Remember the little ditty from Little House in the Big Woods?
Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday.
I sometimes yearn for the simplicity of life in the late 19th century. I yearn for it, but don’t actually want the hard labor that washing clothes or cooking meals entailed back then! Life without a washing machine and a crockpot? No thank you. What I yearn for is really the rhythm of their lives. Life for the pioneers was a life of rhythm. They had the rhythm of the days of the week, but also of the seasons to guide them. Planting in spring, harvesting in late summer, hunting in fall, indoor handicrafts in the winter. One of my absolute favorite picture books, The Ox-cart Man, illustrates that beautifully. Although modern day homesteaders probably feel the ancient rhythm more than their urban counterparts, it’s more likely that the treasure of living such a rhythm is lost to the majority today.
However, there is rhythm to all we do. The key is finding that rhythm and not fighting against it. Rhythm is different than a schedule, though a schedule can sometimes help you figure out a rhythm. You know, for instance, that you are fighting against the natural rhythm of your family, when your schedule always fails to be executed, or when your schedule leaves everyone feeling frazzled and irritable. You also know you are close to finding a good rhythm if keeping your schedule creates harmony and peace in your home. We’ve had instances of both sides of the spectrum as I try to find the rhythm for our season of life.
I am still figuring out a rhythm for our family and for our homeschool days, but I have learned a few things about what keeps peace in our home while trying to figure out our rhythm.
Our weeks go by serenely when…
1. …we have very little on our schedule beyond Bear’s and J-jo’s gymnastics, soccer, and piano. Really, three days of gym, one day of piano, and two of soccer are enough. This means I say no to many homeschool group field trips and activities and have a strict limit of no more than two per month, unless they are scheduled after our school work is done. Although Bear and J-jo love the time with their friends, they are indeed the best of friends and prefer each other’s company anyway. Days at home are welcome and desired by both of them. I do know kids who thrive on being outside the home and need the constant companionship of friends, so you have to know your children and evaluate if you need more at home time or not.
2. …the kids get plenty of time to play outside in the yard or go on nature walks/hikes.
3. …the kids have had a creative outlet via art or nature journaling.
4. …My husband and I individually connect with each kid at some point in the day. Bear likes evening bed chats and J-jo likes morning time.
5. …we do lots of read-alouds snuggled on the couch.
6. …school finishes no later than 1:00pm on gym days and 2:00pm on stay-at-home days.
Knowing this, realizing it, and understanding it, is the key to finding the rhythm to our days and weeks that will bring us a feeling of satisfaction – more rest and less frenzy. Moreover, with this information, I can proceed to make better choices about curriculum and what to do with that curriculum. I’m finding this now, but still have to put it into words to describe the process to you.
Have you found a rhythm that works? Please share!