New Year, New Rhythm
I am so thankful that the New Year brings a clear moment in time to look back and reflect on the previous year and to look ahead at the things you hope to do in the next year. I’ve had my fair share of New Year goals set and forgotten. And while I absolutely have set goals again for this year, I tend to set way too many goals and I feel like the Lord has a way for changing or shifting my goals throughout the year.
I have had to learn to set goals with open hands because things almost never go as I plan. But one thing I do like to set for each year and I really try to stick with for the whole year is an intention. To some, I guess this might see like it’s the same as a goal, but to me they are very different. The way I think of a goal is that it has an end point. You reach some specific thing and then its done. But an intention is more of an area of focus that will hopefully become easier and more natural over the course of the year (and into forever), but it doesn’t really ever end or stop. An intention is an area that keeps growing, improving and building as time goes on.
This past year I have seen how much I struggle with chaos. It has been a year that felt so out of rhythm and as a result, I kind of felt like I was just trying to keep my head above water for most of it. So, my intention for this year is to set new rhythms that we can build upon and adjust as needed but that really serve each member of our family and our unique gifting and needs.
I have realized that there are two important shifts I have to make for that to happen. The first is prioritizing consistent quiet time in the Word. I talked about this briefly over on instagram which you can absolutely go read here, but I have continued to think on it some more. In short, my time in the word is like the foundation of our daily rhythm. Ideally, this is happening early in the morning before the boys wake up which has been happening most days the past few weeks.
With that being said, life happens, not every day is ideal so I do have a couple back up times in the day that I can make time for it. Especially when you have small children who wake up with needs. The most important thing is that it happens every day. It’s not an all or nothing thing — I have to be flexible with it otherwise I will be sorely disappointed and probably frustrated when things derail from the ideal and that isn’t how I want to function. At that point I’m just a slave to my own desire to control. No body wins in that scenario.
The beautiful and freeing thing about getting consistent time in with the Lord in relation to rhythms and intentions, is that I can invite the Holy Spirit to work in and through me to do the work the Lord has set out for me. It helps me to focus on the main things and to make room for Him. To make room in my day for distractions, interruptions, and the unexpected. Which I desperately need as someone who wants to hold onto every minute of the day with a tight grip and force it to be spent exactly how I would like. It helps me see more clearly what I need to be doing, and more importantly, what I shouldn’t do. I can very easily overload myself with a very long to do list.
My personality is one where all of the things that I need to do in the day feel equally important – or honestly all the things I need to do in a week feel equally important and pressing. So then I feel like I need to accomplish a whole week of to-dos in one day. But, when I can slow down and spend time in prayer and time reading, I can start to sort out what actually needs my attention today, next week, or over the next few months. There are so many things I want to do, but some of them (or a lot of them) are just not meant for right now. When I allow those things that I want to do now but can’t, take over my thoughts it tend to result in pent up frustration and not much patience. Less gratitude and more attitude.
One example of that would be that I was dead set that we were going to get chickens this year. But I also decided to turn our entire from yard into garden beds, we bought a “farm” with a major fixer upper, we are still in the thick of work on the church facility, I want to plant an orchard at the farm house, I might try to sell flower bouquets this year, and I want to grow a lot more veggies this year and learn how to can them. Oh and we need to actually finish the house we currently live in before we add another big project to our list. That really only barely scratches the surface of all things I would love to do this year.
As much as I would love to get chickens this year, I recognize that it would be a significant up front cost to build a chicken coop. And not only that, but once we move to the new property, we would have to build another one. Seems like it would be a waste long term. I would rather put our time, money, and energy into some those other things I listed off. So here I am crossing “raising chickens” off of my “Things to Learn in 2023” list for this year. While that’s a bummer, I feel a lot of peace about it because I believe the Lord is guiding us to focus on other things this year. Chickens are just moved to the “not yet” list and is one less thing I need to put thought and time into this year.
So, number one, I need to invite the Holy Spirit and God in daily and give up control of my plans and my days and allow them to remove some of the things I’ve added to my own plate that are unnecessary. I need them to remove the extra distractions that are not helping me accomplish the purposes He has for me right now. Things that may be really good things, but they just aren’t the right things for us this year.
The second part is to focus first on our morning rhythm and making that into something that we that we can build upon throughout the rest of the day. The reality for me is that I forget things. A LOT. I will write out a plan for the day or week and if I lose that sheet of paper, I literally have little to no memory of what I had wanted to do. Having a rhythm to my day (and my week) allows me to have these things that I need to do become something I don’t have to think about. I can move along from one thing to the next without getting bogged down by the overwhelm of too many options or getting really behind on simple household tasks that suddenly I feel paralyzed visual and mental clutter that has taken over. At that point, I slip into the reactive “just putting out the next fire” mode and everything else I had intentions of doing get pushed to the side.
When I look back, I know that this isn’t something I always struggled with in this capacity. When I had a consistent schedule — like school and extra curricular activities — I had very little time available to waste. I knew what was coming next and what needed to get done now. The real shift from that happened first when I was no longer in school with a strict schedule, and even more so, when I became a stay at home mom. Suddenly, my schedule was very open in the sense that I didn’t have somewhere I needed to report at a certain time. And the days were also sort of unpredictable. Instead of preparing for what’s ahead on offense, I really switched over to defense and was just responding to the next critical need. And while I’m very aware of the fact that life happens, and things don’t always go according to plan (especially with little kids), quite frankly, I’m tired of being on the reactive side of these rapid fire days and I would like to bring some peace, slowness, and simplicity into our days and our weeks. And I know darn well, our family as a whole would benefit greatly from it.
The major pain points we have been dealing with that really needed addressed are:
We have already seen a drastic improvement in with the changes we have made to our day in just 3 short weeks. I will say, before starting this new morning rhythm, I majorly decluttered and cleaned up our whole house and I put a lot of the boys toys away to prevent an overwhelming amount of toys being out at once as we work on putting toys away throughout the day instead of waiting until bedtime to try to clean everything up. That helped us start off on the right foot, and the new rhythm has helped us maintain.
The morning rhythm that we have been rolling with the past three weeks is this:
6:00am: Mom wakes up for quiet time (drinking tea/warm lemon & honey water, reading my bible, and doing any prep baking work needed)
6:30-7:00am: The boys wake up. On a great day, they get up a bit after 7 but this is the general wake up zone. (We are going working on a set wake up time/time they can come out of their rooms in the future, but we aren’t there yet.) They play together while I get breakfast on the table.
7:30am: Family Breakfast and Bible Study. (Paul reads a bible story to the boys and we discuss as much as toddlers can/do lol and then pray for our day) This pretty much rolls us right into the next part of our day.
8:00am Morning Basket. This time will build as they get older I’m sure but for now, we pretty much just do one school activity, typically revolving around basic math and reading skills. When we’re finished they are learning the habit of take care of their breakfast dishes and then they play while I clean up the kitchen from breakfast and get various things taken care of.
8:45am High Five/Get ready for the day. 1)Clean up from breakfast 2)Vitamins 3)Get dressed 4)Brush Teeth 5)Put dirty jammies in laundry basket (eventually that will naturally be part of getting dressed and we’ll add in making their beds… baby steps.) And while I get ready for the day and put away a load of laundry, they play.
9:30am Morning Chores – This rotates based on the day, but we do a chore together like vacuuming or cleaning windows, and then I do a different chore of my own while they play! And I start another load of laundry to put away the next day.
10:30am Snack and Story Time – Eat a snack, sometimes have tea with it, read aloud a book together.
11:00am Play Outside/go for a walk. & free play until lunch (If we have errands to run, that fits in here and then we get outside before dinner)
Right now, the length of time we spend getting ready and doing chores feels painfully long. But I’m hopeful that as they get the hang of these things, they will take less time. And as they get older, they will be able to do so many of these things independently instead of needing me to guide/teach them along the way. I have to remind myself that the work we are putting in now maybe not feel great in the short term, but it will pay off!
Our afternoon/evening rhythm really hasn’t changed. Like I said, we’re really focusing on the morning right now, and we’ll build from there. But for anyone interested, the rest of our day looks like this:
Afternoon Rhythm (which we haven’t changed)
12:00pm lunch and then play
1:00pm Liam naps
1:00-2:00 Theo’s Independent time/Quiet time. Lately, I read for a little but and then I like to do some of my hobbies like painting or garden stuff during this time and any dinner prep that I can! Theo is usually near me.
2:00-3:30 Theo & Mom time. What we do rotates depending on our weekly rhythm!
3:30pm Liam wakes up, Dad is home. Tv time and then play time with dad while I get time to myself to work on various projects until I need to start cooking dinner! 🙂 — Also, I feel like I need to note that Paul starts work very early in the day so that he can be home earlier and we often times have church-related activities in the evening a few nights a week so this helps to make sure he gets good quality time with the boys beforehand. Our schedule is unique in multiple ways since he is a pastor.
6 pm Dinner (that’s the goal time anyway.)
7:15pm start cleaning up and getting ready for bed.
8:00pm Boys in bed. Paul tackles dinner clean up. I tackle the rest of the general tidying up and prepping for the next day. Then we hang out before heading to bed around 9:30!
9:30-10pm We go to bed.
While it may sound rigid to have a daily or weekly rhythm, it has actually been incredibly freeing. The boys have started to play better with each other and more creatively. Their attitudes have also improved greatly since we haven’t been watching shows in the mornings. My attitude is also so much better. It has allowed my days to have some flexibility because I’m not drowning in a to do list anymore. Yes, there are certain things I just flat out say no to right now because they don’t fit into our morning rhythm. I think eventually, as the rhythm, becomes more second nature, we will find we have even more time to do other things. But for now, I am appreciating that our rhythm, is allowing me to work when it’s time to work and to actually rest when it’s time to rest. It’s a mental rest I can’t say I have experienced before. My mind is not reeling with all of the things I keep forgetting to do. I still forget things. Certain things don’t get done every day. But there is always tomorrow to try again. His mercies are new every morning.
I can’t encourage you enough to start tweaking your daily rhythm to make time for the things that really matter to you and removing the things that don’t.