Creating Rhythm & Routine
At Daily Wonder, we talk a lot about rhythm and routine. That’s because we know that young children feel a sense of good health when held by boundaries, including the layout of the day, week, and month. Children learn through play and doing until they reach high school, and they need lots of activities that spark their creativity and provide space for wonder. Then, when they know what we expect of them, the children are freed up to be in the moment. After that, it is up to the adults to create boundaries to free the children.
A friend once told us that she was not expecting the freedom that came when she built a fence around her property. It sounds backward that a fence creates freedom, but think about it; she has a dog that had to be tied up or managed all the time. Once the fence went up, the dog knew how far it could go, and the people trusted that it would just do dog things. We aren’t comparing children and dogs, but we are comparing the freedom fence to boundaries.
Rhythm is your wide-level organization, such as your year, when you start school, what holidays or celebrations you participate in, what time you get up each day, and when you start and end your morning lesson.
Routine – these are the details within your rhythm, such as singing a song to begin the morning lesson, lighting a candle before the story, and how you end the day. Routines are like the rules for how we do things.
Create a routine that works for your unique family.
Every family has different needs, so it's important to take a moment and create a rhythm that will work for your unique family.
You can create a routine by writing down the essential things for your family. These are the things which must happen every day, but also the things that you love so much you want to happen every day. Then consider what things you want to remove from your schedule to make your days more peaceful.
Daily activities that need to happen at approximately the same time each day, like meals, break times, and morning and bedtime routines, are the things which anchor your routine and provide the basic outline of your day.
After your anchor points, add the rest of your daily activities. Then, try to alternate more active and focused times of the day.
Here is just one example of a daily routine:
Here are some ideas for activities throughout the day:
Tips for setting a routine.
Allow plenty of time.
We can ease gently into the morning by ensuring we have enough time to awaken, get dressed, and have a hearty breakfast.
Simple rituals, like lighting a candle, reciting your opening verse or making some tea, gently signal to your child that it's time to begin the morning lesson.
Go for a walk.
If you're finding it challenging to begin morning lessons or to make it through the study before your child gets wiggly, consider adding a morning walk before you start or partway through to break it up. Walking outdoors allows one to connect with nature, notice its gifts, and observe changes throughout the seasons. Walking also brings oxygen and blood flow to the limbs and brain, helping your child feel more balanced and grounded in their body.
Give the routine time to take hold.
If maintaining a routine is not your strength, remember to be patient and give yourself six weeks to hold steady. Then, you will experience the rewards once the habits sink in. The prize is that your child expects and anticipates the flow and enjoys being in the routine. Then you won't need to use your will forces and constant verbal reminders. Instead, everyone will relax, held by the routine, and your days will be peaceful and more productive.
Know when to change a routine.
Like any good thing, you can overdo it. There always comes a time when a successful routine no longer works as it used to. Typically after a few months, a sign that it's not working would be that your children are resisting a once-enjoyed flow. Perhaps they're saying they are bored, or they resist getting started. The first step is to observe this shift in your children. Ask yourself the following questions:
You got this!
Check in with yourself and your relationship to routine, and have patience and compassion with your process and development. In reference to the words of Barbara Coloroso, from her book 'Kids Are Worth It," some of us lean toward being too rigid, like a brick wall, while others tend to be too loose and relaxed like a jellyfish. The ideal position is that of a spine, which is both supportive and flexible. Keeping this image in mind can help us check where we are on this spectrum on any given day.
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