Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Rhythm

I spent the last two months dragging.  Even on the not-cold mornings, I couldn't seem to drag myself out of bed, and when I did it was only to sit on the couch with a cup of coffee and my email.  It's been a fight all winter to get anything done.  I'll admit, it's mostly my fault.  Sort of.  We simply didn't have any momentum.

As March approached, I felt more and more frustrated.  I felt frustrated that we weren't doing more art.  I felt frustrated because we didn't have quiet reading time in the afternoon.  I felt frustrated by the noise, the chaos, and the stress of trying to cram things randomly into our days and still feeling like we were wasting time.

Time . . . it's precious.

Revamping our rhythm is honoring that.  It's acknowledging the things we want and need to do each day.  It's making priorities.  It's making room for the good stuff.  And it's welcoming the new season.  Yes, a bit early, but this is Louisiana.  We have to take our week or so of spring when we get it.

Today, I'm sharing our new spring rhythm.  We do NOT follow this exactly.  Not even close to exactly.  And on Mondays?  Pffft . . . throw it all out the window.  Nice sunny days?  Throw it out and play outside.  We're extremely flexible with this, but it's always nice to have a spine for our days . . . to have goals.

  • Morning Routine = eat breakfast, brush teeth, feed animals, tidy up
  • ~ 9am - Independent Learning = The word "school" sends my big kid into a fit.  This is basically math, handwriting, spelling/grammar, or anything that my 9yo completes mostly on her own, while I read a story and do something with the 5yo.  Also this is time for any computer work I request, like Khan Academy, Starfall, or Spelling City.  
  • ~ 9:30am - Project work/class/co-op/library = More on how this looks in a future post.  We're currently starting a new project on the plague.
  • ~ 10:30 - Outside Free Time =  Some days they go outside first.  It gets the wiggles and loudness out first.  Some mornings they're tired, so they're content to sit at the table and work first.  Whatever.  We're working now on how to politely ask for what they need, and how to request changes in the schedule.  It's a valuable skill, so as long as they're respectful and get the work done before lunch, I'm flexible.
  • 11:30 - Lunch & kitchen cleanup
  • 12:30 - Quiet Time = Independent reading (usually a teeny bit of required reading for the 9yo), quiet play, Kindle, or audiobooks/music.  Whatever they do, they have to do it separately. I love that my girls are best friends, but too much of a good thing brings the WWE into my living room.  
  • ~ 1:30 - Art = Sometimes we'll go longer (especially if they're painting or get involved), and sometimes this is just five minutes of sketching.  The idea is to create something every day except for Friday, which is our day "in town" for classes and errands.  (I mentioned Amy's Art Together series last week.  I'm drawing inspiration from that.)
  • 2:00 -  Snack 
  • Outside Free Time = Again, sometimes this happens earlier in the afternoon.  Espeically if they went outside first thing in the morning.  Once again, we're learning the art of negotiation.  Sell me on your idea and deliver on your promises, and I'm cool.
  • 3:30 - Chores = Usually picking up toys and putting away clothes or folding towels.  We don't have charts or a system.  I do let them know earlier in the afternoon what their chores for the day will be, so there's no last minute shock.  But that's about it.  We do what needs to be done that day.  This works better than anything else I've ever tried.
  • 4:00 - Computer Time = Notice the timing.  No computer time until chores are done.  The timing is key.  They rush to pick up in the afternoons now!  Also, I hit my noise quota at this time of day, so it gives me a little much needed peace and quiet while I fix dinner.  Time to breeeeeaaaaathe.  Mostly this is Minecraft time for them.  Go figure.
  • Dinner
  • Quiet Play / Taekwondo (2 nights/week)
  • Bedtime Routine - 5yo is usually in bed by 7:30, and 9yo goes to bed to read at 8:30 with lights out at 9.  They share a room & bunk beds, if that makes any difference.  I am very flexible with most things during the day, but bedtimes are pretty firm.  If they weren't, there would be no adult-only time in the house.  In the evenings, my kids get super needy, so if they aren't in bed they're glued to us.  I don't join the bedtime/non-bedtime debate; I just do what works for us.
There's a lot more screen time in our days than we've had in the past.  The 9yo seems to be handling it better now.  If I start getting attitude and rudeness, we cut back again.

Knowing what to expect makes a HUGE difference with my kids.  It makes a big difference to ME, also.  I know that in addition to whatever time I can squeeze into my early morning, I now get a quiet block of time every day after lunch to write.  Ahhhh . . . quiet.

Weekends are a mess.  We don't have a good rhythm to our weekends, and the little people tend to get extra anxious/excited when Daddy's home.  I'd like to have an alternate weekend rhythm, but our weekends are sometimes busy, outside the house obligations and projects around the house.  I'm not sure how to reconcile it all.
Any suggestions?  How do you handle weekends?


  1. “ Knowing what to expect makes a HUGE difference with my kids. It makes a big difference to ME, also.”

    THIS. just knowing what was going to happen when took such a lot of stress and fretfulness away for us - no more asking “when?” “now?” and so forth.

    and knowing you are getting your time to do YOUR thing is golden. :)

    1. We all need to know there is time during the day to look forward to!

  2. I have no advice for weekends, although we do try to keep to a predictable schedule in that certain things usually happen on each day. I struggle with a routine too, I *do* try, but my 8yo's desired routine (a little work, a little play, repeat all day) is very much not my desired routine (get the work done, then play). And none of them like quiet time, especially the 4yo.

    1. My kids are like that, too . .. the work-play-work. I sometimes have them put away JUST their socks and underwear. Then an hour later JUST their pants. Whatever gets it done.

      My 9yo is having a harder time with adjusting to the quiet time than the 5yo. The little one enjoys not getting bossed around and doing what she wants to do, but the older one is struggling and I hear, "I'm bored!" a lot, when we've never really heard that from her before.

  3. Great post! I'm loving your rhythm, it looks very similar to ours but with the addition of the art. I love how you say it can be 5 minutes or longer, much less pressure and much more doable : ) I too think some quiet time is essential, though ours is often prefaced by a bit of outside running around now that the spring crazies are here! I have to admit it is me who gets lazy after a quiet hour to myself, but I think doing a little art or a project together would be a nice way to lift the energy back up : )

    1. Thanks! Yes, I find teeny tiny goals offer the best chance of success. :)

      There has been a lot of random running around outside this week. Gotta soak up the nice whether while it's here! And I get the same way after a bit of quiet time . . . I want it to last forever. :)

  4. Our rhythm is way off. I am looking forward to getting through this coming move in the next few months and then really getting into a better rhythm. I posted about it last week.

    1. We're off again this week, too. Sick happens. Moving? Yeah, survival mode. :) Hope it all goes well and you can settle in this summer.


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