Finding a rhythm as a stay at home mom is not easy. Children are constantly growing and their needs change on a weekly or monthly basis. Whether it’s teething, a growth spurt, or simply a change of season, something inevitably throws it off track. I learned early on that a hard and fast schedule doesn’t work with small children. However, I have discovered that a loosely held routine helps both the kids and me know what to expect and enjoy our days a bit more.
I recently listened to a podcast on the Simple Show about routines. I really enjoy hearing a snapshot of other people’s lives and gleaning new ideas. Still, there’s the danger of comparison when it comes to listening to how other people set up their lives. I’ve followed many a link on Pinterest that informed me that the best morning routine includes doing whatever it takes to get up before my 5:30 a.m. early riser to have some time to myself. While I certainly wanted this desperately for myself, it never seemed to work out for very long.
It’s not about doing all the things but doing what you feel you need…
I spent the first two years of my son’s life attempting to have some quiet time before he awoke. I tried harder and harder, growing more and more angry that my early bird always seemed to awake to the sound of my feet touching the floor. Once he started waking up regularly at 5 am, I stopped trying.
After I had my second, a stay-at-home-momma friend confided that she waited until the last possible moment to crawl out of bed. This totally went against all the advice I’d heard. But as a sleep-deprived momma of a newborn, I gave it a try. I began to see how long I could wait until the kids whined me out of bed. I’d coax them into bed with me to cuddle or read. Eventually, their growling bellies convinced me they could wait no longer.
My point is this: the rhythm that you think you need, or that others say you need, may not be what will most satisfy you in your current season of life. When I was in college, I considered myself an early riser and always signed up for the early classes so I could have the rest of the day to play. When my son came along, I assumed that my need to rise early would persist. But I have found that as times change, so do my needs.
Experiment & Listen to Your Needs
The mornings that I get up and let my feelings lead, rather than my head with its hypocritical urgency, I have a much better day. Then I find patterns in what my body rhythms say I need and I use the patterns to arrange a loose routine.
This works not only for how I arrange my mornings, but how I approach housecleaning, outings, and activities with the kids. Instead of trying to make it happen at certain scheduled times, I let our collective moods and needs determine when we do certain activities. If I woke up as the kids woke me, and we leisurely approached the morning, we naturally felt like reading books after breakfast. After a few books, the kids felt ready to play without me. Wha-la! Magically some me-time appeared!
Inserting the Important Tasks into a Leisurely Rhythm
Because I still wanted to be pro-active about how we spent our days, I created a technique for incorporating certain activities into our rhythm. At the beginning of a new month or a new season, I made a list. I listed everything that I wanted to incorporate into our lives. Here’s my list from a few months ago:
I listed things like family devotional time, fun outings, creative projects for me. Under each idea, I would make a list of how those ideas might possibly play out. Then I would plan them (again, loosely) into my day and/or week. This helped me live intentionally and gave me direction for when I wasn’t sure what to do next.
Learn to Live Slow
Find your rhythm by slowing down and paying attention to your own needs and the needs of your children. Experiment with different routines to see which one fits best. And then realize that your needs and your kids’ needs can change from day to day so stay flexible. Release yourself of the pressure of needing your life to look or feel a certain way. Of needing the housework to be done every week or even from having devotionals every day. As we slow and breathe and meet the needs of our household, including our own, we will find more joy, peace, and even creativity in our day-to-day lives.
So I’d love to hear from you. What rhythms have you found to be most helpful to you in your daily life?