Rhythms vs. Schedules

Something that I have learned throughout this parenting journey is that our kids really thrive when our days are predictable. I have found that there is value in knowing what to expect and knowing what is expected. You might have seen at the beginning of quarantine there were those pretty daily schedules that were floating around the internet. While that type of schedule may work for some people, for a lot of us, those types of schedules can tend to add more stress.

Let me also add that these types of schedules are necessary in a classroom setting just think about having to manage a classroom full of 5 year olds! Without that fancy schedule there would likely be some chaos. We tried that type of scheduling around here and let me just tell you it was an epic fail. It ended up adding an extra layer of unnecessary stress. It left me feeling like I was always racing the clock. It also didn’t leave a whole lot of room for the what ifs… what if a kid is really into the things we’re doing or discussing? What if they need a little more time to figure something out? What if they’re not ready to move on? Was I supposed to just abandon all the learning that was happening because the schedule and the time on the clock said it was time to move on? I knew that we couldn't handle a complete free for all but I felt like there had to be a happy medium.

I said it at the start my kids thrive on predictability but the fancy daily schedule didn't work. So what does work? Rhythms! I like to think of rhythms like a schedule without time constraints. The rhythm of our life has developed over time and it also evolves with the times. What we do now as a family with a 10 and 13 year old is a little different from what we did as a family with a 2 and a 5 year old. There are definitely some things that have stayed the same or very similar and there are things that have completely dropped off. We continue to adapt with every age, stage, and chapter of our life.

Now, if schedules work for you, seriously more power to you! Keep doing what works for your family. Remember, I’m not here to tell you how to do it. I’m just sharing how we do it. So, if you find yourself struggling to maintain and keep up with the fancy schedule you worked so hard to create cut yourself some slack! When I dropped the schedule at first I felt like I was breaking some unspoken rule and I felt like if we didn’t have a schedule to follow how would we get anything done?

If you feel like you are lacking some rhythm, routine, or schedule and you feel like you’re needing a little more predictability, creating some rhythms in your day might be just the thing you’ve been needing. You most likely will find that you already have these natural rhythms occurring and you just need to recognize and honor them. But if you need a little jump start what I did was write down the things that we did every day. Things like meals, math, reading, writing, getting outside, nap or quiet time, etc. And then I ordered them in what felt like a good flow. If you look closely at the photo you can see we had an outline of our day hanging on the wall and we would move a clothes pin down the line throughout the day as we moved from one things to the next. After a while the kids just knew what to expect. They knew that after they got up they could watch cartoons while they ate breakfast and then after breakfast it was time to switch off the tv, clean up, and brush teeth. It didn’t matter if it was 8:30a or 11a.

Looking back now it seems like such a simple concept and maybe you’re reading this thinking “Duh, Jess this is common sense.” Or maybe you’re like I was and you’re attached to this idea that in order to be a “good homeschooler” then you have to be on a schedule. Friends please CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK! And put the energy you’re spending on keeping up with the schedule into finding some natural rhythm that works for your family.

Both of our kids prefer to complete their “learning time” (read: core subjects but mostly math) in the morning. But we have friends whose kids prefer to get outside and go for a walk before “hitting the books”. The point is there is no right way to do it. Wait, I take that back, there is a right way to do it. The right way is what works for you and your kids.

Having our daily rhythms in place has helped us during some tough times whether it be illness, job changes, moving, you name it, it helps because even when other things might be unpredictable or if a parent or sibling is ill then everyone knows what to do next and the days continue to flow with out every hour having to be planned out or directed.

I would love to hear what your daily rhythms consist of? Drop a comment below or if you’re on the ‘gram hop on to my stories and let’s chat about what your family’s daily rhythms look like.