my morning work for me, beginning with a little exercise and a little quiet time alone before the nuttiness of the day begins. It's small, but it's a start to finding a good rhythm.

What's something you do to help your days with children flow?


Linda Stahr said...

I have found that it is difficult, if not impossible, to home school without a schedule. That's why next year, we're going to have one. All of the curriculum that I have found has a schedule built in to it, it's all in when I want to start school. I'll send you a list of the books and curriculum that I've found - as well as a link to my OTHER blog when I decide to finally post about homeschool. it's a blast. I'm working on getting on a schedule too. it's not always easy, but incredibly worth it. good luck

Super Happy Girl said...

This post makes me wish I had known more about resources, ideas, tips etc when my kids were growing up. I could have used the help.

Kat @ Inspired To Action said...

I'm so glad you like the blog. Thanks so much for blogging about it!