Happy Holidays! I hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful holiday season.
We had a great holiday with lots of visiting, fun, and late nights too. Which means these little ones of mine are ready to get back into our daily rhythm.
They may not think they are ready – but goodness are they ready.
I thought I would share with you today the general rhythm or routine we use in our home on a typical day for my preschooler.
I thought the timing might be swell, as perhaps your little ones have also had a bit too much holiday and be ready for the comfort and security of a lovely rhythm.
It wasn’t that long ago that we did not have a rhythm in our home at all. Sure we had a routine, but I knew something was missing. My kids would have meltdowns, they would have trouble getting to sleep, and they would get SO wound up! But then I discovered the secret of rhythms.
Some children need rhythms and routines more than others. My daughter was rather easy going about our days and generally could go with the flow. But these busy boys of mine thrive on a solid rhythm.
I talk in far more detail about our rhythm, how it differs from a routine, and how we adapt it daily to make it work for our lives in my book A Year of Educational Quiet Bins: The secret to peaceful days at home with kids, so I won’t go into too much detail. Please consider that book if you are struggling with finding a groove to your days. A solid understanding of rhythm can make your days at home a dream!
But I do want to share the secret ingredient to our rhythm. I really believe this is what makes our rhythm successful: our rhythm swaps between active times (expansions) and quieter times (contractions). My little boys will easily and quickly get swept away in an expansion and play very busily for a long time. But inevitably, if they continue, they get too worked up, too rowdy, or someone gets hurt. Instead, I help pull them in to a quieter activity letting their bodies calm down and relax so they can have a period of rest.
Our rhythm also fluctuates between time together, and time on our own. Everyone needs a break.
Expansions, or busy times, are classified differently for different children. For my boys being out at a mall or library is an expansion as there are many people and lots of sensory information being received which makes it quite intense for them. Playing outside, games of tag or soccer, doing an obstacle course, playing with big blocks, finger painting, and so on are all busy expansions for my boys.
Contractions, or periods of quiet, for my boys consists of quiet nature walks (this varies for children, but this is a calm and relaxing experience for my boys), drawing, reading, quiet bins, lego, etc.
I find it very helpful to structure my day in a way that uses a rhythm that swaps between times of busy with times of quiet. If I know that we need to go grocery shopping, I will plan a quiet activity for before the grocery shop and be sure to have some quiet bins ready for when we return and I’m putting away our haul.
Sometimes our expansions might be very long. If the children are very engaged in an activity we have continued the same expansion for hours! But I am always watching for signs that they have reached the point where they need a break.
This is our typical daily rhythm right now:
6:30: wake up, quiet play
8:30: all ready for the day and outside for an expansion
9:30: inside for a snack and quiet bin, colouring, or a story
10:00: morning outing
12:30: rest time alone in rooms (quiet bins, playmobile, and imaginative toys)
2:00: stories and snack
2:30: play, inside or out, or playdate
4:30: quiet play independently but not in rooms or help make dinner
5:30: play with Dad
6:30: bath, books, bed (lights out by 7:00)
Of course I am oversimplifying and our days do not always run exactly that way, but I wanted to share a typical day with you so you could get a feel for how we swap between times of busy with times of quiet.
It is something I had not fully considered when I was originally home with my kids, but once I discovered how powerful it can be it was a game changer!
I tell you, proper food, lots of sleep, and a strong rhythm make for happy kids. And a happy Mama too.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I am happy to help in any way I can!
You might also want to check out this post on Our Secret to Peaceful Days.
Thank you so much for reading friends, I hope your week is off to a lovely start.