Whether you are homeschooling, juggling distance learning, or have small children at home - finding time to fit it all in can be a challenge. As a working, homeschooling mom, I can relate. When I first started homeschooling my children over 10 years ago, I felt a lot of anxiety if I couldn't do everything that was on our schedule. After our first few months of trying to settle into a good routine, I still felt our days were rushed and a bit disjointed. We just couldn't settle into a schedule that felt good. I knew something had to shift but I wasn't quite sure I knew what to do. I started exploring the Waldorf School's concept of daily rhythms and began to look at our day in terms of time blocks instead of an hourly schedule. I clearly remember the sense of relief I felt after our first week with this new rhythm in place. Our days were more peaceful and we actually ended up getting more done. We were all so much happier. Today, I want to share this process with you so you can create a daily rhythm that will bring you more happiness and peace too.
Rhythm in our Lives
We live in a world of natural rhythms -- breathing, the cycle of day and night, and the changing seasons are a few examples. As humans, we are in tune with these natural rhythms present in our lives, and our children are especially influenced by them. When we create a daily framework that mirrors this natural flow, it helps provide a supportive rhythm to our day that feels good. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, spoke of rhythm as flowing with the breath. He said that the “right rhythm” is a balanced combination of activities where we have opportunities to breathe in, or focus on "being" activities, and breathe out, or engage in "doing" activities. For example, if you schedule an active game outside (doing), you can follow it up with a reflective inside activity like story time (being). This concept can be applied no matter what combination of home environment you have, and it is a simple change that can have a huge impact on your day.
Before we get started, grab a piece of paper and pencil or open a computer document to begin. Let's start by looking at all of the tasks you have to do on a typical day.
Step 1: Examine Your Current Schedule
Write down all of the things you do during a typical day. If each day looks really different, just start with Monday. Some tasks that might end up on this list include - current systems/schedule, work tasks, chores, school tasks, recurring appointments, meal times, projects, nap/rest times, self-care, exercise, family time, projects, etc. Set that list to the side and get out another piece of paper.
Step 2: Create Anchor Points
Next, you will think about some of the things you repeat that are natural transitions throughout your day. These transitions, or anchor points, help you organize your day and serve as touchpoints you can plan everything else around. Depending on your home situation, you might use meal times, work/school times, or even nap times as your anchors. Since my family and I are home together during the day working and homeschooling, we like to use meal times as anchors throughout our day.
Step 3: Incorporate "Right Rhythm"
Now, you want to look back at your list of daily tasks and activities to do. Have the Daily Rhythms Planner page or a blank page with your anchors written on them next to you as well. Begin plugging in your tasks, being mindful to alternate between “being” and “doing” activities. In other words, follow expansive or energetic activities with relaxing activities. Support quiet periods with times for busyness. When you perform active activities or passive activities at a similar time each day, the body, mind, and spirit will all be prepared for the task at hand. Knowing and feeling what to expect, is especially comforting for children.
Start creating your daily rhythm by plugging your tasks in around your anchor points - without assigning times. Don't worry, you can always add times later if you wish. Also, do not worry about alternating "being" and "doing" with every tiny little task - the idea here is to create a balanced flow to your day that is neither too busy nor too relaxed. We want it to be simple and flexible. Ask yourself, is the activity you wrote down more nurturing (like arts & crafts or reading) or more active (like chores or errands) for you and your family? Remember, you can use these ideas for work too. Everyone's rhythm will look different - you can make it as general or as detailed as needed. Here is an example from our family's homeschool Daily Rhythm for Monday. This is a general list that can be posted for the kids to review.
Anchor -- Breakfast Time
Eat & Review the Day (being)
Walk Outside (doing)
Circle Time - Yoga (being)
Circle Time- Spelling & Math Games (doing)
Main Lesson - Watching (being)
Main Lesson - Writing, Painting and/or Drawing (doing)
Anchor -- Lunch Time
Eat & Check In (being)
Outdoor Games (doing)
Music - Play Instruments (doing)
Quiet Reading Time (being)
Free Time (doing/being)
Anchor -- Dinner Time
Now, take your Daily Rhythm and plug it into your calendar or planner. Here is where you can add your times if desired. You can also post your daily rhythm so others in your family can see it. This helps keep everyone accountable. Oh, and don't worry, you can always re-visit and update your rhythm to fit the ever-changing needs of your family.
I love having a rhythm rather than a strict schedule. It is a flexible framework that allows our days to unfold as needed. Activities we do regularly during our days and weeks have become habits - a natural flow that doesn't feel forced or rushed. The children are comforted in knowing what to expect and the days feel less stressed - more peaceful. Of course, we do have days that don't quite go as planned and days when the kids are not inspired to do their school work, but those issues will be discussed in another post.