With routine comes the comfort of familiarity and security; an aid to help make sense of the world around us and where we fit in. We feel safe when we know what will happen next. A shared structure to the day, week, month, seasons and year within a family or setting helps to build a community with collective experiences and hopes. Yet often a routine can feel rigid and stifling and loaded with expectations and time constraints.
As an early years teacher, before having my daughter, my life (and that of my children) enjoyed many of the benefits of routine, but struggled continually with our nemesis – the clock! Days when we didn’t want to stop for break time at 10.30 am as we were on a roll. Days when everyone seemed to be hungry and there was still half an hour until lunch. Or when it was a blisteringly hot day, but our turn to do PE. These imposed restraints interrupted our beautiful flow. So, when our daughter Floss arrived I knew I wanted to find a way to have a sense of routine without the hindrance of time. I started to do a little research and found the idea of rhythm.
While I tried to gather more information about what rhythm was and whether it would work for our family I stumbled upon Eloise Rickman’s account on Instagram @mightymother_ and in turn her fabulously informative blog Frida Be Mighty. Eloise was re-running an online course called Rhythm in the Home. A course that would help me understand what rhythm is and how to implement it in our home. I found the course truly inspirational (I’m not being paid to promote this course – I just genuinely found it incredibly helpful). Click on the links above if you’d like to find out more about the course.
The content on the course resonated perfectly with what I was hoping to achieve. It made me realise that we had naturally fell into a rhythm at many points of our day. Rhythm seemed strong around meal times, getting ready to go out and bedtimes for us. However, I could see that having a more predictable pattern to other parts of our day could help with some of the more tricky times such as late afternoons before dinner. I’d also started to notice that Floss was becoming a little more shy when out and about and found visiting some places a little too overwhelming.
The idea of having a rhythmic pattern to our week seemed very helpful too and through the guided support of Eloise’s course I began to formulate a rhythm for our family. We’d gradually introduced micro rhythms into our day and built upon the ones that were already in place over the Summer. So, towards the Autumn of last year we had our initial rhythm plan in place. Rhythms aren’t to be rigid and Eloise encourages you to take stock and make adaptions to your rhythm periodically through the year.
As a family we tried to fully embrace the rhythm and Floss was becoming more confident and independent as a result. However, Floss and I aren’t the healthiest pair at times. Amongst other things last year, I had to have some surgery, vertigo found me and I got shingles three times. Floss often had long periods of going from one infection to the next be it gastric problems, ear infections, tonsillitis, chest infections. It just seemed a never ending struggle to maintain our flow when we were both feeling so under the weather.
The rhythm would go out of the window as we did the minimum we needed to get through a day. I found myself continually saying “we’ll get back to our rhythm properly when we are feeling better”. Eloise’s course gave ideas of how to adapt your rhythm through sickness, but these were ideas for a few days; we were often looking at weeks at a time. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed and like I was failing as a parent. Something needed to change!
Over the Christmas period I was determined to find the right path for us. The New Year always seems like the perfect time for fresh beginnings. I looked for a word to focus on our goals for the year, to remind ourselves what path we’re hoping to take. I thought about the word ‘healthy’ for a while as this is what I wanted most for our family. A couple of days later I realised that I needed to stop hoping for a rhythm for when we were well and develop a rhythm for us – how we are! We needed to be kind to ourselves and look to a rhythm that worked for our needs, our not always healthy needs.
Kindness is very important to us and we try to show Floss how important it is to be kind to others in the way we speak and our actions towards others. What I realised was that I was often not very kind to myself. I had high expectations of me as a person and incredibly high expectations of me as a parent. I could be harshly critical when I felt I wasn’t meeting these. With pencil, paper and course workbooks in hand I began to look at our rhythm again.
Our Kind Rhythm
So, we’re working on our kind rhythm for 2019. We’ve got the bare bones in place and we’re going with it. Each day we’re making little adjustments to make it flow right for us. If you have a rhythm, how do you make it work for you when there are disruptions such as illness?