What is Rhythm?

Mar 23, 2021

Rhythm: A Series
Part One: What is Rhythm?

 What is rhythm? Rhythm is the flow of your day and week; what happens in what order on what day. Think about a song’s rhythm. It brings the song together; gives it consistency, a returning place, something that ties the whole thing together. Think of your rhythm at home as much the same: the pulse underneath all the activity (or chaos). The goal is for our days and weeks to unfold in a mostly consistent and predictable way...or at least have a few elements that are consistent and predictable. 

First, I want to share some truths (and toss aside some misconceptions) about rhythm:

  1. Rhythm is not a schedule; it’s a flow. In Simplicity Parenting we draw a solid line between rhythm and schedule. While a schedule is tied to clock time, rhythm is not. Yes, it is loosely tied to time but is more tied to flow. Let me explain. We wouldn’t create a rhythm that said to have breakfast at 8am and then to have chore time from 8:45-9:05 and then a morning walk from 9:10-9:35. That’s a schedule. A rhythm looks more like this: every morning we wake up and have breakfast then do our chores and then go on a walk. It could also look like: everyday after school, we have tea and snack at the table together….every Saturday morning we have pancakes…every night before bed we read a story and sing a song and then go to sleep.
  2. Even the busiest and most chaotic lives can find rhythm. This might look like just one or two “anchors” in your day or week that provide consistent moments of connection your children come to expect.
  3. The main point of rhythm is connection; not finding slots for all the tasks and chores we have to do. Yes, we can add these tasks to our rhythm but that comes second to finding times of connection. (Spoiler alert, it’s easier for all of us to get the tasks of life done when we are more connected.)
  4. Pre-created rhythms rarely work. It’s improbable you can take a pre-created rhythm from someone else and make it work in your life. Our individual lives and all the moving pieces are just too different. Additionally, it’s hard to take up a brand new rhythm and follow it morning to night seven days a week. This usually causes us to fail and we might throw out the idea of rhythm altogether. 
  5. Rhythm benefits adults as much as children. We often focus on our children and the benefits for them but a rhythm benefits adults just as much. I am amazed each time I make the effort to create a new rhythm in our day or week--I see how much it benefits me and eases some of my own overwhelm.

What are the benefits of rhythm?

Rhythm is one thing we can add to our life that actually simplifies it. Children can feel anxious, overwhelmed, and out of control when their days unfold randomly and without any underlying consistency. This leads to what Simplicity Parenting calls “Soul Fever”--when your child is stuck in a rut of not-quite-right-ness. This is when they aren’t able to handle life with as much ease and everything feels harder for them. Eating/food, transitions, sleep, cooperation, communication--these are all challenging when we are in a state of soul fever. 

Rhythm is one way to reduce soul fever and limit its return. Children are calmed by consistency and knowing what is happening during their days. For each layer of consistency you add to your day or week, you peel off a layer of overwhelm.

But how do you start when your life feels chaotic and unpredictable? Stay tuned and we will talk about that in the next post.

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