Schedules, alarm clocks, Happy Planners, checklists . . . parents everywhere have been managing schedules and trying to fit children into them since the beginning of time. The only thing that has really changed is now we have so many fancy apps and new resources to aid in this endeavor. What is the common aim? To run a peaceful home so that you can focus on the important and lovely things you would like to see take place within each day, free from all the chaos.

Routines and rhythms are not new, but they do take on many different shapes and forms depending on the home and families that occupy them. Establishing a healthy and helpful routine and rhythm system within your home allows for generous measures of both predictable and flexibility to be sewn into your days; creating an ebb and flow that makes space for imagination and organization to abound.

What’s the difference between a routine and a rhythm, you ask? By dictionary definition, a routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program. A rhythm, on the other hand, is a repeated pattern of movement or sound (obviously this relates more to musical rhythm, but there are parallels here).

Routines are the predictable sequence of events that your child can rely on. When they wake up in the morning, move about in their day, and prepare for rest in the evening . . . they know what happens next. This series of anticipated activities can ease anxiety for children, reduce complaints, and help limit the times in the day where you, the parent, have to make decisions and rally children into one direction or another. Everyone in the home can benefit from a routine surrounding the parts of day that typically feels tense, hurried, or hectic.  

Here are a few times of day that you might like to establish a routine around:

Morning Routine
Bedtime Routine

In our home, we try to keep routines simple and consistent. Morning Routine, for us, looks like this:

1. Morning Basket at table
2. Breakfast
3. Extended Outside Play

We always try to hit all three of these activities in this exact order as many mornings as possible. Having established this morning routine in my personal home, we are able to ease into each morning and my children know what to expect and what’s coming next. There is freedom in routine. Freedom from worrying and planning and trying to keep everyone busy and working well together. This routine works for us and so we will continue it for this season that we are in. Other seasons might call for other routines, but this for us works.

Some routines require scheduled times, while other routines are just kept in a specific order and general time of day. Our morning routine launches when we all get out of bed. That time varies, but the sequence does not. Mealtimes and Bedtime Routines, on the other hand, have set times that accompany them.

Rhythms, like routines, have their right and valuable place within the home and homeschool. Unlike routines, rhythms don’t occur in any special sequence and are never tied to a set time of day or scheduled allotment of time. Instead, rhythms appear in your day as activities that you would like to do over the course of a day or week but get to decide the when as life happens.

In my home, here are the activities we keep on a rhythm:

Language & Math Lessons (daily loop)
Foreign Language
Poetry & Teatime
Nature Hike
Science or History Unit

We have these activities listed and displayed in a central part of our home and we get to do them as our week unfolds. It is our goal to get to all of these activities by the end of our week, but we don’t usually know when weather and personalities will align so we allow for much flexibility surrounding these. Language & Math lessons, we keep on a daily loop. This just means that we try to get to them each day, and looping lessons means wherever we left off on today, we will get to the following. Having young children, this works well for me. If you have older school-age children, you might move your language and math lessons into a routine instead of a rhythm, perhaps even with a set time of day for these lessons to occur. Ask yourself, what are the most important activities for you and your children. These you want to prioritize. Then, ask yourself if your family would benefit if they occurred predictably or flexibly.

Here are a few tips to consider when you are organizing your home and homeschool into routines and rhythms:

Involve your kids with the planning process, let them contribute
Practice patience and adjust as needed
Show up each day and try again!

Here is another example of what a Household Rhythms could look like: 

Morning lessons
Quiet Time
Afternoon lessons
Nature time

Here is an example of a Household Routine:

8:00 – 9:00 Wake up
9:00 – 9:45 Exercise
9:45 – 11:30 Academics
11:30 – 12:30 Lunch
12:30 – 1:30 Quiet Time
1:30 – 2:30 Free Time
2:30 – 3:30 Specials (art, music)
3:30 – 4:30 Outdoor Time
4:30 – 5:30 Screen Time

Other households, similar to mine, consist of a mixture of routines and rhythms that embrace both the predictable and flexible.

However you organize your day, remember that your home and your homeschool does not have to look like mine, theirs, or anyone else’s. Examine your family life, assess what you value, and build on that.

We are cheering you on!