I’ve written about our family daily rhythm before, and how we structure our time with flexible but clear separation between blocks of time. I, for one, function better with a net to catch the hours in a day at home caring for little ones, particularly to ensure my introverted needs are met, along with the needs of each member of our family. The quickest way I lose my centre is a day full of mum! mum! mum! with no reprieve. That intense and constant level of service and engagement is just not sustainable for me, nor anyone, I imagine. Daily rhythms are also a really good way to ensure that all the things I/we value are being included in each of our days, so that a situation doesn’t occur where, say, even though reading to my children is a huge priority and family value, I’m so tired by the end of the day that I never end up doing it, further compounding my bad feelings.
Being intentional and deliberate with our time is the only sure path to crafting the days, and therefore the life, we want.
That being said, school holidays can be a time where rhythms are even more valuable to me, as all three children are needing every inch of me, in three very different ways, all the damn time. As I walk deeper into the motherhood woods with each additional child and each additional passing year, I’ve learned how to rotate everyone’s needs so at times mine are also at the top of the list. A mother as a self-sacrificing martyr is an outdated concept, at best, and while service and sacrifice go with the role, we must also learn how to create time and space for ourselves in the juggle of family life. We simply cannot pour from an empty cup. It’s a non-negotiable: This is the very first rule of motherhood.
Which brings us to…..our school holidays rhythm! It does differ from our usual daily rhythm, obviously, and I thought it might be helpful to share in case you might trial doing something similar these school holidays.
A little note on daily rhthyms: They are absolutely flexible. It’s a rhythm not a strict schedule. If things spontaneously come up, we go with it. Daily rhythms are put in place simply to give our daily life more fluency and balance – and we gently follow them in order to keep everything and everyone happy.
Spring School Holiday Rhthym
The main rhythm of our holidays follows an IN/OUT/TOGETHER pattern, whereby we alternate activities inside the home, with out and about activities the next day, followed by time spent with friends and/or family the next day (at one of our houses, usually). Too much home doesn’t meet the extroverted needs of some members of our family, whereas too much out and socialising doesn’t meet others’ needs, including my own, so we do our best to balance them all so everyone is happy.
Firstly, our IN days follow this general rhythm: (Which are made up with time blocks based on the things we value as a family – for more information about this, you can have a quick read of my daily rhythms post here.)
6:00 – 7:30 || Wake up slowly, breakfast, packing a lunchbox for the kids for the day so they can help themselves whenever they get hungry later.
7:30 – 9 || FREE PLAY time where the kids know to play with each other/by themselves/outside as I go about the house getting organised for the day ahead: tidying, making beds, unstacking the dishwasher and generally getting things in order which greatly helps my headspace.
9-10:30 || (IN ACTIVITY) I have put together a bucket list of IN activities to do at home (I’ll add them below) and we pick from the list each day and do it together. I’m fully engaged with them here: no phones, no emailing, no other housework.
10:30 – 12:30 || REST TIME. Georgie sleeps. I read 4 or 5 books here with Ella and Billy, and then after that they have screen time for an hour or so (usually I put a movie on). This quiet time allows me to recuperate my energy, have time for myself, and get things done if I need to.
12:30 – 2 || OUTSIDE. This is backyard time, where we play on the trampoline, tend to our veggie patch, collect chicken eggs, eat our lunch in the sun, play in dirt, etc.
2-3 || ARTS AND CRAFT FREE PLAY. We then come inside for the kids to get stuck into their arts and crafts table. They waterpaint, use beeswax modelling, colour in, draw pictures, etc. Ella is really into writing stories right now and she’ll often take herself away to staple some blank pages together into a book and make up little stories with pictures to accompany it. She’ll happily do this for close to an hour. Billy’s attention span isn’t as long, but if Ella is doing it, that is his motivation to do it also and he draws and paints alongside her. I might prep a bit for dinner here, or join in alongside them, or have to tend to Georgie.
3-4 || NATURE WALK. We try to go for a neighbourhood walk here – Georgie usually needs another short nap by this time and she’ll happily fall asleep in the pram or sling, which is a much more pleasant experience than trying to get her down in her cot.
4-6 || DINNER, BATH, CLEAN UP. Once home, we do the rest of dinner prep (I try to keep it to a minimum here), eat dinner, have baths and clean up, etc.
6-7 || WIND DOWN. Everyone’s in their jammies, I burn oils, dim lights, and we usually play a game together, or the bigger kids have quiet free play (or sometimes watch the iPad) if I’m busy putting Georgie to bed. On the nights that Joel is home he might read to the bigger kids or take them on a moon walk around our neighbourhood, which they always love.
7/7:30 || BED AND RECOVERY TIME! Every parent knows this is holy grail time, and I certainly treasure it.
And now – our IN and OUT bucket lists:
These can be written on a paddle pop and drawn randomly that day, or we might pop the list on the fridge and choose what takes our fancy that morning.
“IN” BUCKET LIST ACTIVITIES THIS SPRING:
- Botanical sun printing
- Flower pressing
- Make slime
- Make rainbow play dough
- Make up new essential oil linen and body sprays
- Have an at-home yoga session (there are lots of great kid’s ones online)
- Paint some furniture pieces together
- Make lemonade
- Bake something together
“OUT” BUCKET LIST ACTIVITIES THIS SPRING:
- Museum and art gallery day
- Mt Cootha bushwalk
- Hike Mt ygun ygun
- Butterfly house at Bribie Island
- Beach day
- Pier walk and playground
- Bike tracks at the new skate park
- Bounce centre
- Picnic at a new playground
So there you have it!
Happy holidaying, fellow parents. I hope this helps you craft your days these school holidays.
How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives. – Annie Dillard