An easy step-by-step tutorial to creating a healthy home rhythm, and why you need one.

The kids are constantly cranky and you’re on edge. The to-do list seems endless and once again the littles fell asleep in front of the TV at who knows what hour. Your day feels out of control, like you never know if you’re coming or going.

How are you supposed to get dinner on the table at 6 when you don’t even look in the fridge until 7?

What you need is a strong home rhythm.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and subsequently make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What is a healthy home rhythm

A home rhythm is simply doing the same sorts of things at the same general time on a daily, weekly, or seasonal basis.

Maybe you can’t stomach the thought of using a day planner to plan your day because it just feels so confining.

I get it.

Dividing the day up into small segments and keeping my kids on a tight schedule brings back memories of public school, with the bells and 4 minutes to get from one class to the next and the anxiety….

No thank you.

But unlike a rigid schedule, a healthy home rhythm is not strictly tied to a clock, but instead can ebb and flow.

Think of it as a routine, or as Charlotte Mason called it, regularity.

Yep, Charlotte Mason was all about regularity.

But that word.


It makes me think of bowel habits and getting your daily fiber. (former RN here)

Not exactly the atmosphere I want in my home.

Why do we need a daily or weekly rhythm?

Lots of reasons! When I first instituted a regular bedtime for my older daughter when she was about 8, she became calmer, less prone to outbursts, and was a generally happier child. It was like magic.

I remember talking to another mom who instituted a regular bedtime at about the same time I did, and we were both amazed at the change in our kids. She said, “Who knew?”

(while my mom piped up in the background “I did!” — thanks mom, why didn’t you tell me?)

A Home Rhythm Reduces the Amount of Mental Bandwidth We Need

A routine is not just for kids. It works wonders for grown ups, too. When you always do the same thing at about the same time, it means one less thing you have to think about.

This alone is gold.

We only have so much mental bandwidth. We can only hold so many things in our head.

And getting a child in nightclothes is so much easier when he is actually awake.

Increases Kids’ Sense of Security

This sounds strange, doesn’t it? How would having a rhythm to the day make kids feel more secure?

When we get up, we have a general sense of how our day is going to go, even if we aren’t sure of the exact times.

We might know we have an appointment in the afternoon, or we need to get a few loads of laundry done in the morning, or even that we have vague maybe-plans to go to the park.

Kids can’t see into our brain, and if we don’t have a routine they have no idea what’s coming next.

Imagine going to a conference and asking for an overview of what’s planned for each day. Instead of being given a schedule, you’re told, “Oh, don’t worry about it. We’ll let you know when we want you to go somewhere else. In the meantime, just do whatever.”

You don’t know if lunch will be at 10 AM or 2:30, or if the day will end at 4 or go until 10 that night.

That would be rather uncomfortable, wouldn’t it? Yeah, I’d think the leaders were… how to say this nicely?… Unorganized.

When we don’t have a home rhythm, that’s how it can feel to our children.

  • They don’t know if they’re going to eat lunch at 10:30 or 2:30 or at all
  • They don’t know if the day is ending at 7 or at 10
  • They don’t know if, when they start to play, they will immediately get called in for lessons or if they will be able to engross themselves in their project

Tried and True, Tested over Generations

For generations, centuries, millenia, our ancestors have had daily, seasonal, and yearly rhythms. It’s the very nature of living a largely agricultural life.

The daily rhythm of getting up to muck out the stalls and feed the animals.

Making food on a regular basis to feed those who were doing physical labor.

Going to bed at a similar time to start the day fresh and early the next.

The weekly rhythm of housework — laundry on Monday, ironing on Tuesday, sewing on Wednesday, marketing on Thursday, etc.

The seasonal and yearly rhythms of planting, harvesting, preserving, baby animals being born, and yearly celebrations.

And it works because it works.

Those repeated patterns give structure to the day and year, something to look forward to. “We always go apple picking in the fall.”

If every evening after dinner you clean up as a family, it reduces power struggles. It’s simply what we do.

The daily rhythm of eating and sleeping at the same times keeps the body on schedule. Bedtimes are easier (your body is signaled that this is sleep time) and eating at consistent times keeps blood sugar steady, which means moods are less volatile.

Creating a healthy home rhythm, step by step

So now you’re convinced of how important a home rhythm or routine is, but how do you go from your current life of chaos to one that’s flowing and regular?

First, don’t jump in to a full-blown routine. If you do you’ll not only have a mutiny on your hands, but you’re likely to crash and burn.

Add each step one at a time, and when that step feels easy add in the next. Each step might take a few days or it might take several weeks, depending where you’re starting from.

1. Start with consistent sleeping times

Bedtimes and nap times, and regular waking times.

Remember that while adults need about 8 hours of sleep per night, children need more. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children generally need the following to be fully rested:

  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
  • School-aged (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
  • Teens (14-17 years): 8-10 hours
  • Young adults (18-25 years): 7-9 hours

How do we ensure our children are getting enough sleep? We start by working our way backwards.

What time do you want them to get up in the morning? How many hours do they usually sleep? (If there is no consistency, choose the middle range from the list above and start with those numbers)

If you have a 9 year old and you want him to sleep until 7, going to bed at 7 PM probably won’t work, because most 9 year olds don’t sleep for 12 hours (it’s ok if yours does, though).

If we start with the mid-range of 10 hours for a 9 year old and we want him to wake up around 7 AM, then that means he should be asleep at 9 PM.

We can’t just be in the middle of doing things though and suddenly say, “OK, jammies on and time for bed!”

We need to signal to the body that it’s getting time for sleep.

This is where an evening routine comes in.

Start with a simple evening routine of

  • wash up
  • brush teeth
  • night clothes on
  • dirty clothes in the hamper
  • reading (either to themselves quietly or as a family bedtime story)
  • tucked in and lights out

Try to have this time be screen-free, so the blue light from screens doesn’t interfere with their sleep.

If that simple evening routine takes 30 minutes, then for a 9 PM sleeping time that means it has to start at 8:30 or a little earlier.

I am not saying that all 9 year olds should stay up until 9. This is just the method I use to figure out when I want our evening routine to start.

You might want to start straight off from what time you want them to be in bed by so you can have some kid-free time at the end of the day. Just be aware that if your 9 year old child is going to sleep at 7:30, he will probably be awake around 5:30 or 6 AM.

A word about consistency: you can fudge about 20-30 minutes, especially when you’re just starting out.

Don’t feel like since you were aiming for 8 PM and you didn’t get your kids in bed until 8:20 that you failed that day.

Developing a routine is a process. It will take time, you will have slip ups and backsliding, and sometimes it will feel impossible.

This is all normal.

If you are starting here:

Then your goal should not be here:

graph of perfect bedtime with crazy mom

But here:

bedtime graph after evening routine

Progress, not perfection.

We aren’t Superwoman.

2. Add in consistent mealtimes and snack times

Once bedtimes have been set and it feels normal to get your kids (and you!) in bed at about the same time every night, then work on being really consistent with meals and snack times.

Simplify meal planning as much as possible. You might consider a meal planning service (I’m trying out Real Plans right now)

Just like with your bedtime routine, work your way backwards.

What times do you want to eat? Do you want 3 big meals and 2 snacks? Six small meals?

Jot down the times you’d like to eat, then look at it from a bird’s eye view. Are lunch and afternoon snack too close together? Are there 7 hours between lunch and dinner with no snack time?

Adjust until you have what is a reasonable schedule for meals.

You’re not done yet, though. In order to get meals on the table, some preparation is usually involved.

How long does it usually take you to cook a meal? (or how long does it take the delivery guy to get your order to you? I don’t judge)

If getting dinner on the table usually takes you 30 minutes and you want to serve dinner at 6:30, you know you need to start it no later than 6 PM.

Likewise, if it takes you an hour to cook dinner and you want to eat at 5PM, you would know you need to start at 4.

This will take a little while to get used to, so consider setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to get dinner going.

If you’re going to be out of the house that evening, think about using a crockpot so you don’t have to do meal prep, or maybe plan to eat out that night.

Make a list of easy snacks that you can keep on hand so snack times are relaxed.

Step 3: Add a Morning Routine

It’s been a few weeks or a few months and you have consistent sleeping and eating times. Moods are happier and more even, and things feel less hectic around the house.

Let’s expand out a bit, and continue with our forward progression.

How about making mornings easier?

You have to do the same things every morning — make bed, get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, eat breakfast. You may want to add a meditation or spiritual time to start off your day, too.

If mornings make you frazzled, then work on bringing rhythm to these times, too.

If you feel like you’re constantly yelling at the kids to keep them moving, consider making a music track like this one for your family. I’ve used it for years, and while I wouldn’t necessarily buy it again (it is expensive!) it does its job and worked wonders.

Work on building habits for your kids’ morning routine, one step at a time. (For more on building habits, read this post on habit training)

Step 4: Make a Weekly Rhythm

Once your morning and evening routines are solid and you’re eating at regular times, your days should feel much more manageable.

Let’s take our focus off of the daily and now work on a weekly rhythm.

We don’t need to have something scheduled every day, but having a weekly rhythm reduces a lot of whining.

If the kids know that every Friday is park day, or every Thursday afternoon you’ll go to the pool, it makes it so they’re not asking every. single. day.

You can do this with home activities, too.

Tuesday might be painting or watercolor. Wednesday drawing. Thursday an adventure.

Again, just start out with one thing, and then add in another once that’s easy and “just what we do”.

Step 5: Make a Cleaning Schedule

For at least a hundred years and probably much longer, the heart of housework was a weekly routine that assigned each of the major housekeeping chores to one day of the week. You see variants of the routine, but in my childhood people did washing (laundering) on Monday, ironing on Tuesday, sewing on Wednesday, marketing on Thursday, cleaning on Friday, and baking on Saturday. Sunday was the day of rest. For those of us who can remember the universality with which this system was followed through the mid-1960s, or even later in some areas, the speed and totality of its disappearance are breathtaking.

— Cheryl Mendelson, Home Comforts

Let’s get a handle on the cleaning now.

You can either create your own daily and weekly cleaning list (keep it simple, guys!) or use a system like Flylady or Motivated Moms (use coupon code juniper for $3 off your first year!).

I’ve used Motivated Moms as my cleaning schedule for years, and it’s how I keep my house (reasonably) clean.

Yes, I fall off the wagon periodically frequently (ahem), but it’s easy to jump back on.

I use the Clean My House Planner from Motivated Moms because it only has tasks to keep my house clean. Other versions have daily Bible readings, or things like “refill prescriptions” “pay bills” and “check your credit report”.

I need simple and focused or I get overwhelmed.

Final Step: Whatever Else You Want

At this point you are several months into a rhythm, perhaps it’s even been an entire year since you started.

It’s ok. We all go at our own pace.

Now it’s time for you to fly on your own.

You can add whatever you’d like to your rhythm at this point.

If at any time you feel overwhelmed, back up a step and get that one solid before you try to move on again.

Two steps forward, one step back. Progress isn’t all forward.

There will be backsliding, and sometimes you’ll feel like throwing in the towel completely.


Just back up, take a deep breath, and start again.

Each day is a new day. Each afternoon even is new.

Having a healthy home rhythm will make every day easier.

Where are you in your journey to creating a home rhythm? Where are you getting stuck? Let me know in the comments so we can brainstorm ways to get you out of that stuck place.

Want to save this article for later? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board!

step-by-step to daily rhythm

napping kids using a relaxed schedule

Learn to create a CM routine with no timers or alarms.

Does the thought of keeping a rigid school schedule with a timer make you feel like you're back in public school drudgery? Does it give you flashbacks to gray hallway lockers and cliques of popular kids laughing as they walk past you?

Does a niggling part of your brain tell you that if you don't follow a time table, you're just not doing it right?

You're not alone in your dislike of bells and rigid lesson times. 

This year, I've tried to keep the timetable for Form I students (ages 6-9) for my 7 year old, and when we're able to follow it, it works wonderfully. Short and varied lessons, and neither of us --usually -- gets bored.

But I'll be honest:  we started our first term the last week of July. It is now the last week of March, and we've just finished.

Our first term.

Why? Because many days I would look at that schedule, shudder, and think "hmmm.... those blinds look like they really need dusting."

And then my daughter would ask to please please please make some homemade whipped cream for the picnic she's planning... and who can resist that

Because what I'm really avoiding is the feeling of a straight-jacketing schedule. The feeling that someone else is telling me what to do when.

And then I came across this in an article in the Parents' Review, the periodical edited by Charlotte Mason until her death:

I arranged her day in the following manner:  From the age of five or six to nine--Scripture, hymn, and English reading with me at 10; easy French lessons with her French bonne at 10.30; walk at 11; sleep at 12 to 1, or as long as she wished. I may add here that she slept regularly up to the age of nine, when this rest was had by lying on the floor for thirty minutes or so in the schoolroom.  In the winter, if fine, another walk or run till 3 o'clock, when a young daily governess came for an hour and a half or so for easy lessons in geography, sums, music, and writing.

Parents' Review alternate schedule

A-ha!  Not everyone followed a strict time table, even back in Charlotte Mason's day.

Writing that out into a schedule of sorts, we get:

10:00 Scripture, hymn, and English reading

10:30 French lessons

11: 00 walk

12:00 nap

(outdoors until 3)

3:00-4:30 geography, math, music, writing

Put more simply, an hour of lessons in the morning and an hour and a half in the afternoon, with plenty of time for both sleep and to be outside.

The article doesn't say what "English reading" consists of. Is this learning to read and literature, or does it also include history, tales, and natural history readings? 

Regardless, this is a very simplified schedule that most of us can apply to our own lives.

It's a rhythm

What strikes me the most after its simplicity is the easy rhythm. There is a daily walk as well as a daily rest.

It's rhythmic. It's regular. It's routine.

Lessons are naturally kept short not because of a timer, but because there were time blocks-- that is, blocks of time that were designated for a set of subjects.

Scripture, hymn, and reading for half an hour, then the French teacher came. An hour and a half to do geography, math, music and writing in the late afternoons.

This builds flexibility while also keeping lessons short. Not an hour and a half of geography one day, but an hour and a half of geography, math, music, and writing.


Not or

Do you know what else is nice about this? It's not a checklist.  It's not a list of page numbers or even an amount of time that "should" be spent in each subject. It's a block of time in which you work on certain subjects.

Maybe today you want to spend 20 minutes on geography, but tomorrow only 5 minutes, or none. That's ok. This rhythm flows with you.

I love this idea. It feels so organic and natural. Create time blocks and a general order of subjects, but leave the details loose.

This is another example of how you can make Charlotte Mason fit your lifestyle, rather than molding yourself to fit Charlotte Mason.

If you can't do a timetable-like schedule, it's ok to have rhythmic one instead. Keep lessons short, but make Charlotte Mason homeschooling work for you.


easy charlotte mason schedule

Insert Content Template or Symbol

Yesterday I saw the announcement that Whole Family Rhythms is closing on June 15, 2019, and they don’t know what they will look like when (if) they re-open in the Fall.

The good news is that all their products are 50% or more off; the bad news is that this might be the last time you can buy their guides.

I only learned about them a few weeks ago, but I loved their samples so much I became an affiliate for them.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

So what makes them so special? They encourage building family connection and a slow childhood. They encourage handwork for the littles and for the caregiver. They encourage caregivers to take some time every day for reflection and/or meditation. They encourage rhythm.

They are visually stunning, and most of them are secular. Winter Family Rhythm and Christmas Festival guides are not secular as they refer to the Christian aspects of Christmas. The creator comes from a Waldorf background so they are also developmentally appropriate for childhood and they contain no academics.

But the best part? It doesn’t matter your religious beliefs or cultural background; Whole Family Rhythms helps you craft traditions and routines that will fit your own family and values.

I included Whole Family Rhythms in my 13 Secular Preschool Programs for Charlotte Mason Homes blog post, but while the Whole Family Rhythm guides are created for parents of children ages 2-6, I thought they might still be appropriate for families with older children.

So I bought them all just so I could tell you about each one.


Every. Single. One.

Not for myself, mind you. It was purely for research purposes. (ahem)

That’s what I’m telling my budget, at least.

The Seasonal Guides

Ages 2-7 as your primary guide, ages 7-9 as a supplement to your routine.

Let’s start first with the seasonal guides.

There are four seasonal guides, and when you purchase you are asked if you are Northern or Southern Hemisphere.

Each seasonal guide is three months, and each month has a sample daily rhythm, a caregiver’s meditation, and caregiver’s handwork project, in addition to weekly fingerplays, stories, simple recipes, crafts, beeswax modeling, weekly hiking ideas, and painting.

chestnuts for autumn

The recipes range in difficulty from baking bread (harder) to cutting watermelon slices with fish-shaped cookie cutters (super easy).

The hiking ideas are nature oriented but are not about learning or transmitting information. They are more about experiencing. For example, one Weekly Hike is “Perhaps you can find a muddy trail this week and let the kids sink their toes into the dirt” while another is “Take your little kite out for a walk in the park this week. You won’t need strong winds as it can sail along behind you” while still a third is “see if you can find a bee and observe it with your child in silence as it gathers pollen and flies from flower to flower.”

This will be a wonderful addition to our days with my almost-8 year old, but if you only have older children, the seasonal guides will not be useful to you.

Spring, Fall, and Autumn guides are secular, but Winter is not.

Winter has Christmas for December, including an Advent section, and several mentions of God and Jesus. However, the months of January and February included in the Winter Guide don’t have any religious references.

What’s the difference between the seasonal Family Rhythm Guides and the 3 in 1 seasonal Bundles? The Bundles contain the Family Rhythm Guide for either Spring or Autumn, the celebration guide for the season (Easter or Harvest), and the Return to Rhythm Mini Course.

If you are going to buy the seasonal guides, I highly recommend spending the little bit extra to get the 3 in 1 bundle.

Or you can get the All Seasonal Family Rhythm Guides (bundle).


All ages if you are crafting your own traditions, for ages 2-10 if using as-is.

Under the Celebrate tab are Whole Family Christmas eGuide, Easter, Harvest, and Birthdays.

If you have older kids and want to be more intentional about your seasonal celebrations, these are the guides you’re looking for.

The Harvest eGuide will walk you through incorporating your family values into your celebrations with questions like “Write down as many values as you can think of associated with Harvest Time and which you would like to model to your children.”

Then there is a deeper look at harvest figures and symbols, and then a short look at harvest festivals from around the world:

  • Michaelmas
  • Thanksgiving (Canada and United States)
  • Sukkot (Jewish)
  • Moon Festival (Chinese and Vietnamese)

You will create a Harvest Season vision board, brainstorm how you want to model the spirit of the season and how to prepare for the festivals so that you remain calm and present, and more.

harvesting a carrot

On top of that, there are stories and finger games.

Handwork is appropriate for a wide range of ages, from a toadstool felt covered matchbox for younger kids to waxing fall leaves and making a garland. While the felt covered matchbox probably wouldn’t appeal to teens, my teen would have enjoyed making the fall decorations like the waxed leaf garlands.

Caregiver’s handwork includes a crocheted field mouse and a wool felt pouch. The pouch would be a good thing for teens to do, and while the instructions are for a mushroom applique, you could very easily make any design you wanted.

There are also caregiver meditations/reflections.

Easter and Christmas are similar, but adjusted for those holidays.

Easter eGuide

The Easter eGuide does not focus on the Christian aspects (the resurrection), but instead on spring and rebirth and so can easily be used by non-Christian families.

Easter crafts are

  • Lambs for little hands
  • sewn felt egg
  • wetfelt eggs
  • herb and vegetable dyed hardboiled eggs
  • felt Easter basket
  • knitted bunny
  • eggshell candle holder
easter rabbit with eggs

Christmas eGuide

Out of the three Festival guides (Christmas, Easter, Harvest), Christmas is going to be the least useful to non-Christians from an open-and-go perspective. Our family does cultural/secular Christmas, so about 75% of the content is still useful — the planning pages, how I’m going to bring the values I want to my family, that sort of thing — but we won’t use the stories.

While there is mention of Yule as a solstice festival, the focus is on Christmas, with Advent as a countdown to Christmas. The Advent story is of Joseph and Mary, and while the guide says it doesn’t focus on the religious aspects and instead calls Jesus the Child of Light, there is still that underlying monotheistic vibe.

Crafts are:

  • Hanging gnome
  • Advent wreath (a clay ring with 4 candles; you could just make it without tying it to Advent)
  • Beeswax candle decorating
  • Hanging wreath (fingerknitted)
  • Jingle bell garland
  • Winter gnomes
  • Needle felted ball (tree ornament)
  • Wooden star

Whole Family Birthdays guide

Ages 2-7

The Whole Family Birthdays eGuide contains ideas for simple and nourishing traditions for your little one. This is appropriate for ages 1-6, and could be stretched to a wee bit older. My daughter turns 8 in May and while I can use a few of the ideas, most of it is things we already do for a simple birthday celebration. This is not a guide of party ideas, but more reassurances that simple is good.

Return to Rhythm Mini Course

All ages

Return to Rhythm Mini Course is wonderful! If you are struggling with a daily rhythm, this is for you.

Each section — mealtimes, playtimes, bedtims — has both a few pages of suggestions and also worksheets where you’ll think through what’s working, what you want to change, and then how to make the changes.

It’s a simple formula but so powerful, and for the high return on investment, completely worth the price.

More than any other single thing, having a strong family rhythm will help you create the life you want.

I’m going to dive right in this week on it. While you can use it as-is for your younger kids, it is still very usable with modifications for your olders. For the olders, you’ll want to work through the pages with them.

I plan to work through it as a family, with my husband, 22 year old daughter, and 7 year old.

Whole Family Herbs eGuide

Whole Family Herbs is the only guide that I would honestly tell you to pass on. There are several herbs included, with a recipe for using each one, but the growing information is minimal, and there are no explanations in the Wisdom section for how to actually use the plants.

For example, for Chamomile we have “Chamomile has many medicinal qualities but is best known as classic nervine. It nourishes our nervous system. It is great for insomnia, anxiety, depression, stomach upset due to nerves and headache. For children it is an excellent teething medicine and helps to calm children after lots of excitement or upset.”

The growing information is the same or less than you will find on the back of your seed packet.

And following there is a recipe for Sweet Chamomile Popsicles.

After reading this, I wonder what a nervine is or does, what does “nourishes our nervous system” mean, and how I’m actually supposed to use chamomile for insomnia, stomach upset, etc.

Do I give my child a popsicle before bed? Do I let her chew on a chamomile flower if she’s teething? Do I make it into a tea and rub it on her gums, or put it in a cup for her to drink? Should I make a chamomile salve and rub it on her tummy?

My point is that for this guide to be useful, you would need to have a good background already in how to use herbs… and if you do, then this guide isn’t very useful because you’d already know the information.

It assumes too much prior knowledge for a beginner, and is too basic for an intermediate user. The best skill level for this is an advanced beginner who is looking for some gentle ideas to incorporate some herbs into their children’s lives.

If you’re just looking for a single recipe using an herb, then this guide is ok. Rosemary is stew, chamomile is popsicles, calendula is an easy salve, violets is violet jelly.

#ourfamilyrhythm Printables Bundle

If you are a printables fan and want some for your daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythm, #ourfamilyrhythm Printables Bundle is a good choice. They are beautiful with watercolored pictures.

I am not a printables person. I am more likely to just grab a blank piece of printer paper to draw out my ideas and brainstorm on. I also don’t have a color printer, so to get the beauty of this pack I will need to send in a print order to Staples or Office Max.

Are they nice to have? Sure.

Necessary? Nope.


If you’re looking for guides that will hold your hand as you bring more rhythm and connection to your family, these are for you.

  • Return to Rhythm — all ages. Work through it together with your older kids and partner to craft your family rhythm.
  • Harvest, Easter, Christmas eGuides — all ages if using as a guide to craft your own meaningful celebrations, elementary and younger as-is
  • Seasonal Guides — (winter, spring, summer, fall) — ages 2-7 as your primary guide, ages 7-9 as a supplement to your days and to add connection
  • Birthday — ages 2-7
  • Herbs — probably skip this one
  • Printables — pretty but unnecessary

I purchased the All Guides Bundle and added on the Printables pack and Unplug Childhood Training. Since Unplug Childhood Training starts on Sundays, I haven’t yet received the first email to begin and give you a review.

Whole Family Rhythms is a wonderful group of guides to to bring peace, joy, and connection to your home. Visually stunning, and nurturing of both mama and child, I’m sure you will love them as much as I do.

blowing bubbles with child whole family rhythms review

I’ve lost my rhythm.

It stinks.

Not my music rhythm, though I haven’t been singing much lately, either.

No, this is my daily rhythm.  The one that keeps the household running smoothly, time spent with my daughter and husband, and our Charlotte Mason lifestyle moving forward.

I’ve lapsed into the TV trap and my house is a mess.

There are reasons behind the fall — I broke my right (dominant) wrist a month ago and had to have surgery on it, my husband has been unemployed for most of the year and so is home all day, I’ve been working hard on finishing Wildwood Curriculum Form II, and I’m developing a preschool guide to Charlotte Mason from a secular/inclusive viewpoint.

Any one of these things would throw my routine out of balance, and added all together everything blew apart.

Why am I writing about this here?  Because this blog isn’t just about Charlotte Mason methods, but about our lifestyle.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Because I know that you’ve had times, maybe months or even years, when you’ve struggled with rhythm, with getting things done and still maintaining a reasonable level of cleanliness, getting meals on the table, and feeling like you have things under control.

We’re going to identify, brainstorm, and implement solutions.  I’m going to walk through what I’m doing in the hopes that it can help you, too, dear reader.

First, identify the problem areas.

I’m doing good on getting breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the table at consistent times, having a decent bedtime for all of us, and keeping laundry under control.  Though they could be better, they aren’t big issues for me right now.  My biggest problem areas right now are:

  1. House is a mess
  2. spending too much time on the computer (between Wildwood, the preschool guide, and general surfing)
  3. letting my daughter watch TV
  4. spending too much time on Wildwood to the detriment of other projects that are also important
  5. Not singing

Next, identify possible solutions

Here’s where I brainstorm ways to get my problem areas under control.  I won’t use all of these, but it gets the ideas flowing.

— House is a mess:  spend a set amount of time cleaning every day, do morning and evening routines, enlist family’s help to keep things picked up (I’m still on doctor’s restrictions for my broken wrist, which limits how much I can do without causing further damage); start doing morning and evening routine again

— Too much computer time:  designate specific days to work on different things on the computer, and set a timer to enforce limits for myself.  turn the computer off during the day, rather than having the laptop open, on, and easily accessible

— letting my daughter watch too much TV:  keeping the TV off during the day (difficult because my husband likes to have it playing all day in the background.  Get her into a rhythm too, where we do outside time in the morning and activities like playdough and painting in the afternoon

— spending too much time on Wildwood:  This goes back to computer time, and I need to set firm limits

— not singing:  Sing!  These don’t have to be specific nursery rhymes or folk songs, just little made up songs through the day.  Maybe to call my family to dinner, while I fold laundry, or while playing.

Baby steps

This is too much to tackle all at once, so I’m going to take small steps.

On cleaning the house — for this week, I’m going to do my morning and evening routine, and the daily chores from Motivated Moms,the housekeeping app I usually use and love.  (Want to try it? Use coupon code juniper for $3 off your first year!) Also, 5 minutes per day on the worst room of the house.  That’s all.

Set a time limit for computer time — I’ll have my laptop closed between 9AM and 6PM.  Off and put away.  Work needs to be done before and after that time, maybe 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening.

Insist that if my husband is not actively watching TV, that it stays off.  His downfall is having NFL Network playing all day in the background.  If my computer is off, it will be easier to convince my husband to keep the TV off.

Sing throughout my day.  Not anything specific, but just start being intentional about singing little nonsense songs, nursery rhymes, and folk songs.


You may be wondering how this all ties into rhythm.  The cornerstones of my rhythm are sleeping and eating at consistent times, but I still need consistency throughout the day, too.

If I do my morning and evening routine every morning and evening, it brings rhythm back into my life.  It also creates white space because I’m not constantly thinking “I need to be cleaning”.

By keeping work to certain hours, it keeps it from leeching into the rest of the day.  I can spend more time on my daughter without guilt.  I can also work without guilt.


I just started today, so no big results as of yet.  I’ll update more as I go.  Today, though, I shut down the laptop at 9:30.  Oh, the temptation to just ‘take a peak!’

Morning routine and evening routine were done.  The house is just a tad cleaner than it was yesterday.