Rhythms and routines are patterns of activity repeated daily, weekly, monthly or even seasonally. All of us live in rhythm, all of us practice routines, whether we consciously choose to or not.
We all work on certain days and at certain times, we all take days off. We all experience holidays and seasons changing. We all wake up, get dressed, and get tired day after day.
As young parents, everything changed for us when we leaned into these repeated patterns instead of resisting them. We’ve discovered (and continue to discover) how to partner with creation, to proactively shape the routines and rhythms of our lives instead of letting life happen to us.
Think the apostle Paul’s advice to the Ephesians:
“Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”Ephesians 5:15-17
Don’t mistake us, we are not advocating for attempting to control your every circumstance or for scheduling your days down to the last minute. That’s a recipe for frustration and burnout, type A or not.
Truths that make family rhythms work
For rhythms to truly work, we need to embrace some very important truths, and allow them to form the boundaries of our lives:
Truth # 1 We can’t do it all, nor are we meant to.
We live within the boundaries of time: 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. And if we’re honest and wise, we further live within the boundaries of our need for rest. That leaves us with closer to 12-16 waking hours a day for activity, 6 days a week, with one day reserved for rest.
Beyond this, we have to eat and prepare food, attend to hygiene needs, and fulfill our responsibilities, like caring for children, paying the bills, spending time with our spouse, etc.
We could rage against time, bemoaning all our responsibilities and all that we’re unable to pursue, but peace and joy come when we embrace our guardrails and trust God to give us a full life within them, because of them even.
What’s more, if we do it all on our own, what opportunity are we giving God to work, to show us His all sufficient grace, love, and power in our lives?
The good life, the life in Christ, is one of joyful dependence on Him, not a façade of having it all under control.
Truth #2 God is sovereign and He has you where you are for a reason.
Your are where you are and who you are for a reason. Your family of origin, your hair color, skin color, talents, these were all chosen by God for you before your birth out of love! You may not feel like all of these things are blessings all of the time, but because we know God is good, that He is love, we can be confident He chose these things for a good purpose.
That doesn’t mean He sent sickness or disease or ordained trauma or any of the brokenness that you’ve experienced. Only, He knew it would happen, and He made you who you are so that you would find healing in Him and be able to someday offer that healing to others.
What does this have to do with family rhythms?
We often get so caught up in wishing we had someone else’s life, that we fail to ever live our own. We fail to be present to our circumstances, to embrace them, offering them to the Lord in hopeful expectation.
Truth #3 The dreams in your heart are possible by grace through enduring faith.
While you and your family were not made to do everything, or even “anything you put your mind to,” you were predestined for good works by your Creator.
You were made to reflect God’s love to the world in a unique way. When you understand that you were uniquely created and wired and gifted all that is good in your life, you begin to see how God is shaping the desires of your heart to align with His path for your life.
Look to your specific gifts and talents, your passions and dreams, the way in which you’re designed, the opportunities and blessings you have. Now look at the people God’s given you to do life with, your family, how are they wired? Further, look to your areas of weakness, where God’s power has proven itself, here's another clue into your family's mission and ministry. All of these point to the good plans God has for you and your family.
These plans are a grace, not a burden. They are dreams of joy, desires to bring redemption placed in your heart and made possible by God’s grace through your faith in Him.
Faith produces action. When we believe God is good, that He goes before us and behind us, we find confidence to take steps forward, sometimes risky ones-- to act in accordance with our beliefs. These actions are often small, but it only takes a mustard seed!
This is important for our daily rhythms and routines, because within them are a thousand little actions, tiny seeds watered over and over again that grow into a life aligned with God’s good purpose.
But in order to stay consistent with rhythms and routines we need to keep a long-term view of our lives in mind, setting our sights on who we want to be in 50 years, the legacy we want to leave for our children and grandchildren. This requires faith and persistence, not perfection.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”Hebrews 11:16 NKJV
In our culture we want to make a change and see results yesterday.
We’re in this online group about blogging and over and over we see people discouraged after just one month of posting. And we get it. We ourselves are not naturally patient people. We’re millennials after-all.
But ya’ll, it only gets better when you allow your perspective to broaden to focus on the longterm return on your habits, the eternal reward even.
Think about Noah for a minute: did you know God commanded him to start building the ark 100 years before the flood even came?! Can you imagine how much shade Noah had thrown his way for building a giant boat in the middle of a land mass, day after day with no rain in sight?
And he's who we’re given as an example of great faith in this same passage from Hebrews.
The rhythms and routines you sow in love and wisdom will pay dividends both in this life and in the life to come. Our only responsibility then is to make sure what we're sowing and watering is rooted in love and wisdom-- these are the type of rhythms we'll be most thankful for 50 years from now.
Are you ready yet? Ready to start intentionally crafting your family’s rhythms to match your values?
First, let’s make sure you have the bigger vision for your family sketched out:
If you haven’t already gone through our family mission statement worksheets, we walk you through this process of discovering your family’s unique mission and values.
Get the worksheets emailed to you for free here, then go through it with our family mission and values blog series below:
Prioritizing family rhythms that matter
Okay, now let’s get down to business.
When you start out, it’s easy to get caught up in the nitty gritty details of planning every single moment of your day. Resist that temptation. Start with the big picture and you’ll have the framework from which you can keep tweaking the little things forever.
First, what are the boundaries you live within? What are the things that absolutely HAVE to happen every day for everyone to stay alive and well?
High priority items include:
- Feeding our family (and ourselves)
- Feeding our animals and plants
- Getting everyone to sleep at night and providing naps for our littles
Write these down on a piece of paper and draw a box around them. Now, what are the things that are super important responsibilities or priorities in your life?
- Quiet time
Write these items down below your top list with a separate box around them. Beneath these, make a list of the responsibilities/things that ought to happen most days in order to support the priorities you’ve already written and draw a box around them.
- Picking up the house
Finally, at the bottom of your list, write out the items that you need/ want to happen once a week and draw a box around them.
These might include:
- Meal planning and grocery shopping
- Planning your homeschool week
- Cleaning the bathroom
- Cleaning out the car
- Yard work
- Taking out the trash
- Special family dinner night
You can do the same thing to make a monthly routine/rhythm list below this one if you’d like.
Monthly items might include:
- Ordering books & supplies for homeschool
You could obviously get even more specific and list out specific work tasks, homeschool lessons, hygiene routines, etc. But for right now, the most important thing is to understand what is truly necessary and what is most life-giving for your family.
Scheduling daily, weekly, and monthly family rhythms
Now, using a planner, a hand drawn schedule on paper, or a spreadsheet, roughly block out time each day for the things that have to happen (your first boxed in list).
Don’t worry about specific times, but rather the order of when these things happen.
Leave space between items unless those things happen right after each other. For example, we typically feed the animals and eat breakfast first thing in the morning, then move into homeschooling, then lunch, and so on.
Work your way down your priority list to pencil in daily tasks in order of importance. Finally schedule days/times for weekly tasks.
For example, we try to use our after-nap time to do some cleaning tasks. We may do daily cleaning like laundry/dishes and picking up plus work on one of those weekly tasks like cleaning the bathroom on a Monday, and on a Tuesday, swap cleaning the bathroom with meal planning, etc.
Finally, for monthly tasks you might assign them to a certain date every month or to say, the third Sunday of the month, whatever works for you.
You can go back and make your items from each box a different color, so you know which things to prioritize every day. This is super helpful when little rhythms get thrown out the window, your faced with a lot of catch-up work, and you don’t know where to start.
What to do when your family rhythms get thrown off
Instead of getting overwhelmed and doing nothing (so guilty of this), you can look to the high priority items in your day and prioritize them first, then slowly but surely tackle those other projects in the extra time.
Okay, now you have your basic family rhythms for days and weeks and months.
Here’s the fun part: Hold this loosely, try it out, see how it goes and tweak the order and way in which you accomplish your rhythms. Discuss and switch responsibilities between family members as it makes sense, tweak, improve, and adjust regularly, weekly even.
Some things may become less important in different seasons and new rhythms will take their place, but you’ll have confidence knowing you’re prioritizing what matters most to your family.
Did you find this post helpful? Share it with your community on Pinterest or Facebook! We’d love to hear about how you do rhythms with your family in the comments below. Let’s do family differently together!