Friday, October 10, 2014

Rhythm vs Schedule





I have been having an interesting email conversation over the last week or so with a mom interested in homeschooling, and more so, in our days here at our home. I shared some of my thoughts about homeschooling, and our daily rhythm. As our conversation grew there was difficulty in understanding how I keep to a rhythm. In her mind our day to day rhythm was set out in what I call a schedule format, with specific times for everything. This is in fact very far from the truth.

We follow a very specific rhythm in our home, but it is not a schedule. For us, rhythm refers to the flow of our days. And really, it is not only our days that have a rhythm, but we also have weekly, monthly and yearly rhythms. So just how does it work. We have "anchors" in our day, these include our morning routine, our meal times, and our evening bedtime routine. These happen at pretty much the same times each day, and anchor our days. They are the foundation of our days, and from these each day flows.

Our homeschool days include lots of free play, a circle and story time, a nature walk, reading, sometimes handwork, baking or water colour painting, outdoor play, and of course meals and snacks. There might be a craft worked in somewhere, or some letter writing/drawing to penpals, and there is always time spent drawing, playing games, and tidying our home. What there isn't is a set time for all of this to occur. After breakfast, once Reece and his little friend have helped clear the table, they run off for a little free play time while I tidy up and do the dishes. Once I am done, I check in on them. If they are playing well, I let them keep playing, if for whatever reason they are not playing well, I start to sing our song to let them know circle time is starting. I have not set a time that circle time must start, we just go with the flow, and I observe the kids and follow their lead. Our nature walk is the same. Some days we are out for half an hour, other days we could be out there for over an hour. I usually throw a little something in my pocket for them to eat, a banana or something simple, so if we get delayed, we have a snack to eat, before heading home for a bigger snack. The rest of our day together continues in the same way, flowing from one activity to another. There is a definite plan for each day, but I am not a slave to the clock, although based on our meal and snack times, which are eaten around the same time each day, I do have an idea of when I want certain things to happen.

For us, rhythm is a guide, helping us move through the day with ease, and for the most part, calm and peace. There is predictability for the kids in that they can trust what each day will bring, and with that trust they can fully sink into their imaginative play and activities.

We chatted a bit about what our non-homeschool days look like, the weekends for example, and the truth is the anchors in our day...mornings, meal times and evening bedtimes help make our weekends flow as well. The morning and evening anchors bookend our days, starting and finishing our days as we normally do, and our mealtime anchors create times for us to gather during the day to check in with each other and chill. These anchors give us freedom to do things together as a family, and also to be a little more spontaneous when things come up that we might like to do, while still offering the predictability that is so important, not only for Reece, but for us too.

For me, rhythm and schedule are two very different things, but for some it can be hard to understand the difference. I think if we look to Mother Nature, we can really see how rhythm and schedule differ. The schedule would say that fall should be here on September 21, but the rhythm of Mother Nature is often different. She flows between fall like days, and summer like days as she slowly shifts from summer to fall. The calender may say fall, but we were having summer like days here last week. This week we are definitely experiencing fall in all its beauty, with a bit of chill on the side. Nothing is set in stone with Mother Nature, she just flows, with grace and beauty through the year. My hope is that our days flow in much the same way.

38 comments:

  1. Beautifully written Kim. I'm having my husband read this. We've often had the conversation of schedule vs rhythm. He doesn't get it, but likes what we do. This eloquently puts into words what I've been trying to explain for the past 5 years! Thank you!

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    1. Thank you! So happy it puts into words your thoughts. Hope you hubby enjoys it. xo

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  2. What a wonderful window into your day... I didn't realize you do circle time. My daughter's preschool has circle time, songs and movement indicate the start of it, every morning is a different activity to get them moving, listening, sharing and discovering. I guess I should ask our teachers if maybe, they've applied a few "alternative" techniques to their schooling days huh?

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    1. Thanks Yanic. Yes, we do! Songs, verses, finger plays, movement, some play with bean bags, and then a story, acted out with props. The kids love it, and I do too!

      I think it is pretty common for preschool and kindergarten to have a circle time.

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  3. Rhythm...yes, we have a rhythm here which makes the days flow so well, but when it's off I flounder.
    Schedules make me shutter and I am thankful I live a life that doesn't need them.

    Have a beautiful Thanksgiving Kim. I don't know the first thing about Thanksgiving in Canada so will have to look that up.

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    1. Oh we do too Tracey. One day last year, I switched up our nature walk and circle time, threw all of three of us off for the day. It was a real eye opener into how important rhythm is both for them and for me.

      Thank you Tracey, it is suppose to be a lovely autumn weekend, and we are going to enjoy it with quite a bit of time in the woods.

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  4. Yes yes! Oh I needed to read this. Our day has a flow to it as well. My brain is wired for a schedule. We do certain things at certain times. Period. But that isn't how it looks in actuality around here. And for a long time I've been thinking I am doing something wrong. Or I interrupt Ree when she is engaged in something in order to "move on to the next thing." I am slowly coming around to following the flow and following her lead. When I do that we seem to get so much more done and enter into our activities much more deeply. I am going to save this post as a reminder to myself. You write so beautifully!
    As an aside....she is now on the couch totally focused on making God's Eyes. She has made so many in the last day! And it's thanks to your post yesterday! I never would have thought to get out the supplies to make them.

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    1. It is amazing how our days flow when we follow their lead. I love it so.

      Thank you, that is so kind of you to say.

      Oh that just makes me so happy. I remember when I first introduced Reece to God's eyes, he didn't stop. We have so many of them, and he loves each and every one. Have you seen this post....http://www.motheringwithmindfulness.com/2014/02/busy-little-hands.html

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    2. I hadn't seen that post! Reminds me of our house. She has difficulty beginning them so yesterday she picked out yarn and sticks for 20 and I started them and she lined them up in the order she wants to make them. This is giving her hours of creativity! Next she wants to write out a list of who she wants to give them to. Not inky is she working with her hands but also on her writing. A wonderful project all thanks to your inspiration! Happy Thanksgiving too! I neglected to say it yesterday

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    3. Oh goodness, she sounds just like Reece when he started. It is so wonderful when they get inspired.

      Thank you. xo

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  5. "...trust they can fully sink into their imaginative play and activities." So true. The best play happens when they know they have time to sink into their own world of imagination. Also love your analogy of rhythm and seasons.

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    1. YES! I knew you would agree :) Thank you. xo

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  6. I had a schedule of sorts that led to a very happy rhythm! Love that we can bounce thoughts and ideas about and get some new fresh ones. Happy thanksgiving :)

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    1. It is awesome when that happens, so happy to hear it worked that way for you. Is the blog world great for that?

      Thanks Karen. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  7. Love your thoughts Kim! Everyone has to find what rhythm works for them and their family. That is what I always encourage. Everyone's life and everyone’s day is different. Hope you have a great weekend!

    Much Love!

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    1. Thanks Tiffany. I wholeheartedly agree, what works for us, won't work for another family. We all have to make decisions and do what works best for our family. I didn't mean to imply that this is a rhythm that anyone should follow, just more a discussion about the difference between rhythm and schedule.

      Have a lovely weekend.

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  8. I find that living with the seasons as opposed to living with a calendar to be much simpler, calming and beautiful. Instead of stressing over a looming deadline by such and such a day, there is a cushion of time to gently slide into things. I love it.

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    1. Oh yes, I agree! I think it is a beautiful way to live.

      Love what you said about a "cushion of time to gently slide into things'....beautiful!

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  9. You have such a lovely gift of words. They just flow together- like your rhythm

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    1. Awe, thank you Rosemarie, that is so nice of you to say. It made me smile. xo

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  10. Rhythm over schedule for sure! One of the things I loved about Maria not being at school last year is that she got to do things at her pace and when she was ready for them, on a daily basis but also a weekly, monthly or longer basis. There is definitely a rhythm here, far more than a schedule, and it's the rhythm of the child. In a class of children within a school, I can see why schedule is required, but at home with one child it just seems absurd.

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    1. It is amazing to watch a child develop when they can go at their own pace. The rhythm of the child...YES, I couldn't agree more.

      And yes, very difficult in school with so many children to watch over. Although sometimes I think there could be a little more flow to the schedule in a school setting.

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  11. I think your final paragraph sums it up well. This was a really great topic to talk about kim. Thanks! I feel like schedules are for people who work outside of the rhythm of nature.

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    1. Thanks KC. Oh yes, that is so right, nature provides a beautiful rhythm for us, but if we ignore it, then scheduling has to be our fall back.

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  12. We have found such peace in always honoring the natural rhythm of our days rather than by being beholden to a schedule. We definitely have anchors of our day too (what a great visual!) but on the whole our days, like yours, just flow from one thing to the next. It is such a beautiful way to live. xo

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    1. It certainly is, and I am so happy you get to live this way too my friend. xo

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  13. This is exactly what I have been thinking the last few months. I was having trouble getting my toddler to sleep as night until I let the rhythm of darkness and light dictate his sleep. Now we keep lights off in the evening and he goes to sleep easily. It seems so simple now.

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    1. Sometimes it is the simplest of things that can totally change our days. Happy you have found the key to your bedtime rhythm.

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  14. So interesting to read, as usual... here also we do have rhythms and tha table for breaksfast and dinner are important anchors. My little man asks for activities during the day (week-end for us) and I'm pleased to see that he wants to participate in cleaning the house, cutting vegetables and making things by himself, I do think, he is able to do so because the rhythms of the day are strong bases for him...

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    1. Thank you. How wonderful that he is so helpful, I love when my little man wants to help out.

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  15. Love living by rhythm, my body and mind thank me at the end of the day! Great post!

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  16. I love your thoughts -- very inspiring as well as peaceful. Thank you.

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  17. Such a wonderful post and a great explanation of the difference between the two!

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