In Praise of Rhythm




Tell me what do you do all day?
Busy I am but listen, pray.
Monday is my milking day.
Tuesday skimming off the cream.
Wednesday's when the butter's churned
and packed away each Thursday.
Friday's when I bake all day.
Saturday is market day.
On Sunday off to church I plod, thanks be to thee almighty God.

~ Elsa Beskow, Around the Year


The Elsa Beskow poem was typed from memory from one of Lupine's favorite books. We read it weekly, if not daily, and the piece above is our favorite page. I think the book resonates for Lupine because it is all about the rhythm of the day, the week, and the year.

Earlier this year when many of us read Simplicity Parenting together we disucssed rhythm in depth. The concept was something I had been striving for for years, yet it seems to slip through my fingers more often than not.

As a homeschooling family I certainly see the value of rhythm – though it is not specific to homeschoolers by any means. Rhythm is vital to creating harmony in any home. Making time for the things we value is critical, lest we look up at the end of the week and realize the laundry never got washed, we didn't make time for reading or visiting with friends, the tomatoes are rotting in the garden, and we're out of milk – again.

So I decided to break rhythm down into parts and tackle one part per season. We have our daily rhythm, our weekly rhythm, and our rhythm of chores and meals. I decided this summer to tackle our weekly rhythm in ernest and see what came of it.

We've been working if for several weeks and I am nothing short of amazed. I broke our week down and decided that every day would have one event that was all its own. We go easy on the schedule over here, so one was our limit per days (days with two scheduled activities I dread). Here is our summer rhythm:

Monday – lesson day (swimming now, riding in the fall)

Tuesday – farm day (we go to a friend's farm for dairy and veggies to put by)

Wednesday – homeschool group

ThursdayMystery Day

Friday – CSA day (we haul the veggies from our CSA to town in exchange for our share)

I wrote down our weekly rhythm stuck it to the fridge. We started talking about it. And we started living it. I think the most telling part of my learning to embrace and live rhythm is this: I don't forget things anymore. I no longer find myself riddled with anxiety when I realize I've forgotten an appointment or task. It has become – without effort – simply how we live.

In addition, Pete and I divided our evenings. Two regular nights a week are Pete's for fishing, two are mine for friends and crafting (and this week foraging), and the other three are ours to share. This little shift has been dramatic. Because it is regular it isn't upsetting – as it was until recently – for the kids to have us trade off bedtime duties or slip away for a few hours.

I chose to not address the rhythm of our family chores – housekeeping, etc. – or our meals or our day. In fact, I decided to ignore it completely so that I didn't feel that rhythm was a lot to juggle and somehow unnatural. I wanted to hit our groove with the week and then dial it in further once that came easily to us.

Because of our rhythm the kids have more peace, I have more ease, we all look forward to the regular tempo of our week, and everyone knows what's coming when they awaken. I can't say enough about finding this rhythm.

My next challenge (for fall) is to determine our daily rhythm. I have a tendency to let the kids roll when they are engrossed in books or play, sometimes to the delay of bedtime or a meal. I want them to have a solid rhythm in their days (which we have done with great success in the past, but somehow summer has hijacked that plan lately).

15 thoughts on “In Praise of Rhythm

  1. Laura Jeanne says:

    I have a personal list like that on the front of my fridge, too. I don’t always get to the things on the list but it’s good to have for those amazing moments when I actually have a bit of free time and don’t know what to do. So for example, on Mondays I read stuff about homeschooling, post on homeschooling message boards, etc. Tuesdays I try to devote some time to craft projects. And so on. I find it’s really helpful to have something to concentrate on each day, otherwise if I find myself with a lull in the housework, I just kind of wander around wondering what to do next. 🙂

  2. Roxy Schow says:

    This was so timely, Rachel. After such a crazy summer of going, going, going, I spent yesterday putting ourselves back together, so to speak! I don’t wish away the time spent with friends, family and new adventures, but it’s time to be still for a while. Elsa’s poem touched my heart – it reminded me of times spent at my great-grandmother’s and the chores we would do each day. For me, it’s a significant piece of the changing of the seasons – both outside and inside to adjust and change our rhythm as needed. It’s like spring-cleaning and it cleans my soul, too – I think all of us here feel it, even if not fully recognizing it.

    On another note – can you tell me about Tattler lids? I’m thinking of purchasing some and I wondered if they are easy to use, seal well, etc. I assume you like them since they are a sponsor, but I just wondered . . if you have a minute! 🙂

  3. Denise says:

    Great post, Rachel! I have been feeling a strong need to delve deep into our family rhythms, but have felt so overwhelmed as to where to start, of course, wanting to tackle all of it at once! I LOVE the idea of tackling one aspect of rhythm per season – LOVE this. I also LOVE the evening rhythm that you and Pete have created -perhaps I should get one of my crafty nights to align with yours ; ) On another random note, just saw a recipe for madras eggplant pickles!! Sounds yummy, let me know if you want it.

  4. hinke says:

    I’am reading your blog for a few days now, and I’am really glad i discovered it. Planning and rythm, I do feel the urge of it, but it is so difficult! I like to live by the moment, too, that’s why i like your mystery thursday. I will give it a thought extra, thanks for the inspiration, love Hinke

  5. renee @ FIMBY says:

    When do you go to the library, shop at the grocery store/co-op etc? I too try for just one thing each day and it usually works out that way but sometimes it’s hard to get all the things done that need to that way.

  6. Rachel Wolf says:

    Since I havent fully worked out our daily rhythm this tends to still happen spontaneously as needed. We dont do many errands and often we want a bike ride just when I see we also need something from the coop. So it does double-duty being a ride and an errand. My intention is to combine it with farm day or CSA day and think of it as errands day.

  7. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Roxy,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Yes, we need to honor the tempo of our days and our seasons. As to the lids, I have a few more failures than I did when I used the metal lids, but if Im careful about wiping off the rims well it is maybe one or two jars per batch. Not bad. I love them. They are all I use now.


  8. Rachel Wolf says:

    I too am a spontaneous soul. The rhythm provides just enough structure to keep us flowing beautifully and effortlessly through our week. Welcome here!

  9. Kristen says:

    I know this may be an odd question-but did you make the calendar? I am desiring to have something like this hanging in our house, but wasn’t sure how to create or purchase it. Ideas or thoughts?

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