On Crafting a Summer Rhythm

 

Happy summer, friends! Let’s talk about rhythm. While I’d love to start off by chatting about double rainbows and unicorns frolicking in the woods, life doesn’t paint that picture right now. Given the current social, political, cultural, and economic climate of today, coupled with the hard truth that we as parents, and society as a whole, are surrounded by an endless stream of information, news, and media, (much of which is downright horrible and depressing) chaos feels more rampant than ever. I don’t know about you, but life feels undeniably heavy lately. Anthony Bourdain’s suicide rocked me. The immigration crisis has me feeling heartbroken. Our current administration continues to baffle. And then there are many other things going on in my closer circle of family and friends that are downright hard and sad. Do you feel this? Yes, there is indeed hope to be found and optimism to be clung to, but it’s also true that life right now is completely cluttered with regard to stuff, thoughts, feelings, words, notifications, to-do’s, with the overall urge to follow the current of the cultural narrative which is to consume, consume, consume.

When our physical and mental life becomes cluttered, so too can the terrain of emotional and spiritual landscape. Wellbeing hits on all aspects of the whole self – body, mind, heart, and soul – and once you start to neglect one, you begin neglecting another. The four are connected and in taking care of one realm, you begin to heal the whole. That being said, balancing one’s wellbeing is hard work, and before you know it, life can feel like you’re doggy-paddling in the middle of a turbulent sea. Simple things become hard things. Little things become big things. And day to day doings begin to overwhelm. The Rhythm Fairy is here to throw you a buoy to help you keep afloat when life gets too messy, too mixed up, and too complicated.

Does your family have a summer rhythm in place that guides the ebb and flow of your days? Or are your summers more free-form and spontaneous? There’s no right answer, for every family carries a certain energy depending on both the needs of the individuals and the season of life you are in. The energy of your family may respond best to time that is cast like a net wide open, holding possibility for whatever the day may bring, or your energy may sing in harmony when rooted in a rhythm that honors a slow-drip pace with more focused priorities. Knowing the unique and layered energy of your family is important in figuring out how to go about organizing your day if you spend a lot of time at home, and it’s essential when caring for little ones. Children thrive in rhythm — actually, everyone does to a certain extent. Human beings are rhythmic in nature, as is every living thing, and we need a balance of rest and work and down time and play to avoid burnout, stress, and exhaustion, so we may instead hold sacred space to celebrate the beauty of life, along with the promise that each day offers as we weave intentional threads into the daily habits and practices of life at home.

Only you and you alone can truly know and feel the energy of your family, and that determines more or less what you’ll be able to handle in any given day. I am an introvert, and while I very much enjoy socializing and am not a home-bound hermit (most days), I know that a lot of activity, noise, rushing, and sensory engagement throughout the day stresses me out. Nothing empties my cup more than having a day without pause where we go, go, go. It’s a combination of these extroverted energies that tends drain mine, so I have leaned to guard my reserves by being mindful to where I am giving my time and attention. I have also paid attention to how our little ones respond to energy, and for the most part it seems that they flow along the same lines as their mama in needing and wanting rhythm that honors a slower, more mindful pace. And because we are in a season of nap-times, tantrums, potty-training, finger-painting, and sing alongs, rhythm helps the dynamic of our family in numerous ways by providing security, consistency, and simplicity to our lives. One of my favorite things about following a rhythm is that it takes the guess work out of what our day will look like. It doesn’t include specifics or the nitty gritty details of where we’ll go or who we’ll see, as that would be far too boring, but it draws a framework around our time so we know what to expect; therefore, I don’t have to expend more energy on figuring that out! What we choose to do within the framework varies from day to day, but the rhythm remains steady, providing a sense of calm as the sun makes its ways from the folds it’s way across the sky.

Below is our family’s Summer Rhythm, and it’s what works for us five. I stay home with our three little ones (ages 3-7) and I crafted our rhythm based on what I feel we all need in order to have a great day together. While this may offer you some ideas and inspiration, know that your needs may be entirely different, and thus, your rhythm may take on a different shape entirely. Let your intuition and that wise inner voice inside you direct your sail as you craft a rhythm that fits the needs of your family and supports all that you value and stand for.

 

Everyday

This is the general flow of our everyday. Although I have included times below, they are only there to guide when needed. If naps runs long, or we are having a great time outside in the evening catching fireflies, we don’t stop to adhere to the clock. Rhythm is in place to offer more freedom, not less. 

 

5 – 6 AM | Mom gets up and has quiet time with coffee, a book, podcast, or yoga to start the day. Dad works out.

7 AM | Breakfast in the kitchen which is either scrambled eggs and toast, or honey yogurt with granola and berries.

8 AM | Mom and dad make beds, start a load of laundry, and the kids free-play before everyone gets ready for the day.

9 AM – 12 PM | Explore and play. Differs depending on the day (see below).

12 PM | Lunch time. We either have leftovers, sandwiches, or something as simple as a fruit and cheese plate.

1 – 3 PM | Quiet time. The boys and I read in my bed and I lay down with them until they fall asleep. Stella and I will practice her daily lesson together, or she will look at books and I’ll read mine. Sometimes I use this time to catch up on chores if needed, or prep for supper depending on what I have planned, but I try to make this time restorative and full of rest to give me the energy I need. If the boys happen to not nap, we still do quiet time and I we will look at books together or I will put on a calming show, something on PBS kids or Little Bear.

3 – 5 PM | Outside time, weather permitting. We almost always head outside after naps and quiet time to get out some energy and play. We’ll either go for a walk, head to the neighborhood pool, or play in the backyard until dad gets home. Being outdoors is an instant cure for the witching hours.

5 – 7 PM | Supper time. This differs depending on the day (see below). I rarely use the oven in the summer, so meals tend to be fairly quick to prepare.

7 – 9 PM | We usually do baths on M, W, F and let the kids stay up later than usually because it’s light out until 9, but if they are in need of an early bedtime we begin that whole process around 7 PM. A typical summer evening consists of more play after supper, usually in the backyard, followed by baths, books, and bed around 8 PM, if we’re lucky.

9 – 11 PM | Mom and dad hangs!

 

Days of the Week

On Monday | we get back into the swing of things.

  • Chores | Deep washing day +  catch up on emails, correspondents, etc.
  • Lesson | Reading practice with Stella
  • Play | At home
  • Supper | Pasta night

On Tuesday | we play with friends.

  • Chores | Outdoor organize
  • Lesson | Writing practice
  • Play | Play-date with friends
  • Supper | Taco night

On Wednesday | we picnic and ride bikes to the evening market.

  • Chores | Indoor organize
  • Lesson | Number practice
  • Play | At home with picnic lunch at a park
  • Supper | Slow cooker night

On Thursday | we explore around the city, and mom and dad go on a date!

  • Chores | Windows and floors
  • Lesson | Reading practice with Stella
  • Play | Library, museum, or other cultural outing
  • Supper | Date night / leftovers

On Friday | we clean and craft at home.

  • Chores | Deep clean day
  • Lesson | Writing practice
  • Play | At home and do a seasonal craft
  • Supper | Grill out

On the Weekends | we adventure, rest, and restore with lots of family time.

  • Adventure
  • Neighborhood farmer’s market
  • Meal plan
  • Church
  • Brunch
  • Rest

 

I’d love to hear how you and your family do things in the summer when the days are longer and time more free!

 

  • YES! Rhythm. I’ve been trying to slow down lately, be more deliberate in my actions. Not easy. I can relate to your need to not go-go-go all the time. Those days are hard, aren’t they? Our days seem to change all the time depending on my work (I’m a freelance translator and a blogger), but meals together are a constant. They serve as a thread to bind us closer and establish consistency no matter what kind of day it is.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Myriam, mom + blogger life is an interesting path, huh!? Simple always helps us too 🙂 xx AmandaReplyCancel

  • Camille Perret

    Hey Amanda,

    just wanted to let you know your rhythms actually fill my cup!

    Thank you, thank you for such insight- xoxoxo

    PS: Fall will come and the air will feel fresh and crisp the season will be new and we will keep on keepin’ onReplyCancel

    • admin

      Camille, I am so glad to hear that! xx AmandaReplyCancel

  • Thank you so much for sharing! I’m sure this is going to help me through Summer this year. At the moment I find it hard to cater to three different age at the same time!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren

    Thanks for sharing! I loved reading for ideas. Our day looks pretty similar! I’m in Florida, so the mosquitos (my girl will get about 10 bites in 5 mins and look like she has chicken pox! 😣) make it almost impossible to have outside time in the summer (I just pretend it’s our winter since it’s lovely outside in winter here!).

    I don’t know if you have any input, but my girl (2.5yo) is getting bored with our days (wake, breakfast, walk outside, read/snack, color, nap, free play and daddy home!). I don’t know what to do to switch it up and we’re both getting irritable. We have one car that daddy takes to work most days. Mostly stuck at home. Do you have any resources/websites you recommend to things to do with a 2.5 year old?

    Thank you for all your sharing!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Lauren, oh those FL mosquitos! We have them here too and my little gal always gets more bit up than the rest of us. We tell her her blood must be extra sweet 😉 Let’s see, for 2.5 year old who is similar to Alfie’s age, I’d recommend looking into some Waldorf or Montessori resources that involve different sensory activities for little ones. Alfie does not like playing with traditional toys, so we do a lot of building and painting together. When your husband doesn’t need the car I’d be sure to get out and explore. Also, maybe you have friends you can carpool with for outings once a week? Just a thought. Or have play-dates at your house once a week so friends can come to you? x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Sarah

    An article I needed so urgently right now. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us, it means a lot and inspires me to organize our days. And commenting for the first time and speaking the heart out loud, with a little one of 7 months, you are actually one of my role model mums of how I strive to be one day. All the best for you and your loved ones!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Sarah, thank you for sharing your heart here mama, and welcome! x AmandaReplyCancel

  • B

    I LOVE this! I’m a rhythm-lover too and thrive best when our days have a certain cadence… I’m just curious as to what your husband does? I noticed he’s present in the days/chores which is SO FUN but does he work from home?
    (PS. I’m an INFJ too ✌🏼)ReplyCancel

    • admin

      B, hey hey fellow INFJ 🙂 Andrew and I share all home care and parenting responsibilities when he is home, and do our best to balance that work load. He is home early morning, most evenings, and weekends Fri-Sun. The one thing I exclusively do is cook, because I enjoy that, but he helps in most every other way at home. He does tends to do more of the lawn care to-do’s and always the trash. When it comes to family responsibilities, he is a financial advisor so he is in charge of all the financial doings, whereas I do schooling with the kids. He makes his own schedule, and now that his practice is more established, he is able to be home more! It wasn’t always this way, is work land was grueling starting out, but we love that he can spend more time at home and take calls here when he wants to. He does travel from time to time to meet with clients, but it’s not too often. The benefits of owning your own business is flexibility, but then there are the hard bits too, like accountability and the ups and downs of consistent providing in the journey of entrepreneurhood. xx AmandaReplyCancel

  • Lorena

    Thanks for those wonderful ideas Amanda! So refreshing! Shame we are have currently winter time here in New Zealand. So I get really pumped with your suggestions and try to remember when our summer comes! What I would loooooove to know though is how / when do you do your chores? Is that in your quiet time from 1-3? I really struggle with finding a balance between spending quality time with my kids and cleaning. One or the other will take priority unfortunately. I’d love to be able to stick to a cleaning plan like the beautiful one you made for us but I really really struggle! Would love to know how you do it! Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Lorena, great question! I am always doing my best to maintain, so when it comes to cleaning it’s really not too much effort. Therefore, I tend to do most heavy lifting chores when the kids are either playing in the morning, or during quiet time. I do deep stuff like bathrooms and kitchen appliances every two weeks, and I do the bathroom when the kids are in the tub! I do the kitchen when they are having lunch! I also give the kids a mini-jobs while I am doing chores so they can both help and me near. If it’s a big job that needs doing, I’ll save that for the weekend and tackle it with Andrew. x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Devon

    Thanks for sharing this rhythm! It’s so helpful to get started in putting one together for our family. I think it will actually help me feel less tired.

    Within your days, when are you finding your time to work? Whether it was on your book or this website work? Thanks!!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Devon, you’re most welcome! When I need to work I weave it in either in the down time we have at home in the mornings, during quiet time if possible, or in the evenings after Andrew gets home if I am really pressed. Everyday looks different in that regard, but I never work early in the morning because I’ve found that it totally drains me. The kids do a lot of free play at home, and by now they can be in the backyard and I can be on the porch writing and it works. This post took me two hours to compose, and I wrote it in chunks in the evening after everyone went to bed. There are, of course, some days where I’d love to fit my work in and it’s just not possible! Working from home and mothering is an interesting dance for sure, but I’ve found that giving us plenty of down time is a win win for everyone. xx AmandaReplyCancel

  • love all of this! one big question that’s been on my mind lately is how do you do the getting dressed part of the morning? i feel like the breakfast part of our rythm is good, but then between 8-10 it’s just me trying to get myself and my son washed and dressed and beds made then it’s already time for lunch prep! he’s only 2, so chasing him around with his pants certainly takes longer than normal, but i’d love to hear some tips! xoxoReplyCancel

    • admin

      Sarah, during the school months we try to lay out their clothes in the evening to make it easier in the morning, and all my kids dress themselves. It’s not always matching, but we let them put on their own clothes each morning, and pick out what they want to wear, as long as it’s weather appropriate! When it comes to summer months, I never lay clothes out, but I do have drawers they can open that have T’s, tanks, and shorts. I don’t even both folding clothes for them anymore…I just lay them in the drawers so they can sort through and pick what they want to wear! I hope that helps 🙂 xx AmandaReplyCancel

  • Katie

    Thanks so much Amanda! Love this summer rhythm. I work four days a week but this is still very helpful for my long weekends. One question for you that’s not exactly related to this post. How do you encourage your little ones to play independently? Especially when they’re younger. My oldest is almost three and I find that she wants me or my husband to play with her or entertain her constantly. So it’s hard for me to get anything done other than when both kids are sleeping. And I just find it so draining sometimes to be constantly “on” with them. Thanks again! xoxReplyCancel

    • admin

      Katie, to answer your question, yes…100%! We have lots of open-ended toys that help with this, and I am always encouraging them to get outside to explore. We have a fenced in yard that helps SO MUCH and then they also have one another to play with. I also have them help me around the house when they want to be right next to me, or we read together. Just keep encouraging, it will happen eventually. xx AmandaReplyCancel

  • Courtney

    Your rhythm sounds perfect. I have a 10 year old daughter and we’re more spontaneous with what we do in the summer. We’ve just moved to a new neighborhood with a lot of kids so when she gets tired of hanging out with me I can send her outside to play with the other kids. We also usually decide the next day, the night before. Today we’re going to the aquarium. I usually will do 4-5 things over the summer that cost money (like the fair, aquarium, zoo, theme park, our girls trip to palm springs in August, etc) and then the rest has to be low-cost like picnics and the pool.

    I am pregnant though (yay! I haven’t announced yet!) so next summer will look a lot different when she’s not the only child anymore. I will probably need a more mapped out rhythm and plan for our days.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle

    Amanda, you are a saving grace! I love this rhythm, I love that all of this is attainable and realistic, and I love that this is flexible. You have so many great ideas and advice. I am so excited for your book! When can we expect it?ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Michelle, thank you so much! It’s always a pleasure getting kind feedback. It’s set to print this autumn, then will be available early next spring. I cannot wait to share it with you all! xx AmandaReplyCancel

  • Sue

    Great post. How do you go to bed at 11 and get up at 5? Is that enough sleep?ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Sue, thank you! Oh, I make sure of it…I am a total sleep person who is not happy without it. My husband can run on less sleep, but not I. I don’t always stay up till 11, and I don’t always get up right at 5, and on the days I do, I nap with the boys 🙂 Our rhythm is more of a loose flow that gives way from one thing to the next, so times aren’t always the same, if that makes sense! xx AmandaReplyCancel

  • Christie

    This is perfect! I like to change it up year by year, and this is exactly what I was looking for. We had a great summer last year, but not so much the year before. I was trying to mimic the same routine as last summer, but I like this slight change for our routine. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with all of us!ReplyCancel

  • Heather

    I love this so much and sounds oh so dreamy to me. Thank you for sharing! I’m finding that I (introvert) love this kind of rhythm, and my son who is 500% extrovert needs activities and to be around people. Searching for a way that fills all of our cups. ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Shawna

    Amanda, I love this. The rough nightly menu makes meal planning so much easier. I am going to implement this. I love cooking but as of late, have found the task of getting everyone to the store and preparing dinner too daunting and we’ve been eating out too much. My husband is also in finance and travels a fair amount Monday through Thursdays. I have an almost 5 year old daughter, almost 3 year old son, and a 6 month old son, so I’m just a couple years behind you. Question—my 2 year old still wants to lay with me to go to sleep and I desperately want to be able to do this, but the baby is usually not okay with just hanging out in bed (with the exception of a few blissful times he has nursed to sleep during this time). How can I appease both parties? Side note: my daughter will do quiet time but I also love to do homeschooling with her during this time since we are exclusively homeschooling and there is usually little other time without the needy toddler in the day. Any insight?ReplyCancel

  • Verena

    Hi Amanda, my daughter is now three and stopped doing naps. She is very active and bubbly. So now I try to introduce quiet time. But whenever I lie down or sit down to read sth she gets angry and starts screaming and hitting, saying she really does not want quiet time. I also offered to read her sth bit she didn‘t want to. Did one of your kids really resist quiet time and how did you get them to accept it? Kind regards, VerenaReplyCancel

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